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'They don't exactly like us poking around': Amazon allegedly used these secret tactics to poach prized eBay sellers

Isobel Asher Hamilton
Jeff Bezos

Amy Harris/Invision/AP


eBay is suing Amazon for allegedly infiltrating eBay's messaging system in order to poach high-value sellers.

In a suit filed on Wednesday, eBay gives examples of the messages that were sent to its sellers in an effort to lure them into becoming third-party shops on Amazon.

According to the messages cited by eBay, Amazon operatives were open about their motives. "I am part of what you would call a hunter/recruiter team which actively searches for sellers we believe can do well on the platform," said one.

eBay claims that many of the messages followed a similar pattern, or in some cases were "literally identical." eBay cites this as evidence that Amazon HQ coordinated the scheme.

One such message, carried in the suit, reads:

"To whom it may concern, Good afternoon. My name is Adam I work in the shoes category at Amazon. Came across your store and really like the selection that you offer and your fantastic feedback. Have you ever considered selling on Amazon as well? If so, I'd like to chat with you about the platform. Hope to hear back from you. Best regards, Adam."

eBay claims that Amazon representatives were aware they were breaking eBay's rules by soliciting business over its messaging service. It provides examples of what it calls "creative ways" sellers tried to get around the ban on sending contact details over the messenger.

Creative ways to poach sellers

One representative wrote their phone number with spaces between the numbers, adding: "The funky typing is
because eBay doesn’t allow for info like this to normally be put into messages."

In another message, the operative broke up the number by inserting the words "phone" and "number," and explaining "(read between the words) since eBay doesn't allow phone numbers in these messages."

Another rep explained the need for such methods to the seller they were contacting. "eBay does scan for key terms
and they don’t exactly like us poking around," they said.

eBay said that the scheme was systemic, and in some cases effective. "Amazon's efforts have borne fruit. Its representatives have discussed the success of their scheme with eBay seller prospects," the suit claims.

Amazon declined to comment. Elsewhere, it referred The Wall Street Journal to a previous statement in which it said it was carrying out a thorough investigation into the allegations.

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