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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