eBay is deleting old listings, saying they are unfair to other sellers, though it doesn't seem to question the fairness of collecting the fees on such listings before zapping them into the ether.
eBay is supposed to be a venue only, bringing buyers and sellers together. But eBay has increasingly gotten hands-on and now it can delete sellers' listings at will (and as we've previously reported, can even relist a seller's inactive listings).
A reader forwarded a copy of a letter they received from eBay:
Listings that haven't generated interest, after being active for a long time, can clutter the site and make it difficult for buyers to find what they're looking for. This can be unfair to other sellers when their listings are difficult to find. Therefore, we've done the following:
- We removed any listings that have been active for 1 year or longer without sales. A list of removed item(s) is available further down in this email.
- Any fees for listings that were ended early for not following policy won't be credited to your account.
We recommend that you don't relist these items unless you first take steps to improve the likelihood of sales. Please also make sure that items don't automatically relist. Listing fees may not be refunded for subsequent removals.
To increase the chance of your items selling in the future, we recommend that you consider the following best practices:
- Reduce the price of the item.
- Add images.
- Include pertinent item specifics.
- Offer free shipping.
- List the item using the Auction format.
Sellers discussed this issue
on the eBay boards last month - no one recalled this having happened previously, nor can we.
One seller said that as a matter of routine they lower the prices of their older listings in an effort to stimulate sales, so this would make it harder for them to figure out what listings need to be discounted. Others said this was a problem since they often receive sales of items over a year after first listed on eBay and other sites as well.
Here is a link to the FAQ
eBay referenced in its letter to sellers where it states:
"If your listing has been active on the site for more than a year without sales, then we may remove it."
Sellers expressed concern about what would happen if they tried to relist such items - that's a valid concern, as eBay makes it clear in the FAQs.
According to some reports, it can be difficult for sellers to determine if their supposedly active listings show up in search, so while eBay sends a letter at least in some cases, you should pay attention to make sure the items you think are active are truly live.
It's disturbing that eBay won't credit sellers for listings it deems to be stale and removes - it's a practice that could have consumer advocates raising their eyebrows.
If eBay doesn't want sellers to list old listings, it could prevent them from being listed in the first place so sellers aren't out any fees. Given that eBay is concerned about old listings being "unfair" to sellers, after all.