Will UK sellers be forced to accept international cheques?

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eBay UK have some updates to their payments policy, specifically a new section titled ‘‘:

Sellers who state in their listing that they accept certain payment methods must not selectively offer those payment methods to buyers or discourage buyers from using those payment methods.

A similar policy was introduced in Australia last September, where examples were given of sellers saying “I only accept PayPal for payments over $10” or “I only accept PayPal from overseas customers, not domestic ones”. To this, I think we can add “eBay are forcing me to say I accept PayPal, but in fact I only really want payment by cheque”, as I’ve seen UK sellers start to do recently.

If it were a policy that only related to PayPal, I’d be content: making things clearer and simpler for buyers has to be good for all sellers, and a few sellers having silly bits of small print designed to get around eBay policies is unacceptable.

But the policy doesn’t say “PayPal only”. Does this mean if your payment terms say you accept cheques, you have to accept them from the whole world? Are UK sellers listing worldwide going to be forced to accept cheques in Euros, Dollars and Yen? Many sellers will just not be able to deal with cheques in other currencies, so if the policy does apply to cheques, they will be forced to stop offering them. Is this PayPal-only by the back door?

Yet again, this new policy seems to have been introduced by people who have absolutely no experience of trading on the site. It needs clarification, and it needs it now.

60 Responses

  1. If you think about it – this can benefit sellers !

    Current policy states that :

    Different Currency – Sellers may choose to accept payment in a different currency than the currency listed on eBay. If the buyer chooses to take advantage of this optional payment method, the seller may pass along to the buyer any costs associated with the currency exchange, provided that the costs are disclosed and agreed to in advance by the buyer


    So, for a UK listing on eBay.co.uk in GBP, IF they have a US buyer who wishes to send them a US$ money or cheque, then that seller can (within ebay policy) request an amount in US$ that covers their fees and difference in exchange rates etc – all for little additional cost to the buyer, and no real inconvenience to the seller.

    It is very easy to exchange US$ money orders ( and Euro cheques) in the UK at very little cost!

  2. gotta take me hat off to ya eddie never one to miss the chance 😆

    joking aside

    even if sellers are forced to accept foreign currency cheques. Auctionchex makes it just about as easy as accepting paypal

  3. But at the moment, buyers leave lower DSR when the postage charge is above £1 🙂
    They would have to be mega keen to pay for all the transaction charges etc… and NOT hold it against you when they came to tick all the buttons.
    Frankly as one who has cancelled many transactions when the US buyer realised the sale was in GBP not USD I can’t see them being willing to pay conversion and bank charges too.
    Perhaps I am just paranoid

  4. Sorry Sue but this article is totally pointless.

    If you sell an item on ebay.co.uk the buyer is obligated to send a cheque in Sterling to you unless you ALLOW them to send a cheque in another currency.

    And even if the buyer should be overseas they will have to pay exchange fees for the cheque while your UK bank will be able to cash the cheque for you at the usual price although the clearing may take longer

    Basically UK banks will not charge any additional fees as long as the cheque is drawn in Sterling , I know this as a fact as we used to accept cheques from various countries

  5. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I wish eBay *would* go PayPal only. It would just make my life so much simpler.

    As for buyers being obligated to send cheques in Sterling, you might think that’s the case but a certain DVD seller friend of mine tells how he’s routinely been sent US $ Cheques and Money Orders which he happily fed through his shredder as he didn’t, doesn’t and won’t accept.

    At the end of the day if you say you accept cheques buyers WILL send them in their own currency and WON’T bother reading your terms 🙁

  6. a certain DVD seller friend of mine tells how he’s routinely been sent US $ Cheques and Money Orders which he happily fed through his shredder as he didn’t, doesn’t and won’t accept.

    Thats enough to make a grown man cry 😥

    If only they knew how to cash them easily!

  7. Mandy: one of the issues with eBay is that, although a seller may have listed on eBay UK, the buyer is not necessarily *buying* through eBay UK.

