eBay selling limits: Everything you need to know

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TrustA large number of Tamebay readers have been interested in selling limits, citing sales being throttled, rolling black outs and any number of reasons why their sales have stalled.

There were some interesting comments such as the people who always seem to sell roughly the same monetary value each month. Others claim to see strange sales patterns such as only selling the first two days of the week or no change if they don’t list any new products.

We asked eBay what the heck was going on and after a ton of phone calls and emails here’s what we now know:

Are there limits on my eBay account

Selling limits are very much a real thing and eBay are not shy about mentioning them on their help pages and in the Seller Centre. If you want to know about eBay Seller Limits then there is a ton of detailed information.

There are several different rationales for limits:

  • Because you are a new seller and eBay do not know much about you
  • Because your seller performance is poor causing lots of bad buying experiences
  • You are not complying with eBay policies and guidelines, eBay see you engaged in risky behaviour and your account is getting restricted

eBay Statement on Selling Limits

eBay have been kind enough to provide the following information:

eBay must have an advanced, automated system in place to help ensure our sellers and buyers can transact with confidence.

In some cases, this system will promptly trigger limits on a seller’s ability to list, for example when fraud or counterfeit is suspected. While generally referred to as “limits,” these are crucial controls that add a vital layer of protection for our community. Any time these limits are applied, sellers are notified when they list— (if not before).

In addition to these limits, to help sellers grow successfully, eBay also may place limits based, for instance, on performance or length of time on eBay. This type of limit is clearly visible to impacted sellers in My eBay (soon to be in Seller Hub).

It’s important to keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of current eBay sellers are not impacted by selling limits of any kind.

If you do receive a notification of a selling limit and would like to understand why—or believe it’s in error and would like to request to have it removed—just contact our eBay customer support team.

How do limits work?

We’ve checked, double checked and gone back to ask once again and have good news for you. The only selling limits you will ever see on your account will be quantity or value listing limits. eBay may at times restrict your ability to list either by quantity, the total monetary value of items, or the category you wish to list in, but they won’t hide live items from sale.

Specifically Best Match is eBay’s default sort order for search results. Limits is not a factor considered in Best Match. eBay’s best match search algorithm does not consider a Seller’s Limits nor does eBay funnel sales to a seller or group of sellers by adjusting either a seller’s limits, best match results, or both.

I’ve been around eBay long enough to know that conspiracy theories abound, but the truth of it is that it would be too technically demanding for eBay to check how close you are to a selling limit and decide on the fly when a buyer searches for a product to show yours and then thirty seconds later decide to hide your product because you’d just made a sale. Frankly eBay just aren’t going to try and program this.

The majority of sellers are unaffected by selling limits

Most sellers will never see a selling limit. Sure if you suddenly try to sell 15 pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage at £1000 a pop when traditionally you’ve been selling two quid mobile phone accessories it will almost certainly triger alarm bells.

If you just go about your normal day to day selling you’ll probably be unaffected by limits and hardly aware that they exist, except when you hear the few who are impacted complaining.

Everything you need to know about eBay selling limits in three sentences

So to round everything we know about limits up: You may at times be subject to limits which restrict your listing ability but once something is listed it’ll be in Best Match available for sale.

eBay do not throttle your sales, at most they’ll throttle your ability to list.

Most sellers won’t ever trade in such a way that they’re affected by limits.

157 Responses

  1. well done chasing this up Chris, but we’re not complaining about advertised limits, we’re complaining about the hidden, illegal, limits ebay deny everything about, even though we are all affected.

    we know they’re at it.
    you know they’re at it.
    they know they’re at it.
    if they admit it, they’ll all go to jail.

  2. There is a much simpler answer to this.

    Sellers’ sales drop off at times because the Ebay system is down or partially down, preventing buyers from logging in or completing checkout.

    We’re not talking total outages, just an inability to log in or a frustratingly slow system that puts buyers off.

    To suggest Ebay is actively limiting sellers with “quotas” is to give credit for something they’re not even capable of doing, even if they wanted to.

    They’re too inept.

  3. This is what we already know though Chris.
    If people (sellers) are doing fraudulent things then yes, totally agree that people should be limited.

