eBay has reached out in response to the public show of support on Twitter, including a press release from The Counterfeit Report.
Genny Monroe from the eBay executive office sent me an email, excerpted here.
I've removed some account specific information for privacy and to respect eBay's desire not to provide details that may help others circumvent legitimate suspensions, but the gist of the explanation given for my suspension was that eBay's automated systems picked up on log in and usage activity it believed indicated the account may have been compromised or used by an unauthorized 3rd party.
For the record, I have no reason to believe my account was ever accessed by a 3rd party and have not seen any suspicious activity or information in the account details or viewed item history.
As many of my reports on fraud on the platform indicate, I am fully onboard with eBay taking steps to combat account takeovers and increasing security on the site, but the way in which my situation and countless others like it have been handled is absolutely unacceptable.
It's clear that many innocent accounts are getting caught up in the automated dragnet and as Genny admitted, typically there is no opportunity to appeal.
Quite simply, that isn't good enough and there has to be a better way. If accounts are flagged, there should be a straightforward and, by all means, strict verification process for account holders to regain access, but permanent suspension should be the absolute last resort after all other efforts to resolve risk concerns have been unsuccessful.
Reaching out like eBay has done here with a request to review and verify activity on the account should be the standard course of action, not something reserved only for people with enough social presence to capture eBay executive attention.
I attempted to reply back to Genny with those concerns and an offer to speak to her or anyone in eBay's security or risk departments about these issues but unfortunately, the email address from which her message was sent apparently doesn't accept replies. 🤦♀️
The offer still stands any time eBay wants to take me up on it.
Just as mysteriously as the account was suspended, it has now been reinstated - with another boilerplate message but without any direct discussion, additional verification or appeal required.
While I'm happy to have regained access to the account, this leaves me with even more questions.
Was the original take down intentional or was the account mistakenly flagged by eBay's AI/algorithm?
Whether it was intentional or a mistake, what actually triggered the suspension? Was there any human oversight in the process or just automated systems running amok?
This account had only been used for commenting in the eBay community forum and while it was suspended, I was unable to access the community once the account was logged out (attempts to log back in were met with repeated captchas and/or 404 page not found errors).
Once the account was flagged, why was it an immediate suspension with no communication or attempt by eBay to address whatever the supposed risk was?
And most importantly - if there really was a risk to the eBay community posed by this account, why was it reinstated with no verification or appeal required?
This article and a tweet tagging CMO VP Seller Engagement Andrea Stairs and eBay support were apparently enough to get the issue corrected.
Again, I'm happy the account has been restored, but it begs the question - what would have happened to someone who did not have the platform and connections I do to amplify the issue publicly?
I will be reaching out to customer service to try to get answers to some of those questions, though I don't expect they will be forthcoming or transparent about what actually happened here.
Users caught up in these account suspension dragnets are typically stuck in a no win scenario where eBay refuses to disclose any details about how the account was deemed to be causing harm to the marketplace because doing so could cause harm to the marketplace. 🤦♀️
Stay tuned for updates and if you've had your account suspended without warning or reason, I'd love to hear about your experience! Leave a comment below or contact me directly if you prefer to speak privately.
The account I have used for over 2 years to participate in the eBay community forum has been suddenly suspended permanently with no warning or explanation - just a boilerplate note saying they believe the account was "putting the eBay community at risk." 🤯
This account has only been used for posting in the eBay community forum and with ~4800 helpful votes from fellow community members, I believe my posting history speaks for itself.
I do not believe my activity within the eBay community forum or elsewhere has put the eBay community at risk and if so, I absolutely believe eBay must provide clear, direct and specific examples of said activity if they are going to claim the risk is so great it deserves a permanent suspension from the platform.
As I've said many times, eBay is absolutely welcome to reach out to me any time - my contact information is publicly posted on this site, I actively engage on social media both publicly and in private messages and until today they could have contacted me directly through that account as well.
I'll be going through the process to attempt to appeal the suspension, documenting every step, and will update this article as soon as I have more information.
In the mean time, Sr Manager Seller Advocacy & Engagement Brian Burke, Director Community & Engagement Rebecca Michals, CMO & VP Seller Engagement Andrea Stairs or any of the eBay employees who subscribe to this newsletter are still quite welcome to contact me with any questions or concerns directly - you know where to find me.
~ Liz Morton - Value Added Resource