06-OCT-2020 Ebay Append Internal Computer Garbage to Customer's Address Line 2 For Their Own Purposes, At Everyone Else's Inconvenience.

Around 12 September 2020 ebay implemented a new system of transferring some internal data into Royal Mail 2D barcodes printed using the online method of purchasing postage via the ebay site.  This was always a clumsy system at best, offered few economies, and I have difficulty believing that anyone who needed to print off more than a few labels at a time actually used it.  It used to do this via a different system, and some research suggests that this went wrong.  Notwithstanding that, here is the ebay announcement about what these codes are for:

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Royal Mail tracking and delivery events on eBay from 1st Sep 2020
by uk_news_team eBay Employee ‎01-09-2020 1:03 PM - edited ‎01-09-2020 1:05 PM

eBay is adding a unique eBay code to orders to improve buyers post-transaction experience by making it easier for them to see any available tracking and delivery confirmation* for the parcelís journey.
This code doesnít impact the delivery of your parcels. The code will only be added to items posted using eligible Royal Mail UK services and where there is sufficient room on the order address to do so.  In the future, this may extend to services provided by other carriers.

The unique eBay code will be included at the end of address line 2 in the eBay order and through a matching process, eBay will use this code to obtain available tracking numbers from Royal Mail.
The unique code will be in the format  ebay1234abc  ('ebay' + 7 alphanumeric characters) and for the majority of customers, when you generate your Royal Mail address label, it will automatically be transferred from the address into the 2D barcode on your postage label. The unique eBay code will not be printed as part of the address on the postage label.
*Only tracking and event data visible on the Royal Mail web site will be shared with eBay and only eligible services will have tracking and event data provided. For certain services, tracking and event data will only be made available after an item has been delivered.

What it means to you

Tracking and event data provided through the unique eBay code will not automatically be included in your Late Delivery Report.
If you are uploading tracking today, you should continue to do so.  Uploading tracking will provide you with additional protections and give you access to the eBay premium service and discount, as long as your listings meet the eligibility criteria. By providing a unique eBay code, this will help to identify the order as an eBay order and any available tracking will be shown to your buyer.
There are cases where the unique eBay code may not be included, for example, due to not having enough space in the address or if the type of postal services you use are not supported.  eBay cannot guarantee the unique code will be on all orders and such service may be altered or suspended at any time due to different reasons. Therefore, if you upload tracking today, you should continue to do so.  If there is no unique eBay code on the address, there will be no tracking events available.

What do you need to know if you use any of the Royal Mail services below:

Pro Shipping

If you use the Royal Mail Pro Shipping API, the system will automatically remove the unique eBay code from address line 2 and insert it into the 2D barcode on the label, you donít need to do anything.
If you have a system which reviews or modifies data before you send to Pro Shipping and you remove the unique eBay code from the address line 2, please place into Sender Reference Field for v2 of the API or Shipper Reference Field for v3 of the API.

Click & Drop

Click & Drop linked to eBay account

If you use Click & Drop, the system will automatically remove the unique eBay code from address line 2, you donít need to do anything.

Click & Drop CSV Upload

We recommend that you link your Royal Mail Click & Drop account to your eBay account so the unique eBay code is automatically moved.
Alternatively, if you import your orders via a CSV file, you will need to remove the unique eBay code from address line 2 and paste it into Order Reference Field before generating your labels.
Click & Drop manual entry of address.  If you log into Click and Drop and manually enter your orders into the system, you will need to remove the unique eBay code from address line 2 and paste it into Order Reference Field before generating your labels.

Bespoke Shipping Solution (previously known as Customer Owned Shipping Solution (COSS))

If you have a Royal Mail Bespoke Shipping solution with your own Royal Mail account, you will integrate directly with Royal Mail.
Customers using the Royal Mail Bespoke Shipping Solution will have access to Royal Mailís marketplace specification changes (issued January 2020) which described the changes needed to support the unique eBay code.

PPI (Printed Postage Impressions)

Royal Mail will soon be withdrawing some of their current unbarcoded letter products and replacing them with the new Account Mail barcoded products. To move to the new products, please click here https://www.royalmail.com/business/barcodesavings

If you use Royal Mail PPI there is no requirement for you to include the unique eBay code in the address, as there is no 2D barcode and therefore, no means to provide tracking and event data. The unique eBay code should be removed from address line 2.

Postage Stamps

If you use postage stamps and handwrite your label, there is no requirement for you to include the unique eBay code in the address as there is no 2D barcode and therefore, no means to provide tracking and event data. The unique eBay code should be removed from address line 2.
Thank you for selling with eBay.

Regards,

Your eBay Team

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Have you absorbed all that?  Basically, "If you print your own labels and stick a stamp on like any normal person, screw you."


It appears to me that this is another case of the current, and no doubt very cheap, children in charge of ebay software systems not understanding the existing operations and implementing a nasty kludge to fix it up.  They could use another unused address field, of which there are plenty, but no.  Even this is beyond their capabilities.  If that were done, I could easily modify my label printing system to ignore that field.  But no, ebay appends the garbage data to valid data in address line 2, meaning that I have to manually edit every UK address while printing my labels.  It used to work.  It's been broken.  It's pathetic.  It's worse than a backward step.  It's wrong.  Not, I would claim, worth the substantial ebay fees every month. 
While you might argue that this is inconvenient rather than a critical failure, it's yet another thing that has gone backwards and wastes my time on a daily basis.

Being unhappy about the situation, I thought that I would discuss the matter on the ebay Seller 'Support' Telephone Line, and you can hear that call in full by clicking on the link below:

14-SEP-2020: Call to ebay Seller Support Concerning Internal Computer Garbage Being Appended to UK Buyers Address Line 2

Call Summary

1)  I'm put through to the wrong person.
2)  The call operative messes about for about ten minutes.
3)  Various attempts at platitudes, denial of the problem, and lies occur.
4)  I suggest that if Robert Hattrell VP of ebay UK was put to such inconvenience when the system used to work properly, that he wouldn't accept it.
5)  I ask for Robert Hattrell to be informed.
6)  I'm promised a call back.

No call back occurs.

Advice to Robert Hattrell and Ebay USA Politburo Central In General

You can carry on applying bad software kludges and sticking plasters to a creaking system that you no longer understand for a long time.  Eventually though, you will run out of options and it will collapse under its own weight, taking the whole corporation with it.  I suggest employing many fewer but competent software engineers to fix the real problems rather than breaking things and piling unwanted new features on top of a broken foundation.

Henry's email address

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