eBay UK stiffens seller sanctions for duplicate listings

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Tamebay reader Jon wrote to us regarding eBay’s duplicate listing policy he said:

We contacted eBay directly to ask about a minor technicality (linking a duplicate SKU to our inventory and order management software), and they informed us that it was against eBay policy to duplicate product listings on different accounts. So this of course stopped us in our tracks.

The thing is, though, the practice is clearly rife. None of the competitors we know of who use more than one eBay ID have ceased to do so, and by chance, I even noticed a major UK brand doing it today – exactly the same product images and description on both listings.

So is this a mere technicality that’s unofficially overlooked, or is it a more serious eBay policy breach, that we shouldn’t even be giving any further consideration to?

Duplicate Listings SP

We know this is an issue for two reasons, firstly many sellers do simply ignore the duplicate listing policy and/or do their best to self justify to themselves why they should have very similar (ie duplicate) listings. Secondly it often appears that eBay simply ignore reports of duplicate listings and sellers who disobey the rules appear to get an advantage over those that toe the line.

If you have duplicate listings eBay will dump your entire account

Chris Dunne over at SellerExpress spotted a from eBay.com published just before the Bank Holiday weekend. It unequivocally states “Starting in June, listing visibility in Best Match will be reduced for sellers who pollute the eBay marketplace with duplicate listings. If a seller violates the duplicate listings policy, then all the listings from that seller – including those across linked accounts – will have reduced visibility. This visibility reduction will last until the duplicate listings are removed“.

The language in this statement is quite strong, I’ve never heard eBay use works such as “pollute” when talking about listings. It’s also unusual for eBay to take action against all of a seller’s listings (on all of their accounts) for what’s in the grand scheme of things a minor violation. It appears that eBay are taking duplicate listing policy seriously.

Make sure your cross border listings don’t appear as duplicates

One thing to be aware of is that if you have a domestic listing which ships world wide and you then list on an overseas site directly, both listings will appear and be considered as duplicates.

For example if you have a UK listing in £ which includes shipping to the US, it’s likely to appear on eBay.com. If you then list the same product directly on eBay.com in $ this will appear as a duplicate listing.

You should remove shipping to the US from your UK listing and also ensure that your eBay.com listings doesn’t offer shipping to the UK. This does of course become more complex when you’re listing the same products on multiple country sites, but if you have multichannel management software you should be able to set up your shipping locations fairly easily in bulk.

20 Responses

  1. This is a topic that I’ve come to know all too well. Last year I noticed a competitor selling vehicle parts and accessories on multiple accounts. They have different branding but identical contact details, company registration number, phone number etc.

    I contacted eBay customer support about the issue and every time the first point of contact said they were breaking policies and that the issue would be escalated and the seller dealt with. After numerous times I contacted eBay over a few months the seller is still selling to this day with almost duplicate listings on 3 accounts.

    eBay definately have a different set of rules for big/enterprise accounts where they help the big get bigger and penalise the small for trying to grow in the way that others do.

    For reasons like this I have come to lose faith in the marketplace over recent years as you become to realise you’re playing a game where your far from incontrol of your own outcome.

  2. Ebay need to make this so much easier to manage, it’s a nightmare trying to second guess if you have ticked a box for a country or not on your UK account before you list on another countries account.

    Also ebay should be doing more work to rid the UK site of duplicate listings on sellers different accounts.

    We have a competitor that has three accounts, lists the same products in each account at different prices and free or not free delivery. I have reported it about 18 times and yet it still all sits there.

  3. This doesn’t really tackle the main issue of duplicates – which is people using multiple accounts to circumvent the restrictions already in place.

  4. One reason why eBay may turn a blind eye to this is that it is so easy to circumvent. All you have to do is set up a different company…I know sellers who have 10+ ebay accounts with the same stock linked across all of them…yes it adds a bit of extra accounts work, but this is easily worth the effort due to the significant increase in sales…

  5. Duplicate listings on one site is no doubt an issue. It is not so bad in our category (fashion) but I have clocked it in other categories and it is ridiculous.
    However the problem for us is the duplicate listings policy across sites. We have lots of buyers from abroad who browse directly on .co.uk. They actively skip looking on their own site because the UK is known for having a bigger and better selection online. By forcing us to remove these duplicate listings because we have also listed direct to an international ebay site we are definitely going to be losing sales.
    Yes I know our international listings will technically appear twice in some instances but generally international listings are so downgraded that no buyer will see this unless doing very specific searches.
    What about listings in different languages as well? Would be good to know ebays thoughts on these specifically

  6. I have challenged ebay repeatedly for several years over duplicate listings from a specific seller on the same account. All this seller does is put a random code on his listings. Here is an example you can search for yourself. 3 listings with the following codes attached to the individual listings :

    Y0675J^*^ R015X{:} K8967Q~#~

    He also reorders some title words or uses variants of meaningless words to differentiate

    Ebay won’t tell you if they take action, but if you consider the seller is doing the same thing to this day, and hasn’t been banned for repetitive policy breach, and add comments from other sellers who experience exactly the same result, then one has to assume Ebay’s policy in this area is all talk and no action.

