eBay refuses to tell man why it suspended his new account

Originally published at: eBay refuses to tell man why it suspended his new account | Boing Boing


Same thing happen to my account last year. I made about 5 purchases, listed about 10 items, was about 2 days from making my first sale, and woke up to an email saying my account was indefinitely suspended. My chat with the AskEbay twitter bot was just about verbatim of what that guy posted.


Most companies that have TOS’s will refuse to tell why someone was suspended with specific evidence, because as was stated, revealing this information gives more information to others on how to circumvent the red flags.

That reminds me…I need to close my account.


I found out somewhat late that I can’t sell items anymore without adding a bank account to my profile. I’m sure as heck not going to use my main bank account, and for some baffling reason no one can comprehend Tangerine.ca is not accepted. And I’m not going to bother opening another bank account somewhere else just for eBay.

It’s probably for the best. Saves me from having to deal with a buyer who accuses me of running a scam because I said I was selling a little square widget but what they actually received was clearly a square little widget.


I had an ebay account for a LONG time. But I hadn’t logged into it in several years. The last email I got from them was in 2021 saying I had a balance in my favor for some reason of a couple dollers.
Anyway, when I tried to log in as I have been looking for some used camera gear, I found out I could not. They said my account was deleted completely - did not exist at all. No record of my username or email address.
I created a new account and there are some items I am currently looking at purchasing. Now I’m a little freaked out that I’m going to get screwed if I try to do that.


Just out of curiosity, I checked… hey, my 25 year old account is still active. Woo hoo.


I used to use ebay a lot, joined early on, even sold a bunch of stuff last year, still use it for buying used parts and random junk you can’t really find anywhere else. So this is personally concerning.

I’m wondering if there’s something that’s not his fault causing a red flag on their end, like a his name is similar to someone blocked for improper use, or if his ISP address once belonged to a scammer. If someone at ebay is reading his answers with that in mind it creates a bias where they assume he’s not being honest, he’s trying to give them the answers he thinks they want.


Right. I just noticed this selling something for the first time in a year or so. They just recently cancelled their cooperation with PayPal… that company sucks too but it appears we still have fees. It’s just ebay wants to keep them to themselves instead of giving paypal a cut…

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I’ve been with eBay since about an hour after it opened. My last purchase was a Sigma DC HSM 10-20mm lens for my dslr maybe 5 years ago for a couple hundred.

I had to reset my password but no troubles logging in and seeing my entire history.

I miss the days when it was actually an auction site and sniping in the last few seconds with a dial up modem was exciting.

I can’t imagine how frustrating that chat exchange must have been.


I tried signing up for Instagram and was instantly banned. My only guess is it was based on my browser being configured to not promiscuously execute every piece of code it encounters.

Which is to say perhaps his browser doesn’t “appear” similar to a regular user’s browser to the eBay verification code? Or maybe his network stack sets the RFC 3514 Evil Bit?


I wonder if asking for the contact info for eBay’s legal team (to pass along to his attorney) would light a fire under the ass of someone at eBay capable of actual thought. Even if he doesn’t yet have an attorney and isn’t planning on suing, the mere mention of legal recourse might make them take him more seriously.


In the EU he could ask for all personal information they have on him via GDPR, he then has the right to force them to correct anything that’s wrong.


And your point is? (Yes - we all know that. But really? This guy? Doing what any normal eBay customer does? If it was something to do with his IP address or browser profile or whatever, what’s with all the bullshit questions?)

Yeah, Right. /cynicism


The cherry on top of that snafu of an interaction: Thank you for choosing Ebay.

Can he choose it though? It seems like he can’t…


I had a similar thing happen with a new PayPal account that I created for my business. After one day it was suspended and nobody would tell me why. It took a couple of weeks of wading through phone trees, deflecting CS bots, and sitting on hold to get it re-instated. They never did tell me why it was suspended.


Interesting. This sounds like a bit of “data mining gone awry”, based on what limited knowledge I have of data science classes I took. TL;DR:

eBay had PROBABLY analyzed the cases of fraudulent behavior it had caught previously, based on whatever factors it chose to include (age of the account, zip code or location of account creation, IP login range, items listed, items sold, etc.) and created a pass/fail validation system based on mining all that that, and decided to create a filter that can catch X% of these, but let Y% of non-fraudulent accounts through.

Which means: If your behavior somehow fell into this range of what they considered to be suspicious behavior, you are perma-banned.

For obvious reasons, this validation filter is ever-evolving and cannot be disclosed, lest the scammers figure out a way to circumvent it.

eBay judged that they are big enough that they can afford to lose what they can make off those few false positives that this net may snag along the way.


But not ever-correcting.

:notes: Algo-rithms want to rule the world

(To the tune of “everybody wants to rule the world”)


Nailed it in one. That’s exactly what this. All these systems (eBay, Amazon, PayPal, credit cards, etc) are way too big to spot fraudulent behaviour using humans. It’s all done algorithmically. It has to be.

The problems come in when there’s no appeals process or customer support for resolving false positives. That’s what’s been happening more and more.

To give another example, I had a blog about ten years ago that was blacklisted for life from Google AdSense because I used some phrase (they wouldn’t tell me what) that tripped their fraud sensor. There was literally no way to contact them about it. Not a bot chat window, not an email address, and certainly not a phone number. I had to move my entire site and business to a new domain to get AdSense back and I never did learn what I had done wrong.