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Mon Dec 14 2015 14:48:07

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay has edited a seller's listing to bring it into compliance, something we never recall having seen before. It raises the issue, at what point does eBay's encroachment into a seller's listings make it liable for its contents - and for the products themselves? (As the current hoverboard safety issues demonstrate, product liability is a very real concern.)  

A reader sent me the email he received - "in 18 years selling I have never had eBay do a courtesy edit," he said. "I have had several removed but never had an edit! Thought you might like to hear about the possible new policy."

Normally in such cases eBay sends a letter to sellers with the subject line, "Your listing has been removed: Brand Name Misuse."

But this reader received an email with the subject line: "Your listing was edited to avoid its removal: Brand Name Misuse - S&B" (S&B presumably refers to eBay's Search and browse manipulation policy).

This post on eBay explains the treatment eBay sellers usually receive for "brand name misuse" violations, where a seller wrote, "the first takedown is only the first and apt to be followed by more, cascading into complete suspension."

The email the reader received started out: "We're reaching out to you because one or more of your listings didn't follow our guidelines. Because you're a valued member of our community, your listing was edited so that it now meets our guidelines. It's still live on our site. You can find a list of what was edited further down in this email."

The email also 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."

The email forwarded to us has some grammatical errors and typos, we've asked the reader to confirm that a) it showed up in their eBay messages as well as by email, and B) eBay actually edited the listing in question.

But the typos might be explained by how eBay's review process works. On a forum thread on a niche collectibles site, we saw someone hypothesize that outsourced agents from another country review claims that have been submitted against listings and the reps then make decisions. "Their understanding and resolution of a problem is lost in communication so no 2 cases are settled alike," the user wrote.

Also lending credence to the idea that eBay is now editing sellers' listings is its User Agreement, which contains the following provision (we're not sure exactly when eBay added that language, but it is not brand new): 

"Content that violates any of eBay's policies may be deleted at eBay's discretion."

Would you be okay with eBay editing your listings to bring them into compliance instead of taking the listings down?

Under what circumstances is it okay for a marketplace to edit a seller's listings?




Comments (43) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 14 14:57:07 2015

Hey Fleecebay edit away. We no longer care what you do. Can't hurt us.

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Dec 14 14:59:55 2015

So "just a venue" eBay is now editing sellers' listings? As if all the other intrusions into sellers' businesses isn't bad enough, they now want to make listings more eBay-ish? And at what point does the editing go too far? Will they edit starting prices? Return terms? Shipping costs? If there's a problem they should just cancel the listing and give the seller a warning, not take it upon themselves to make changes that the seller may be adverse to.

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

by: OnlyPollyPocket This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 14 16:55:36 2015

What iheartjacksparrow said!

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Dec 14 16:55:48 2015

When will some legal entity pull the hammer down on this arrogant out-of-control company?

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

by: TeddyElectron This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 14 17:03:12 2015

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.

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

by: serioussellers This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 14 18:46:51 2015

Ditto to all of the above.

The alleged ''venue'' does not have employees with the necessary & required experience & expertise to ''fix'' the myriad deficiencies & problems of the site. It is virtually non-functioning for many ''small sellers'' -- except for those who have ''special'' status.  This alleged global venue certainly does not have experts who ''know'' a seller's items better than the seller him/herself. Perhaps the eBay Valet program has been surreptitiously expanded to include ALL listings on the site (is that perhaps the ultimate goal?). Next the eBay gremlins will be changing prices on the sellers' listings, editing/deleting photos, determining if offers will be accepted, etc.

Sometimes listing removals occur because the programs, programmers, CSRs, etc. do not ''understand'' what has been written in English (it probably happens to those listing in other languages as well). Our own experiences with a few removals over many years was that CSRs agreed that the stated ''reasons'' did not at all apply to our ''innocent'' listings, but we were always told that whatever the ''computer'' dictates cannot be corrected or undone (in regards to a removal).  Meanwhile those who steal our (& other sellers') listings (text & photographs) continue selling away no matter how many formal complaints are submitted.  Having corporate blinders on to fraud & deception of all varieties apparently creates a lot of free time that is available for ''editing''.

Why should anyone expect eBay's ''editing'' (or anything else it does) to be any more accurate & appropriate than eBay's search results (in which much of what is actually available remains in the black hole of intentional invisibility ... & much of what is shown in search results has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the requested search) ?

On the listings that have been commandeered by eBay gremlins, will there be an eBay disclaimer stating that eBay has changed/edited the seller's listing so that eBay will thus accept all responsibility for the content & all legal & financial responsibility as a result of the alterations?? (We don't think so.)  

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon Dec 14 20:13:22 2015

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.

Of course, there appears to be no such undertaking of responsibility on eBay's part, and eBay will likely still hold sellers to account even when eBay's unauthorized edits result in unhappy buyers.

If eBay was run by professionals with real world experience ( and it isn't ), the company would notify sellers that they are exempt from any issues which might arise after eBay takes it upon itself to change a sellers listing information.

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Dec 14 21:37:31 2015

I do not want eBay editing my listings!

Take them down if they are in violation. . .

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Dec 14 22:41:29 2015

I completely agree with Ric.