    How can you sell the same quantity each week/month?
    trying new campaigns, free postage, deals, lots new inventory etc etc etc.

    It doesn’t add up.

  4. Overall well done for taking the time and effort in taking ebay to task over this but I do wish you had been brave enough to title the article “Are eBay using hidden selling limits?” or something to that effect.

    By posing a question rather than stating fact you would also be covering yourself from a legal standpoint if eBay did come calling over the article. Having a blue tick verification symbol as the article picture further confuses the issue. A red circle with a line through it would be much more appropriate for what I know many sellers are now experiencing.

    My sales used to be frequent with the best day of the week being Sunday but now I can go hours without a sale and then a few arrive within half an hour and then nothing for hours again and weekends? Forget about it. Without fail a washout every weekend for the past 14 months. My sales and seller fees have been almost identical now for the past few months with a tiny spike over Christmas. Fortunately I successfully use other sales platforms as well and ebay is the only one that returns such sporadic results despite it being one of the two largest worldwide marketplaces on the web.

    If – and I say “if” the selling limits theory is proved at some stage then surely eBay could be looking at potentially the largest fine in corporate history.

  5. Utter rubbish, you’ve once again swallowed the corporate line.

    About time someone started a ‘new tamebay’ which stops the backside licking that has become synonymous with this site which is now, for all intents and purposes, redundant.

  6. Here is a quick calculation look at your dashboard sales graph divide the 90 day sales figure by 90 then multiply by 7 how close is it to your 7 day figure mine is within 2%

    Coincidence or not your guess ?

    I have halved my listings in the last month no change in sales average how strange

  7. Remember the eBay employee who posted this below on the USA community boards and eBay deleted it and then denied all knowledge.

    There are several types of limits that sellers may experience when selling:
    • Site Wide Limits (SWL, referred to as “selling limits”)
    • Silent limits (limits placed on an account that can’t be seen by the seller)
    • URC limits (User Risk Code, limits reduced or placed on an account due to concerns)
    • Category limits
    • BTAC limits (Building Trust by Reducing Counterfeits, for branded items)
    • Hot item limits
    • Multi-Account limits
    • Velocity limits
    • feedback limits

    All sellers on the site will experience at least one type of selling limit when selling on the site. These limits are in place to:
    • Reduce fraud and circumvention on the site
    • Ensure sellers can successfully manage their sales
    • Ensure sellers are increasing volume at a manageable pace
    • Ensure sellers can meet the expectations of buyers.

    ————————————————————————————————————–

  8. Why are all these moaners only selling on Ebay?

    If you’re any good in business, you will not be limiting your selling to one site.

    Any issues with drop offs in sales on Ebay are due to one or more of the following:

    – Problems with buyers accessing Ebay and / or your listings due to persistent intermittent Ebay system problems.

    – Problems with the checkout preventing buyers from completing purchases, even once they’ve managed to get onto Ebay.

    – Problems with Ebay searches throwing up variable / crass / useless returns to buyers, due to a combination of system errors and stupid policies.

    – Too many other people selling the same / similar things for less on Ebay and elsewhere

    – No buyers out there at times – they’ve all f****d off to Amazon / Etsy / AN Other site, due to the problems accessing Ebay.

    If you only sell on Ebay, you get exactly what you deserve.

    Diversify your selling, use Ebay to drive sales to your own site or other selling platforms.

  9. I was just recently placed with limits of only 10 items a month after having good records and no chargebacks or negative feedback for over a year. Now suddenly I am hit with a selling limit? Sounds like a bunch of BS to me.

    I was actually checking on how to sell more or bypass limits and some recommend going stealth. Even reading an article by Auction Essistance, they state you can sell nearly 3 times as much if you are hit with a low selling limits.

    Is this true? Is it safe or even legal to do?

  10. What about the EBAY EMPLOYEE who confirmed there is hidden limits? He posted it on the US forums (then it got deleted) He was an eBay “Pink” – so it was official.

    My business is growing on my other 2 venues, just not eBay. Stale, same amount of sales each day nearly. No way to grow despite all the illusions of growth the community managers are messing with.

    People can pretend eBay cannot do this, but I am going to listen to an eBay employee who actually works for the company.