    It’s perfectly possible to buy through eBay.com and for the buyer either 1) to think the whole thing is in dollars anyway, or 2) to assume that because it says “checks and MOs”, they can send a dollar check. There is nothing on eBay to say a buyer is obligated to pay in sterling, and I assure you there is certainly nothing going on in many buyer’s heads that says they are obliged to pay in sterling. Nor is there anything in eBay’s T&Cs that says they’re obliged to pay in the auction’s original currency.

    What there is, is a new policy that says you can’t put conditional clauses in payment terms. Are you allowed to say “I only accept cheques in sterling; no dollar checks?” I don’t know, and neither do any of us.

    Still, thank you so much for your comment. 😆

  8. “If only they knew how to cash them easily!”… I think they did Eddie, you probably know who I’m talking about. Thing is though they just didn’t want to accept them and so wouldn’t.

    I can kinda understand – I *could* accept bank transfers but I can’t be bothered to check my balance daily and see if someone has paid me so I don’t and won’t, it’s just too much trouble when 98% of my buyers pay with PayPal.

  9. Sue , I think we must differentiate here between what you are obliged to accept and what the buyer might send to you instead

    You are not obliged to accept foreign currency checks if the item is listed on ebay.co.uk but especially french , american and australian buyers will be trying to send you cheques in their own currencies – this has something to do with the mentality in those countries.

  10. Mandy: what I think this policy is saying is exactly that, that you are *obliged* to accept a cheque in a foreign currency. Please point me to the bit of eBay policy or international law that says that buyers must pay in sterling?

    “the mentality in those countries”?? 😆 You should try not being in the UK and having to deal with UK buyers; lots of countries have a mentality 😀

  11. I can guess Chris most probably, but we work on real names not ebay user ID’s so I aint got a clue generally as to user ID’s that use us – and there are very few ebay users I actually know the real name of anyway 😀

    Yes, point taken on Paypal, it is easy and quick, and very little effort is required for both buyer and seller to make or receive a payment, provided both use Paypal of course, but it seems a shame to alienate potential buyers just because they don’t use Paypal or either does not want to use Paypal for a particular transaction (which I guess the seller can no longer refuse?)

  12. I have attempted to go paypal only a few times now
    and buyers insist on sending me cheques
    as far as they are concerned they have paid
    and if I dont like it tough
    in these days when negatives and DSRS count,
    obligied or not
    the Buyer dictates the Rules not the seller

  13. It’s a knee-jerk reaction by eBay’s petulant head of Trust & Safety, who didn’t like it when it was pointed out that “offer” is not the same as “must accept”, and so yet another draconian policy is introduced because the headmaster can’t bear the thought that the children might not be obeying him to the letter.

    And so we now have a policy where:

    Sellers MUST accept PayPal payments from buyers with UNconfirmed addresses.

    Seller MUST accept PayPal payments from buyers in ALL countries.

    Sellers MUST accept PayPal payments regardless of the value of the payment.

    Sellers MUST accept PayPal payments for items that are collected.

    Sellers are no longer able to protect themselves in any way from a blatently unsafe method of receiving payment, and as usual those that will get caught will be the unwary and the newbies.

    Even the Dangerous Dogs Act was better thought out than this latest idiotic attempt at dictatorship from eBay.

  14. Sue, is this really very different or just reworded?

    I can remember a long time back something about if you ticked cheques or postal orders in the list of payment methods accepted, then you couldn’t differentiate between UK and overseas, or stipulate currency.

    We changed our accepted Payment methods then to Paypal and Other, and stated what we would and wouldn’t accept for both UK and International within the listing.

    We then reconfirm this in our confirmation email after the auction/purchase and have had very few problems.

    I can’t see anything in the new wording that says this won’t still be applicable, or am I missing something?

  15. If someone say, had a line saying they refuse paypal from not verified or not confirmed address, would they have to change that?

  16. Yes it does mean just that Mark – sellers can’t selectively decide who to allow to pay with PayPal based on any criteria such as verified address, confirmed address, location, value of item etc etc etc.

    Either you accept a payment method or you don’t. Direct quote: “sellers must always accept payment from buyers through the payment methods they have selected in their Payment Details section of their listing, including PayPal, and must not act in any way to discourage buyers from paying by these methods.”

