Are You a Victim of eBay's Secret Policies?

eBay is removing auctions and suspending sellers who sell designer and famous name goods

Recently I have received email from sellers who have run afoul of eBay’s aggressive actions to limit the sale of counterfeit merchandise on eBay.  Several sellers have had their auctions cancelled even though they were selling legitimate merchandise. Compounding the situation, when they contact eBay for help, eBay refuses to tell them what they are doing wrong for "security reasons."

Several months ago, eBay made an announcement that they would become more proactive to combat counterfeits.  In the statement eBay said they would take the following actions:

Proactively removing suspicious items
Removing items reported as counterfeit by brand owners
Working closely with law enforcement to prosecute offenders
Enforcing selling limits on items favored by counterfeiters
Restricting seller activity in certain categories
Providing free tools for rights owners to efficiently identify an
  report items to us for immediate removal

At that time eBay said they would place "restrictions" on sellers who could sell famous name designer goods, but they were never clear what the restrictions were or how sellers with legitimate goods could go about selling.  One policy was to require sellers of these goods to be PayPal verified and to link their eBay user ID with their PayPal account.  eBay also hinted that the number of listings of these goods would be restricted.

They also announced seller restrictions:

  • Site activity such as selling, bidding, and communication with other eBay members using Contact eBay Member or Ask Seller a Question may be limited in order to maintain safety in the marketplace.

  • eBay may require a seller to be registered for a period of time in order to sell certain types of items or volume of items. This is especially true in efforts to help limit the listing of items that are reportedly favored by counterfeiters.

  • For certain types of items that are reportedly favored by counterfeiters, sellers might not be able to list using one-day or three-day auctions.

  • Sellers are required to meet a certain level of buyer satisfaction. If buyer satisfaction falls below expectations, a seller’s activity may be limited or the seller’s account may be restricted or suspended.

As you can see these policies are quite vague and have introduced a lot of uncertainty into the marketplace.  I wonder if that is what eBay is trying to do. By introducing fear, uncertainty and doubt, a lot of sellers will just give up trying to sell these goods, leaving the market to a few big sellers who eBay knows are not selling fake goods.

It is not just new merchandise that is being affected. The policy is also affecting sellers of vintage items. You might think if you picked up a great used Hermes handbag at a thrift shop or a pair of Ferrogamos at a garage sale, you would be OK –but that is not the case.  Here is a posting by a seller of vintage fashion good that outlines the problem pretty well. This seller has been selling on eBay for over ten years and has excellent feedback and DSR scores:

The subject of totally arbitrary eBay seller account restrictions in response to designer listings came up on the Vintage Fashion Guild; I’m cutting and pasting the excellent advice of a member who sells lots of designer vintage stuff:

"Yes, everyone has a magical secret limit on designer goods. The list of exactly what constitutes a designer name is secret — but it does include ridiculous things like Gap, Ann Taylor etc. And every seller’s limit is different — and can change at a moment’s notice without eBay letting you know. That is, until you try to list one of the secret items or revise an existing item.

Yes, if you revise an existing designer listing, eBay counts that as a new listing. So say if your Gucci limit is one item and you already have one listed, if you go in and try to revise it, eBay will no longer allow it to be listed. The reason people are seeing this more often is ebay has recently dramatically decreased the number of designer items most sellers can sell — even when you have a proven track record of selling authentic goods. They have essentially put many long term sellers out of business. This is no doubt in response to the LVMH suit, but the great irony is that new sellers can pretty much list as many fakes as they want with abandon. ebay is randomly targeting mass numbers of established sellers.

SOMETIMES you can get the restriction listed, but it pretty much depends on who handles your request on any given day. First of all, make sure your PayPal account is linked to that eBay account. This is imperative. I cannot stress that enough. Next, if you are a Powerseller, contact Power Seller Support. If you are not a Powerseller, go directly through regular support ([email protected]). In either instance, expect a delay of up to two weeks for a response. Keep nagging. Some sellers have been successful with having the limits lifted but it takes a proven track record, having PayPal linked, and dogged persistence.

This is an example of a template that has been used by and proven successful with several designer sellers in some of the private groups I belong to.

(Make sure to put your seller ID at the top of the email because eBay reps are stoopid).

Dear Powerseller/ebay Support.

I recently received a notice that I have been placed on restriction from listing certain items.

I have been a member of eBay since (month and year) and have a long and positive selling history. My feedback is (feedback number), with a Y% rating.

I have never sold counterfeit merchandise.

I do not condone the sale of counterfeit merchandise.

All of my merchandise is authentic.

Please lift the limitations so that I may carry on with listing my authentic merchandise.

If you have any questions regarding my account or this issue, please feel free to contact me via phone at (phone number.)

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Your Name

Your Seller ID"

We used to sell designer merchandise and gave it up a couple of years ago. Now I am as convinced as ever that we made the right decision. 

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