    Google “eBay Employee Reveals Secret “Hidden Limits”” and see for yourself.

  11. stunned all this bollocks has not made the urban myth list
    If things dont sell we check our prices our pictures our competition
    first, then the dog gets the blame or the direction of the wind

  12. Has anyone else had staged declines in sales? My sales went from a variable 6-11k per month to 6k for 3 months, 5k for 3, 4k for 3 months etc. It is so noticeable! I know a little bit about statistics, and this sales pattern is utterly impossible in a real retail environment.

    I’m interested to know if the declining sales experienced by many have been a gradual lessening, or jumps down at regular intervals.

  13. Unless all these things mentioned in the thread indicate to there are nowhere near as many buyers on eBay as there was in 2014 and earlier due to the competition from etsy and the like?

    Thoughts?

  14. I have to say this doesn’t bear out what my clients see – slow sales months are almost always explained by external forces such as Brexit or else the sales in general are down on eBay because buyers are choosing other marketplaces.
    Putting more items up for sale will not guarantee extra sales – in fact it can have the opposite effect as it will impact on sell through rates.
    Checking on Terapeak when there is a dip in sales almost always reveals a general dip in sales across the category.
    There are reasons why sales slow, but I think the real issue is that the reasons are so complex it’;s very difficult to work out what to do unless your business is analysing eBay – good news for me but not for sellers generally.
    As always the advice is sell everywhere, not just eBay.

  15. I know how surreptitious eBay can be through firsthand experience. A few years ago, auctions had, and always did display in the results based on how much time was left, even when Best Match was introduced. eBay terms and conditions stated this was the case.

    When I first noticed this pattern stopped, I got in contact with eBay and brought it up in the forums, as I was experiencing a large drop in sales as a consequence. I was contacted by a German eBay member of staff, and was told eBay was applying a threshold – effectively a sell-through rate. This was completely new to all sellers on eBay and wasn’t to be announced for a further three weeks. Not only was there this throttle on how you appeared in Best Match, but auctions no longer had any guarantee of finishing in order of time. I took a screen shot of eBay’s terms and conditions, to show them they were in contradiction. A few days later, they changed those terms and conditions to include the word ‘may’. The injection of a single word meant your auctions might finish in a time based order within Best Match, or they may not!

    This was all several years ago now, but I am quite certain new surreptitious means are used to throttle sellers, and at other times to open them up for sales. I’m also quite certain they will further test new things and go against their own stated conditions, only to announce them publicly long after the fact.

    You only need to start searching eBay using proxy sites, testing with other IPs and even different browsers to see how differently the results appear.

  16. far too much overwhelming anecdotal evidence of throttling, rolling blackouts , strange sales patterns etc.

    Basically if you want to grow your business reliably, you need sales from several other sources.

  17. I have to agree 100% with everything Steve has said above, he has hit the nail on the head.

    I have had exactly the same experience with eBay sales.

    My main seller has been active since 2002, I have always had 100% feedback and have just under 200,000 feedback, so we are an established, long standing, reputable seller yet we are experiencing hidden selling limits.

    The same as Steve, no matter what I do to try and grow my eBay business and sales, every month our sales hit a ceiling within a few thousand ponds, looking at Terapeak data so are our competitors.

    We are not aware of eBay imposing selling limits on us, there is no reason for them to do so, you would have thought we would be one of their best sellers and customers, somebody to look after and help grow but no, quite the opposite.

    We have suppliers where we spend much less than we spend with eBay yet these suppliers look after us and treat us with respect and help us, we have dedicated account managers from all our many suppliers but nothing from eBay.

    Frankly I think it is terrible how eBay treat sellers and I only see it getting worse.

    Never mind Brexit, it’s time to plan your eBayexit strategy!

  18. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy into these conspiracy theory. If there are hidden limits, its going the be down to how you rank in search, visibility, clicks & most of all sales. With a billion+ listings eBay want the best listings at the top of search. It can only be down to the algorithms they use and I bet most people at eBay don’t even understand how they work.

