Sellers are wondering what online marketplaces are doing to help protect them if they pause selling as a result of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.
One reader asked EcommerceBytes, "As press conferences recommend more and more severe measures be implemented, and states are cracking down, I've yet to read a single word from eBay about what to do if your business is impacted by being in a hotspot, and what to do if there's a quarantine in effect that will prevent you from fulfilling orders."
We pointed the reader to eBay's announcement from March 12th
, to which he replied: "That only mentions being protected in the event of shipping interruptions. I see nothing about being in a quarantined/Cordon Sanitaire situation."
Another seller asked on the eBay discussion boards
if eBay would waive Store fees until the threat of the virus is over:
"Is there any possibility that until the Virus situation is resolved that eBay would waive store fees for any seller putting their store on vacation? With the postal situation, airline situation, and all the other shut downs, it would be a benefit to all sellers that do not want to sell under these conditions."
An eBay moderator responded, "There are no current announcements regarding this, and there are no plans that I'm aware of to introduce something like it."
Even under the best of circumstances, it seems only right that marketplaces would suspend subscription fees if a seller puts a shop on vacation, the way some gyms let you suspend membership fees until you're able to return from hiatus.
Here's a look at eBay and Etsy policies about putting stores/shops on vacation mode.
eBay: What to know about vacation settings
"You'll continue to be charged normal fees (such as your eBay Store subscription fee and listing-related fees) while vacation settings are on."
Etsy: How to Manage Your Shop In Case of Emergency
Etsy doesn't address the issue of fees when a seller puts their shop in vacation mode, other than to say those who subscribe to Etsy Plus must continue to pay their subscription fees. ("If you have an Etsy Plus subscription, Vacation Mode does not impact your Etsy Plus billing. Your subscription fees will continue.") We've sent an inquiry to their PR department and will post an update when we hear back from them.
It makes sense to reach out to marketplaces if you have concerns. At a time when small businesses are taking a hit from the fallout from COVID-19, some companies are taking extra measures to ease their pain.