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eBay Changing Users' Preferences

By klerck in Internet
Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 12:18:48 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

Okay, so I'm reading through my email like I do every 30 minutes. I see that I've received an email from eBay Announcements, and that's where it starts.

Dear klerck,

Several times a month, eBay sends out valuable email communications with news, offers and special events that help you buy and sell. Unfortunately, we have noticed that an error occurred during your registration process that prevented you from receiving these communications. Many of your Notification Preference defaults were set to "no" rather than to "yes", which means that unlike other eBay members, you're not receiving these types of communications.

We'd like to resolve this problem quickly and efficiently. Therefore, on 1/8/01, we returned all your Notification Preferences to the standard default of "yes" to put you in line with the rest of the eBay community. However, we want you to choose your Notification Preferences rather than rely on our standard defaults and will therefore not include you in any communications until 1/23/01. This will provide you with some time to evaluate these choices and modify your Notification Preferences. You will, however, continue to receive certain administrative emails that are part of executing your eBay transactions.

Of course, you can review and change your Preferences by clicking here.

You can also change your Notification Preferences at any time by selecting site map.

As always, your privacy is extremely important to us. To learn more about your relationship with eBay, refer to the User Agreement and/or Privacy Policy today.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. Thanks for being a valuable part of the eBay community.

Okay, so somehow when I registered over a year ago, there was "error" that caused me to have all of my preferences set to "No". That's funny because I always opt-out of getting emails when I register with websites. To fix this "error" they've decided to take it upon themselves to change my preferences to what they thought that I wanted. Sorry, folks, I'm quite sure that when I selected "No", it was deliberate. So, I went back and changed all of my preferences to "No" again. Of course, I figured this would be the end of it. I was wrong! It's going to take 14 days to reset my preferences. I'm not beyond upset. Is there anything I can do to get them to remove my account altogether? I screwed around at eBay but could find no way to contact them by phone.


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eBay Changing Users' Preferences | 42 comments (16 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
Another reason to boycott eBay (4.21 / 14) (#1)
by Inoshiro on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 04:10:46 AM EST

eBay is starting to realise that people will deal /around/ them. They can provide a convienent 3rd party escrow for things, but it's not setup as well as possible, and people trying to save dollars via auctions might not be above going around eBay to save a few more bucks.

Because of this, they spam users. I received a spam from them about 8-12 months ago from them. I had specifically set my prefs so I would not get this. Naturally, since I am rarely spammed from an accountable source, I replied with a 'do not spam me or face my lawyers' responce coupled with a 'I am very disapointed in you for doing this' mail.

Their responce? "We have suspended your account per your message." My responce? "Goody, now I can use Yahoo! Auctions for ALL my auction needs, assholes." Of course, they also started to patent stupid things. Yay for boycotting assholes.

[ イノシロ ]
Seen this before... (3.00 / 2) (#4)
by Lance on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 05:07:29 AM EST

I have seen this somewhere before, but I can't recall where. I remember thinking at the time that it smelled like a hoax. Without further evidence, I am a little skeptical.

What more? (4.33 / 3) (#5)
by klerck on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 05:09:33 AM EST

What more evidence is there to give? I could forward you their crappy html-ized email, but that's about it. I know it happened.

[ Parent ]
It's very likely real... (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by Lance on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 05:26:14 AM EST

But there is the possibility that it may have been fabricated. The wording and general tone of the e-mail is very heavy handed. Basically it's saying: you're not like other Ebay users, you want to be different, but we can't have that can we?

[ Parent ]

It's definitely real (4.00 / 2) (#8)
by klerck on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 05:30:06 AM EST

When I went to check on my ebay preferences, they were all set to "Yes" and I had to change them back to "No". That's what is going to take 14 days now.

[ Parent ]
Will take 14 days (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by leviathan on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 08:01:06 AM EST

Could you prove that it takes 14 days to change your preferences? I mean, is there a notice on their preferences page you could link to? How were you informed that it'd take 14 days?

This may be common knowledge, but I don't use ebay.

I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert
[ Parent ]

Will Take 14 Days (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by pixel on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 12:24:57 PM EST

The website specifically says:

"You can return to this page and edit your preferences at your convenience. Please note that changes to your preferences may take approximately 14 days to be reflected in our communication to you."

for as many selections as are on there, it's interesting that they do not have a selection for "I do not want to receive solicitation from companies other than eBay"

- eric - people see the world not as it is, but as they are.
[ Parent ]
it's real. (4.50 / 2) (#10)
by ism on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 08:03:41 AM EST

i received the exact same email on december 18, 2000. i changed back my settings without any fuss and thought nothing more of it. i lost my faith in privacy policies a long time ago.

[ Parent ]
It sounds like (3.66 / 6) (#14)
by ignatiusst on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 08:59:05 AM EST

It sounds like e-Bay, in creating their registration page, intended to set the defaults to "yes". Someone screwed up and set them, instead, to "no". e-Bay finds this mistake, changes it, and gives users who registered under the faulty system the correct defaults. Hmm..

Yeah, this is a cheesy business practice, but it works. Let's face it: Most e-Bay users aren't computer savy, don't have much of an idea that their on-line rights are being jerked around, and, frankly, wouldn't give a damn even if they were cognizant of it. People who use e-Bay are interested in one thing: Money. Either making money or saving money. An auction is capitalism in the raw. Do you really think someone like this is going to care that his user preferences were manipulated?