    Having said that it still represents a business risk to a professional seller and for that reason I wouldn’t do it myself. The big issue is the clogging up of search results which affects all seller’s performance. It is somewhat ironic Ebay wanted to fiddle with slow moving listings (an idea which they have dropped for now) without fixing the big problem that is staring them in the face.

    However, the suggestion that a listing on another site is a duplicate is frankly laughable when ebay are investing in trying to encourage more cross border trade, and even providing programs that help us to do that. I may be wrong. but I don’t recall seeing anywhere a guidance from ebay that using one of their programs might result in duplicate listings.

    As usual Ebay need to focus on what is really broken first, and they can deal with the niceties later.

  7. This duplicate listings issue has been coming to a head for a while. I appear to be reporting duplicates across multiple seller accounts on a daily basis, spending time on the phone. Just yesterday eBay informed me if I collated them on an email and send the email directly to them but speak to a Top Seller phone representative first I could make the email for their attention and send it to the eBay Top Seller email address. That is an improvement on having to manually call out all the items numbers.

    Just yesterday I reported a competitor with 8 different usernames selling with duplicate listings across each user for the same item. I recall I have reported them before. eBay stated on the phone they are getting tough.

    I think personally they have stood back for too long, allowed some unscrupulous sellers run riot and ruin a good marketplace and now they have been downgraded by Google they are frantically bringing in measures to sort out what has been coming to a head for 3-4 years of mis-management.

  8. I have had problems with ‘Duplicate Listings’. The problem is that ebay’s automated systems do not identify the sort of problems that can occur. Let me take just a couple of examples:

    a) I have a set of 4 books that I sell in reasonable numbers. Not all customers want a full set. So I list the Books either as singles or indeed as a set of 4. ebay looks at the ISBN and Geronimo they have found a Duplicate Listing and they jump on me like a ton of bricks.

    Yet the Listing makes it very clear that it is a set of 4 after all the price is 4 times as much for a set of 4 than it is for a single copy. But no matter ebay’s computerised systems have jumped on me.

    With the set of 4 I can supply either as a set of 4 or a permutation of the 4 because some customers might like 2 or indeed 3 of one title rather than the set of 4. Indeed I would welcome groups of friends getting together and placing a block order(It costs as much to post 8 or 12 as it does to send 4)

    b) Another problem that I have had is the simple mistake. I use the listing for one Book as a template for Listing another similar Title but somehow I missed changing the ISBN. So once again ebay jumped on me and in this case as it was a Free Listing Day they also deleted all my remaining Free Listings.

    Yet all it was was a simple mistake on my behalf rather than a serious attempt to put on a Duplicate Listing. Indeed I should have picked it up but I will admit that I did not do so.

    Yet I go through the various categories and their are masses and masses of genuine Duplicate Listings. These Duplicate Listings as highlighted above do not even try to hide the fact that they are duplicate listings. But it is me with my Listings that get jumped on from on high.

  9. “a) I have a set of 4 books that I sell in reasonable numbers.”

    Yet you still pretend to be a private trainspotter, sorry seller

  10. I notice that this is on the .com site:
    “Other eBay sites: Separate listings may be created for the same item on different eBay sites, as long as the international shipping options don’t result in the listings cluttering the search results of any individual site.”

    But I cannot find it on the .co.uk site
    I called eBay support today and have been told that as far as they are concerned (and they checked their handbook for clarification), listing on other eBay country sites with the same product/listing and having shipping set to allow for the listing to appear numerous times in a search result IS NOT a breach of policy.
    Seems strange to me but that is what I have been told.
    Any thought son this anyone?
    Anyone have anything to add as I am now a bit confused?

  11. I am assuming that ebay will go over to the Etsy model of one advert on the site, and tailoring that advert specifically for overseas sites as selected.
    For the time being identical cross site listings are not a problem for me, never been classed as a duplicate.
    And when the day comes I reckon this will be treated
    as a major seller update.

  12. Here is an easy way to prevent your dupes getting removed.

    Change the price by a penny on all duplicates then all will appear and none will be cancelled. You can also add a garbage code to the end of the title, like A123, and change it for each duplicate. Always works.

    Simple really!

    Long live The revolution!! 🙂

  13. Several of our Chinese competitors have wiped out our sales on several products lines we used to sell a lot of.

    One Chinese competitor is ranked in the top 3 sellers on eBay.co.uk for this particular product group . They list the same product 300+ times over 4 eBay accounts. Slightly different product titles and prices.

    Reported them to eBay, gave them item numbers and they did nothing.

    Another Chinese competitor has over 21 eBay accounts and lists the same products on all accounts. They do £8million through all 21+ eBay accounts.

    (Ohh and of course none of them are VAT registered 😉

    Its about time eBay took action and penalised these sellers.



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