I might add that IF Ebay is using employees that are not fluent in English or have English as their first language, who is to say that they are correct in what they are doing?  Furthermore, if Ebay is training these people in the same fashion they train [do not train] their CSRs, that could be big trouble too!?!?  If these people are not fully trained and/or to not fully understand the language, they could be doing real harm.  This is a very careless and volatile action for Ebay to take.

I also agree with Toolguy.  I do not want Ebay editing my listings.  If there is something wrong with them, take them down or notify me of the issues and give me 24/48 hours or something to correct them.  But that may be too logical for Ebay to handle.

While I have never had what happened in this article happen to me.  I have experienced in the last year of some smaller things being changed in my listings that I did not change.

I've had some listings no longer marked to charge sales tax when appropriate.

I've had some listings no longer offer worldwide shipping.  They were changed to just a handful of countries.  

And something else that escapes me right now.  

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 14 23:45:39 2015

There are a few different issues here:

1) the goons over in Trust & Safety.
2) the goons over in VERO
3) eBays complete and utter misunderstanding of copyright and fair use
4) eBays desire to not be sued
5) eBays refusal to back any of its sellers
6) a CLEAR policy for selling non branded items that have a branded item attached
7) various state, local and federal first sale doctrine type policies

should I go on?

eBay should NEVER edit any ones listings. Doing so makes them complicit in what ever was wrong and as others said so well - says what we sellers have said all along:  either you are part of the sale by interference (eBay) or you arent and you are just a venue.

eBay should NOT be editing anything - removal or leave it as is. They are SO AFRAID of being sued that they will do ANYTHING, and I mean ANYTHING.

The bottom line here is the same as with eBays other policies - only protect yourself, the hell with your seller - unless you can push a situation on him/her, lie cheat and steal to get your way, then tell anyone who will listen (courts, law enforcement) how great of a patriot you are since you do your best to "uphold the law".

eBay BS as usual.

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

by: Just My Humble View This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 14 23:47:04 2015

I had an issue not long ago where eBay changed the category in which my item was listed. To an entirely incorrect category -- Gold Bullion. I can't recall the item, but it took forever for me to figure out that it was keying on a word or phrase in the title. I ended up revising the title to get it into the correct category.

Oh, and there was no notice whatsoever. It was simply re-categorized when I checked the listing.

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

by: Just My Humble View This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 14 23:50:24 2015

I just remembered what it was. It was a 24 leaf thread gage set. The "24 Leaf" was what caused the clever computer programming to determine that this tool should be in gold bullion.

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

by: Garcia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 15 00:21:16 2015

Ebay is in no position to edit listings when it uses foreign speaking individuals to do it.  But since when does what sellers think or even what is legal bother Ebay?  It is not like they care. Someone should take this to court, but who wants to spend the money or even has it.  Ebay knows there is nothing its sellers can do.

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

by: windycityparrot This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Dec 15 00:34:41 2015

This is wrong on so many levels. EBay can happily hide my listings.

When they alter my listings they are altering my copyrighted content. I have no creative Commons license posted thus eBay is committing a copyright violation across state lines making it a felony.

If their level of customer support is any indication their overall knowledge of how e-commerce works on the Internet - their ignorance of copyright and tort law is not surprising

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

by: flybuy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 15 00:35:58 2015

I agree with ''IheartJackSparrow.''  Ebay is already ''suggesting'' what a starting price should be for an itme I did not sell which I do not appreciate.
Just another reason for sellers to migrate to Facebook and Instagram as well as set up their own websites.  

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

by: comments This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 15 01:02:38 2015

To be honest this would be welcome for me. If a listing takedown and policy violation is the alternative I would much rather ebay remove a key word they feel is spamming.

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Tue Dec 15 01:41:36 2015

AGAIN : WENIG FAILS.
Step Down.

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Tue Dec 15 01:43:45 2015

Meanwhile :
In a category that had over 300,000 listings in the Hay Day, barely 20,000 items today.
WENIG : step down now.

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 15 03:21:48 2015

No, I have no problem with EB editing a listing if they informed me ahead of time.
If you list on AMZ, many times they won't display your items with an "alert" which means something is missing or something needs fixing.  We forget that EB is not OUR website.  It's THEIR website and we're just renting the space.

Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?   Has Anyone Else Seen eBay Edit Their Listings?

by: lessthanthreerecords This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 15 05:04:45 2015

This is a bit of a different case, but I had a listing removed (not edited) some time ago.  I was selling a collectible sticker for a rock group called Puscifer.  The sticker was used to promote an album called "V Is For Viagra."  I'm not a legal expert, but I know the band went through the proper channels to ensure they were using the "Viagra" name legally (perhaps it is protected as a parody, or something to that effect).  In any case, I used that term in the title and it was removed.  I called eBay and explained the situation.  The person I spoke to said that according to eBay's terms, I did not violate anything since the brand-name term used was directly connected to the item (despite the fact that it was not released by the brand in question).  However, I was told that eBay uses automated software to scan for such violations and that if I were to re-list it the same way, it would likely be pulled down again.  I asked if there could be any type of exception added to the software so that it would skip over that particular listing in my account, but I was told there was nothing they could do.  I ended up selling the sticker on a different site for the same price and paid less in fees.  Your loss, eBay!

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