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eBay users are up in arms after the online auctioneer told them their choice to opt out of receiving junk email must have being a mistake which it is keen to correct.

Users have received an email from eBay telling them that their preferences have being changed so that they will receive marketing messages from 23 January. Users not happy with this will have to change their preferences back to those previously specified.

The message to users said: "eBay sends out valuable email communications with news, offers and special events that help you buy and sell. Unfortunately, we have noticed that an error occurred during your registration process that prevented you from receiving these communications.

"Many of your notification preference defaults were set to 'no' rather than to 'yes', which means that unlike other eBay members, you're not receiving these types of communications. We'd like to resolve this problem quickly and efficiently. Therefore, on 1/8/01, we returned all your notification preferences to the standard default of 'yes' to put you in line with the rest of the eBay community."

We can't help that eBay is shooting itself in the foot here and annoying customers it should be doing its best to please, particularly after hardware failure resulted in an 11-hour outage for the site last week.

It should also be noted that last August eBay pulled an auction of mailing lists of US investors, which could be used for spam purposes, from its site citing concerns about the trading of personal data.

So has eBay changed its stand on spam and what will its next step be? Maybe eBay users who select the 'no' option to marketing email on sign-up will receive a message that the application can't be processed when they submit it. ®

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