Designed to create a ‘fair and safe trading experience for all eBay users,’ eBay has an extensive and complex policy system. Compliance is mandatory. Users who do not meet their obligations may have restricted buying and selling privileges.
Sellers are expected to be familiar with all eBay policies and should check regularly for updates. The User Agreement, for example, provides the cornerstones of selling on eBay. Sellers are also required to follow specific selling policies, which range from basic selling requirements to prohibited items and more.
Some of eBay’s selling policies are more obvious. Shill bidding, for example, is the practice of buying or bidding on an item to artificially increase its price. Most people are already aware that this is illegal. Instead, this article will concentrate on sharing six eBay selling policies that are less commonly known or discussed.
Intellectual property is the ownership of ideas and is protected by law in the form of patents, copyright and trademarks. Selling items that infringe on the intellectual property rights of others is not allowed on eBay. It is also illegal.
The Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) program enables intellectual property owners to report eBay listings that infringe on their property rights.
An example of intellectual infringement on eBay would be describing a pair of Walmart leggings being ‘just like Lululemon’ in a listing. Brand names, such as Lululemon, cannot be used in a listing unless the item is manufactured by that brand name.
For more examples, learn more about eBay’s VeRO program here.
Multiple accounts policy
Contrary to common belief, eBay users are allowed to have more than one account. In the multiple accounts policy, eBay concedes that there are ‘are many reasons why users would choose to have more than one eBay account.’ This includes:
- Sellers who may also want to buy items on eBay and would prefer to make these purchases using a different account
- Users who may want to manage different product lines on separate accounts
What is not allowed under this policy is creating or using a secondary account with the purpose of avoiding selling restrictions or limits on another account. eBay sellers are expected to reach minimum performance standards on every account that they own.
eBay sellers are responsible for following all tax regulations associated with selling on eBay as per the tax policy. This includes declaring and paying tax on income earned from eBay sales as well as the application of consumption taxes (such as GST in Canada and VAT in the UK) on eBay selling fees.
While eBay is unable to provide tax advice to sellers, it does calculate, collect, and remit sales tax on behalf of sellers in certain states and countries.
This tax policy is necessary to ensure that eBay users follow government regulations. When required to by law, eBay will share seller data with government authorities.
Unpaid item abuse policy
eBay buyers are obligated to complete a purchase if they win an auction or use Buy It Now to purchase an item. But buyers can be slow to react. In this scenario, an eBay seller is able to open an Unpaid Item Case to encourage the buyer to pay or prompt a formal cancellation of the sale.
There are, however, some restrictions. For example, sellers must wait a specified length of time before filing the Unpaid Item Case (2 days for eBay.com users). Sellers must also still be willing to complete the transaction, even after an initial delay.
As per the unpaid item abuse policy, a seller making false unpaid item reports risk removal of selling privileges or even suspension.
Member-to-member contact policy
Users of eBay are encouraged to communicate via the native messaging system only. Messages between members are considered in case decisions and are also monitored for fraud, abuse, spam, and other policy violations.
For this reason, sellers should be aware of eBay’s member-to-member contact policy. eBay members are not allowed to:
- Threaten other users
- Use profanity or hate speech
- Exchange or request email addresses, phone numbers or other personal details
- Discuss buying and selling outside of eBay
The member-to-member contact policy also covers inappropriate Feedback comments. Some examples of Feedback comments that are not allowed include profane and vulgar language, political commentary and information that personally identifies other eBay members.
Fee avoidance policy
Fees are an inescapable part of selling on eBay. Sellers are responsible for paying all fees associated with every eBay sale.
eBay’s fee avoidance policy prohibits sellers from being involved (whether intentionally or not) in any kind of activity that may circumvent paying fees. Some examples include:
- Ending a listing early because the preferred price has not been met
- Listing an item in the wrong category
- Encouraging a buyer to finalize the sale outside of eBay
- Charging for excessive shipping not already included in the price of the item
- Misusing the listing reserve price feature
Sellers who take part in these kind of activities risk the cancellation of listings, demotion of listings from search results, a lower seller performance rating and even suspension.
Veteran eBay sellers, were you familiar of these selling policies? How regularly do you check for selling policy updates?