eBay UK sellers must manually edit listings for VAT changes

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about how the 1st December change in the VAT rate should be reflected by sellers on the site. That’s the good news: the bad news is, we’re on our own.

eBay’s announcment says this:

  • the VAT rate can be edited on listings without sales.
  • listings with sales will have to be either allowed to end as scheduled, or manually ended by sellers, and relisted with the correct VAT rate.

After 1st December, offering items for sale with 17.5% VAT will be illegal, so allowing your listings to end naturally after that date is not an option. Listings with sales, therefore, *must* be ended and relisted, with all eBay listing and featured listing fees payable again on the new listings.

Frankly, this isn’t good enough. It would not have been too much to ask for eBay to automatically change all 17.5% VAT-listed items to 15%, or if not that, to make the VAT field editable on listings with sales. Instead, they’ve abdicated any shred of responsibility; not only are sellers left with huge numbers of listings to edit when they should really be ramping up their sales to crazy point for Christmas, but eBay are profiting by the extra listing fees on the whole mess.

eBay have said that editing the VAT field will not affect sales recency for Best Match: this isn’t going to be a whole bunch of comfort to sellers faced with editing and paying to relist their entire eBay inventory.

If anyone from eBay is listening, please reconsider: do a bulk edit from 17.5% to 15%. And if you won’t do that, then at very least, consider waiving some listing fees.

Updated to add some conversations with HMRC

A couple of TameBay readers have spoken to HMRC and been told that they do not need to change the VAT rate quoted on eBay so long as their own records and invoices show the correct rate (see comments below).

We’ve just spoken to HMRC’s Glasgow contact centre and been told that displayed rates *do* need to be changed, and that sellers need to contact eBay to find out how to do that (ha ha).

So if you’re chosing to leave 17.5% standing, it’s very much at your own risk.

92 Responses

  1. It’s xxxxxing diabolical.

    Quite frankly no VAT registered seller can leave listings running. That means ANY listings that are auctions with bids HAVE TO BE CANCELLED

    ANY fixed price listings with sales HAVE TO BE CANCELLED

    ANY listings with Featured First HAVE TO BE CANCELLED

    ALL FEES to relist will be RECHARGED with no credit

    Any Recent Sales history will be lost bar that on the last listing, IE if you’re 30 day listing ended yesterday and you relisted by the 1st you would have 35 day recent sales – by canceling and relisting you’ll be down to 5 days recent sales. (Recent sales only carry over for one relist and many sellers started 30 day listings on the 25th September and have only just relisted).

    This is a disaster, all eBay needed to do is make the damn VAT field editable on listings with sales, just as they have made the price an editable field on listings with sales.

    I’m so pissed off 👿

  2. This is by far the most pathetic,lazy waste of effort policy change by eBay this year so far.

    I am truly stunned that a global leader in ecommerce could come up with such a lazy ill thought out response to a problem, to say I am stunned is an understatement.

    I am saddened to admit this but I am embarassed to have my business associated with such a useless out of touch bunch of morons, eBay you should be f*cking ashamed of this, it is truly pathetic even by your sub standard standards.

    I’ll be honest I think the op may be on a wind up, something this dumb must be a wind up? please tell me RA is not party to this pile of shite?

  3. I wish it were a wind-up, Whirly. I keep checking the URL of the AB post, just in case it’s from a spoof site.

    A small bit of cold comfort: it seems that the VAT rate for SMP invoices can be edited so we can at least produce invoices with the correct rate, so long as we don’t mind doing it one invoice at a time.

  4. Sue, this is the worst news so far this year, after spending the last 2 months perfecting best match eBay manage to *uck it up in one ill thought out policy annoucement.

    It’s like winning the lottery and finding out afterwards that you have to have sex with Timmy Mallet to claim the prize.

    P.S Still hoping the OP is on a wind up and someone from eBay will come along to say they do actually have a brain bigger than a natts chuff and this was all a joke.

