Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Dec 20 2015 21:34:20

Should eBay Be Allowing Sellers to List Empty Boxes?

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is now allowing sellers to list empty boxes for branded items such as iPhone, jewelry, designer goods, a practice that had been banned, as we report in tomorrow's Newsflash.

Griff wrote last week in response to a question about eBay's policies, "Empty brand name boxes are allowed for sale on eBay."

Some shoppers want an empty box because they wish to resell their own item but have lost the box (boxes add value). But some others want an empty box because they want to sell a counterfeit good.

Griff explained the reason for the lifting of the ban: "Through improvements in our detection to catch counterfeit concerns, we will now allow the sales of these types of items now. Though, our teammates will still remove items where the seller encourages them to be used for counterfeits."

But that doesn't address another reason for having a ban: the "empty box" scam where sellers try to mislead shoppers into thinking they are buying the product, not an empty box. Judge Judy had famously addressed a variation of that scam in one of her shows.

If eBay allows sellers to list empty boxes, it should have a way for them to do so in such a way that shoppers are clear they are not purchasing the product itself. Griff didn't provide details on how empty boxes should be listed, and we couldn't find a category for such items.

What do you think? By lifting the ban, is eBay inviting scammers? How would you list an empty product box without misleading shoppers?




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Should eBay Be Allowing Sellers to List Empty Boxes?   Should eBay Be Allowing Sellers to List Empty Boxes?

by: kazaly This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 00:56:22 2015

I don't see why not providing;
1. ebay enforce use of the term ''empty box'' in the title
2. restrict listings to a ''packaging supplies'' category
3. put a skilled human in charge of the investigations that are bound to ensue.

They banned this sort of listing for good reason in the first place and should be ensuring that there are proper systems in place to avoid a repeat.

There are valid reasons for people to require empty boxes but the door is wide open to scammers if not very carefully controlled.

In my experience eBay are never good at fine control.

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by: blaumann This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 01:23:00 2015

Ah Griff, I wondered if he was still around. An idiot among idiots.
I hate that creepy jerk with a burning passion.  

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by: forrosebud This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 01:46:36 2015

No... but listing empty boxes is perfect for the new regime of scamming sellers that ebay attracts. For example, if I am 're-selling' an Apple product that I personally purchased for myself last year, you can bet that I didn't 'lose' the original box/paperwork. (I must have a dozen various product boxes stored away.) The claim is replacement product boxes are needed on Ebay so that some sellers can make more $$ when they list their product for sale or auction. Most likely the seller needs that box so he can palm off some 2nd or 3rd hand piece of garbage and claim it's a like new one-owner (Apple) product as an example... see it comes in its original box, but I lost the paperwork...  

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by: Brused This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 02:38:42 2015

No.  I'm not concerned with buyers getting an empty box thinking they were going to get a full box.  eBay sides with the buyer to the degree that only a few idiots will try this once.  I understand why someone would pay a little more for a used item in the box.  If the buyer has the foresight to save the box they likely took better care of the item than the buyer that didn't.  Also why help counterfeiters?

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 02:52:48 2015

"Griff explained the reason for the lifting of the ban: "Through improvements in our detection to catch counterfeit concerns,.."
Hilarious.

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

Mon Dec 21 03:01:07 2015

I don't think they are catching all the counterfeiters. I was looking at one seller who sold a slew of Coco Chanel jewelry from $4 to $6.  

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by: Mog This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 05:33:40 2015

The solution is simple really. When a buyer clicks the BIN box or wins the auction a pop up box in BIG letters asks them if they've read the FULL description and tick the box to confirm it. Only then can they buy the item.
Same method as most sites TOS's work.
If they then moan about getting an empty box it's their own fault (unless of course the seller didn't mention it in their description, in which case they should not be a seller, ebay doesn't need any more scamming sellers, there's enough already)

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by: Mog This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 05:35:17 2015

PS. This same method could have been used to stop the postage scammers but of course that would mean ebay not getting it's 10% (in other word ebay are scammers themselves which encourages other lowlifes to scam)

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by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 06:18:09 2015

Buyer Beware still exists. If buyers are so blind that they can't or won't read a product description then they get exactly what they bid on.

