Communication Between Members

Topics:

Summary of Messaging Calls

Static Email Addresses in Trading API Calls

Sending and Receiving Messages

Enabling Communication Through Skype

Summary of Messaging Calls

The following calls are used in communication between members.

AddMemberMessageAAQToPartner: Enables a buyer and seller on either side of an order to send messages to each other within 90 days of the creation of the order. Messages are sent to the eBay user's My Messages InBox.

AddMemberMessageRTQ: Enables a seller to reply to a question about an active item listing. This message is sent to the eBay user's My Messages InBox.

AddMemberMessagesAAQToBidder: Enables a seller to contact both bidders and users who have made offers (via Best Offer) during an active listing. This message is sent to the eBay user's My Messages InBox.

GetMemberMessages: Retrieves messages posted to the Ask Seller A Question messaging system. Buyers can ask sellers questions via the web site, and sellers can respond to these ASQ messages by using this call, and the related AddMemberMessageRTQ call, to send them email.

GetMyMessages: Retrieves the given user's messages sent by other users, or alerts sent by eBay. The information returned can vary depending on the detail level requested.

ReviseMyMessages: Changes the states (both read and flagged) for selected messages in the Inbox or My Messages folders of a given user, and moves messages between folders.

ReviseMyMessagesFolders: Modifies (rename, remove, or restore) the specified My Messages folder for a given user. You can also use this call to create a new My Messages folder. Note that a user's Inbox and Sent folders cannot be revised.

DeleteMyMessages: Deletes selected messages from the My Messages folders of a given user.

SetMessagePreferences: Enables a seller to add custom Ask Seller a Question (ASQ) subjects to the seller's Ask a Question page, or to reset custom subjects to their default values.

GetMessagePreferences:Returns a seller's Ask Seller a Question (ASQ) subjects, each in its own Subject node. If the seller has not customized the ASQ subjects with SetMessagePreferences, the call returns the current default values.

Static Email Addresses in Trading API Calls

To maintain privacy and security, eBay's messaging system prevents users from seeing each others' personal email addresses. For members to communicate, eBay provides each member with an alias at a generic internal eBay address known as a static email address. eBay serves as a proxy between users, receiving messages at a static address and passing them on to the corresponding user at the user's actual personal email address.

Each eBay member is assigned a static alias to be used in a static email address. The email address ends in @members.ebay.<SiteDomain>. The <SiteDomain> value is based on the user's registered site, e.g. @members.ebay.de. The <SiteDomain> value identifies the user's language. If the user changes the registered site, then the value of <SiteDomain> changes accordingly.

The static alias is used in the "reply to" address in emails from other members. The email address returned by GetMemberMessages is a static email address, in the following field: MemberMessage.MemberMessageExchange.Question.SenderEmail. Additionally, the conversation ID is in the body of the email returned by GetMemberMessages. The conversation ID also is referred to as the email reference ID. All messages must contain a conversation ID, so eBay can validate them.

In the following calls, the current email address that is returned is supplemented by a static email address, as follows:

Sending and Receiving Messages

Use of the API to send a message from one eBay member to another depends on the relationship between the members.

Messages Sent Regardless of Relationship

All eBay users can send messages to other eBay users through the eBay web site. The messages appear in the My Messages InBox. See the following in eBay's online help:

Contacting eBay Members

http://pages.ebay.com/help/tp/contacting-members.html

How Sellers Answer Questions

http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/answer_qs.html

If a seller has received a question about an active listing (from someone sending a message via the web site), the seller can use AddMemberMessageRTQ to reply to that question. No order or bidding relationship is required. The seller has the option of posting the question and response in the listing for all prospective buyers to see. See AddMemberMessageRTQ. See also A Messaging Workflow Example.

Messages Sent When an Order Relationship Exists

An order relationship exists between two members when one is the seller of an item and the other is a buyer (winning bidder in an auction). A single or multiple line item order is created once there is a commitment to purchase from the buyer, regardless of whether payment has been made. See AddMemberMessageAAQToPartner for this type of communication. (AAQ stands for Ask A Question.)

If the Users Have a Bidding Relationship

See AddMemberMessagesAAQToBidder. (AAQ stands for Ask A Question.) If the item is in the Motors or Business & Industrial categories, and if one member is the seller and the other has made a bid on the seller's item, GetUserContactDetails can be called for either user to obtain the other's phone number, if available. See GetUserContactDetails.

Retrieving Messages

Any user can retrieve his messages via My eBay on the eBay Web site.

Messages can also be retrieved for any user via GetMyMessages or GetMemberMessages. See GetMyMessages and GetMemberMessages.

eBay users can subscribe to the MyMessages platform notification in order to be automatically notified when specific kinds of messages are received in their My Messages InBox. See MyMessages Notifications.

A Messaging Workflow Example

Here is a typical approach for enabling a seller to respond to questions from prospective bidders:

  1. Your application lists an item for sale. The ItemID is returned from the listing.
  2. A buyer uses the eBay web site to ask the seller a question about the listed item. The MessageType for this message is internally set to AskSellerQuestion.
  3. eBay stores the message, marking it as Unread.
  4. Your application checks Item.ListingDetails.HasUnansweredQuestions and Item.ListingDetails.HasPublicMessages for the ItemID.

  5. Your application calls GetMemberMessages to retrieve the MessageIDs of any unanswered messages for the ItemID.
  6. If there are messages, your application retrieves the MessageID so it can respond to the buyer by posting a message to the web site.
  7. Your application calls AddMemberMessageRTQ, providing the option to the seller of whether to post the question and the seller's response for all to see, and whether to send a copy of the email to the seller's personal email address.

Enabling Communication Through Skype

Skype enables voice and other communication over the Internet. For listings in some categories on some sites, you can add Skype contact information and a SkypeMe button. You also can retrieve Skype names linked to an eBay account and you can retrieve a Skype name that is part of a listing.

The prerequisites for adding Skype buttons to listings are:

You can use the SkypeID field of the GetUser call to retrieve up to three Skype names linked to an eBay account. If you have added Skype contact information to a listing, the GetItem and GetSellerList calls return the information as part of the data in the Item object.

General information about Skype is available at http://www.Skype.com.

Making Skype Available In Listings

If the prerequisites for adding Skype buttons to listings are met, you can make communication through Skype available in listings.

For example, in AddItem, you can include the Skype-related fields of ItemType. Specifically, you can include SkypeEnabled and SkypeID, and include contact options such as Chat and Voice, as in the following example.

Example: Sample XML from AddItem for Including a SkypeMe Button in a Listing
...
<Item>
...
  <SkypeEnabled>true</SkypeEnabled>
  <SkypeID>MySkypeName</SkypeID>
  <SkypeContactOption>Chat</SkypeContactOption>
  <SkypeContactOption>Voice</SkypeContactOption>
...
</Item>
...

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