Avoid These eBay Trading Violations

eBay buyers and sellers can commit trading violations by attempting to manipulate the outcome of an eBay auction or sale. Many of the violations aren't necessarily buyer- or seller-exclusive, but apply to both. Regardless of the nature of a violation, such bad behavior harms everyone who's part of the eBay community.

As a valued member of the community, it's partially your responsibility to look out for such violations so that eBay continues to be a safe venue in which to do business. Should you see a violation, report it immediately to the eBay Security Center.

Unfortunately, you may sometimes encounter non-community-minded sellers who interfere with your auctions or sales. This interference can take on several forms, such as sellers who illegally drive up bids or "steal" bidders.

  • Shill bidding: Placing a bid on an auction to artificially inflate the final value is forbidden. It's the bane of every eBay user (whether buyer or seller) and undermines community trust. Shill bidding may be a violation of the Federal wire fraud statute, which encompasses the practice of entering into interstate commerce to defraud; it's a felony and not something to toy with!

    The practice of shill bidding has been a part of auctions from their beginnings. To prevent the suspicion of shill bidding, people in the same family, those who share the same computer, and folks who work or live together should not bid on each other's items.

    Shill bidders are fairly easy to recognize, even for the eBay user who isn't privy to things such as IP addresses. By checking a bidder's auction history, you can easily determine a user's bidding pattern. A bidder who constantly bids up items and never wins is suspicious.

  • Transaction interference: Have you ever received an e-mail from an eBay seller offering you an item that you're currently bidding on for a lower price? This is called transaction interference, and it can prevent sellers from gaining the highest bid possible.

  • Transaction interception: This occurs when an eBay scalawag keeps track of closing auctions and then, when the auction is finished, e-mails the winner as if the scalawag were the seller. The e-mail often looks official and is congratulatory, politely asking for payment. Interceptors typically use a post office box for such mischief. This behavior goes beyond being a trading violation; it's actually stealing.

    The best way to protect yourself from such miscreants is to accept payments through a payment service, such as PayPal, by using a Pay Now link.

  • Fee circumvention or avoidance: This is the practice of evading paying eBay fees by going around the eBay system. An eBay member can commit fee avoidance in many ways — sometimes without even realizing it:

    • Don't use an eBay member's contact information in an attempt to sell, off the eBay site, a listed item.

    • Don't use an eBay member's contact information to sell, off the eBay site, an item from a closed auction in which the reserve price wasn't met.

    • Don't close your auction early so you can sell the item to someone who has e-mailed you with an offer to buy the item.

    • Don't cancel bids to end your auction before it legally closes so you can sell the item to someone who has e-mailed you with an offer of a higher price.

    • Don't offer duplicates of your item to the unsuccessful bidders in your auction, unless you use the Second Chance option.

  • Excessive shipping charges: You, as a seller, are required to charge reasonable shipping and handling fees. You may not charge a shipping fee that's disproportionate to the item you're selling.

  • Nonselling seller: Refusing to accept payment from the winning bidder and refusing to complete the transaction is simply wrong. Very, very bad form! You are legally and morally bound to complete any transaction in which you enter.

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