Are eBay clamping down on Chinese location abuse?

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We’ve discussed Chinese location abuse from Chinese sellers many times over the years and it’s a bit of a moving target. Some Chinese sellers operate fantastic eBay businesses but there are many who invariably try to skirt around the rules (and often downright lie) in order to game eBay Best Match giving all Chinese sellers a bad name.

Why does Chinese location abuse exist?

The reason that Chinese location abuse is a common practice is that by claiming a UK location they get better exposure in Best Match. Their lies also prevent buyers from hiding their items by clicking the search option supposed to only show items located within the UK. It makes for a terrible buying experience, not that buyers mind buying from overseas, China or anywhere else in the world, it’s just that they like to know in advance that’s what they are doing and choose which purchases they want from a UK source and which they’re happy to have shipped from abroad.

Historic Chinese location abuse on eBay

Location abuse started with Chinese sellers quite frankly telling lies and pretending that their stock was based in the UK in order to attract more customers. The stock was always in China and they’d claim long despatch times and typically 5 day courier services to disguise the fact they were shipping from overseas. Buyers universally hated this as they lost all their consumer rights, for instance who wants to return a broken product when you have to pay shipping back to China?

Then specialist fulfilment houses set up in the UK to cater for the Chinese Sellers. They’d ship their stock over to the UK in bulk, store it from a UK location and could fulfil much faster. The problem with this came when HMRC clamped down and pointed out that if their stock was in the UK then the Chinese Sellers should be paying VAT. A program of Due Diligence came in for fulfilment houses and surprise surprise they found themselves deserted by the Chinese Sellers who reverted to shipping their stock from China.

Today we still see Chinese location abuse on eBay – often times they still have stock located in China but ship to the UK in bulk with pre-printed Royal Mail or other courier labels already attached and a UK fulfilment house opens the bulk shipment and pops the parcels into the local UK courier and mail networks. Technically as the stock is then distributed from the UK VAT should still be paid but is doubtless in many cases being avoided.

What are eBay rumoured to be doing?

In order to allow time to ship from China, many sellers are still liars claiming that their stock is in the UK and in fact distributing from a UK warehouse whilst still avoiding VAT. In order to do this they claim perhaps a 3 day despatch time and a 5 day courier (there are no mainstream 5 day courier services in the UK – it’s all next day or 2 day services (3 days at the most if you’re dropping off at a Parcel Shop where the collection takes place the following day).

CIF News has broken a story where Chinese sellers are reporting a possible Chinese location abuse clamp down by eBay. Sellers report eBay are dictating new rules if they claim that their goods are located in an overseas warehouse (defined as a UK or US warehouse) and stipulating maximum despatch and transit times with assessments taking place from the end of March.

Anti eBay Chinese location abuse rules for UK warehouses

eBay will assess Chinese sellers claiming their goods are in UK warehouses on:

  • 80% of orders must be despatched within 2 working days of the order being received
  • 80% of orders must ship on a 3 day or faster courier service
  • 50% of orders must have a delivery scan no more than 5 days after payment

Anti eBay Chinese location abuse rules for US warehouses

The rules we’re hearing eBay are to impose immediately are:

  • 80% of orders must be despatched within 2 working days of the order being received
  • Other assessment criteria to be announced at a later date

What’s really going to be a problem for Chinese location abuse is the requirement to upload tracking numbers in a timely manner. eBay will soon see if goods are despatched on time and if they’re delivered within five days of payment. The chances are that if the stock is still in China that metrics will reveal this and, hopefully, eBay will start taking action.

An eBay spokesperson told Tamebay: “We have zero tolerance for sellers who fail to comply with their tax obligations and take any allegations of non-compliance very seriously. We will review the report and take action against any sellers in breach of our strict policies. eBay continues to share intelligence with HMRC to improve compliance with the law and we have long established processes to support brands in the fight against counterfeits.”

26 Responses

  1. I really hope so, it is currently beyond a joke. you search for something only to have the first 16 pages full of the same item from the same seller, with the same title…. except a random number put at the end to avoid the duplicate listing rule! So you tick UK only ( excluding every other country in the process) and suprise suprise…. they are all still there. Often under ‘fast and free’ somehow…. Often they have 5 day courier or dispatch times set so the item takes over a month! Just another reason why i have stopped buying on ebay.
    They need to be hard and fast on this issue as im sure it has driven many buyers aways already

  2. From 1st February 2019 eBay started to act on peer to peer metrics of sellers who don’t deliver or don’t deliver orders in the time they promise.

