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eBay Employee Reveals Practice of Secret Seller Limits

Last year eBay denied it was imposing secret limits on seller accounts, but an employee inadvertently confirmed what many believed was standard practice in a post on the eBay discussion boards on Thursday.

A seller told EcommerceBytes he was “hopping mad” about the silent limits after reading the post by eBay employee Jarvis, whose eBay employee User ID is jaknox@ebay.com. “God forbid, I decide to ramp up my business, buy a larger lot of merchandise and can’t sell it because I am SECRETLY LIMITED.”

That’s a typical reaction from the emails that have poured in about the post – sellers say keeping limits secret puts their business at risk and wastes their time as they invest resources to try and grow on the eBay platform.

In fact, that’s what prompted EcommerceBytes to ask eBay last year about the hidden limits, which eBay denied – a longtime Platinum-level seller told us he had tried unsuccessfully to increase his business on eBay. He had hired more employees, increased inventory and listings, but couldn’t grow beyond his current sales. He then stumbled upon the fact that eBay had placed limits on his account without his knowledge.

The seller referenced above was also upset to learn about Velocity Limits, which he equated with sell-through rates. “(I) imagine eBay needs to make good on their promise to a large retailer, so they close the valve on my sales, by dialing down my velocity limit and not showing my item in their BS (Best Match) search and funneling those sales to the large retailer. There are so many ways to be manipulated by eBay,” he said. “What happened to being “just a venue”?”

It’s fascinating to read the types of limits eBay imposes on sellers described in the post. One is called a “User Risk Code,” which places limits on a seller’s account for the vague reason, “due to concerns.”

Another limits sellers from listing branded items under a program called “Building Trust by Reducing Counterfeits.”

But on its selling limits policy page, eBay explains three types of limits: Account limits; Category limits; and Item limits. The discrepancy between that public explanation and the limits copied from what looks like an internal eBay document was noted by an EcommerceBytes reader.

“Why the big mystery,” she asked, and said the description of the selling limits reminded her of a prison.

In addition to listing nine types of selling limits, Jarvis (the eBay employee) posted why the company had the limits:

All sellers on the site will experience at least one type of selling limit when selling on the site. These limits are in place to:


  • Reduce fraud and circumvention on the site
  • Ensure sellers can successfully manage their sales
  • Ensure sellers are increasing volume at a manageable pace


  • Ensure sellers can meet the expectations of buyers.

He also pasted a list eBay had apparently compiled of common questions asked by sellers about selling limits: “Why do I have limits? How many items can I list?? How can I remove (or increase) these limits? How/when can I list more items?”

And the document further instructed customer service reps on how to identify the types of limits on sellers’ accounts: “LVIS (Listing Violation Inspection System) is the most effective tool in determining the type of limit the member is experiencing.”

We reached out to eBay on Sunday and Monday with no response by press time.

Learn more and leave a comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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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. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.