Five Important Rules Every eBay Seller Must Live By

Much like any other business, starting an eBay selling enterprise comes with the requirement to learn countless rules and regulations. Being one of the world’s largest and oldest online marketplaces, eBay has a particularly unique and expansive system of policies and rules in place for buying and selling. For new sellers on the site, it can be undoubtedly difficult to know where to start.

This article will examine five of the most important rules that every seller must live by when selling on eBay. Sellers who do not follow these rules risk selling restrictions and even suspension from the site.

Do not sell counterfeit or prohibited items

The eBay marketplace may be full of unusual, rare and strange items but there are also strict policies concerning prohibited and restricted items. It is the seller’s responsibility that the sale of the item is allowed on eBay and also complies with all local laws and any additional restrictions applicable to payment services offered on eBay.

Primarily based on state and country laws, the list of prohibited and restricted items also includes items disallowed at eBay’s own discretion. In addition, there is an international trading policy for sellers wishing to ship items overseas. Sellers must ensure that items comply with import laws in any country they are sending items to.

Some items that are cannot be sold on eBay include:

  • Contact lenses
  • Used cosmetics
  • Replica coins
  • Travel club memberships
  • Socks and underwear
  • Surveillance microphones
  • Replica or imitation switchblades
  • Any item containing tobacco

What to do: Carefully read and comply with eBay’s prohibited and restricted item list before listing items. Never assume that an item is allowed without checking first. Be sure to also check local laws and regulations.

Do not fall below eBay’s selling performance standards

eBay is always looking to improve buyer experience. After all, higher buyer satisfaction encourages buyers to purchase more items and increase overall profits for eBay. To meet buyer expectations, eBay has minimum seller performance standards. Sellers are assessed every month and assigned a seller performance level:

  • Top Rated – Exceptional quality of customer service and exceeds minimum sales requirements
  • Above Standard – Meeting minimum standards
  • Below Standard – Not meeting one or more of minimum standards for customer service quality

This performance level is calculated by looking at a seller’s transaction defect rate, cases closed without seller resolution, late shipments, and tracking validation. The metrics used to calculate performance levels vary between eBay sites. 

Sellers who are assessed to be Below Standard may experience selling limits or restrictions. On the other side, sellers who achieve Top Rated status are eligible for Final Value Fee discounts and other benefits

What to do: To maintain an Above Standard or Top Rated performance level, sellers should concentrate on professional and consistent customer service. This includes a commitment to shipping items on time, providing tracking information quickly and resolving cases with buyers. It is also important to maintain accurate inventory levels to avoid defects for out of stock items.

Do not blackmail buyers for positive Feedback

eBay’s Feedback system enables buyers to verify the reputation and sales history of a seller. Each seller’s Feedback score is listed next to their user ID and is therefore noticeable throughout eBay. To protect both buyers and sellers, eBay has a Feedback extortion policy to prevent users from wielding Feedback as a tool to force demands.

Feedback extortion can take a number of different forms on eBay but two quick examples are:

  • A seller refusing to complete a return request unless the buyer agrees to leave positive Feedback
  • A buyer threatening to give negative Feedback if the seller does not accept their return

What to do: Sellers should always try to resolve buyer issues to the best of their ability. It is acceptable to ask a buyer to leave positive Feedback after the transaction has been concluded. Always communicate with buyers with My eBay Messages.

Do not infringe the Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) program

The VeRO program allows trademark and copyright owners to protect their intellectual property. If they find a violation, these trademark and copyright owners are able to request the removal of listings via VeRO.

Some examples of intellectual property violations that happen on eBay are:

  • Clothing with the Nike logo on it, that is not made by Nike
  • Handbag described as ‘just like Marc Jacobs,’ but not made by Marc Jacobs
  • Listing descriptions that were copy and pasted from the manufacturer’s website
  • Shoes with standard hook and look fasteners described as having ‘Velcro’ closures
  • Nintendo games that was intended for sale in Japan only, being sold internationally
  • Pirated DVDs

The responsibility of spotting infringements in the hands of trademark and copyright owners. If a violation is discovered, eBay will remove the listing and contact the seller.

What to do instead: The easiest way to avoid issues with the VeRO program is to describe items accurately in listings. Do not mislead buyers and only use brand names when selling an item made by that brand.

Do not participate in shill bidding

Shill bidding is the practice of bidding on an item to artificially increase its price or desirability. As well as being prohibited on eBay, it is illegal in many places in the world.

While eBay sellers have the most to gain by bidding on their own items, shill bidding may also be initiated by a third party to manipulate the marketplace. This could include friends, family members, business partners, competitors and online connections.

What to do instead: Sellers are not permitted to bid on their own items or encourage others to do so, with the intention of artificially inflating the price or desirability of the item. Relatives, friends or acquaintances can only bid on items if it is a legitimate sale without dishonest purposes in mind.

Experienced eBay sellers, what are your own essential selling rules to live by?

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.

Related Posts

How to Combine Shipping on eBay
A Beginner Seller's Guide to Return Shipping on eBay
How to Deal with Payment Disputes on eBay