eBay amend user agreement with fees for exchanging contact info

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eBay have changed their user agreement to add a clause banning offsite sales and, if you choose to carry on selling on eBay, you will be liable not only for final value fees for sales which are transacted off eBay but also for the expenses for policy monitoring and enforcement.

Of course by this time your eBay account will already have selling restrictions or you’ll have been suspended.

“If (1) we believe you are violating the policy on Offers to buy or sell outside of eBay, you may be subject to a range of actions, including limits on your buying and selling privileges, restrictions on listings and account features, suspension of your account, application of fees for the introduction of seller to buyer, and recovery of expenses for policy monitoring and enforcement; and (2) you are a seller and you offer or reference your contact information or ask for the buyer’s contact information in the context of buying or selling outside of eBay, you will be liable for all final value fees in consideration for the introduction to a buyer for that item on the eBay site, even if the item does not sell.”
– Addition to the eBay User Agreement

We can not emphasise enough that eBay are clamping down heavily on users who exchange contact details in eBay messages. It’s been postulated that they’re worried about losing fees on sales and this is doubtless a consideration but I’m not convinced that this is the main reason. It’s all about eBay’s reputation as a safe place to shop.

If you go back a couple of decades eBay had an image problem that you might not get what you paid for and a few dodgy transactions gave eBay a terrible reputation (remember the people that sold an iPhone box and the buyer thought they were buying an iPhone with only a tiny line buried in a description to tell them otherwise?). Nowadays with the majority of transactions paid for via PayPal and the eBay Buyer Guarantee it’s almost unheard of for a buyer to get ripped off on-eBay.

What is still all too familiar however are the stories in the press of buyers getting ripped off off-eBay. This reached a pinnacle with the recent ITV (so-called) documentary The eBay Scammers which aired in August. Anyone watching the programme could be forgiven for thinking that eBay is still a terribly dodgy place to shop and that’s not the message that eBay want given out.

eBay are now in the tricky position of trying to police off-eBay fraud and we’ve seen a number of measures to combat this such as banning all active content across the site. It’s a tough nut to crack but it’s vital that eBay do this and that’s why they are throwing so much weight behind their efforts to eradicate contact details being exchanged between buyers and sellers. If a scammer can’t contact a buyer then they can’t send them a fake invoice, get them to pay through a fake escrow account or sell them a non-existent car.

If you’re still unsure if eBay are serious about cracking down on contact details then it’s time to take note, edit your listings (or template and shop template if you have phone numbers etc there) and accept that you can only communicate with buyers through eBay messages (unless eBay are kind enough to share your telephone number after the sale).

The new User Agreement can be found on eBay. For new accounts it’s valid immediately and for existing accounts it’s effective from the 22nd of October. As always if you don’t want to agree to the new User Agreement eBay helpfully have a help page for you (their link, not mine!)

30 Responses

  1. Still pushing the official line that

    “such as banning all active content across the site.”

    A quick look at the outlet shops will show this to be utter BS


    The eBay article 152702709219 from seller dcshoes_store_uk is… **
    Mobile non-compatible

    ✗ Content width
    Content width is wider than viewport width ▾
    ✗ Font size
    Large portion of text is smaller than 12 px. ▾
    ✓ CSS media queries
    CSS media queries found on this page ▾
    ✗ Meta viewport
    Meta viewport is not set ▾

    Uses Active Content

    ✗ JavaScript
    Javascript is found in source codes ▾
    ✗ Forms
    HTML form is found in source codes ▾
    ✓ Mobile incompatible plugins
    This page does not use any mobile incompatible plugins ▾
    ? Links
    HTML link is found in source codes ▾
    ? Target Blank Links
    Links without target=”_blank” are found in source codes ▾

    Wonder how the with active content without active content button does nothing, even though the results clearly show that this listing is in breach of all the terms.


  2. I’m puzzled as to how ebay will now work when Second hand items needing inspection by potential buyers before bidding, are listed. Would a buyer bid say £2000 for a second hand caravan without seeing it …. or does the “no contact’s policy only apply to items of small value …. or new items where condition is not in question. It is going to be very interesting to see the result of these changes. Nigel

  3. So clamp down on off site dodgy transactions…. but continue to allow the ever increasing amount of dodgy buyers ripping off sellers on site! Classic.
    ‘Nowadays with the majority of transactions paid for via PayPal and the eBay Buyer Guarantee it’s almost unheard of for a buyer to get ripped off on-eBay.’
    No mention of how some buyers abuse it to rip off sellers…. all we can do is report them. As we never hear back how do we know they have been dealt with? Proberly just ignored. Anyway the buyer has the item and a refund so why do they care?
    Sorry but ebay wont shake off the reputation until sellers fell protected too. Maybe buyers aren’t so concerned, but in many cases alot of buyers are also sellers…. so defending only one side is pointless.

    Oh and i keep seeing links to off site stores in ebay…. i guess it’s ok to drive customers off site if the ad is paid for?!

  4. Love how ebay did the ” banning all active content across the site.” for small sellers, knowing sellers would have to revise all their items by June 1st and then announced a week or so later ” all contact details need to be removed” this just shows how much ebay hates their sellers. Why not roll all of the changes into one update rather than needlessly create mountains of unpaid work for their sellers.

    Ebay seems to be infiltrated by agents of Amazon who are looking to bring the whole business down from inside.

  5. Ebay will lose fees because of this. People often want to come view my watches. If I darent talk to a buyer in case it gives ebay reason to slap a fee on, is it worth a seller continuing??

    And can they legally charge a fee if there is no real proof of a transaction?

    They’re just going to charge for communication ?

    Do they not realise there are other places to sell??

    It feels like a real effort to rid the site of smaller retailers. they want large sellers they can control.