  17. Quote: “If someone say, had a line saying they refuse paypal from not verified or not confirmed address, would they have to change that?”

    Absolutely they would have to change that.

    As from today, that’s no longer allowed.

  18. I get a fair fair few US money orders / cheques etc and most are the the UK amunt but in $, ie £25 you get $25. Complete pain

  19. thing is
    you cant surcharge for paypal ,you cant link to your web space,
    etc etc etc but it still happens
    you cant speed either and you must pay all your taxes too

  20. For those that want to edit unacceptable statements in the body of your templates, heres how:

    Open up Turbo Lister.

    Synchronize your listings in Turbo.

    Find the offending piece of html in one of your templates.


    Do a search replace in Turbo Lister (remove the text inbetween the html brackets – I recommend you leave html there as it likes something to replace with it seems).

    Then check your listings have changed to the correct changes.

    Synchronize again.



  21. I have some money orders and non sterling cheques. I looked at Auctionpix once (I think) a long time ago and it looked too complicated so I gave up on that idea. Is Auctionchex something I can send these bits of paper to? I still have some although they may be out of date now.

  22. If I price in sterling and list my items on eBay.co.uk it should be taken as given that payment needs to be made in sterling. If a seller sends a dollar cheque they have made a mistake as simple as that.

    co.uk listings show the price in sterling on the listing and an approx dollar price on .com. As far as I’m aware buyers are not given a finalized dollar total.

    I put a clause in my listing to help buyers avoid the mistake of sending a dollar cheque.

    I’m getting less & less cheques/postal orders full stop & haven’t had a dollar cheque for some time now (if I get one I can return it with a polite note or send the goods & cash it).

    If eBay clearly state that I must accept foreign currency cheques I will make appropriate changes at that time. I personally don’t believe that eBay want me to do that. 🙂

  23. #30 It’s almost a certainty lol.

    In the UK we have to offer Paypal, but I can list without offering Paypal!!! so what eBay are saying are “if you get caught we will have to suspend you and keep your listing fee, if you dont get caught we get your listing fee and maybe your FVF” Why not just make the SYI reject the listing if paypal not offered ?!? call me cynical if you wish.

    BTW every live listing I have was listed before the announcement and is allowed to run its duration, I have not listed anything since.

  24. G’day Sue and all,
    I believe the policy was introduced in Australia with the intention of making PayPal the only “viable” payment option, at least for those who sell internationally, as well as stopping people from selectively accepting PayPal in general. This pink thread spells out the intentions in Australia:

    Post 4: “If you want to make a payment option available to say, international buyers only, you’ll need to make your item available for sale to international buyers only. If you want to offer bank deposit to Australian buyers only, you’ll need to make the item available to be sold to Australian buyers only.

    After it came in, board vigilantes (for want of a better term) started reporting literally thousands of auctions that were accepting only cheques or bank deposits from within Australia. One was rung by Canadian Ebay staff to ask why these auctions were being reported, and apparently they were only prepared to enforce restrictions on PayPal payments (unfortunately the thread has now expired or been deleted).

    As for cheques, post 2 of the above linked thread says:
    You can request that any money orders or cheques be in Australian currency only, as long as you clearly specify this within your listing.


  25. By the way, this policy combined with PayPal on all listings, stops people listing “pick-up-only” items from not accepting PayPal as well, while the PayPal user agreement removes seller rights for pick-up-only items. People selling pick-up-only items in UK or Australia are now playing Russian roulette with their money. I have not worked out yet how this “protects” Ebay users….


  26. When the same rules were introduced in Australia there were similar cries that we’d have to accept foreign cheques. Fortunately saner minds prevailed and local eBay CS said that we could add the provisio that cheques had to be drawn and negotiable on Australian banks and denominated in AU$. No real bother there.

    As an international seller, in addition to credit/debit cards via our merchant account or Google checkout, we do accept foreign cheques/checks, bank drafts, and money orders for deposit and negotiation. We actively discourage PayPal (since we can’t verify card holder details directly) by requiring they ship Intl Courier with signature required. Most buyer opt for our merchant account or Google checkout since they ship via our normal low-cost shipper with insurance.