I appreciate klerck's indignation as well as the outrage of everyone on k5 over this kind of abuse of "our" technology. But, hell, guys/girls.. when are we going to get off our asses and fight - really fight the system? Never, you say? Well, let's quit complaining, then, and grab a piece of the pie.

We are becoming so trivial in our own environment (and by that, I refer to the internet) as to make every one of our outcries a joke.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

Not new; they've done it before. (4.50 / 4) (#24)
by seebs on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 12:22:31 PM EST

They've done this in the past. The problem is, eBay is suffering, and boosting revenue-per-customer is the only way out.

Originally, eBay's policy was that they would never spam you; you could sign up for lists, but unless you signed up, that was it. They even said they would not use your email address to send you promotional mail.

A while back (October '99), they changed this policy. They did not notify you; you had to go to the page and look, and the obvious changes were to allow them to use external mailing companies.

There was a 30 day grace period before they "converted" existing accounts. During that, they spammed pretty much everyone at least once, and some people multiple times, both with ads for specific auctions, and with a general "come back we miss you" spam to people whose accounts were inactive.

They did this through an external company. Remember the "changes to allow them to use external mailing companies"? Those weren't in effect yet.

They originally said this was a marketing decision. Then they got called by the BBBOnline, and said "no, this was a legitimate administrative announcement to tell people about new services", and the BBBOnline accepted it. (This pretty much proves that, like TRUSTe, the BBBOnline is just a scam to provide bogus credibility to precisely those organizations which have no other kind.)

A couple months later, they did a run just like the above. I got a copy... despite the fact that, back in October, I cancelled my membership. When I complained, I got an email saying "oh, well, since you were concerned about privacy things, we thought you'd want to know", which is such a transparent lie I hesitate to point out that it *has* to be a lie, because when I called customer service, they confirmed that all my preferences had been set to "on", including ones (such as telemarketing) that had never existed before.

It's all true, and it's all been true for over a year. eBay is scum, and worse than scum. eBay can't figure out how to make enough money, so they're trying to turn customers into ad targets. I do not recommend maintaining an eBay account, and I would point out that anyone who starts a good auction service that *isn't* spammy will have my business.

Not all mailings are spam... (3.50 / 2) (#31)
by Robert Uhl on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 01:10:46 PM EST

E.g. the very sort you mention, like `come back; we miss you.' That is not IMHO spam at all. I'm not so certain about advertising specific auctions, but I think that I would agree that the customer should eb able to opt out of it.

Spam is IMHO one of the worst things on the 'net, and has been since C&S and their foul Green Card spam (yes, I was around back then...). Spam is unsolicited, unwelcome, generally unaccountable and worthless. OTOH, getting email from a service one uses, telling one about new services (not current and known services), asking one to give it another try or giving one coupons and discounts is not spam. It's annoying, but it's not spam. Obv. the service should respect one's wishes and remove one if requested--that should go without saying.

Worst case you throw together a procmail filter...

[ Parent ]

It sure is spam! (none / 0) (#42)
by seebs on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:53:46 AM EST

They promised never to send any kind of promotional email to customers. They sent me a message the *SOLE* function of which was to promote their services.

That's spam.

If it were news actually related to my relationship with them, it might not be spam. When the sole "news" is that they want me to spend more money with them, it's spam.

They even admitted that it was sent to people whose preferences indicated that the should not receive such messages. They un-admitted this later, but the initial contacts all agreed on it.

[ Parent ]
Parallel Story (none / 0) (#32)
by J'raxis on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 05:05:06 PM EST

The parallel story on our favorite "Other" site...

-- The Raxis, still reading that other site...

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]

TRUSTe, privacy.org (4.00 / 2) (#33)
by J'raxis on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 06:06:54 PM EST

<RANT VALUE="Pissed at all the spammers">

TRUSTe. Has anyone who received these emails compained to TRUSTe about this? I'm assuming due to eBay's useless privacy policy they can squirm through this anyway, but it couldn't hurt.

Privacy.org. Privacy.org is a popular privacy news website that might like to hear about this. I submitted this story to them ("Suggest news" link), and would recommend anyone who received this email would do the same.

eBay really needs to be taught a lesson about spamming their customers and WTF "opt-in" means. Spammers should all die, especially the ones masquerading as legitimate businesses.


-- The Antispamming Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]

Convenient lapse between notification + junk mai (3.00 / 1) (#40)
by JackStraw on Thu Jan 11, 2001 at 10:36:12 PM EST

However, we want you to choose your Notification Preferences...blah blah...until 1/23/01.

Hmm... You get some email from ebay that you delete 2 days later, not really wanting to read all that fine print. Then 14 days later, you start getting junk mail from eBay, but can't find out why it started. Think this was planned?

I thought eBay was above this sort of crap, but I guess not. I mean, this isn't even *close* to being something that could be an honest attempt to give you the preferences you intended.
-The bus came by, I got on... that's when it all began.
Convenient lapse between notification + junk mail (1.00 / 1) (#41)
by JackStraw on Thu Jan 11, 2001 at 10:36:17 PM EST

However, we want you to choose your Notification Preferences...blah blah...until 1/23/01.

Hmm... You get some email from ebay that you delete 2 days later, not really wanting to read all that fine print. Then 14 days later, you start getting junk mail from eBay, but can't find out why it started. Think this was planned?

I thought eBay was above this sort of crap, but I guess not. I mean, this isn't even *close* to being something that could be an honest attempt to give you the preferences you intended.
-The bus came by, I got on... that's when it all began.
eBay Changing Users' Preferences | 42 comments (16 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
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