Thought I was banned, turned out I wasn't, but still unsure how to go forward

Level 2

This is my first time posting to the forums here, so I hope I’m putting my post in the right place.  If not, please direct me to where it should go.

 

So, I’ve got a situation and I just don’t know how to go forward with selling on OfferUp, although I’d like to.  I’ll just lay everything out here and see what advice anyone has.  Since I don’t know exactly what’s relevant, I’ll tell you the whole story of my experience here (so this will be quite long), and we’ll see what you all think is going on.

 

I come from a large extended family of honest-to-God hoarders.  Since I was young (I’m 50 now), I’ve used this to my advantage - while simultaneously avoiding becoming a hoarder myself - by selling my family’s stuff when they have to get rid of it.  If someone dies, or has to move to a smaller place, or if a spouse makes them clean out a closet… That stuff comes to me, and I sell it.  So, most of what I sell is what you’d expect to run across at a (very awesome) garage sale.  Clothes, books, games, jigsaw puzzles, kitchen items, collectibles, sometimes parts for things like vacuum cleaners or old radios.  As a single mom, I’ve supplemented my income and put my kids through college this way. 

 

When I was younger I had garage sales, and then when sales venues on the internet came along I used those.  I prefer not to ship, though, and I encourage local pick-up.  For this reason, Craigslist was a good site for me for many years, but it is not as popular now.  About 18 months ago, at my daughter’s insistence, I looked into OfferUp and decided I’d give it a shot.

 

Of course every new venue requires a bit of learning, figuring out how to best do things in that particular place.  I found a lot to like about OfferUp, but I also found some difficulties.  That’s to be expected, in my experience, so I just put some effort into finding ways to work around the problems.  And I thought it was all going pretty well until about 6 weeks ago.  I’ll come back to that, though.

 

The biggest issue I’ve run into with OfferUp, both as a seller and as a buyer, is the search function.  It just doesn’t work properly.  One simple example I can give is a DVD I was selling of A Clockwork Orange.  If you typed “Clockwork Orange” or even “A Clockwork Orange” into the search, my DVD would not come up (others would, and so would other things like tee shirts, but not my DVD).  However, if you typed “DVD A Clockwork Orange” you would find it.  I ran into this sort of issue often enough to realize that I wouldn’t be able to rely on buyers finding my items simply by searching, so my solution was to frequently re-list my unsold items so that people browsing would see them (I always deleted/archived the old listing, so there were no duplicate listings).

 

Another issue for me is that I wish there was an option to block people from seeing my items.  There is just one person in particular that I would like to block.  Because I’ve been doing this so long, I have regular/repeat customers, and there is just one I happen to know is lurking on OfferUp whom I have chosen not to deal with.  She has sent multiple messages to me on some items here, and I simply did not respond.  On two occasions she recruited other people to buy items from me on her behalf (which is fine with me, as I’m not trying to keep her from having anything she wants, I just don’t want to communicate with her due to a past difficult history).  I really feel as though it would be easier for all involved if I could just prevent her from seeing my items so that she won’t have her feelings hurt when I ignore her.  But this is a small issue, nothing that’s been a big problem for me.  I only bring it up because it might possibly be relevant to the problem I’ve run into.  On the other hand, maybe it’s not.

 

The only time, until 6 weeks ago, that I’ve ever had an actual *problem* with OfferUp was back in January of this year.  I received a notification that a vintage china serving platter I’d listed had been removed.  The policy on “Wildlife & wildlife products” was given as the reason.  For a moment I was perplexed, but then I realized that the word “ivory” in the listing was likely the trigger for this.  I messaged OfferUp and explained that “ivory” was the color and part of the pattern name, and this was obviously not a wildlife product.  They corrected the mistake and reinstated the listing.  Although I was satisfied that the correction had been made, this was my first hint that listings could be removed without anyone actually looking at the item to see if it violated any rules.

 

So, anyway, that’s the only time I ever had a notice from OfferUp about any kind of problem with an item.  That being said, there have been a few times when an item I’d listed was suddenly nowhere to be found.  Sometimes I couldn’t find a listing, and I’d think perhaps I’d forgotten to actually post it.  Maybe I’d archived it with the intent to create a fresh listing and I’d never actually done it.  Or, I thought, maybe the OfferUp system is just glitchy.  That’s what I thought when a coffee cup I listed disappeared, and then I listed it again, and it disappeared again.  I couldn’t figure that one out, but I just set it aside and moved along, as it wasn’t that important of an item (and I eventually sold it somewhere else, anyway).

 

Also, there were times when I would notice that the number of items I had listed would drop by one.  I’d have, say, 289 items for sale, and then all of a sudden I’d have 288.  But I couldn’t tell what was missing (if anything), and again thought it was just a weird glitch.  Maybe there was something I’d marked “sold” but hadn’t archived, and maybe they remove those at some point.  Maybe.  I didn’t know.  And I didn’t give it tons of thought.

