Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon July 7 2014 21:11:58

Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

By: Ina Steiner

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Online sellers walk a tightrope when it comes to what they sell on marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon. There has been an increase in the last few weeks of sellers reporting overaggressive warnings coming from eBay in particular. Sometimes simple terms describing an item can set off alarms.

On eBay, be careful if you use the term "Mad Men" to describe your mid-century modern items, as a seller reminded us last month.

Sellers discussing such issues on the eBay forums (in a thread titled "eBay has gone nutso again") said the word "Indian" can wreak havoc as well. One seller explained that when she tried listing china with an "Indian Tree" pattern, eBay displayed a big warning alert about Native American artifacts. But when she called eBay to try to explain that she didn't have such an artifact, she was transferred to four different people before she finally hung up. "None of the reps had a clue what to do about the situation, & were absolutely no help at all. I never did list the china because I was afraid I'd get some kind of a violation."

One reader wrote recently to say 7-day suspensions were becoming a regular occurrence. "I got a 7 day listing restriction of a VeRO notice last month, and lo and behold another one today, less than a month after the last one, over the feared accidental duplicate listings I have been hearing of others getting."

The reader also had problems when contacting eBay customer service about a risque (not nude) photo listed in the art section, "an approved category for this type of photo," saying the rep just kept reading the script.

It makes sense to warn sellers during the listing process if their items may violate an eBay policy. But sellers are clearly worried that if they proceed with their listing - since the warning doesn't apply to their items - that eBay will nevertheless automatically ding them without a manual review.

What steps do you take to protect yourself from brands and marketplaces that may have good intentions but sometimes "go nutso"?




Comments (23) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Jul 7 21:40:23 2014

I remember two policy violation notices I got from eBay, one for listing a needlecraft book with patterns for "Afghans," and another for a publicity still from The Exorcist that was shot in Iraq. In both cases I was told I couldn't sell "artifacts."  

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: NetWatch This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jul 7 22:29:47 2014

This is what happens when a corporation allows "bots" and algorithms to do the job that real human beings should be doing, and we all know far too well the disastrous results.

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 7 22:58:35 2014

eBay doesn't look or care about what VERO does. 1) it makes money off it - from manufacturers who ask it to remove people 2) from manufacturers who will have store AFTER VERO removes people off the "list" & 3) from people like VEROWATCH.COM.

VERO was designed to be able to turn a blind eye when it comes to any issue such as this or others. It simply follows the script (like a good little WW2 soldier) that way when theres an issue they cant be blamed.

In my VERO case they admitted they had no idea of what law(s) I was or was not breaking - despite paperwork describing the rulings in my favor (prior case law). They said its "too confusing" but if I used GLOBAL SHIPPING (theres that pesky money making thing again) all would be OK... like the church lady used to say on SNL "how convenient".

Other VERO and Trust & Safety rules are monitored by 1) computers who cant tell the MEANING of things 2) people who don't speak English as a first language (same problem as #1).

eBay doesnt have your back (lord help you if you get "seller protected" (its like getting kissed on both cheeks by the DON) when you complain.

These issues require LOTS of calls to management to fix - of at all possible. Thats the ONLY way to solve these issues.

Stupid stupid eBay (again)

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Mon Jul 7 23:20:17 2014

An old coat check token was a no-no because of the forbidden word ''check''. Using the word ''cookie'' was also not allowed. No cookie cutters and Cookie Lee jewelry. I remember reading about another seller having items removed due to the word ''mod''. Well guess my ''Mad Men'' roly poly glasses and cool retro curtains will be sold on another site.

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: Bruce Hershenson This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Jul 8 06:19:39 2014

Right before I left eBay in 2008 (after auctioning 330,000 items) I got two wild auction takedowns. One was a movie poster for Mein Kampf, an anti-Nazi documentary. I was told you could not sell the book on eBay, and their bot could not distinguish the poster from the book, so too bad!

The other was for a "Breakfast at Tiffany's" poster. The bot was worried it was a counterfeit Tiffany's piece of jewelry! I got around that by putting "Tiffanies" in the title, but no doubt that cost me many page views from missed searches.

I am not surprised to see nothing has changed for the better.

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: Tornad0sRul This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 8 09:36:54 2014

I tried to list a toy cap gun and EBay removed it 4 times even though I did absolutely everything according to their guidelines including purchasing the orange plug that needs to be inserted into the end of the barrel. I paid $30 for the vintage toy cap gun at an auction because it was rare but I had to take it in the shorts again and just stopped relisting it and put it in my toy box for visiting children to play with. Every time I called EBay customer service they reassured me that they couldn't find any reason why the toy cap gun continued to be removed with a warning but I got sick of dealing with it after a year of having it removed and relisted so many times.  EBay's I.T. department is way behind the times and inept.  EBay's computer knowledge inadequacies became apparent after the security breach and Google's decision to stop catering to EBay's "2004-ish" use of spamming.  It's time for an IT Dept overhaul at EBay that's for sure.

On a side note, if there weren't so many sue-happy moochers always looking to get free money or attention by crying racism or discrimination, there wouldn't be so many large companies always scrambling to find ways to protect themselves from being sued by such scum bags. It has gotten to the point where white people cannot even open their mouths anymore without risk of being attacked somehow. There is no longer "Freedom of Speech" because the mentally ill have been fueled by the stupid "politically correct" trend, a trend that has done nothing but suppress freedom of speech. Immigrants teach family members coming into our country how to manipulate our system and they easily find dirty lawyers who are more than willing to file lawsuit.  I have lots of experience with that and could tell you many stories but that's a different blog.  ;)

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: Red Ink Diary This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 8 09:42:44 2014

The only madmen are the upper level of eBay management who get the very big bucks for incompetence, ignorance and incomprehension. You would probably have happier sellers if some of Meg's monkeys were in charge.

