Originally published at tblog.com; The Auction Board is in the process of migrating its blog.
While cruising the newsgroups yesterday, I saw yet another disgruntled eBay buyer who had posted email communication between himself and an eBay seller who had angered him. This is a common thing. The email communication that was posted contained the seller's email address, the seller's eBay name, and a link to the eBay auction ad. What was missing was the buyer's email address and the buyer's eBay name. Since the sale was never completed between this particular buyer and seller (based on the contents of the email communication), we'll never know who the poster was. Is this fair play? While we get, what we think, is a complete depiction of the situation, the fact that the poster removed his/her own name and email address from the posting tells us that the poster could have just as easily edited the contents of the email communication.
What can you do, as a seller -- or even buyer -- to protect yourself from this sort of thing? Simple! Corporations do it all the time. Communicate with your eBay buyer/seller using one email address only. Include a privacy statement at the bottom of your email that states the communication is meant solely for the person to which it is addressed. State that any distribution of that email communication to anyone other than the person to which it is addressed is a violation of your privacy. Read the court ruling.
Be sure you have a privacy statement in your email. Most people create one using their signature tag feature.
Other ways to protect yourself:
1. Always be professional in your email communication -- regardless of how rude the other person may be.
2. Use your carbon copy feature. Carbon copy your communication to a third party. Most likely, if a disgruntled buyer/seller plans to post your emails all over the newsgroups, he/she will think twice if he/she knows that a 3rd party has a copy of the original emails -- unedited.
3. Don't respond to a disgruntled buyer at all via email. Ask for a phone number and call them. Settle all disputes over the phone.
In the end, 'tis the season for angry shoppers. Guard your business.