    Those sellers who lie about their location will fall foul of these metrics due to exceeding the promised delivery time. They’ll suffer the sanctions (and higher fees) that these metrics bring.

  3. Good news.

    However, it would be even easier, if there was a search option to search on the ‘business location’ (registered business address) as opposed to ‘item location’.

    Obviously, greedy eBay would not go for this.

  4. Just had a call from one of our suppliers / manufacturers who’s family own a factory in China.
    He read the article and said some months ago they have been approached by a person stating they can get round all the Metrics that are being introduced by eBay.

    They operate in Portsmouth and use a number of university students and others who could do with a nice little cash earner who will hold stock items and charge just 40p per item to ship. If they were interested they would negotiate a pallet rate for shipping over and storage. They are also trying to establish other holding points in the UK which will all be outside of standard business warehousing to avoid taxes.

  5. Another thing they should clamp down on is real UK sellers abusing the delivery markup system. There are some genuine UK sellers that will offer a standard, “premium” and next day delivery service.
    The standard is really just second class post which should take five days.
    The so called premium is just first class post.
    And their next day is a courier.

    What they do is quote the standard delivery as almost ten working days which then turns into nearly two weeks. They do this to encourage the seller to choose premium or next day delivery. All the delivery prices are inflated so they make more money.

    I ran into this when I bought a shower head from a plumbers merchant and chose standard, thinking no delivery would take ten days – but after ten days it still hadnt arrived. I phoned them up and asked how can it take so long, all they have to do is stick it in a jiffy bag and with second class it would take five days. But he was having none of it, I had paid only standard and it must stay on the shelf and I must wait the alotted time. It took almost two weeks to come with a second class stamp on it.

    My own fault I know, I got what I chose, but they were still being dishonest in saying I should have paid for a premium delivery at an inflated price. It would have taken only slightly longer to get a cheaper one from china where it probably originally came from.

  6. I think they are now trying to buy a little more delivery time by pretending to be located in Europe!
    I was going to buy a SLR lens recently from a company located in Switzerland – but looking into it further (seller details and feedback) they are shipping from China, so may well be 3rd rate fakes as well. So, I bought it from Currys – it was a little dearer, but I got it quickly and I know it is a genuine product.
    Upshot is one less sale on eBay with the consequential loss of fees. You need to hit this quickly and hard eBay.

  7. Yep you are correct but the accounts are being opened by the person doing the shipping so they are outside of the net also they have a 1,000 listings as a private seller.

    Like all nets they catch things you don’t want and allow things you do want to escape now and then.

  8. Jane

    You say that sellers rated as Very High for Item Not Received cases, will be punished by being subject to higher fees.

    Is this a change of policy by eBay?
    When the system was originally announced, the punishment for this was longer estimated delivery times, and the extra fees only applied to sellers with a Very High rate of Not As Described cases.

    The current policy is silent on the subject – it doesn’t mention ANY punishments for too many INR cases opened.

  9. The union flag for GB. should be as a matter of courtesy be flown the correct way up.

  10. There are too many China sellers are using fake locations. They say their locations are the UK but they are not in the UK. They are actually in China. As an eBay seller, I’ve purchased some items I thought located in the UK.

    But items were shipped from China. Then I search “UK Only”, but there are still China sellers. I am not saying that all China sellers are not honest but many of them are doing this “location abuse”.

    I always try to avoid purchasing things from Chinese sellers because it takes like a month or even longer to receive an item from China to the UK. And when a problem happens, it’s hard to make a resolution but sometimes you can not avoid.

    As seller and buyer, I felt like I had been cheated by sellers location. I had these bad experiences as a buyer almost since a decade ago and the problem is; the year 2019 why does eBay allow them to use fake locations?

  11. It’s not just the location they’re faking. I purchased a blouse from a seller. item location was London. took 3wks to arrive. Tracking number was false. They give you a size chart in the photos to look at. . I’m a size 14 and ordered a XXL. Was still to small. So frustrated I binned it. So convinced it was posted from London.

  12. ebay hong kong logistic partner Continental Global Service Limited help all the Hong Kong China seller smuggling mobile camera, this company charge the seller 5% for VAT, so the Hong Kong seller can sell much lower than the local seller.

  13. eBay will officially implement the above evaluation criteria on April 23, 2019. The first evaluation trading cycle is from March 10th to April 6th, 2019. Unsatisfied accounts may be subject to sales restrictions. The assessment time for other indicators of overseas warehouses will be announced later. The seller center will also be on the performance of the new overseas warehouse trading assessment indicators in early April 2019.

  14. Good lord wake me up I’m must be dreaming, Ebay will actually clamp down on the Chinese location abuse.


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