    For pickup items we welcome PayPal provided that buyers bring gov’t issued photo ID and a recent utility bill showing their name and address, which we take a digital photo of. Any PayPal dispute and our local Police get full colour copies along with buyer’s details…

  27. I agree Mark – people are starting to get used to having to prove identity and address in more and more situations, so provided they are told before paying by Paypal that they will be required to prove ID I can’t see anyone objecting.

  28. #36 I would.

    When I buy online it has to be easy, if Tescos or Asda asked me to show them my passport before they delivered my spuds I’d tell them to bugger off. 🙂

  29. 😀 😀 😀
    too right whirly!

    as I have said before as long as ebay buyers buy from me at a profit!
    ebay can tell me to jump! and I will ask them how high!

  30. In these days of identity theft I’ll be damned if I’m giving any Tom, Dick or Harry a full colour copy of my driving license and a utility bill. I might be willing to show ID, but there’s no way you’re getting copies of my personal documents!

    Just because you might not trust me as a buyer gives me absolutely no incentive to trust you as a seller, and you’re the one that wants my money.

  31. now theres a point Chris
    we recently had one of those paypal account verification thingys
    passport, utilty bill ,bank accounts, the effin lot. had to be uploaded to paypal. before they would let us access our own effin money
    I would have loved to tell them to Bugger off
    though I did not have the option if I wanted my dosh

  32. I don’t mind confirming my ID to a reputable company like PayPal, but quite honestly I wouldn’t expect someone to be happy to supply full personal documentation to me as a one man band pretty much unknown eBay seller that they’ve never heard of. Likewise I’m not sending mine off to another seller and quite frankly that’s *why* I use PayPal in the first place – they hold my banking and identify information securely and don’t share it with third parties.

  33. Remember this has just been suggested in the context of a buyer wishing to pay by PayPal & collect in person. What alternatives are there for the seller to protect there business from a possible PayPal chargeback (if they are obliged to accept PayPal)?

    PS. All hypothetical to me though as I do not allow collection.

  34. Not quite the same subject, but some years ago, when I had a london retail shop, an old guy wanted something made & pestered us over a couple of weeks, telling us he had loads of dosh.

    Even went so far as to tell us what paving stone in his greenhouse it was hidden under (and address). Nice info, but I just went into blank mode, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.
    Luckily he was’nt ‘done over’ so his info was safe. It’s quite amazing how many people just give their personnal info out willy nilly etc…………..

  35. “What alternatives are there for the seller to protect there business from a possible PayPal chargeback (if they are obliged to accept PayPal)?”

    Without online tracking there are none, but equally there’s nothing to stop a buyer turning up with a bunch of forged banknotes.

  36. Usually as nice polite email asking the buyer if they would not rather check the item over and then pay cash when they were happy avoids any paypal for collection problems.

    That combined with the paypal/ebay rule that says you can refuse paypal for a collection as long as you state as much in the listing.

  37. The simple way round this would be to have the facility to specify different payment methods from different countries – e.g. I’d have PayPal only, plus cheques from UK and France.
    At the moment I do the same as Josordini and have only ever been sent one US ‘check’; the buyer understood and paid by other means.

  38. The truth is that people can & do always find ways to con/steal other peoples goods but PayPal payments for goods which are to be collected in person seems to be a fundamentally flawed way of accepting payment.

  39. Paypal is not suitable for collection in person with its current security flaw.

    Some type of additional verification is needed for those transactions.

    Obviously with the identity theft issue, the driving license might not be the best solution, but what are the alternatives at present?

    Paypal could initiate a phone through clearance system for example, when the buyer collects, with a verification code only the buyer knows.

    There must be some solution to this problem that Paypal can initiate, surely?

    Mark 🙂

  40. Quote: “That combined with the paypal/ebay rule that says you can refuse paypal for a collection as long as you state as much in the listing.”

    You can no longer do that.

