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eBay Deletes Leaked Post on Secret Seller Limits

eBay deleted a post by an employee that revealed the company’s practice of imposing secret limits on sellers accounts after EcommerceBytes’ coverage of the issue. (By press time, the post was back, so be sure to read through to the end of this article to catch up on the most recent developments.)

The eBay employee (Jarvis, posting as jaknox@ebay.com) had pasted into a discussion board thread what appeared to be information from an internal company document that described various types of limits that sellers might experience when selling, including:

“Silent limits (limits placed on an account that can’t be seen by the seller).”

As the EcommerceBytes Blog post noted, we had asked last December why eBay only shows seller limits to some sellers and how they could find out what their seller limits were if they were not visible in My eBay. Company spokesperson Ryan Moore responded, “If a seller has a limit, he/she will find it in My eBay.”

At some point after our coverage, eBay deleted the post by its employee Jarvis that outlined the nine types of seller limits, along with all subsequent posts by eBay users on that thread that had included the list of seller limits.

eBay’s Director of Community Jeff Terrell went into the discussion thread on Tuesday after our coverage of the issue and wrote the following message:

12-09-2014 04:45 PM
With a marketplace of more than 150 million users worldwide driving millions of transactions every second, eBay must have an advanced, automated system in place to help ensure our sellers and buyers can transact with confidence.

In some cases, this system will promptly trigger limits on a seller’s ability to list, for example when fraud or counterfeit is suspected. While generally referred to as “limits,” these are crucial controls that add a vital layer of protection for our community. Any time these limits are applied, sellers are notified when they list – (if not before).

In addition to these limits, to help sellers grow successfully, eBay also may place limits based, for instance, on performance or length of time on eBay. This type of limit is clearly visible to impacted sellers in My eBay.

It’s important to keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of current eBay sellers are not impacted by selling limits of any kind.

If you do receive a notification of a selling limit and would like to understand why – or believe it’s in error and would like to request to have it removed – just contact our eBay customer support team at any time. We’re here to help.

Many (but probably not most) sellers understand by now that eBay places seller limits on accounts – it was Jarvis’s post that eBay could impose hidden limits that had sellers upset, since they wouldn’t know in advance that investing in their business to grow could very well be futile.

So Terrell’s statement that “the overwhelming majority of current eBay sellers are not impacted by selling limits of any kind” may come as a surprise, and appears to directly conflict both with what Jarvis’s post had stated (“All sellers on the site will experience at least one type of selling limit when selling on the site) and with what an eBay spokesperson told EcommerceBytes in 2012.

Johnna Hoff had told EcommerceBytes in April 2012 that every seller had an “overall” limit and there were also additional limits for certain types and categories of items that varied by seller.

We reached out to eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore for clarification multiple times since Monday, and he responded Wednesday afternoon. We had explained in our inquiry, “The point is that sellers make decisions about inventory and need to know about limits placed on their accounts. Sellers who read your response a year ago may have been reassured that there were no hidden limits, only to discover them after they made a large inventory buy,” and we asked for clarification.

Jeff has provided clarification around this topic on the boards. But to reiterate, all sellers will experience some sort of selling limit, the overwhelming majority of sellers will not be impacted by these limits. They are in place from a risk perspective.

I looked into your mention of posts being taken down. It appears a few posts were erroneously taken down earlier, but were reinstated earlier this morning.

In regard to your question around “silent limits.” None of eBay limits are “silent.” If a seller has limits on his/her account, those limits generally are visible to them in his/her My eBay page. At a minimum, however, all sellers subject to limits are notified, either when they list (if not before).

I also want to add that there is no connection between limits and eBay’s best match search algorithm.

Sure enough, Jarvis’s original post, which was the eleventh post in the thread, now displays after post #97 on page 5 of the thread, followed by the other posts that eBay had deleted.

We asked eBay’s Moore some additional questions about selling limits, and we’ve published them on a new blog post – see what he had to say,

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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.