  5. This is shameful – what planet does ebay live on? Certainly not planet earth with the rest of us.

    I feel for you guys 🙁

  6. Tis the season to be jolly la la la la laaaa la la la la
    Cancel all your blood dy listings tra la la la laaaa la la la la
    bye bye sales
    happy Christmas la la la la laaaa la la la la
    Tis the season to be jolly la la la la laaaa la la la la

    Nother drink anyone? eBay just pushed me over the edge

  7. 😎
    Hi Guys

    Bugger that, BUT another temporary way MAY BE to use ‘markdown manager’ assuming you have a shop.
    Just mark everything down 2.25%, assuming you can reduce it by by that amount of %.

    Worth a try, temporary to get passed 1st Dec.

  8. #6 You can’t. Because if you mark down your listing (impossible on an auction or BIN with the exception of GTC) then the VAT will simply show as 17.5% of the marked down price and you’re back where you started with the wrong VAT rate showing 🙁

  9. Amazon ahead of the game

    VAT Back–No Need to Wait
    We at Amazon.co.uk would like to offer you the new VAT rate of 15% now on our amazing selection in electronics, home & garden, personal care and toys. Simply enter the promo code LOWERVAT at checkout. Terms & Conditions apply.

  10. Gerry, the problem is the rate stated rather than the actual price. If you’ve put 17.5% in the VAT field for your listing, that’s what eBay are going to continue to display, and that is what will be illegal from 1st Dec., regardless of the actual price being charged.

  11. Also…..it seems that we cannot edit in bulk, the vat level on templates located in the inventory in Selling Manager Pro….so each one has to be done individually….can this be correct? If so, I will have to manually change all templates….oh my God, I am now starting to panic..

  12. Welcome to the eBayUK Seller experience 😐 especially with that ditzy little comment at the end:

    “With strong competition and early discounting coming from the high street this Christmas season we know buyers are now, more than ever, being attracted to great value bargains.”

    Nice earner for them though.

  13. #14 Quite frankly when you’re kicking your customers between the legs with additional relist fees, not to mention the hours and hours of work this is going to entail I’m not sure how whoever wrote that announcement didn’t choke by saying in the next breath “and don’t forget to cut your prices”.

    It’s so simple… make the VAT field editable even if an item has bids or sales! Just how hard can it be?

  14. Chris / Sue et al

    I’m sure if someone were to nudge the problem over to their local VAT office with a coherent explanation, the VAT people would instruct eBay to facilitate the changes or face an “inspection”.

    Ditto if it was bounced at Trading Standards, on a “pecuniary advantage” platform regarding having to cancel and repay fees, they too would take this up pronto.

    I’m loath to recommend going in front of the media, though I’m sure the tabloids would lap this up, because at this time of year, we sellers certainly want zero bad publicity for any platform we use.

    At the end of the day, this change has come from a change in the law, and eBay must enable users to comply with the law, or they themselves are in breach of it. If they persist with the current advice, then they themselves become in breach of a bunch of other laws.

    It all depends how hard and how far people want to push the topic, or if they want to fly under the radar and hope to avoid flak until they can economically regularise their listings.


  15. 8 & 11

    It was only an attempt to offer a temporary sulution as Dec 1st is looming.

    Sellers with shops, Could add some txt in the top of their shop details and state invoices will include VAT @ 15% (adjustable with P&P).
    Anyway just a thought.

    I always disliked ‘new labour’ but do I feel worse about ebay……..Probaly !!!

  16. As their is no requirement on sellers to pass on the VAT reduction, I would be sorely tempted to simply let any listings run their course.

  17. In the UK does eBay’s “only a venue thing” protect them in this case? I mean if they have millions of 17.5% VAT listings on their site they don’t share any liability? And considering that the announcement says they are giving you the ability to let the listings expire normally they are condoning illegal behavior on their site.

    I’m betting that if everyone were willing to play chicken with them they would fold and change it themselves.

  18. Ebay doesnt charge the buyer anything

    so it is not responsible for the amount of VAT paid or collected etc

  19. #17 GTC listings will run forever – they’ll be right again in 13 months time 😀

    #16 There’s nowt to say prices have to be reduced, just that punter should be told the price includes VAT at 15% instead of 17.5%.

