Guest article contributed by eBay seller Jackie Miller
Let me start out by saying this: if another member has made threats to your safety, you should report it immediately to eBay and to law enforcement.
It can be an uncomfortable situation when another member decides to give you too much attention. Whether they're upset over a failed transaction, a seller's unwillingness to price negotiate or anything else somebody decides to take personally, another eBay member can certainly make life more difficult for you... if you let them.
I've been receiving messages from another member recently that are unwanted, rude and bullying. There's nothing extreme about the messages, so unless they escalate I'll be sticking with my personal favorite method of dealing with them: ignore.
Ignoring their messages is the easiest thing you can do and most people will eventually give up when they're not getting a rise out of you.
Beyond ignoring, let's look at the tools eBay has provided to deal with situations like this. To be honest, the tools are limited (especially since there are many ways for people to get around them), but there are some things you can do.
Any account that's registered as a seller has access to the blocked buyer list. That's the first step every seller should take.
There's also a setting on that page that says, "Don't allow blocked buyers to contact me." While it's not a foolproof setting and there are ways around it, it's a good step to take if you're the type of person that has a lot of difficulty ignoring these messages.
One caveat is that any member you've been in a recent transaction with can contact you for up to 90 days regardless of that setting. This also applies to any member you've sent a message to within the last 90 days, so another tool in your arsenal is to not reply when you receive an unwelcome message.
Most of the time members receiving unwanted messages will be given advice by eBay customer service to ignore or delete the messages. eBay CS will often tell you there's nothing they can do. While that's fine for harmless situations where the messages are a nuisance but mild in nature, it's not good enough when messages escalate from annoying to abusive. eBay can and should do more in these situations.
There are a few instances where eBay may take action and that includes when another member, "threaten[s] others, or use[s] profanity or hate speech." You can read more about this within eBay's member-to-member contact policy.
I've heard mixed results from sellers when reporting abusive members to eBay CS. Some have received extreme, vulgar and harassing messages and despite reporting them to customer service and asking eBay to investigate a pattern of abuse based on the member's apparent history of doing the same to other sellers, eBay did nothing to stop them. I've heard on rare occasion from sellers that said eBay customer service contacted the other member and told them to stop. Whether those reps really did contact the other member (or if they're even allowed to do that within their job parameters) is anybody's guess. As with any eBay customer service call: results will vary.
Because the tools provided by eBay are limited, the key things to keep in mind when dealing with an unreasonable person are to de-escalate the situation and don't feed their irrationality. You can't control what the other party will do, but how you react is something you can control. Don't take things personally. Resist the temptation to reply. Silence is golden.
What do you think eBay should be doing to help in situations like this and where should they draw the line between doing nothing and taking action?
What tips can you offer others that are receiving harassing or abusive messages?
Let us know in the comments below.