Country Exclusions for Media Is Deliberate, eBay Confirms
By Ina Steiner
eBay sellers have been reporting that unbeknownst to them, eBay has reduced the geographic visibility of some of their products. Sellers began noticing in April that eBay was appending the message "involuntary shipping exclusions" to the shipping section of their listings for media, such as video games, CDs and DVD, and limiting those listings from appearing to shoppers in certain countries.
eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore confirmed that eBay now filters certain listings, limiting their exposure. He explained, "There are a number of countries that have restrictions concerning what - if any types of media - are allowed into it pursuant to import/export regulations. In certain countries, we have instituted media filters based on relevant legislation that prohibits or otherwise discourages the importation of certain types of media."
In April, EcommerceBytes reported that sellers were unable to confirm whether the limited exposure was deliberate or due to a glitch. Some speculated eBay was trying to coerce them into using its new Global Shipping Program.
At the time, sellers noted the countries excluded were: Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Latvia, Thailand, Romania, Russian Federation, Vietnam, South Africa and China.
Many sellers said they only found out about the limitations when overseas shoppers contacted them, asking why they would not sell to those countries. One seller wrote to EcommerceBytes, "I received an inquiry from a Russian buyer who asked me to "make an exception" and let him buy a CD. That is when I discovered this problem. I had not heard about it before. My eBay account site preference setting show absolutely no exclusions, but when I clicked on the eBay listing the buyer was interested in, that is when I discovered that eBay had included a list of countries I won't sell to. Again, those countries do not appear on my site preference settings, only in the listing itself when you click on the "See exclusions" link."
Sellers were concerned that eBay had failed to inform them of the filters, wasting their time as they tried to "fix" the "problem." One seller wrote on the eBay discussion boards, "I've been fussing with this for hours tonight without any resolution. I have checked all of my eBay preferences and it says I'm not in the GSP, and I have absolutely no buyer locations excluded anywhere. I've been experimenting with one listing in Turbo Lister and changing the international shipping settings to every possible combination and the exclusions will not disappear from the listing."
On another discussion thread, a seller noted that eBay was unable to tell them why it was limiting their exposure: "It is happening to me too .. on all cds and dvds I listed yesterday same countries excluded must be a site issue. Called eBay and so far they are clueless as to what is happening. Glad to see it was not just me."
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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