    Quite frankly I consider it a gift of 2.5% extra for retailers and lets face it, by the time every bit of point of sale equipment in the country has been updated the actual implementation cost (to retailers as a whole, not to the government) will be enormous. Oh, in 13 months time they’ll have to cough up to change em all back again too!

    Wonder if sales of cash registers will rise on eBay? Must be a fair few out there with 17.5% hard coded that no one can remember how to change to a new VAT rate 😯

  20. I am no fan of ebay and will probably close down my ebay shop in 2009, it seems I’m working hard to keep others in a manner to which they have become accustomed. I hope to find the time to concentrate on my own site and my bricks and mortar shop in order to be able to continue to pay £K’s in rent/council tax each year.

    Having said which I don’t necessarily feel any angst with ebay for not being able to make these adjustments, personally I am feeling almost punch drunk at another useless, cretinous piece of politics by a bungling, inept chancellor. This Govm’t are either incredibly stupid or deeply cynical in their avarice and contempt for small businesses. I can’t even guess at the 1000’s of lines in my real shop that are supposed to be singlehandedly repriced on Monday and then repriced back up again in 13 months. Words fail me…

  21. @ 20

    How useful would a tool be that automatically adjusted your VAT to 15% or 17.5% when a listing was started? Obviously wouldn’t work with GTC but the idea is you’d sign up and when your listings expire they’d immediately be changed with no input from you. Then in 13 months the same tool would switch back?

    It could also attempt to change your currently open listings if possible.

  22. In a year of PR blunders this has to be right at the top of the pile.

    I was slowly building up trust again and even started buying the odd DVD etc but alas no more, I didn’t believe it was humanly possible to alienate me any further, well I was wrong.

    I mean ffs “listings with sales will have to be either allowed to end as scheduled…” suggesting that you should break the law.

    Who in the hell signed that announcement off?

    “With strong competition and early discounting coming from the high street this Christmas season we know buyers are now, more than ever, being attracted to great value bargains.”

    So sting me for £500 in relists, my time and my sanity, then you want me to drop my prices even further, ffs what the hell goes on your minds? your stock is plummeting through the floor, your name is mud on just about every forum in the UK and yet you still continue to crack me in the nuts.

    Please somebody tell me this is a joke?

  23. This is unbelieveable after the postage fiasco. I would call my account manager if I thought they would be any use what so ever.

  24. It’s exactly what you’d expect from ebay isn’t it?

    Just remember that you’ll probably be going through this again next year at the end of December because if they can’t/won’t/don’t know how to make the VAT field editable now will they in 13 months time?

    One word – ok three – time wasting tossers!

  25. I have noticed at the bottom of the listing – 17.5% VAT is presently included in the listed price.
    If you have questions about this VAT, please contact the seller. The actual VAT requirements and rates may vary depending on the final sale.

    Surely, if you invoice at 15% then that is ok?

  26. ebay account manager!
    dont want one ,dont need one, wont have one

    cant work out what use they are at all
    other than to pester you and waste your time

  27. 25 – I don’t usually get a chance to invoice as they often pay straight away. I am about to check with the TAX office where I stand.

  28. Well the TAX office said I did not need to change the VAT quoted on ebay as long as I updated my own records and created manual invoices if needed. The conversation was recorded and I have a reference number.

    Suggest you all do the same – In 13 months my problem should be solved….

  29. I wonder if it is acceptable to not edit actual listings, but to simply add some text or a graphic stating the VAT rate included is now 15% and not 17.50% as stated ?

    This could be done using the eBay ‘Add to Item Description’ function manually or there are a number of free third party tools out there that can ‘Add to Item Description’ in bulk for you, such as : https://auctionpix.co.uk/addto.html

  30. Are you asking me? I just called the TAX helpline 08450109000 – They open at 8am.

  31. #32 I was. Thanks for the number.

