The Auction Professor is back with advice for sellers on how not to get banned for life from online marketplaces.
As a full-time online seller, one of my biggest concerns has always been being banned or booted from a platform, or site. I realized long ago (just like many other resellers), that we do not control our own destiny when selling on any platform, these days. The platform you are on holds the keys to your success or failure.
Whether you are selling on eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Poshmark, Mercari, or anywhere else online, you are confined by whatever policies, rules, or steps that the platform has in place. Many of those policies, rules, and steps are necessary, but in many cases, they are not explained very well-if at all.
I have had sellers reach out to me after they were banned from selling on a site, and most of the time they had no clue they were doing anything at all wrong. In some cases, they had been reselling for 10 plus years, and never had a single issue in all of that time.
If you sell on Amazon, for example, you could get a copyright notice and have your listings removed. This would also ding your account, and if it happens a few times, they could simply shut your account down and ban you from selling on the platform.
eBay has a similar process which they call the Verified Rights Owner Program, or VERO for short. There are many stories across the internet from resellers who were banned for life for violating eBay’s VERO program. Simply using a specific word in a listing, such as Velcro or Onesie, could lead to your listing being removed, or your account suspended for several days.
We received several copyright notices on eBay and Amazon from the estate of the late great actor Richard Pryor. In those cases, the items were licensed by CBS and (technically) only they could claim them. But, with these sorts of violations, I have never seen any way to fight them.
Another untold rule is selling too much too quickly. If for example you have been selling $1,000 a week for the past 8 months, and then all of a sudden you are now selling $20,000 a week, a red flag could be triggered.
In various cases, when this happens, the payment processor for the site, or the site itself, may find this odd or risky. They may ask for documentation for the items you are selling, such as receipts or actual invoices from an authorized distributor or dealer.
Most major companies only authorize a select number of distributors or resellers to sell their products. If you cannot provide eBay, Amazon, or whichever site you are using, with an invoice from one of those authorized dealers, in most cases, you will not be able to sell those items. In some cases, you may even be shut down and or banned for life from using that site.
“If I want to purchase bulk from a wholesaler, I would only do that from a distributor who I could verify was authorized to sell those items.”
Even if you purchased those items at a retail store and have a store receipt, that may not save you. Even selling one single item without an invoice can be harmful to a reseller.
Unintentionally selling a counterfeit item could also put your account in jeopardy on any site out there. A few decades ago, I listed what I assumed to be a 14K gold Channel pen and pencil set only to find out that they were vintage counterfeits made in the 1970s.
I was lucky back then – they removed the listing, and eBay just sent me a warning. We could not relist the set, so it was just sold as scrap good. Nowadays though, they could suspend you the very first time it happens, even if you are a new seller.
Avoiding these sorts of issues is always the best option. I try to only buy from verified sources, to start with. I would never recommend meeting some stranger in a dark alley just to save a few dollars. Knowing where your items come from is very important in order to avoid buying stolen merchandise.
I also always check to make sure there are no copyright issues with me selling an item, and also to make sure it is not on any VERO list of any sort. If I want to purchase bulk from a wholesaler, I would only do that from a distributor who I could verify was authorized to sell those items. I would also make sure I had an invoice for the items, along with an authorization letter to sell those items.
If you plan on selling some higher dollar items, all of a sudden, I would recommend contacting the platform ahead of time and making sure there will not be any issues or repercussions for you doing so. In those cases, I would make sure to have a receipt, along with the name and personal information of the person I bought the items from.
With a little extra effort, you can avoid these pitfalls. Simply buying safely and having documentation for your purchase can save most sellers from these issues.