eBay Restricts Sale of Coupons, Buyers and Sellers Disappointed
By Ina Steiner
eBay sent an email to some users on Tuesday informing them of new restrictions on the sale of manufacturer's coupons. eBay is limiting sellers to selling $100 in coupons or 25 coupons a month, and it's also prohibiting coupons for free products.
The announcement took both buyers and sellers by surprise, and they took to the boards to voice their objections. "That effectively puts us out of business," wrote one seller. "I suspect it was the people who recklessly sold expired and scanned and conterfeit free coupons that got us honest sellers kicked off too. What a bloody shame they couldn't control the few bad apples and threw the baby out with the bath water." Another wrote, "That's will hurt so many families, I hope eBay reconsider- we been selling legal coupon for 7 years and now - we out of work- this is not fair."
eBay will begin enforcing the new policy on September 1st, giving sellers less than the 60 days' notice eBay had promised them when making changes that impact sellers.
eBay's decision is likely a reaction to pressure from organizations trying to fight coupon fraud. Coupons are big business. One reality television show on the TLC channel has made a splash by featuring consumers who use coupons to save money called "Extreme Couponing." But coupon fraud is also rampant, according to the Coupon Information Center (CIC), which has been vigorously fighting coupon fraud and counterfeits. The CIC issued a warning on its website advising retailers that they should exercise caution when considering participation with the show.
eBay launched its own coupon center at extras.ebay.com in 2011, set up by Triad Retail Media.
In its letter to some sellers on Tuesday, eBay wrote:
We're writing to let you know that as of today, updates to eBay's manufacturer's coupon policy take effect and may impact your listings:
- Sellers can only sell up to a maximum of $100 value in coupons or 25 valid, unexpired, original coupons per month, whichever limit is reached first. (The 25 coupons limit includes multiple coupons purchased from a multi-quantity listing.)
- Coupons for "free" products-including coupons where the coupon holder buys some quantity of items at one price and gets some number of items for free, for example, "buy-get-one-free" offers, or offers for free shipping-may no longer be sold on eBay.
- Starting September 1, 2013, listings for these coupons that don't comply with these policy changes will be removed. After September 1, listings in violation of this policy may be subject to a range of other actions, including restrictions of buying and selling privileges and a suspension of your account.
Please be sure to review all the terms of the updated policy now and review the terms printed on the coupon carefully before you list it to ensure compliance.
As always, thank you for selling on eBay!
eBay Selling Team
One seller writing about the email notice wrote, "AS A SELLER OF coupons and reading post on another board lot of us sellers will be going to bonanza or ecrater to start selling our coupons so please check us out there." But another replied, "Bonanza prohibits coupons. "Coupons or gift cards that restrict transfer, and coupons or gift cards which you are not authorized to sell.""
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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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