    Only problem I can forsee is the difference between what the HMRC say and what a buyer believes if you see my point.

  32. Yes – I expect I will get loads of customers who think they have spotted a mistake and should get a further 2.5% off. I really don’t want to have to change it because of the hassle of changing it back it a years time.

  33. My ebay account manager is confident that if they get enough feedback they will do something about it (I am less confident). I have left them in no doubt about how I feel.

  34. 34
    Exactly my point
    whats the use of an account manager if they cant do something about it,

    its easy to state the obvious and do bugger all

  35. This could be done using the eBay ‘Add to Item Description’ function manually or there are a number of free third party tools out there that can ‘Add to Item Description’ in bulk for you, such as : https://auctionpix.co.uk/addto.html

    Probably the easiest solution but doesn’t that make your description kind of ugly? While we are on the subject can anyone tell me if adding to the description alters your best match ranking like altering your title does?

  36. I had a similar conversation with the Vat office as #34, currently I have 7 featured first running at £39.99 a pop all with sales and not ending until next week.

    I think I may just leave it alone tbh, if a buyer spots the error and asks for 2.5% i’ll just knock it off the shipping, I would have to get an awful lot of Sherlocks to spot it for it to cost the same as it would to end and relist everything, afterall it’s just an error in a listing and as Stewart said

    “If you have questions about this VAT, please contact the seller. The actual VAT requirements and rates may vary depending on the final sale.” thats fairly ambiguous?

    I think I will call the Vat office back, speak to someone else and see if a different person says the same thing.

  37. #15 Chris I don’t think anyone choked over writing that last paragraph – I think that last paragraph is the most telling thing about how eBay view their sellers.

    They could change the VAT thing on listings very very easily but they don’t want to.

    What eBay want their sellers to do is reduce the asking price by 2.5% so that the Buyer Experience is yet again massaged.

    EBay are a marketplace like Tesco and Walmart… and sellers are the suppliers.

    This has been a calculated decision.

  38. #40 – ‘What eBay want their sellers to do is reduce the asking price by 2.5% so that the Buyer Experience is yet again massaged.’

    You only need to discount 2.13% from the current price to give the new lower vat price.

  39. “EBay are a marketplace like Tesco and Walmart… and sellers are the suppliers.”
    never really thought about ebay in that way

    though when I do think about it,
    its so true and a very apt comparison

  40. What a farce.
    I really had hope this time that eBay would be a bit forward thinking and do something positive and easy for their sellers.
    You know maybe a christmas good will gesture, after the ups and downs of this year (well at least i think there might have been a few ups its all a blur due to all the changes!)
    Instead I can see them all in a meeting thinking mmmmm (rubs hands together) here’s another way to make some money out of our sellers.

    @%$£&%%$ FANTASTIC EBAY!!! Come on eBay, ever heard of PR disaster, ever heard of goodwil, ever heard of scrooge ????

  41. of course its is another great reason to have nothing to with BINs and stick to auction format.

  42. #41

    What eBay want their sellers to do is reduce the asking price by 2.5%

    Yeah right – you mean just like how eBay passed on the VAT reduction when they moved to Luxembourg. Like hell they did – they left the fees the same but I was able to claim less VAT back. Now they want me to reduce my prices for the sake of the “buyer experience”.

    What about the bloody seller experience?


  43. Forget reducing prices… what about auctions? They still display the VAT information. If you have auctions finishing on the 1st or later (without bids) I suggest you get in and change the VAT rate to 15% now, before they get bids as by the time it ends on the 1st it’ll then have the correct rate

  44. #40 very good point, I guess if eBay had made it easy to just “tweak” the VAT rate WITHOUT it affecting the “cost” to buyer then they would have been accused of actively encouraging sellers to NOT to pass on price/vat reductions?

    #46 Also a very good point Chris, get busy on any auctions that don’t have bids yet.

