10 eBay Seller Responsibilities and How to Uphold Them

With so many millions of active listings at any one time, it is not possible for eBay to regulate every single one. For this reason, eBay sellers are given certain responsibilities to help ensure that the marketplace runs as smoothly as possible.

While eBay does acknowledge that it is possible for sellers to break rules by mistake, repeat offenders may have listings removed, face selling restrictions or even suspension from the marketplace. Sellers are therefore asked to independently review and understand their responsibilities as per eBay’s selling rules and User Agreement.

New sellers unsure where to start should read on to discover 10 important selling responsibilities, from communicating effectively with buyers to paying taxes.

Follow through with the sale terms

When a buyer purchase an item on eBay, they are entering into a binding contract with the seller. That contract is based on the details provided in the item listing. Sellers have a responsibility to follow through with the sale as advertised.

This means:

  • Not requesting additional funds e.g. due to miscalculated shipping costs
  • Canceling the transaction due to legitimate reasons only, such as the item being out of stock or damaged
  • Shipping the item using the shipping service selected by the buyer from the stated shipping location, within the specified handling time
  • Providing accurate tracking details for items sold, within advertised handling time
  • Honoring the stated return policy

Communicate effectively

eBay encourages sellers to ‘do whatever you can to provide excellent customer service.’ Effective communication is a key part of this as it can help prevent or alleviate many post-sale issues. In addition, buyers are able to rate sellers for their communication skills at the same time as leaving feedback about a sale.

eBay asks sellers to:

  • Respond promptly to any buyer questions, both before and after an item has been purchased
  • Be responsive to any problems or concerns a buyer may have
  • Communicate professionally without profane or offensive language

Pay all eBay fees

Avoiding fees, whether intentionally or not, is against eBay policy. eBay requires all sellers to pay all of the relevant fees for sales made using some or all eBay services, even if the sale terms are finalized, or payment is made outside of eBay.

Example of fee avoiding behavior include:

  • Canceling bids or ending a listing early because the desired price has not been reached
  • Listing items in the incorrect category
  • Promoting another website that can be used to order items outside of eBay
  • Changing a listing to sell a different item instead of listing a new item

Don’t sell restricted items

It is a seller’s responsibility to ensure that the items they are selling are allowed to be sold on eBay. With so many millions of active listings on the marketplace at any one time, it is not possible for eBay to regulate every single one.

eBay sellers are therefore asked to read and understand the restricted item policy before listing items. Sellers who plan to sell items to an international audience should initiate further research to check local laws in destination countries. Some items that may be legal (and allowed to be sold on eBay) in one country, may be illegal to possess in another.

Be honest about an item’s condition

Setting buyer expectations is a key aspect to successful eBay selling. If a buyer knows exactly what to expect, they are more likely to be satisfied with their purchase.

For this reason, it is important to accurately describe items. This includes the item’s condition, which can make or break a sale. Demonstrate the condition of the item with multiple photos showing different angles and perspectives, as well as any damage or blemishes. Use item specifics and include all relevant details in the description.

Never bid on or buy your own items

Bidding on your own auctions to artificially increase the price (or buying an item to improve feedback) is called shill bidding. Not only is the practice against eBay policy, but it is also illegal in many countries.

eBay doesn’t allow shill bidding as it is unfair to real buyers. Not only does the policy restrict you from buying your own items, but it also forbids family, friends, roommates, employees or online connections from trying to ‘help.’

Pack items well to avoid damage

Until an item is delivered safely to the buyer’s listed address, the seller assumes all responsibility for the item. If an item is damaged in transit, the buyer is owed a refund or replacement as per the Money Back Guarantee.

The best way to avoid problems is to take the time to pack the item properly, in an appropriately sized container with plenty of cushioning materials.

Pay all relevant taxes

eBay sellers have a responsibility to follow all tax regulations that may apply to their sales. While eBay provides guidance for sellers regarding tax, it is still the seller’s obligation to ensure that they are following and implementing relevant tax laws.

Depending on where a seller lives, they may need to pay income tax on sales as well as sales tax on items sold. Items sent to international destinations may be subject to local consumer tax laws and/or customs duties.

Don’t make false reports

To assist sellers, eBay provides various reporting services. eBay members are not allowed to abuse the process and make false reports against other users.

One of the most commonly used reporting services is for unpaid items. When a buyer does not pay for an item they have committed to buy, the seller can open an unpaid item case. Since the buyer may be subject to action against them, it is prohibited for sellers to falsely report unpaid items.

Resolve issues with buyers

eBay sellers have the responsibility of handling and resolving post-sale issues with buyers. The Money Back Guarantee, for example, promises that sellers will resolve a buyer’s issue within 3 days. If not, eBay will step in and help.

If the seller is found responsible for the buyer’s problem, it is counted as a transaction defect. Sellers are only allowed a very small percentage of cases closed without seller resolution before seller performance levels are effected.

Experience sellers, what do you think about these responsibilities? Do you have any advice for new sellers trying to uphold them?

Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.

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