 

Now we (finally) come to what happened a month ago. 

 

I had some OfferUp messages one evening from a regular customer regarding multiple items she wanted to purchase.  She was going to message me the next day to arrange a pickup time.  The following morning, however, I received a text message from her on my phone (because she’s a regular and she has my number) saying that she was unable to message me via OfferUp.  She was getting some kind of an error message.  I told her that OfferUp was glitchy sometimes, and I didn’t know what the issue was, but we just went ahead and arranged for her to come by in the afternoon. 

 

I went about my day as normal, which included posting a few new things on OfferUp.  However, those things were not getting any views at all, which is weird for me.  After a couple of hours I tried searching for them and found that they were not showing up in a search.  Not knowing what was going on, but still assuming OfferUp was having problems, I waited until later in the day to list anything else.  But when I came back later on, I found that my items were being reduced in number.  I had 378 items for sale, then I had 371, and an hour later I had even fewer.

 

Around that time, my customer arrived to pick up her items.  She told me that she had looked again before coming over, to see if she wanted anything else, and that she couldn’t look at my items anymore.  She got a message saying my profile didn’t exist.

 

So, I sent a message to OfferUp.  I told them these strange things were happening, and I wanted to know if there was a problem.  This didn’t seem system-wide, it seemed like it was… about me personally?  Why?  What on earth could that be about?

 

Within about 15 minutes of sending that message, I was just blocked from everything.  Poof.  If I tried to look at my “Offers” page, I got a message saying access was forbidden.  I could still see my profile, but nothing was listed for sale.  None of it made any sense to me.  I waited to hear back from OfferUp.

 

By the next day, when I’d heard nothing back from OfferUp, I started doing some Googling.  It seemed there were other people who had experienced something like this.  And it seemed, as far as I could tell, that this was how people got treated when they were banned from the venue.  I was stunned to have to reach the conclusion that I’d been banned, but that was the conclusion I reached.  I couldn’t make any sense of it, but there didn’t seem to be anything to be done.  From what I’d read from other people, it seemed I would likely not receive any response from OfferUp, and therefore I would have to just accept that I’d never know what had gone wrong.

 

I stewed about it all for about an hour, considered maybe trying to contact them via Twitter or some other way, and ultimately decided against it.  My final position on the matter was that if this is a venue where this sort of thing even *can* happen, and where the company has such low regard for its patrons that it won’t even respond to communication, then it was probably for the best that I found this out before I’d invested too much more.  Or perhaps, god forbid, decided to try the shipping option and given them such personal data as banking info.  I deleted the app and moved on.

 

Two weeks later, all out of the blue, I received two emails from OfferUp, both at the same time.  One was a “notification” stating, “Our records indicate that multiple posts have been removed from your account because they contained Prohibited Items. Please review our Posting Rules.  Continuing to post Prohibited Items may result in account removal.”  The other said in the subject line that it was regarding my “support request” but only told me how to log in, or what to do if I’d lost my password, and then ended with, “Let me know if that works or if you have any other questions I can help with,” and, “Welcome back to OfferUp.”  I was completely puzzled by all of this, so I responded to the “Support Request” message, stating that I did, in fact, have other questions that this person could help me with (if it was a person and not just an automated message, since there was no name signed to it).  I asked if there was someone who could answer my questions before I would decide whether to continue any activity with OfferUp. 

 

That was a month ago.  I never heard anything in response.  To this day I do not know what happened, or why, or why OfferUp refuses to talk to me.

 

So, the reason I’m laying this all out here is because I just want to get some input from others.  A few possibilities have crossed my mind:  Perhaps OfferUp uses bots that are triggered by certain words, and items get deleted without an actual human looking at them (in which case I don’t know why I wouldn’t be notified of the removal, as I was with the antique platter, so that I can address the incorrect removal).  Or, perhaps a competing seller is reporting items in order to get them removed, and again, no human is looking to see what is correct.  Or, and this is a remote possibility that I don’t actually think is the case, perhaps the person I mentioned whom I’d like to block is making reports for vindictive reasons.  Anyway, one thing that is absolutely NOT a possibility is that I have ever listed prohibited items, so there is something else to figure out.

 

At this point it’s really impossible for me to go forward in any way with OfferUp, since whatever happened once will surely happen again if nothing is changed, and nothing can be changed without knowing what the problem is.  And also, frankly, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of dealing with a venue that doesn’t respect me enough to communicate.  On the other hand, this whole thing just seems like a darned shame.  I’m a good seller who makes customers happy, and this is a venue that’s so well suited to me.  So, I was happy and the buyers were happy; OfferUp seems to be the only unhappy party here, so they’re driving both me and my customers away without anyone knowing why.  I’d like to avoid that if there’s anything I can do, but I don’t know if it actually is possible.

