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eBay Sellers May Have to Pay Final Values Fees for Off-eBay Sales

eBay on Tuesday evening sent out a notice to all sellers on an update to its User Agreement. Unlike many other user agreements that deal with small issues, often privacy related, this one may have a profound financial impact not discussed in the Fall eBay Seller Update.

We must admit that eBay’s “new direction” of better communications and being more open to sellers is a bid undermined here with a policy update emailed to sellers late evening (East Coast Time), the same day it released a Seller Update.

The company could have been more upfront with this by including it in the seller update!

EBAY CRACKING DOWN ON OFF-PLATFORM SALES

While eBay has been warning sellers about off-platform sales or discussing off-platform sales with buyers, the company is taking another significant step into enforcing this issue.

Previously, eBay announced that all sellers must remove contact information from their listings, including phone numbers.

They also started to use AI to decrypt cryptic email exchanges where buyers and sellers would find creative ways to share direct contact information such as phone numbers and email addresses.

Now the company announced they might assess final value fees if they find sellers violating the policy, including if the sale did not finalize.

FULL TEXT OF NEW POLICY AS PROVIDED BY EBAY

We don’t allow our members to use eBay to contact each other to make offers to buy or sell items outside of eBay. Also, members can’t use information obtained from eBay or any eBay systems to contact each other about buying or selling outside of eBay.
Sellers are liable for fees arising out of all sales made using some or all eBay Services, even if sales terms are finalized or payment is made outside of eBay.
Sellers are also liable for final value fees if they offer or reference their contact information, or ask for a buyer’s contact information, in the context of buying or selling outside of eBay, even if the item does not sell.
If you receive an offer to buy or sell outside eBay, please report it.
Make sure you follow these guidelines. If you don’t, you may be subject to a range of actions, including limits of your buying and selling privileges, restrictions on listings and account features, suspension of your account, application of fees, and recovery of our expenses in policy monitoring and enforcement.

eBay Policy Overview – Offers to buy or sell outside of eBay

REPORTING BUYERS IS YOUR ONLY PROTECTION

With this new policy in place, your only protection from being charged for a sale that may or may not happen outside of eBay is to report a buyer asking you for making just such a sale.

It is not enough to just tell a buyer that you cannot do it, but you must now report that buyer to eBay. Reports by sellers about buyers are anonymous.

There is no indication of how eBay plans to inform buyers of this policy. Presumably, they are leaving it up to sellers to educate buyers.

DRACONIAN ENFORCEMENT (IS IT LEGAL?)

Some sellers may question if this is legal. While we are not lawyers, the fact you agree to their user agreement and the fact eBay ties it into communication on their messaging platform seems to make this policy legal.

Basically, they are saying they can charge you a fee on your listing based on the listing price if they provide a lead for a transaction.

WHEN DOES THIS POLICY START?

The updated eBay User Agreement will take effect on September 19, 2017, for new users and on November 1, 2017, for all other users.

But we caution that you should train your staff now on this policy and immediately implement a reporting policy on attempts by buyers that ask for an off-platform sale.

Here is the link to eBay’s policy page that also includes some additional information on this policy.

IS THIS POLICY FOR U.S. ONLY?

We cannot confirm if sellers outside the U.S. received the same email (let us know in the comments section below). However, we found the same policy in the help sections for these main eBay sites:

The English versions of the policy match 100% the U.S. version. And eBay did translate this policy for the French, German, Italian, and Spanish sites.

We can only assume this policy change applies to all eBay platforms.

Regardless of your thoughts about eBay or this policy, we firmly suggest you follow this one as it has financial implications!

Now, we do like to hear your thoughts on this new policy in the comments section below

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9 Comments

  1. Ron Crosby says:

    I just got charged a $182 final value fee for an item because a buyer emailed me their phone number. I never replied or asked them for this. The book did not sell.

  2. Johnny Eastside says:

    I received an emailed warning from ebay concerning this exact policy following a request from a potential customer to pickup the items locally. I agreed to meet the customer at a business location to ensure that the items in question are going to work before the purchase is completed. I also informed the customer directly that due to the new policies, we will need to complete the transaction via ebay to avoid penalties.

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with making arrangements with a local customer to ensure that a product will fit their needs before they purchase it. On the one hand, ebay wants to penalize sellers for returns, but agreeing to meet customers to ensure that products will work as expected and avoid returns is now penalized, too?

    ebay is missing one major piece to this puzzle, and this is that the buyers and sellers on the marketplace are NOT their employees. We are all either private individuals or independent businesses. While ebay may dislike sellers selling their items on other marketplaces and venues, they ultimately have no control over this. In my opinion, attempts to prevent sellers from selling outside ebay go directly against first sale doctrine. Sure, they can say you are in violation of their terms and restrict or remove your account, but to go so far as charging final value fees on items they have no evidence you even sold in the first place? Nope. Not legal. I don’t care what your policies are, but no company can just make up fictitious charges and take the money out of your account.

    Ron Crosby, I would contact the FTC right away and then immediately open a chargeback with my bank. Also, ebay states the policy doesn’t go into affect until 11/1, so I’m not sure why they are already executing a policy that does not exist yet.

    1. I totally agree with everything you said Johnny. The policy is not fully thought out and leaves massive grey areas unanswered which just means so many businesses are getting penalised for just going about their business with no intent of transacting off of eBay.

      Dave

  3. Hi there, I have just been charged a final fee for allowing a potential buyer to inspect the item prior to buying. The sale did not proceed. I was locked out of my account for a week and now I have been charged the selling fee. (I wasn’t aware of the policy). I had no intention of selling outside of ebay, and I am angry that I have bene penalised this way.

  4. Damir Besic says:

    for the lest several years I had all of my high dollar guitars listed on eBay as well as other sites, and also my own web site… whenever I sold guitar on eBay I’d pay their fees without any problems… recently I sold guitar off eBay, and sale didn’t have anything to do with eBay, however eBay charged me a final fee … after I paid the fee, I removed all of my guitars off the eBay for good, and will never again list anything for sale on eBay…

    1. How weird,

      They must have had some way of knowing that the sale took place or the customer came from eBay…where did the sale take place?

      Dave

  5. Just got stung with one of these fees even though the item didn’t sell!

    Now I have a invoice for $76.50 and still have the item hanging around:(.

    If I don’t pay eBay they said they will send the debt to the debt collectors.

    Never will sell or try to sell on eBay again, NEVER EVER!

  6. Class action law suit, coming up. Don’t see how eBay won’t eventually be forced to repay this theft of final value fees since they won’t be able to prove in most cases that a sale took place. Very authoritarian behavior. They should be fined out of existence for such BS.

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