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eBay Now Edits Seller Listings for Compliance

On Monday, a reader reported that eBay had edited one of his listings “to avoid its removal” for Brand Name Misuse (in effect, “keyword spamming,” as eBay calls it.) Editing a seller’s description has been unheard of up until now.

eBay has a problem when sellers include the name of another brand in a listing, even when sellers are adding clarification to their descriptions. When another user (sometimes a competitor) reports a listing for violating policy, eBay may remove the listing and send the seller a notice.

But the email eBay sent to the seller in this instance stated in part, “We’d love to send an advisory notice to all sellers before acting on the listings; however, looking at the severity of the breach and due to time constraint we’ve to immediately edited the listings to safeguard seller’s account.”

We detailed the incident on the AuctionBytes Blog on Monday, and readers reacted to what seemed to be a brand new practice.

Sellers worried about the impact of such edits – “I would be concerned eBay would change the item description resulting in an unhappy buyer upon receipt of the item or simply loss in sale price from an improperly described item,” wrote one reader.

Another EcommerceBytes reader wrote, “eBay holds their sellers responsible for the content and accuracy of their listings. So, when eBay takes it upon themselves to make edits without consulting the seller, eBay should then be held responsible in the event of a problem.”

One seller wrote, “I don’t know what is worse, ending it or editing them. They must be desperate for listings.”

At some point in the past year or so, eBay added the following provision to its User Agreement: “Content that violates any of eBay’s policies may be deleted at eBay’s discretion” – but this is the first case we’ve heard of where eBay has actually edited a seller’s listing description.

Comment on the AuctionBytes 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/.