Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Dec 2 2018 12:30:47

Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

By: Ina Steiner

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Sellers say eBay is removing their listings for military surplus goods that they've successfully sold for many years, items they say comply with eBay's Military Items policy. One seller said she received a 3-day suspension. 

Adding to the frustration are the mixed messages from eBay customer service about the reasons for the removals, as well as eBay's refusal to provide guidance so they can ensure future compliance, telling sellers to take it up with the US Department of Defense (DOD).

A reader pointed us to this thread on the eBay discussion boards that started on Monday (November 26, 2018).

While there's all kinds of speculation from some participants of the thread, experienced sellers of military surplus goods say something has changed in eBay's enforcement. Some believe it may be a case of "eBay bots gone wild," which is when eBay programs certain keywords to automatically flag listings for removal. 

When sellers asked eBay moderators which keywords to avoid, they received this reply: "Specific keywords are considered internal information, as sharing them would serve to educate those looking to circumvent our filters."

And therein lies the conundrum: how can you ensure compliance if you don't know what's prohibited from being listed?

The original poster said eBay removed Government Issue cold weather wool inserts for gloves. A supervisor told him he was not allowed to sell anything that is Government Issued or has the title Military - "why then does eBay have categories for Military," the seller asked.

He received mixed messages about the reason for the removal: first, that it was a violation of eBay's Firearms, Weapons, and Knives policy ("again these are gloves," he said), and second, that it was the DOD mandating the removal.

Another seller who said eBay also removed his listings for gloves wrote, "An eBay CSR told me DoD asked them to take down the listing and suggested that I email the Joint Equipment Assessment Program at SMBLOGCOMJEAP@usmc.mil for more info."

An eBay moderator explained, "We are regularly contacted by several government agencies with various requests. We work with these agencies to honor their requests, which include removing listings from our site. You mentioned in this thread that you've contacted the DOD, which is the best route to go for for the situation you've described. They should provide you with more details relevant to the action taken."

An additional response to sellers' questions in the thread posted by another eBay moderator:

"I am sorry to hear that the information I provided did not help out in this situation. While I understand the frustration that comes up in a situation like this, I'm here to help provide clarity on our policy and to elaborate on actions that may have been taken. We work closely with verified rights owners and government agencies and will remove listings reported to us. We aren't able to provide details of these kinds of requests as they would be considered private communication with eBay by another party. Though I cannot guarantee a response from the Department of Defense, they would be the only party that is authorized to share additional details on this topic. I'm limited on the details I can share but if you do need anything else, but I'm happy to work on providing more detail, no problem!"

That didn't satisfy a seller who said they had purchased the glove inserts from the DOD as surplus items. "DoD has no interest in whether we use them, sell them, give them away, or throw them away. There is no logical reason for DoD to ask such items to be removed from eBay. All these items are sold in surplus stores all over the country. All these items are Demil."

Also concerning is the following. If the DOD doesn't want sellers to list certain items on eBay, why isn't it following up with sellers to ensure they don't sell those items elsewhere? And why did the DOD sell them to the public in the first place?

It seems either the government made a mistake in selling those items through surplus channels, or it is worrying needlessly about their resale.

Comments (30) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Sun Dec 2 18:22:44 2018

Who knows?  Maybe? eBay higher up anti-military liberals executives are using the DOD as a cover for their owns actions and desires?

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: Grady This user has validated their user name.

Sun Dec 2 18:23:10 2018

Well, they still get your listing fees to life is good on the second floor

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: SANT1N1 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Dec 2 21:37:48 2018

"he was not allowed to sell anything that is Government Issued or has the title Military"
From Merriam-Webster:
Definition of government issue: issued or provided by a government or a government agency
Might that even include ex-library books? How about a book with "Military" in the title?
I guess you'll have to go to a site like Poshmark, etc. to sell your mothers old army boots now!

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: BargainzBabylon This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 3 00:36:22 2018

Irrelevant political obsession is irrelevant.  

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by: Iwishiwaskidding This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 3 00:44:36 2018

Sounds more like someone on ebays managememt staff screwed up. Again.  Can they hire some real professionals already?  

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: Go tell the Spartans This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 3 01:08:25 2018

If you really want to stop this kind of nonsense use eBay TOS and policies against them. Everything I've read here is that eBay is using the cover of its ban on military items in the form of weapons and/or some perceived VERO violation. Obviously, gloves, coats etc are not weapons and although the DOD is a Federal entity, it has no VERO rights to be violated other than those granted by application. All of this having been said, file an arbitration claim against eBay. It will take you about as long as it took you to post here. When done, mail it certified mail RRR. If enough seller do this, eBay will bleed.