  41. Fail to see how any of this is improving the buyer experience, you don’t get this hassle on any website I’ve bought on!!

    Why don’t eBay just get on with it and make eBay Paypal only, and ban collections,,, instead of farting about trying to manipulate sellers into doing it anyway.

    I would have a lot more respect for them if they were more upfront!!

  42. Why don’t eBay just get on with it and make eBay Paypal only, and ban collections,,,

    In Australia, they are using “pay on pick up” to prove that they are offering other payment options to get around our trade practices laws. In a country this size pay on pick up is not viable as an alternative payment method.

    The ACCC decision is due in the next two days…. maybe.


  43. In response to a complaint on one of the eBay boards that a listing had been pulled because the seller had stated that he did not prefer PayPal but would accept it, eBay’s UK Head of Trust & Safety has stated that it was “a fair cop”, notwithstanding it complied with the letter of the new policy, because it violated the “spirit” of the Policy.

  44. Richard replying on the PS forum

    Updated Accepted Payments Policy thread

    “However, to be clear, we don’t expect sellers to accept international cheques denominated in different currencies of international bank transfers that carry a big fee to receive.”

    “The position on collection only is the same – PayPal has to be offered on all listings, and sellers can’t discourage buyers from accepting it. We’re aware that this creates a risk of sellers not being protected from chargebacks after in-person collections. We are considering how to protect sellers there, though it may require some major changes to the PayPal seller protection programme that wouldn’t be quick to bring in.” 🙁

  45. Thanks Keith – so in fact, this isn’t a *payments* policy, it’s a *PayPal* policy. Frankly I don’t know why they don’t just go the PP-only route on .co.uk; it’d be so much clearer.

  46. Quote: “The position on collection only is the same – PayPal has to be offered on all listings, and sellers can’t discourage buyers from accepting it. We’re aware that this creates a risk of sellers not being protected from chargebacks after in-person collections. We are considering how to protect sellers there, though it may require some major changes to the PayPal seller protection programme that wouldn’t be quick to bring in.”

    Hasn’t this been a problem for new Ebayers who were required to offer PayPal since the beginning of 2007, or at least since the Discouraging and Misleading Payments was added to the Australian site in September or October 2007? The Australian site have been trying to get answers to this problem for a long time, and have been stonewalled by Ebay and PayPal staff since the PayPal only policy was announced.

    Why are they “considering how to protect sellers” now, instead of doing so prior to introducing the policy? It is not like they haven’t been made aware of this problem well before this point.


  47. PayPal only cuts customer choice. Some buyers do not like to use PayPal. This is why eBay,co.uk should not go PayPal only.

    In my opinion, what is and what isn’t allowed is quite clear at the moment & if it wasn’t clear has now been clarified (apart from the problem of collection in person, which would not be solved by going PayPal only and which has been acknowledged).

    As a seller I can get better rates with traditional merchant service + better support. I had to give PayPal a call on the 0870 number yesterday. The menu system is possibly one of the worst I have ever heard & sounds like it has been knocked up on some cheapo voip phone – The wait time is overly long & the very polite but overseas based assistant that I eventually got through to was not really of any help for a UK specific issue.

    P.S. I still love PayPal though 🙂

  48. Richard replying on the PS forum

    Updated Accepted Payments Policy thread

    “However, to be clear, we don’t expect sellers to accept international cheques denominated

    He could have at least given AuctionChex a plug 😆

    IF you get an International cheque you could always send it to ………. to save those hefty bank fees!

  49. Our requirements for Photo ID when using PayPal for collection items is much less onerous than those required by Frerk-Malte Feller, former head of PayPal Deutschland. He requires “copies of buyer’s passport/ID as well as credit card used for PayPal (both sides). Please provide these documents as electronic scans immediately after the end of the auction. The items will only be shipped after you have provided these documents.”

    We are seriously thinking about adding these requirements to all PayPal sales so as to bring them into line with info needed for merchant sales verification. These measures are aimed at weeding out potentially fraudulent customers, something that PayPal seems to be particularly poor at. With sales made through our merchant sales, we have much less fraud and better verification so fewer delays with shipping.


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