    IMHO we will, as always, whilst it is still viable, get over this latest supposed eBay foible (personally I think the blame lies squarely with a certain Mr Darling anyway) and keep on selling in that marketplace. Given that recent sales will not be adversely affected and those with loads of listings will be getting 5p or 1p listings, maybe it isn’t too big a hassle. We all know that by running our own business means we are effectively a government clerk for 3 days out of the 5 days working week (notwithstanding the Sat/Sun extra days)!

  45. Okay… I’ve just got of the phone with Powerseller Support. I didn’t think it was going to get me anywhere (and I was right), but I felt it worth highlighting my annoyance.

    Ben, basically followed the lines of the Announcement, but tried to tell me that it had gone through eBay’s legal team so they feel letting listings overrun would be fine. I asked him if they could make a global change to all mention of 17.5% or to make the VAT field editable regardless of sale and I was put on old twice. To see if he could find someone more confident to answer – his words FFS.

    I then asked him if eBay were prepared to refund the re listing fees sellers would incur and he said surprisingly NO.

    So not a great result, but if you do have the Power Seller number, ring them and tell him how pissed off you are. At least they’ll have a shit day too…

    eBay have made a huge mistake assuming that VAT was set in stone. Just because it’s been 17.5% for this long was never an assurance that it would not change. Further more I can see VAT being some what erratic over the next 5 years, so eBay really needs to get it’s finger out.

  46. “I suggest you get in and change the VAT rate to 15% now”

    erm isn’t displaying the wrong VAT rate tantamount to breaking the law?

  47. There have been plenty of frustrations about selling on eBay, in the past few years especially. But, I can’t think of another example that so starkly highlights the disfunctionalism and arrogance that has come to characterise eBay’s recent performance, as this does.

    As long as it makes me money to list on eBay, I’ll keep doing so. But, factoring in the time it takes to manage all the changes, u-turns and malfunctions, profit on ebay is only getting more difficult to achieve.

    Making sellers relist millions of items because the ebay system isn’t up to scratch – and then charging them listing fees for the privelige. This one is almost unbelievably bad.

    A new low for this management team.

    has very useful feature a VAT percentage box in the listing template
    and bulk change feature for running listings

  49. #50 Not on an auction (without a BIN option) that’s going to finish on or after 1st Dec. Because the government has announced that VAT rate will be 15% on that date (and the sale doesn’t occur until after the 1st) it will actually be correct at the point of sale.

  50. OK, so what exactly is going to happen to anyone who doesnt change the VAT?

    A big fat nothing i would guess.

    I doubt the tax man is going to come breaking anyones door down.

  51. #56 Sooner or later a customer is going to demand a 2.5% discount

    Sooner or later (especially on GTC listings) next Spring, Summer, Autumn the VAT man is gonna ask why your listings are displaying 17.5% VAT.
    (Imagine the phone calls to the VAT reporting hotline “My competitor XYZ just charged me 17.5% VAT” 🙁 )

    Anyone that uses eBay SMP for invoicing will have to MANUALLY adjust every invoice (before the buyer pays) to change the rate to 15%.

  52. “#56 Sooner or later a customer is going to demand a 2.5% discount”

    err, no i doubt that very much

    I doubt the vast majority of buyers even notice the VAT notice on an item page

    by the time it becomes a problem all effected listing will have ended and can be amended before relisting

    while it may technically a problem, on a practical level it isnt that big a deal

    and the C in GTC is for completed.

    MY opinion is that is very close to a storm in a tea cup

  53. If they ask for a 2.5% discount just go into a long speech about how both the buyer and seller pay that tax once you consider the supply and demand curve. Then give them their share of 1.25%.

  54. #60 I’m sure that’ll do wonders for feedback, DSRs and customer relations! 😯

    Quite apart from which I’m not prepared to admit I sold at the wrong VAT rate and what the VAT man would say to you “splitting the difference” I really dread to think.