 

Thoughts?

4 REPLIES 4
Level 9

@JunkDrawer   I must say I have never heard of anything like this on OfferUp. Maybe someone knows your password? Doing stuff to you. The whole thing sounds crazy. I’m guessing you contacted 

https://offerup.com/support/new/.  . Getting support involved is the only way I can think of. You can contact @Mj_206  and see if she can help. So sorry that I can’t think of anything else. Support is the only thing I can think of. Good luck and I hope it works out. Like I said, you are a first.

@JunkDrawer 

Your forum post is proof that the reporting system is working. Many users must have reported you. It's nearly impossible for one person to bring down an ad, in regards to a "duplicate" ad violation. Even if one person reported you 10000x, it would count only 1x, since the source of the IP would have been recorded. Since Jan of 2018, OfferUp has been using Cloudfare, which would make it very costly for one person or even an organization to manually "fake" individual reports (this is why most VPN's are no longer working).

 

The gltiches that your acct. has experienced has occured to others on this forum, as some have posted about the disappearance/fluctuation of some of their offerings. This seems to be an on-going issue. In addition, the search parameters can definitely use improvement with the implemention of boolean search capabiltiies.

 

Yes, there is an automated "bot" which is programmed to scan for keywords. OfferUp will not disclose the specifics of the algorithm, since that would defeat the purpose of the security feature. From OU's perspective, it serves its purpose (but, Yes...it needs fine tuning).

 

Respect goes both ways and from OU's perspective, you are not an ideal user (I am not an OU employee). If you violate the posting guidelines by repeatedly posting duplicate/multiple posts by archiving/reposting, you should have expected some sort of repurcussion. The Terms of Service were presented and were available to you before you signed up.

 

Majority of the 40+ million users are either content or satisfied with with the app, since they have continued to use it.

I hope you find a platform that meets your needs.

Level 2

Thank you for your reply.  I am not sure what you're referring to with regard to duplicate posts.  I do have some questions about that if you don't mind clarifying, although it as far as I know it was not the issue that caused me a problem.  I never had any duplicate posts, although I did archive unsold items and then re-post them.  I never had two posts running for the same item at the same time.  Is archiving an unsold item and then re-listing it against a rule?  If so, what is the norm or the expectation for when a post gets rather old?  I did look for rules about this when I first started using OfferUp, to see if there were policies in place with regard to the time frame for re-posting unsold items (like, for instance, how Craigslist allows a renewal or re-post only after 48 hours).  I didn't see anything at the time except for rules about duplicates.  Perhaps something has changed.  If so, please point me to the rule so that I can work within whatever framework has been set.  That would be helpful.

 

In any case, although I am interested in knowing what you meant about that, it isn't something that has been mentioned to me at all.  What was stated in the message from OfferUp was that I had "prohibited items" removed.  I have never listed any prohibited items, and I've never been notified of any removals other than the one I mentioned (which they corrected when I contacted them).  

 

This is why, as I said, I do not know how to go forward.  I quite literally don't know what they're talking about, and if they won't tell me what they're talking about, we are at a bit of an impasse.  

 

With regard to your remarks about respect going both ways, I want to point out that I have not ever been in any way disrespectful on or to OfferUp.  I have not violated any rules that I am aware of, and when a problem arose, I contacted them to find out what it was.  I have no desire to do anything that is in violation of their policies, only to find out what the problems are so that they can be addressed.

@JunkDrawer 

In the process of archiving, what are your choices? It is either sold on the app or sold elsewhere. There is no "save this ad" for some unknown future option (OfferUp is not CL). What you have been doing is marking it sold (Is this "honest"?), archiving, and reposting it, so that it appears on the top of feed. This pattern of behavior is frowned upon, since this is why the "bump" option is in place. Technically, is not against the posting guideliness, but is it honest? NO.

 

In regards to the prohibited items that you have been accused of posting, it is most likely words like "ivory" (use "off-white instead) that triggered the automated system. You have to roll with punches, since no system is perfect. The system records a user's pattern of behavior, so if you did not bother to substitute the adjective/color "ivory" after unarchiving/reposting, it probably retriggered the system and labeled you as a repeat offender, hence you received the notice of "posting multiple prohibited" items.

 

The app is not targeting you as a user, but your "pattern of behavior". Most of these types of apps have low to zero "human" customer support, unless you spend money on their app (which is fair) because it is not cost effective when most users only utilize the free services within the app.

 

Most of the 40+ milllion users seem to be able to adapt to OfferUp's SOP. If you want your ads reviewed to avoid getting flagged, you can ask any of the "Community Helpers" for some assistance in inspecting your ads. If someone volunteers to help, you can PM them the link to your profile.