eBay’s Listing Policies

eBay itself does not sell merchandise. eBay is merely a venue that provides the location where others can put on a giant e-commerce party (in other words, sell stuff). To provide a safe and profitable venue for its sellers, eBay must govern auctions that take place on its site. eBay makes the rules; you follow the rules.

eBay has some hard-and-fast rules about listing your items. One rule is that you must list your item in the appropriate category (that only makes sense). Take time to familiarize yourself with the User Agreement (which details all eBay policies and rules) at the following address:

Check the eBay User Agreement regularly for any policy changes.

Duplicate listings

Remember the old supply-and-demand theory from your economics class? When people list the same items repeatedly, they drive down the item’s going price while ruining all the other sellers’ opportunities to sell the item during that time frame.

eBay allows you to list as many identical auctions as you want, but only one without bids will show on eBay at a time. And you may not have more than one listing of a fixed-price item. Sellers who want to “game” the system in this way, by listing a huge number of the same item, need to think twice.

eBay policy states that the display of multiple identical items from the same seller will be limited to only one at a time without bids in search results. So what’s the point? If you’re going to list an item that many times, at the very least be sure to list it in different categories. That’s a rule, but it also makes sense.

Nothing drives down the price of an item faster than closing identical auctions, one after another, in the same category. eBay also requires that you list your item in a category that’s relevant to it.

Drop-shipping and product-sourcing listings

In many situations, being the first seller to put a popular item up for sale can get you some high bids. And if you can guarantee in your auction description that the item will be available to ship within 30 days of the purchase or the auction closing, you can sell items from a product sourcer or drop-shipper.

Before you set up such listings (for presale or drop-shipping), check out the Federal Trade Commission 30-day rule covering these matters.

Ix-nay on the bonuses, giveaways, raffles, or prizes

Because eBay sells to every state in the United States, it must follow explicit laws governing giveaways and prizes. Each state has its own set of rules and regulations, so eBay doesn’t allow individual sellers to come up with their own promotions.

If your auction violates this rule, eBay might end your listing.

Search and browse manipulation by keyword spamming

Keyword spamming happens when you add words, usually brand names, to your auction description that don’t describe what you’re selling (for example, describing that little black dress as Givenchy-style when Givenchy has nothing to do with it). Keyword spamming manipulates the eBay search engine by including an unrelated item in the listing for a copyrighted or trademarked item, and then diverting bidders to an auction of other merchandise.

Sellers use keyword spamming to pull viewers to their auctions after viewers have searched for the brand name. To attract attention to their listings, some sellers use not or like along with the brand name, such as like Givenchy.

Here are the problems with keyword spamming:

  • It’s a listing violation and causes your auction to fall under potentially infringing items for sale on eBay. The wording you choose when you run this kind of auction manipulates the eBay search engine and prospective bidders.

  • It’s frustrating to the potential buyers trying to use the search engine to find a particular item, and it’s unfair to other eBay sellers who’ve properly listed their items.

Keyword spamming can take many forms. Some merely mislead the prospective bidder; others are infringements on legal rights. A few of the most common are

  • Superfluous brand names in the title or item description

  • Using something like “not brand X” in the title or item description

  • Improper trademark usage

  • Lists of keywords

  • Hidden text

    This violation is often white text on a white background or hidden text in HTML code. The white text resides in the auction HTML, so it shows up in the search but is not visible to the naked eye. Sneaky, eh? And prohibited.

  • Drop-down lists

Check out eBay’s keyword spamming policy.

Limited linking from your listings

Few issues set sellers to arguing more than eBay’s rules on linking. In your auction item description, you can use the following links:

  • One link to an additional page that gives further information about the item you’re selling.

  • A link that sends a member to eBay messages so that the buyer can send you an e-mail.

  • Links to more photo images of the item you’re selling.

  • Links to your other auctions on eBay and your eBay store listings.

  • One link to your About Me page, besides the link next to your user ID that eBay provides.

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