    It is definitely worth looking at https://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/sell/sellinglimits.html and work through all the advice here. One of our accounts did receive a limitation and eBay told me to weed out products with high stock counts and low sales. This can happen quite easily, you get a deal at a knockdown price and you automatically put up all your inventory. Better to make the inventory available at intervals. Better to have 10 sales and 40 items, than 10 sales than 400 items. I followed this procedure and my selling limits were gradually increased over time, I imagine the same could occur if there are hidden limits.

    eBay is still a decent platform for us, but we gave up hope of real growth a couple of years ago as it appears successive management teams seem incapable of turning round the oil tanker it has become.

  19. I also sell on Amazon (despite problems it allows my business to grow which is a plus anyway) Amazon is growing monthly, literally to see a graph, its just up and up. eBay is up and down. I can go 24 hours with 0 sales on eBay (always day before my invoice is due).

    I have my website also, which (thanks to social media) is doing brilliant. Growing monthly and for the products I sell, on number 1 page on Google. Outselling eBay after 6 months open and just behind Amazon UK.

    Even on my website, I go to bed and when I wake up there is sales throughout the night from other countries. Like it should be on eBay.

    I don’t dislike eBay at all. They are a business and need to make themselves money. Last year my sales died and never recovered, hence the website (which looking back is now a blessing as without the sales it brings I wouldn;t have my company today replying on just eBay)

    Funnily enough, 0 item not described problems on my website. All just normal people who return to us and we refund, without making up lies.

  20. This is absolutely true, we have seen staged decline in sales, it’s too ‘even’ to be a natural occurrence, eBay are manipulating and restricting small sellers. Basically eBay now is little more than a subscription scam and needs to be investigated at a high level. It’s fraud.

  21. It’s eass to spit the eBay fan boys or employees above.

    This site IS rigged and one day someone’s going to leak something that’s going to get the management extremely worried of the FBI paying them a visit. It’s going to happen.

  22. obviously there is some sort of problem though our guess its not intentional or specific or controlled we think ebays cassini is the culprit and how people find things in general

  23. If anyone doubts eBay ability to turn a sellers sales on or off at will and throttle a sellers sale, they should ask any seller who has become below standard what happens to their sales they can drop from 100+ a day to a handful overnight

    How do I know this I have been there and ended up below standard trying to stand up to fraudulent buyers and got no support from eBay and sanctioned for trying a couple of years ago

  24. It is simple – the sales are throttled no question about it.

    Ebay wants lots of sellers selling so everyone gets a slice of the pie, If ebay allowed 1 player to dominate a category then the smaller sellers would leave.

    Most new sellers are enthusiastic and do not know the game well, they will try hard with “listing upgrades”, until they finally cave in.

    I know this because I have been doing ebay from day 1, where I dominated plenty of categories, I had a sale every 30 seconds

    In year 2007, ebay profit was 1.3 million, as I completely dominated a category, profit from that category is now non-existent.

    You have to constantly evolve and change your products to stay 1 step ahead of the rest.

    Online selling is the future but don’t for 1 second think these platforms care about sellers, as they know new blood will always be setting up stores.

  25. if our business were receiving 10% plus on every sale,nothing and nobody would have any limit,
    do you think ebay needs a psychiatrist

  26. many ebay sellers live in their own bubble ! they over estimate their importance, nearly 20 years full time selling on ebay, tells us
    individually were all insignificant to ebay, so anyone who thinks ebay are going to focus time and attention on scraping extra final value fees in that manner , really does need to change their abacus

  27. Tinker, do you work for eBay? Serious question. Only asking as you seen to dismiss the idea hat eBay has this software so wondering if maybe, if you know more than the person/eBay staff who posted the hidden limit document on the US forum.

    You know, the guy who works/worked for eBay, got paid by eBay, got permission to post on the forum by eBay, the guy who posted an internal document from his ebay work computer, posted this while at work in eBay office.

    Also to note, this was confirmed also as an internal document by the UK community manager AND Griff (who said he wouldn’t comment on it) So that is 3 members of EBAY STAFF (1 of who is high up) who confirmed the existence of this document. But yet, you seem to be unable to comprehend that.

    I don’t do conspiracy theories – i am very realistic. And without that document I also would doubt it could happen. But its there to be seen.

    If eBay can limit sales for new members of COURSE it can for old. Simples.