  6. We know that the automated detection doesn’t work: accounts are being dolphinned according to reports in Tamebay. So are they going to use the faulty software to raise these fees? How would any of us check? The invoice is so cumbersome that it is basically impossible to do any analysis on a 258 page download.

    Perhaps fix invoicing before pulling the fees lever?

  7. The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 make it a legal requirement for Business Sellers to make their contact information available prior to any purchase.

    Whilst not removing this information, eBay have declared that they intend to relocate it.

    However, the regulations state that the information is …”made available to a consumer only if the consumer can reasonably be expected to know how to access it.”

    There have been many posts on the official eBay community discussion boards asking if eBay will sanction a business seller for adhering to the law, but instead of addressing genuine concerns from Business Sellers eBay are censoring such discussion and removing posts which ask for clarification.

    This is an example of something that was posted AND THEN REMOVED!!!

    _- – – – – – – – –

    Can you confirm a couple of things for us please ?

    Have you sought legal advice on whether or not hiding Business Contact information as proposed does NOT make Business Sellers violate The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013?

    In particular I refer to section 8 of the regulations Sarah which state that (The Business Seller’s Contact information) is “made available to a consumeronly if the consumer can reasonably be expected to know how to access it. ”

    You may not be aware of it Sarah, but if a Business Seller does not fully comply with these regulations buyers have AN ADDITIONAL 52 weeks in which they can cancel a contract.

    Secondly, can you assure us Business Sellers who obey the law (and have a model Cancellation form in our Returns Policy) that you will not sanction us for having our address and email address in the form AS THE REGULATIONS REQUIRE.

    I thank you, and on behalf of thousands of sellers who want to obey the law, I look forward to your response.

  8. Account deleted – Ebay is truly awful these days, no point selling on there as buyers are favored every time in disputes. A ‘buyer’ from Nigeria was allowed to scam me a few months back it’s ridiculous. Bye and good riddance.


  10. Does this mean that a customer can no longer pay cash for a local pick up because the seller won’t be able to give them a pick-up address? Unless the item has already been paid for?

  11. On the eBay community boards “Sarah” has invited questions on this issue.

    See her thread here.

    I have asked the following. ( I suspect it may get censored)


    Thank you for inviting questions. I have three simple questions and I look forward to a speedy response.

    Question 1 –
    Sarah, are you aware that The Consumer Contracts Regulations make it clear that PRIOR to any distance (eg, online) sale taking place a trader is legally required to provide his/her geographical address at which the trader is established and, (in the case of Business sellers on ebay) their telephone numberand e-mail address.

    Question 2 –
    Are you also aware that The regulations are quite explicit about WHY this information ir required. it is “to enable the consumer to contact the trader quickly and communicate efficiently”

    This means that it is a matter of law WHAT information a Business seller must provide and WHY they have to provide it.

    Question 3 –
    Did you know, Sarah, that the regulations also define what is meant by making this information “available,” namely that the information is “made available to a consumer only if the consumer can reasonably be expected to know how to access it. ”

    So in summary:-

    As a business seller I am required to make my address, telephone number and email address available where the consumer can find it, so that a consumer can use it to contact me efficiently. It seems that the lawyers who drew up these regulations were aware of eBay’s shoddy messaging system so they require the phone number and email address to be present.

    There are literally hundreds of thousands of Business sellers waiting for these points to be addressed, so I thank you Sarah.

  12. I was an Ebay seller for 8 years. About 16 months ago, after a holiday when I temporarily closed my Ebay shop, I decided to create an Etsy shop, with the intention of selling on both sites. Etsy did so well that I never went back to Ebay.

    I still buy the odd thing on Ebay, and so I get to read the messages about all the changes. I wouldn’t go back now if they paid me.

    At the same time as Ebay was sending me messages about contacting my buyers etc etc Etsy gave me 50 free listings to use up before December.

  13. I asked for sellers details so that I could view a reclining sofa and armchair. He was suspended for 7days , I have been strongly reminded of the ‘rules’. The seller has now removed items from eBay and given them to charity shop as they were not receiving any bids ,and he needed them gone so he could rent out property.
    I am still looking and I will not buy unless I can view prior to payment as I have to pay man &van on top.Ebay will not refund man &van charges?

  14. In the 3 days since I added “. . . and what about Private Sellers?” others have asked similar questions about how these draconian rules can apply to Private Sellers? Well . . . officially . . . eBay will be treating them no different to Business Sellers. I can say this as this morning the dedicated email address for an old Private Seller eBay account that I’ve only used for over FIVE YEARS to buy eBay items got their “Updates to the eBay.co.uk User Agreement” email making it clear what penalties I would risk by (quote) : “We’ve added new terms to the User Agreement to clarify that users are not permitted to complete outside of eBay any sales transactions with each other arising from items listed on the eBay platform.”

    On one hand this is at least a level playing field but “collection only” and “cash accepted” sales are highly popular for Private Sellers . . . so how are they going to find a way through the minefield when almost all take no interest in eBay news and affairs at all? Will we see a huge cull of Private Sellers over the next year? Indeed is this something eBay would like to see anyway so it’s why they want them to put in the same resources as Business Sellers?

    WARNING . . . heads up everyone . . . barely two entries away in my In-box was a phishing email titled “Please Update you Billing Information due to new Agreement” . . . the crooks will have noticed what is happening and made their pitch . . . be careful out there!

  15. It would appear that for private sellers on eBay the problem of ‘try before you buy’ can’t be resolved.
    Understandably, most buyers would, given geographical location, much rather view an item before buying. Unfortunately, eBay’s new ruling precludes this and, personally, I can see no way around it.
    I am now looking at alternative sites to sell my goods after 13 years with eBay.


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