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Dec 3 01:17:43 2018

Can't use the word "military"?

How can the US DOD regulate: For sale Surplus British Military Gloves?

Or French Surplus Military Spoons & Forks?

Once again eBay has gone over the deep end. . . .

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 3 04:34:24 2018

I recently had a tiff with Mercari.  I spent days listing items and then one day went to the site and all my listings (about 30) were "inactive" because I used stock pictures.  Well, I only used stock pictures in about 6 of the items but they inactivated ALL my listings.  I wrote Mercari that the photos were MINE that I took and used a background burner to remove the background and make it white.  Thus, it looked like it was stock.  They had a committee meeting and wrote back that it was THEIR mistake.  After I had to re-activate all the listings.  
The op's issue with Ebay sounds similar to mine.  All the OP can do is escalate is concerns to a higher up.  Or move his military supplies to another site.

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

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

Mon Dec 3 07:17:50 2018

As a former seller of vintage militaria on ebay i can tell you this is nothing new. I had ebay end my listings of magazine pouches, arisaka t38  barrels and slings with the resons being i was violating ebays weapons policys and internation laws and that "machine gun parts are highly regulated" (ebays words) . I tried to explain that canvas pouches and leather slings are not regulated anywhere on the planet, and the barrels are from BOLT ACTION rifles and my ad and setting were for usa  sales /shipping only. I tried to relist but they were ended again. Part of my resons to hate ebay.

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 3 09:55:33 2018

This is what you can/should expect form the morons at eBay's VERO dept.

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Dec 3 11:15:27 2018

Could it be that the military surplus unit (or whatever it's called) is planning to open a store on eBay, and this is the first strike to eliminate all the competition?

A couple of questions: How can the DOD override the provisions of the First Sale Doctrine? And wouldn't the Vero rights belong to the manufacturer of the gloves, coats, etc., and not the DOD?

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: papergoy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 3 12:32:00 2018

EBay will end various military manuals- including the Navy Bluejackets manual as being illegal to sell.  It's something to do with keeping them out of terrorists' hands.  Why they want an outdated (1940s) military manual, I'm not certain, but by golly, they WILL NOT be getting it on eBay!

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Dec 3 12:37:23 2018

You can't buy it eBay but you can buy it on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Fox-Outdoor-59-40-Garand-Manual/
dp/B004YWK3EI/ref=sr_1_cc_5?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1543858580&sr=1-5-catcorr&keywords=m1+garand+manual

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 3 12:53:33 2018

I just looked and there are lots cold weather glove inserts listed in the Military category and gloves for sale on Ebay. Seller must have triggered some misinformation that the bot is looking for or has been repeatedly reported by a rival seller. I would be looking at the wording others are using in the ads that are running,  and I would make sure I use my own photos for my stock. I also would ask Ebay Rep to compare my ad with one of them that are up and running.  

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: uppercutknives This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 3 13:51:12 2018

Just another example of ebay working hard to chase good sellers to other websites.
They don't have a clue.  Probably are trying to put your gloves under weapons policy or something of the such. Just another reason after 20 years on ebay I have retired.
SHOP AMAZON...  

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: falstaff This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 3 14:07:55 2018

''I also would ask Ebay Rep to compare my ad with one of them that are up and running. ''

That's a great idea.  Get somebody else in trouble.  Share the misery.  It's the item that's banned, not the wording.

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: val2525 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 3 14:36:29 2018

@TomH Seriously? You had to make this political? You need a life.

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 3 16:27:30 2018

eBay sucks (duh) and VERO is even worse - its run by untrained moneys!

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 3 22:38:21 2018

@val2525

lol, a bit riled up are you.  There is a political view in large organizations such as eBay and Amazon always. Sometimes it is evident, and of course, sometimes not.

In this case, no one knows for sure, and will probably never really know...

Perminate Link for Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods   Battle on eBay over Surplus Goods

by: Paul W This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 4 01:04:46 2018

I'm one of many sellers whose ''dangerous'' gloves were removed by eBay.  I have 100s of additional military surplus items listed, none of which, (so far, knock on wood!) have been removed.  EBay's refusal to even suggest why the takedown is disingenuous at best.  Forget writing to DoD, as I did, they won't answer.  EBay could provide some answers but likely they don't have one that makes any sense.

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