eBay to cancel customer service e-mail

eBay is quietly canceling a much-used e-mail address, which has some members worried.

Next month, the online auction giant will close its direct e-mail link to SafeHarbor, its department that responds to questions about suspicious activity on the site or specific fraud complaints. Instead, eBay will direct members to an online form, which categorizes their problems and links to related help pages.

The company has not posted a notice about the change on its announcements board; instead it is notifying customers who send e-mail to the safeharbor@ebay.com address.

    "On May 15, 2002, this e-mail address will no longer be available," the company said in an automated reply to a member who e-mailed the SafeHarbor address. "Instead, all SafeHarbor queries should be sent using our online Contact Rules & Safety Web form."
But here's the rub. Some members fear that because of the way the form is set up, eBay is limiting members' ability to report fraud or rules violations.

"It's incredibly disgraceful that they're doing this. They keep shutting down your means of getting in contact with them," said Rosalinda Baldwin, editor of the Auction Guild, a newsletter that covers the online auction industry.

eBay does not list its phone number on its site and recently moved to curtail some of the discussions on its message boards.

eBay representatives did not return calls seeking comment, but a customer service representative, contacted through the company's online chat service, said the new form was meant to help organize customer inquiries.

"We have found that it is very hard to take the e-mails sent in to this address and answer them in a timely fashion. By using the Web form, the e-mails automatically go to the same area, and the Web form also allows us to make sure the e-mails get sent to the appropriate department right away instead of having to rely on a representative to get them there," she said.

News source: CNet News

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