Ebay needs to quit changing diapers and burping the losers.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 07:45:23 2015

One of two things happening.  The buyer is not reading the description thoroughly.  Or, the seller is not making it clear it's an EMPTY BOX.  Sometimes you have to repeat repeat repeat repeat over and over in the description area and take good pictures.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 07:47:45 2015

1) ebays fraud detection is so bad its laughable ..... its like "reporting a buyer" or "reporting a counterfeit item" ... NOTHING ever happens

2) eBay itself is an empty box - anything that was good in it, was thrown out AGES ago. All thats left is a useless old worn outer shell - sorta like GRIFF himself

3) eBay is SO desperate for sales that they let this go "again". Its what happens when you have NO business plan. If it wa a major announcement of a previous important policy reversal, it would have been on the not often used announcement board, not buried in one of Griff's rambling Wednesday sessions.

I dont have any empty boxes to sell, but i do know of a place that has alot of empty rooms - some padded, some with bars, that would be PERFECT for Griff and others over in San Jose.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon Dec 21 07:49:22 2015

Another policy change implemented by eBay without advising sellers the change had been put in place.

I do not know which is more hysterical.... eBay reversing course on a policy put into place to reduce fraud, or eBay's claim that "Through improvements in our detection to catch counterfeit concerns, we will now allow the sales of these types of items now. "

This company become a bigger joke on an almost daily basis.

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by: Donkey This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 08:22:12 2015

"Empty Box"

The story of ebay over the last ten years.

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by: spooky This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 09:52:13 2015

this policy was always about the worry an unscrupulous seller would buy the empty box to make their counterfeit fake item look real

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Dec 21 10:03:03 2015

@Mog
My thoughts exactly.  Vintage toy boxes are a popular item because, surprise, lots of them were thrown out.  I'd be very wary of selling them for fear of somebody not reading the description, not looking at the picture, not thinking in general before bidding and then being "surprised" that the toy was "missing."

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Dec 21 10:15:21 2015

I've been looking for a specific empty box for 10 years and I'm still looking.

I need a box for a .22 Browning Challenger III, it's kind of rare since they only made that model for 3 years. (1983-1985)

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by: wallflower This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 10:24:22 2015

Once I listed a 100 year old Tiffany velvet bracelet box. Had seen similar ones sell for decent money. It got pulled because somebody could put a non-Tiffany bracelet in the box and pass it off as authentic. Gave the box away at a flea market. What a shame.

So are these type of boxes allowed too?

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by: bb6 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 10:49:23 2015

Ebay do you have Fraud protection? Yes we have Frog Protection. Wait you are saying Fraud protection right? Yes Frog protection. Ok as long as we are on the same page! HAHA

Side note, you guys do know this policy was change 7 months ago right? I remember reading an article about it.

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by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 11:55:32 2015

Permitting sales of empty boxes has two flaws:

1.) Unscrupulous sellers looking to take advantage of unwitting buyers.

2.) Lazy buyers who fail to read the description (if any) who believe in prices that are just too good to be true..

I myself nearly make the mistake of jumping on a promotion from a major high end camera manufacturer's Christmas offer received over the weekend.

The promotion shows a lovely new camera body and in front of the camera was a lens (not attached to the camera body).

Returning several times to the promotion due to the low promotional price for (what I thought was) the camera, I finally realized that the promotion was for the lens (only) and not the camera body and lens.

I would have been very surprised and disappointed to be stuck with a pricey lens and no camera.

How many years ago was eBay allowing cell phone sellers to list high end cell phones for under $10 and shipping for $600?  

Let us be honest...  We sellers would prefer less interference from eBay than more.  

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by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 16:02:10 2015

Of course it should ve allowed many people collect them or try to replace them.

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