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eBay Sellers Get the Shaft from eBay Sponsored Links

Some sellers believe it’s bad enough that eBay includes ads for other products and services in sellers’ own product listings, but when the ads are of an adult nature, it takes those concerns to another level.

An alert reader sent EcommerceBytes a link to a listing on eBay for a record album that showed images of “toys” in the shape of male organs in the Sponsored Links section – a section the seller has no control over. The title of the listing: “The Shocking Blue Original Colossus LP in Shrink 1970.”

“Go to eBay’s item number 371032397707,” the reader wrote. “You have to scroll to the bottom of the page to the Sponsored Links. Isn’t this a hoot? You’ve heard of spell check gone wrong? Auto-complete gone wrong? Welcome to SPONSORED LINKS gone wrong!!”

As surprising as it was to see such items in ads displayed on eBay, it was even more surprising to see where the ads originated: the products displayed in the eBay Sponsored Links were items for sale on Sears Marketplace, which prohibits the listing of such items by third-party sellers.

eBay allows the sale of such items, but in a separate area. It explains, “While eBay doesn’t take a moral stand on the items that are listed (we act only as a listing agent), items in the Adult Only category are kept separate from the rest of the eBay marketplace so members can decide for themselves whether they want to view these kinds of items.”

It’s not the first case of inappropriate content appearing in the wrong place on eBay. Last year when a new company took over the eBay discussion boards, eBay was unable to keep spam messages advertising services targeted at adults from appearing on the boards.

Keeping spammers and scammers from eBay can’t be easy, but often it has help from users who report such incidents – effective if eBay heeds warnings from its members.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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 ina@ecommercebytes.com.