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: BB2 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 8 10:10:00 2014

Tornad0sRul - Is is possible you feel harassed by others with politically correct intentions for good reason? Your second paragraph is so laced with bigotry it bothers me children come to visit. Take those rants elsewhere. This is not the proper forum. But, before you do, please tell us the name of your store. I want to make sure I never buy from you.

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 8 10:57:47 2014

I used multi-variation for years now. Certainly, some colors ran out of stock before the others. ebay call it a policy violation on many of my multi-variation items. Oh well, I thought ebay could not be dumber than what they are.. but ebay continue to amaze me.

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 8 11:04:33 2014

I have been selling Native American items on ebay since the dawn of time and DO get those annoying RED BOX warnings---And I KNOW my tribes and affiliations and designs and USE them.  Apparently the bots want---but would have no clue how to USE--DNA evidence of the artists lineage.  Absurd.  

I have also had take-downs and RED BOX warnings on UNBRANDED VINTAGE items--"Are you trying to sell a counterfeit" dealies.   Yes--I spend my day with awful old Orlon fabric trying to duplicate bad mens designed shirts from 1969.  

A funny---my MIL used to work for one of the places that made these --for that matter so did my grand mother!---and she still HAS a bunch of these--they were still being WORN by her husband until he passed within the last 10 years!  Someday----

The things I find hysterical is that you can find "Designer" items ALL over ebay---for Tiffany and Gucci and just about every OTHER knock off--- and ebay does----NOTHING.  You can buy "Coach" charms at our local mall in the import shop---and they are actually quite good;  I took some down to the Macy's where they and the REAL Coach charms and they were identical!---and I am SURE that at least SOME of the ones selling there are these knock offs.  (No I did not sell these on ebay!)

You can't list a book called "The Western Union" either.  

I know there are more but have to wander.

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 8 11:07:44 2014

@TORNAD0SRUL---

Please stop with the "racist" sort of comments--MY ancestors were all immigrants and ALL were "white"---the ones from England and Ireland  spoke better English than the rest of us and the ones from Germany France and Belgium either had English before hand or they learned quickly.

And they did NOT teach their kids or grand kids to lie cheat steal or scam.  

Yes--lets have your eBay ID so we can ALL avoid it.

Where did YOUR Immigrant Ancestors come from?

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 8 12:08:03 2014

I wonder why eBay's system doesn't LET me list the same item twice? I usually appreciate it.

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Tue Jul 8 12:08:08 2014

I still hesitate listing anything with the word ivory. Amazing Crayola hasn't been sued (or have they?) over the years.

Still get the alcohol & tobacco warning listing any decanters, even ones with clear glass.

With perfume ebay just buries the listings or doesn't show them at all, unless you are one of ebay's preferred darlings.

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 8 12:16:15 2014

Wow, Tornad0sRul: First, you need to do some legal research on ''free speech'' under constitutional law. Second, I know a lot of people who think like you and I feel like they all should just keep their mouths shut. But, there's no law against stupidity yet. People should really study what the constitution has been deemed to grant as a ''right'' before crying about losing a right they don't even understand. It never meant people can say whatever stupid thing they want wherever and whatever the consequences. Sorry--but your rant really irked me.

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Jul 8 15:08:07 2014

I remember years ago (since I have been off ebay for years) listing a native Indian costume and got that Indian artifact notice so this has been going on a long time. I went ahead and listed it anyway since there weren't so many 'punishments' on ebay then as there are now. I too blame the bots that have no real intelligence for this stupidity since they don't even seem to notic that if you are listing a sewing pattern in a sewing pattern catagory, they still think you just might be sneaking in an aritifact or writing something offensive to the native American. The whole thing is nuts.

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jul 8 15:58:06 2014

An ill wind is a blowin'.

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: IndyTom This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 8 16:33:10 2014

Want to,use these words? Just spell them wrong. Ebay is too dumb and inflexible to fix  this policy, so go around it.

Madd Menn, Indhian.  Solved!

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: alaska This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 8 18:34:47 2014

Amazon warns you if you are listing an item that you already have in your inventory. Why can't eBay do that?

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: Cassie This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 8 18:52:22 2014

You can't use licensed tv shows listing period era items. Unless the item is titled licensed franchise product direct of any media or the item your selling was directly used as a prop for filming and you have permission of association. On the side I rent vintage era and antiques movies or etc filmed in Virginia. There is much legality a title name any visual media is licensed so the control against claims against the item sold (injury, fakes or unlicensed no collection value) by fly-by-night sellers. Plus the networks make and desire control over their name for their right monetary control...example Star Wars brand has earned billions in original sales and collection re-sales.  

Perminate Link for Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms   Mad Men and Indians Set Off eBay Alarms

by: Cassie This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 8 19:12:37 2014

All the comments wow no one heard copyright infringement of licensed brand, name, trademark or franchising or artistic media rights against false branding and the law to sue eBay or Amazon for contributing to distribution??? If it got pulled or a warning or they could had submitted your info direct to the owners for prosecution trust me they were being nice as they don't want issues being sued for contribution!  

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