Things You Can’t Do on eBay

By Marsha Collier

The folks on eBay didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. eBay staffers have seen just about every scam to get around paying fees or following policy guidelines. Chances are good that if you try one of these scams, you’ll get caught. Then eBay cancels the listing. Do it once, and shame on you (don’t count on getting the listing fee credited back to you). Do it a lot, and you’re no longer welcome on eBay.

The following items are definitely forbidden:

  • Raffles and prizes: You need to sell something in your auction; you can’t offer a chance to win a prize either by chance or a giveaway. You can offer to give away a bonus product with a sold item.
  • Advertisements: An eBay auction is not the place to make a sales pitch (other than attractive copy describing your item, that is) for an item for sale elsewhere. Some eBay bad guys list an auction name and then use the auction to send bidders to some other auction or website. The Real Estate category and eBay Motors are exceptions. You can run an ad there to sell property.
  • Bait-and-switch tactics: These are a variation on the ugly old sales technique of pretending to sell what you’re not really selling. Some eBay users who are selling an unfamiliar brand of item try to snag bidders by putting a more familiar brand in the title. For instance, writing Designer Chanel purse — not really, but a lot like it! is a fake-out. eBay calls it keyword spamming.
  • Choice listings: You cannot offer your bidder a choice of significantly different items. But you can offer variations of the same item. For example, if you’re selling a particular T-shirt, list small, medium, and large sizes.
  • Mixing apples with oranges: This gambit tries to attract more bidders to view an item by putting it in a high-traffic category where it doesn’t belong. Forget it. eBay may move it for you if necessary, but keeping that rutabaga recipe book away from the list of automotive repair manuals is more considerate.
  • Go emoji-less: Although it may seem that using emoji might be a way to get eyes on your title, don’t. The folks at eBay saw this potential headache coming, and quickly banned the use of special characters, superscript, and subscript in titles and subtitles.
  • Duplicate listings: You may not list more than one fixed-price listing of an identical item at the same time. If you are running an auction, you may have more than one listing for identical items. Auctions for identical items listed by the same seller will be filtered by eBay, and only one duplicate listing without bids will appear at a time.