Sellers affected by selling restrictions generally want to know three things:
- Why has my selling been restricted?
- What can I do to lift the restriction?
- What can I do to avoid restrictions in the future?
Why eBay Restricts Selling
eBay restricts selling when there is a high potential for fraud related to the auctions, items, or seller account in question. Some of the most common situations in which selling restrictions occur include:
- High-value, high-demand designer goods. Trademark designer goods of all kinds bearing famous names tend to draw the attention of the trademark holder (the manufacturer of the genuine articles), of competing sellers, and of eBay.
- Highly anticipated product launches. When a new product-often a consumer electronics product like the XBox or iPad-is launched, many eBay sellers see the opportunity to buy low and sell high. eBay, on the other hand, sees high fraud potential and imposes restrictions to ensure that no single fraudster can steal from many buyers.
- Conterfeits, knock-offs, and unauthorized products. Any product or category that involves unlicensed name-brand goods or in which there is a high incidence of counterfeiting is likely to be restriction-heavy.
- Sudden changes in your selling practices. Selling items in these categories for the first time, rapidly increasing your sales in one of these categories, or switching from one to another (one brand of designer handbag to another, for example) increases your chances of being hit with a selling restriction.
- Accumulating violations of various kinds. If several of your auctions have been removed by eBay for any reason (especially in relation to the problems described above), a restriction notice could be just around the corner.
What You Should and Shouldn't Do
When hit with a selling restriction, there several dos and don'ts to keep in mind:
- Do wait the restriction out patiently. After the time period has passed, contact eBay once if the restriction hasn't yet been lifted, wait some more. Follow any directions eBay gives you, including requests for personal information.
- Don't simply register a new account and begin selling again.
- Don't contact eBay incessantly, send angry messages, threaten legal action, or express your frustration. You can "develop a reputation" inside eBay that will place you and your selling under a permanent microscope and make a permanent ban likely.
- Don't contact your recent buyers and continue to conduct sales outside of eBay, or send a mass email to them simply to complain about eBay.
- Don't simply list more of the same item(s) in other categories or under misspelled titles if your restriction is only for a particular item or category.
- Don't immediately list the same items in the same quantities again the moment the restriction is lifted..
Avoiding Future RestrictionsSome online advice suggests getting around eBay's restrictions using false information, new identities, or other "insider" tricks. They may also claim that to provide personal information to eBay is a sure way to "get banned" or "get caught" in the future. This is true-if eBay continues to believe that you are engaged in high-risk selling.
Sellers that begin by bending the rules have soured their relationship with eBay and often find themselves engaged in out-and-out identity fraud months or years down the road just to keep selling, haunted by the constant threat of a permanent ban.
Restrictions are a warning sign that the way you are doing business is unsustainable on eBay, fair or not. If you plan to rely on your eBay income, your future should include changes.
- Move away from high-risk/high-fraud items. Choose a different category of items to carry-one that is less fraud-heavy. Unless you plan to enter completely into the cutthroat and often corrupting world of gray and black market sales, you're better off moving on.
- Partner with rights holders. If you're selling legally licensed, legally imported or stocked retail goods and believe you were unfairly targeted or accused, in the future focus on contacting and working with the rights holder to have eBay mark you as a legitimate seller.
- Ensure compliance with rights holders' wishes. Some may insist that you sell at or above MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price), or that you not sell some (or, in some cases, any) of their items on eBay. Don't bother arguing; once you've been identified as a restricted seller, both rights holders and eBay will watch your listings for compliance.
- Shift your emphasis and/or sell one at a time. Sales of legitimate items that repeatedly earn restrictions may be possible if you do it at a slower pace, usually only one listing at any time and only one or several listings per month. While you continue to sell the item(s) in question, you shift your primary selling emphasis elsewhere.
Though a restriction may seem like the end of the world, it isn't-unless you let it become so. Take selling restrictions as a warning that your eBay income stream is at risk, and make the necessary modifications to protect yourself and your business for the long term.