Ebay now makes it very hard for a buyer to ask questions of the seller. The reason they say they are doing this is to stop communication problems but the real reason is that they don't want buyers and sellers making deals off ebay.
Ebay is so afraid of losing business from people selling off ebay that they have made for bad customer service between seller and buyer. If they would think about it they would find they would have increased business by allowing communication. I both sell and buy on ebay and many times I have questions for sellers before I buy an item. If I couldn't ask those questions I would not buy the item. I've spoken to other buyers and they agree.
Communication is extremely important between seller and buyer and Ebay's attempt to cut it off hurts sales.