Why Has eBay Restricted My Selling?

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eBay sellers are often shocked the first time they receive a restriction notice. When there is a high potential for fraud related to the auctions, items, or seller account in question, eBay will act to protect buyers. This can lead to frustration for sellers, but there are a few common situations which are red flags and may lead to increased scrutiny from eBay.

eBay Limits Seller Fraud Through Restrictions

If you're selling high-demand designer goods, that tends to draw the attention of any trademark holders, competing sellers, and of eBay. When a new product like an iPad is released, eBay may work to reduce the potential for fraud and impose restrictions to ensure that no single fraudster can steal from many buyers. And any product or category that involves unlicensed name-brand goods or in which there is a high incidence of counterfeiting is likely to be restriction-heavy.

But sometimes restrictions are due to what eBay considers suspicious activity by a particular seller, such a sudden change in selling practices. If you rapidly increase your sales in a high-risk category, for instance, you increase your chances of being hit with a selling restriction.

And of course, if your account has built up a history of violations, expect eBay to eventually take action. 

So what should you do if your account has been restricted?

Be Patient

Wait the restriction out patiently. Don't try to register a new account and begin selling; the chances are high you'll get caught and that will only raise suspicions further.

Don't contact eBay incessantly, send angry messages, threaten legal action, or express your frustration. You may end up with a permanent microscope on your activity and make a permanent ban likely. Don't contact your recent buyers and continue to conduct sales outside of eBay, or send a mass email to them simply to complain about eBay. They're likely to complain to eBay about you.

After the stated time period of the restriction has passed and you're still in limbo, that's the time to reach out to eBay, to make sure all is well. 

How to Avoid Future eBay Seller Account Restrictions

Some online advice suggests getting around eBay's restrictions using false information, new identities, or other such tricks. But sellers that begin bending the rules generally sour their relationship with eBay and often find themselves engaged in out-and-out identity fraud months or years down the road just to keep selling. They are then haunted by the constant threat of a permanent ban. Obviously, you don't want to start down this road. 

Restrictions are a warning sign that the way you are doing business is unsustainable on eBay, fair or not. If you plan to rely on your eBay income, your future should include changes:

Move away from high-risk/high-fraud items. Choose a different category of items to one that is less fraud-heavy. Try partnering with rights holders. If you're selling legally licensed, legally imported or stocked retail goods and believe you were unfairly targeted or accused, in the future focus on contacting and working with the rights holder to have eBay mark you as a legitimate seller.

Shift your emphasis and/or sell one at a time. Sales of legitimate items that repeatedly earn restrictions may be possible if you do it at a slower pace, usually only one listing at any time and only one or several listings per month. While you continue to sell the items in question, you shift your primary selling emphasis elsewhere.

The Bottom Line

Though a restriction may seem like the end of the world, it isn't unless you let it become so. Take selling restrictions as a warning that your eBay income stream is at risk, and make the necessary modifications to protect yourself and your business for the long term.