eBay For Dummies, (Updated for 2020)
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If you put your eBay auction up for a week and the next day your boss says you have to go to China for a month, or your landlord says you have to move out immediately so he can fumigate for a week, you can end your auction early. But ending an auction early isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. You miss all the last-minute bidding action.

Also know that sellers are not allowed to cancel bids and end listings early merely to avoid selling an item that did not meet the desired sale price. That would be a violation of eBay’s reserve-price policy. (Hint: You should have put a reserve price on the item.)

There are only two circumstances in which eBay will allow you to cancel a listing without violating policy:

  • The item is lost, broken, or otherwise no longer available for sale.
  • You made a mistake when creating the listing or entering the starting price or reserve price.
You may also not end an auction listing if there are less than 12 hours to go before the item ends. If there is a bid on your item, you are bound by the rules to sell it to the high bidder for his or her bid price.

eBay makes it clear that ending your auction early does not relieve you of the obligation to sell this item to the highest bidder. To relieve your obligation, you must first cancel all the bids, and then end the auction, and you’ll be charged a Final Value Fee for the amount of the highest bid. Of course, if no one has bid yet, you have nothing to worry about.

When you cancel an auction, you have to write a short explanation that appears on the bidding history section of your auction page. Anyone who bid on the item may message you for a written explanation. If bidders think your explanation doesn’t hold water, don’t be surprised if your inbox becomes nasty.

Bidding on your own item is against the rules. Once upon a time, you could cancel an auction by outbidding everyone on your own item and then ending the auction. But some eBay users abused this privilege by bidding on their own items merely to boost the sales price. Shame on them.

To end an auction early, go to your My eBay Active Selling page, and in the drop-down menu in the Actions column, choose End item. You’ll be required to sign in again. You can also go directly to eBay’s Cancel Bid page to cancel bids, and then to eBay’s End Auction page to end an auction.

Then follow these steps:

  1. Click the appropriate link: either Cancel Bids and End Listing Early or Sell Item to High Bidder and End Listing Early.
  2. On the next page, select a reason for ending your listing.
  3. Click the End Your Listing button. An Ended Listing page appears, and eBay sends an End of Listing Confirmation email to you and to the highest bidder.

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