eBay has edited a seller's listing to bring it into compliance, something we never recall having seen before. It raises the issue, at what point does eBay's encroachment into a seller's listings make it liable for its contents - and for the products themselves? (As the current hoverboard safety issues demonstrate, product liability is a very real concern.)
A reader sent me the email he received - "in 18 years selling I have never had eBay do a courtesy edit," he said. "I have had several removed but never had an edit! Thought you might like to hear about the possible new policy."
Normally in such cases eBay sends a letter to sellers with the subject line, "Your listing has been removed: Brand Name Misuse."
But this reader received an email with the subject line: "Your listing was edited to avoid its removal: Brand Name Misuse - S&B" (S&B presumably refers to eBay's Search and browse manipulation policy).
This post on eBay
explains the treatment eBay sellers usually receive for "brand name misuse" violations, where a seller wrote, "the first takedown is only the first and apt to be followed by more, cascading into complete suspension."
The email the reader received started out: "We're reaching out to you because one or more of your listings didn't follow our guidelines. Because you're a valued member of our community, your listing was edited so that it now meets our guidelines. It's still live on our site. You can find a list of what was edited further down in this email."
The email also stated in part, "We'd love to send an advisory notice to all sellers before acting on the listings; however, looking at the severity of the breach and due to time constraint we've to immediately edited the listings to safeguard seller's account."
The email forwarded to us has some grammatical errors and typos, we've asked the reader to confirm that a) it showed up in their eBay messages as well as by email, and B) eBay actually edited the listing in question.
But the typos might be explained by how eBay's review process works. On a forum thread on a niche collectibles site, we saw someone hypothesize that outsourced agents from another country review claims that have been submitted against listings and the reps then make decisions. "Their understanding and resolution of a problem is lost in communication so no 2 cases are settled alike," the user wrote.
Also lending credence to the idea that eBay is now editing sellers' listings is its User Agreement
, which contains the following provision (we're not sure exactly when eBay added that language, but it is not brand new):
"Content that violates any of eBay's policies may be deleted at eBay's discretion."
Would you be okay with eBay editing your listings to bring them into compliance instead of taking the listings down?
Under what circumstances is it okay for a marketplace to edit a seller's listings?