eBay is charging commissions for unsold items that it removes due to copyright complaints, according to a seller who had listed a $1,400 item and now owes eBay a final value fee of $140, even though eBay removed the listing unsold. The seller posted the letter from eBay that stated:
After reviewing your eBay account, we've taken the following action:
- Listings have been removed. A list of items that were removed can be viewed at the bottom of this message.
- We have credited all associated fees except for the final value fee for your listing(s).
Your listing was reviewed after the rights owner notified us that your listing used their copyrighted image and text without permission.
According to eBay's letter, the rights owner had notified eBay that the listing violated intellectual property rights. "When eBay receives a report of this type of violation, we remove the listing to comply with the law." But it's not clear how or if eBay determines that a seller is in fact violating IP rights before it charges FVFs. Is eBay charging the fee because the seller violated another party's IP rights, or because the seller was accused of violating IP rights?
To our surprise, we found a similar report from 2 years ago (January 27, 2016), and from nearly 3 years ago
(June 12, 2015).
We couldn't find anything in the eBay User Agreement that spells out it has the right to charge a commission for an item that eBay itself has removed from the site - with one new exception.
In the fall, eBay changed its User Agreement
to give itself permission to charge a commission in cases where it deems the seller had provided contact information to buyers:
"If you are a seller and you offer or reference your contact information or ask a buyer for their contact information in the context of buying or selling outside of eBay, you may be liable to pay a final value fee applicable to that item, even if the item does not sell."
This can be problematic, as indicated by this recent post
from a seller who removed a concert ticket the day before the event - the seller asked, "Can anyone please tell me why I have been charged this? I removed the item (concert tickets) from eBay as they had not sold and the concert was the next day. But why have eBay charged me an off eBay transaction fee when I simply just removed the listing?"
eBay is wading into troubling, some might say despicable, but very profitable areas by charging commission fees for items that haven't sold, and it's unclear whether eBay provides a system for sellers to reasonably dispute such charges.