  28. Interesting! I was on live chat Just after midnight on Friday to query if there were any selling limits imposed on our account that we were not aware of. I explained how our ebay sales are 25% down on 2 months ago and I did not understand how on best match most of oir items were showing well down the results for items we have sold thousands of, we are the cheapest, we have 200k positive feedback offer free, fast postage etc, we are doing averything we think ebay want us to, yet our sales are dire at the moment.

    I was assured that our account is good and there are no limits, I subtly hinted at the possibility of hidden limits, it went quiet and I was transferred to somebody else quickly.

    Again I was assured our account has no limits and there are definetly no such thing as hidden sellong limits.

    Within 2 days our items are creeping back up search results and our sales are up.

    Coincidence?

    Last night i contacted them again, Click and Collect and Fast and Free was showing on most but not all of our listings. I gave them examples of 50 item numbers where this was a problem. A few were explained because they were in categories that are not eligible, some seemed quite bizarre so I changed the category and sorted. The others could not be explained. I was advised to end them and relist to see if that would fix it, was not convinced and did not want to lose sales history. So I said thanks but I would leave them as is.

    Within 20 minutes Click andCollect and Fast and Free were visible on the best part of the 50 listings that I had queried!!

    Coincidence?

  29. 48 reports peak on down detector doesn’t tell me there’s a problem with eBay bearing in mind the amount of traffic they get. However Amazon only peaked at a quarter of that today at 12 and BT a peak of 21. Talktalk 26 … 48 reports in how many thousands of queries could have been to do with the internet service providers.

    Go use sell similar and relist some stuff, have a look at your listing on a mobile, put some promotions and sales on and do something less boring instead. #lifeistooshort

  30. I have just received my weekly sales report from Terapeak, for my own and my 10 closest competitors. The figures are so similar to the last 6-8 weeks I thought I was reading an old email!

    This is not a natural sales pattern, there are no peaks and troughs that you would expect when comparing sellers selling similar items on the same marketplace. You would expect some variation over this time period not a flat line.

    All my efforts and my teams are going into our new website now, I feel I have wasted several years to eBay, trying to grow my business but have been held back.

    In a way I am glad to hear others have had the same experience reading here, not good for any of us but at least we know it was not us doing something wrong or failing!!

  31. My personal opinion is that it’s become little more than a subscription scam now, it’s not a serious place to sell, like a casino, it’s rigged to the hilt. Hopefully one day justice will prevail and punishment dished out for the obvious fraud taking place.

  32. I have been doing a few more experiments with listing numbers I dropped down to 2000 unique listings from 8500 and sales stayed the same for 2 weeks I then put 5000 different items and listings up on another linked account thanks to the 50k free listing offer

    Within a day the sales on the first account droped by 50% the sales on the second account are equal to the drop on the first giving the same total sales across both accounts week on week

    Just another coincidence next month I will list 20000 unique lines on one account and see what the results are but I think I know the answer already

  33. Its no a case of going else where its more proof that throttling is happening we will list the least we have to to hit the ceiling.

    There is no point trying to expand our rsnge of goods or eBay sales when we can pay for 2000 listings 800 paid for + the featured shop 1200 and get the same sales as paying an anchor shop and listing 20,000

    I will just drop the listing down until sales start to drop and keep a fixed amout listed to keep it at the maximum sales throttle limit

  34. ……or maybe you decide to sell incredibly popular products such as phone covers, or you try to compete with very popular companies and then you explain away your poor sales by these ludicrous conspiracy theories…

    If I were buying a product, I would look to buy it from a reputable company, not from someone selling it from their garage.

  35. Steve, if my memory serves me right, you and others have been blathering on about this “leaked document” for years. Ten years down the line you still will be. It must be so tedious being so obsessed with the same issue. Ebay don’t care. The big wide world doesn’t care. I don’t care. Give it a rest. People don’t want to buy your grossly overpriced anoraks on ebay. That’s all there is to it.

  36. Jason – understand this – nobody wants to buy your joblots of malfunctioning batteries, tatty crafts, birthday banners or mobile phone accessories.

    I will say it for the last time as loud as possible – NOBODY WANTS TO BUY YOUR TAT.

    Goodbye, enjoy your “throttling”.

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