  55. got to say I am with Board Surfer on this one
    I am changing and doing nowt
    until HMGOV threatens the Tower or deportation

  56. when it comes down to it
    its the governments fault not ebays ,
    just think of all the flyers, and adverts, that need to be changed, all the posters and paper work with 17.5% vat stated that need to be changed then changed back again

    if they were going to change vat it should be long term not 12 months

  57. I am going to update as many listing as possible but then I will have some at 15 and some at 17.5. Any one know any easy way to check which are which. There is no column in Turbo lister to sort on. Thanks

  58. download ebay Blackthorne for the free 30 day trial.
    i changed all my listings in a few seconds and you can have a column with the vat rate charges shown.

    it is miles better than turdo lister, but as with all things, paid for is better then free in function and support.

  59. blackthorne wont revise vat on items that have bids or sales or are ending in less than 12 hours

  60. hell no, it will not revise running listings , this is blocked ebay’s end
    but someone was asking for a programme that listed vat rates as a column etc.

    we have to end and relist, but it was very easy and thel istings are ready to load 1st dec.

    shame ebay wont just change the wording or just delete the 17.5% bit though…
    what i have come to expect tbh

  61. A lot of the work will be created because at relisting the inventory will be wrong. eg listed with 10 sold 2. The relisted line will show 10 instead of 8. Will Blackthorne deal with this?

  62. If they would EVEN just hide the automatically generated line that says “17.5% VAT included in the listing price” and then sellers could add their own message.

    In fact, that might be the easiest and least messy solution.

  63. noticed that too whiry
    a few years ago ebay were even going to retire blackthorne
    I think the future for blackthorne as it is,
    will be limited now, not only are the dedicated development and support team given the boot,
    the same bunch that inflicted Turdo lister on us are let loose on it

  64. # 74 Yes, lets not make it to easy for ebay with such a simple solution Sue.

    The simple fact is this would be woefully easy for ebay just to remove that code from the page so we could all have time to sort the rates out on the 30day churn, why they will not is anybodies guess, but it is also ebay total lack of support down to a tee.

    the fact that they have let it go on for so long means that most of us have doen all the work to change now anyway, so thanks ebay for the support guys.

    on a side note to the update on lead story:
    dont forget to keep the reference number from HMRC if your told its ok to leave it. if the inspector does not agree you can fall back to the recording.

  65. 😆
    a horses head on the bed , and a knock on the door 2am from ebay enforcers
    for Dan 😀

  66. I had some great news when I phoned power seller support again today. I was told that they were still looking at it and they would call me back shortly with some news. The call came in and I was told in order to help they could end all my listings now for me to save me having to do it on Sunday. Thus reducing my workload from 20 hours to about 19 hours 59 minutes. I explained I would lose sales between now and Monday morning but she explained that was the best she could do. So I think you are all being a bit unfair. They are trying to help….

  67. #82 well, HUF, it’s nice that someone’s getting some assistance 😉

    I do know of at least one seller who has been told by their account manager

    If you wish I can end any of your listings and organise for a credit for the fees, to help you out with adapting to this change.

    so I suggest that anyone who is ending listings harrass their PAM unmercifully for similar credits.

  68. I don’t see why eBay cannot either :

    1, Comment out the offending line they display – 6 keystokes will do that per listing format


    2, Remove the digits ‘17.50%’ and show only ‘VAT is included….’ etc

  69. I have seen a sudden increase in sales from Rep of Ireland….on investigation it looks like there VAT rate is increasing to 21.5%…giving a massive differential between UK and ROI…something to watch out for and make sure you are visible in Ireland.

  70. 247 Top Seller have developed a tool to update VAT on live eBay listings in bulk. This tool is free for sellers until 10th December 2008 but, as eBay limit the amount of calls, we will process everyone as quickly as possible on a first come first served basis. Please email [email protected] if you would like more details.

  71. In case anyone missed this earlier I thought I’d repost (hope that’s ok)

    To help anyone who can’t bear the thought of updating all their listings manually for the VAT changes 247 Top Seller have developed a tool that does it for you.

    This tool is free for sellers until 10th December 2008 but, as eBay limit the amount of calls, we will process everyone as quickly as possible on a first come first served basis. Please email [email protected] if you would like more details.


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