eBay Bans Digital Items From Auction and Fixed Price Listings & Classified Ad System Breaks Down

eBay announced a new policy forcing all sellers of digital items to list only in the classified ad format, but the format is not working.

eBay has been in a ten-year battle to restrict and control the sale of digitally delivered goods (eBooks, downloads, music, software, etc.) on the platform.  Over the years eBay has announced several new policies to limit or restrict sales of these products.

If you sell info products or eBooks on eBay this policy will affect you immediately.

Unfortunately for the honest eBay sellers, digital products have been the source of a lot of outright scams. Lately they have been used as Feedback Farms and ways for sellers to build mailing lists and then sell buyers other items from off of eBay. Feedback Farms were 99-cent listings where a seller was essentially selling an eBook at no profit in order to quickly build up their feedback rating. Most of the eBooks were pure junk –bought from other sellers for 99-cents with full resale rights.

Today eBay announced a new policy that starting March 31st, you can only list eBooks and other digitally delivered products in the Everything Else > Information Products category and only by using the Classified Ad format. Unfortunately the classified ad format isn’t working today (see below for more info).

The Classified Ad format has several differences from a normal listing.  When you create an ad, you list a price that you are selling the item for but there is no bidding on the auction and no button to buy. Instead you can use the ad to collect leads by showing an email address and phone number to call. There is no feedback posted because nothing was sold through eBay.

eBay charges $9.95 to list a classified ad for 30 days. Since nothing is sold, there is no final value fee.

There is a way that sellers can sell directly from a classified ad.  First you need a website or a web page where you can deliver the item. Here are the steps:

  1. For example, if you are selling an eBook as a PDF file, you would create a page on your website (or blog) where someone can click on the link to download the product.
  2. Next create a PayPal Buy Now button. When you create the button, PayPal asks you for a web page where you want people to go after they complete payment. Just enter the URL for the download page.
  3. Now, get the html code for the button and paste that code on your delivery page. Once the button is on the page, click on the button and that will bring up the PayPal payment page.  Copy the URL of this page to your clipboard.
  4. Now create your classified ad.  At the bottom of your product description, place a line that says: Click Here to purchase and get immediate download.  The "Click Here" would be a link to the PayPal URL that you copied to your clipboard.
  5. When a person clicks on that link, they will be taken to a PayPal login page that has the amount of the sale at the top of the page. After they log in, they will be taken to a page that confirms their payment.
  6. After they confirm their payment, PayPal will redirect them to the page you specified in the payment button where they can download the item.
  7. Lastly, you should construct an email that confirms and thanks them for the order and gives the link to the download page.  Make sure you send everyone this email whenever you see the payment come through PayPal because occasionally the PayPal re-direct fails. This will prevent you from getting lots of email and complaints.

Many sellers also list a website, however, eBay has been (and still is) very unclear on allowing this.  On one hand they say that you can not list off eBay websites in your auction and store listings and on the other hand they don’t mention this in their Classified Ad listings.  Some sellers have had their auctions cancelled for listing a website, while others have been allowed to list them.

Now there is one other problem:  As of today you can’t list a classified ad.  I tried to list two classified ads on eBay today. I put them in the correct category and I got the following error message:

Attention Seller!
You can not submit your listing due to the following problems
"Please note that all listings that contain content that can be digitally downloaded or transferred must be listed in the Classified Ad Format only. As of March 31st, all listings for digital items not in the classified ad format will be considered a policy violation."

No matter what I tried I kept getting the message. I spent about an hour on the phone with PowerSeller Support trying to fix this problem. We finally got one of the listings to launch, but could never get the second one to go.  The rep finally ended up telling me that there was some type of glitch and tech support was working on it.

I suspect it has to do with the fact that this new policy doesn’t go live for another 5 days but eBay jumped the gun on enforcing it.  I did hear from several sellers who had their listings for information products in other formats ended and they got a notice of policy violation. But when they contacted eBay, eBay reversed themselves.  Even the folks I spoke with in PowerSeller support had little knowledge of the issues or the new policy.

So bottom line I think we will need to wait a few days to see how this shakes out. In the meantime, you have listings for any digital delivered products running, I suggest you end them.  Then in a few days you might try relisting them as classified ads.

This changes several things in my best-selling book, How To Create and Sell Information Products on eBay. So I will be spending the next couple of weeks updating and revising the book.

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