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eBay account suspension is every seller’s worst nightmare. Having your business shut down overnight is scary for so many reasons! First and foremost, being suspended means no sales, which means no money coming in, which means no cash flow. This is especially bad if eBay is your primary livelihood, but it’s a direct hit to the pocketbook for part-time sellers, too.
Moreover, there’s the emotional fallout for you and any employees: feelings of shock, anger, grief, anxiety, fear, loss of control, helplessness, frustration, and/or depression. You and your employees may be unwilling to trust you or each other, or even feel numb. This is only human, but you’ve got to put on your business hat and persevere if you want your business back!
As a buyer, you won’t be able to see your Purchase History, and your sellers will be told by eBay not to complete their transactions with you. As a seller, your buyers will be told the same thing.
eBay will not discuss Trust & Safety issues in a public forum, for obvious reasons. Suspensions are handled on a case-by-case basis, with each case decided on its own merits. But between what’s published on the Account Holds, Restrictions, and Suspensions page at ebay.com and what we’ve learned from eBayers who have gone public regarding their own suspensions and reinstatements, we can extrapolate certain best practices for getting back in eBay’s good graces.
For starters, here are a few quick do’s and don’ts:
So now what? That depends on how, why, and for how long your account has been suspended.
In addition, there are 3 progressively more serious levels of suspension:
Either of the first two can lead to the third.
A hold may be placed on your account if you need to update your payment method (for example, if the credit card you have on file with eBay expires) or haven’t paid your seller fees.
You can set up automatic monthly payments, so there’s really no excuse for not staying current. A hold can usually be resolved by updating your payment method and/or bringing your account up to date. (More about how to do so in a minute.)
Restrictions may be placed on your account if your seller performance drops to Below Standard. Having your account restricted is more serious than having a hold put on it; it should be considered a wake-up call, big time, because restrictions are frequently the precursor to a suspension if you don’t clean up your eBay act.
The point of an account restriction is to limit your selling activities while you bring your seller performance metrics up to par. Take advantage of this second chance, and revise your business practices! If you keep racking up defects, shipping late, failing to upload tracking information on time, allowing buyers’ cases to close without seller resolution, and/or earning negative feedback, you may find yourself out in the cold.
Keep a sharp eye on your Seller Dashboard, and take action right away if any key performance metrics start to slip. You’ll see an alert right in the dashboard if anything slips low enough, but by then, it may be too late.
For example, if your buyers are opening cases for Items Not As Described (INAD), maybe you need to tweak your descriptions and/or provide better photos. Getting hit with lots of Item Not Received (INR) cases? Better review your shipping practices, stay on top of uploading tracking info, and do a better job of setting your buyers' expectations around delivery times.
If your account gets suspended, the suspension may be of limited duration: typically 7, 10, 30, or 60 days. That’s if you’re lucky, because suspension may also be indefinite. The MC113 message you receive from eBay will include that information.
It also should tell you what caused the suspension and spell out what you need to do in order to be reinstated. Reinstatement may involve sitting out a temporary suspension, making changes to your listings, sending eBay more identifying information, and/or undergoing some eBay education.
Now it’s time to take a few deep breaths, set aside your emotions, and start working to redeem yourself.
Remember: eBay’s worldwide marketplace is built on trust and safety. That means the company must be ever vigilant about protecting buyers, sellers, and the eBay brand itself from bad actors and bad experiences. In order to be accepted back into the eBay community, you’re going to have to prove yourself worthy.
There are no guarantees, but the best approach is one of complete honesty and openness plus determination to do better in the future.
Here’s what you need to do..
Start by printing out the MC113 email you received from eBay, and keep it handy. Then follow the steps outlined in the email. Remember, your goal is to prove that you are trustworthy and running a legitimate eCommerce business.
Draft a cover letter to go with the documentation you’ll be providing to eBay.
Briefly state your case for reinstatement, including what you’re doing differently in your business to ensure that the problem for which you’ve been suspended never happens again. Don’t forget to apologize for whatever you did to cause or contribute to the problem in the first place. Here’s an example:
I was late shipping items for two weeks due to being hospitalised unexpectedly with a broken hip, and I feel just terrible about letting my customers down. I emailed each buyer with an apology plus a codeless coupon for 15% off their next purchase. In addition, I’ve taught my sister-in-law how to use eBay, so now she could take care of my business in my absence.
Thank you very much for considering my reinstatement. I value the privilege of being a member of the eBay community, and I would greatly appreciate a second chance to run my small business so that it is an asset to the site. I have learned a lot from this crisis and taken steps to ensure that it will never happen again! I strive to provide a great buying experience and hope to be able to do so on eBay going forward.
If there is anything further that you need or would like me to do in order to regain my status as an eBay seller, I would be happy to comply. Thank you again. Sincerely,
Your eBay username
Temporary suspensions are basically a case of “this too shall pass”. You just have to wait it out. But an indefinite suspension is exactly that: indefinite. It may take as long as a whole year for eBay to be willing to grant you readmission to the community.
Don’t be tempted to open up a so-called “stealth account” or use a family member’s or friend’s account in the meantime, either, because if you get caught (and you will), you’ll be permanently suspended and get your relative or friend suspended, too. There’s an acronym for that: NARU, meaning Not a Registered User. Don’t get your family or friends NARU’d along with you!
Once you’ve submitted everything requested by eBay along with your cover letter. follow up with a phone call to eBay Customer Support a day or two later.
Here’s the phone number to call: 866-540-3229
Do your homework to prepare for this call:
If you have access to eBay Concierge customer support, congratulations!
If not, be prepared to be very, very patient when explaining your situation and making your case. Ask for a supervisor if necessary. Above all, keep your cool. Maintain a professional demeanor and pleasant tone of voice.
If you aren’t getting anywhere, or aren’t getting the answers you want, politely thank the rep and end the call. Then call again later. Try to time your calls by morning, afternoon, and evening, Pacific Time, so you reach a different shift of CS reps.
Some additional resources to tap: Contact eBay for Business via private message through Twitter or Facebook. They may have useful advice and/or be able to put you in touch with someone in eBay’s Trust & Safety department. Don’t forget to give them your case number!
If you don’t mind going public with your plea for reinstatement, call the eBay for Business podcast at 888-723-4630. Griff, the host (who is also eBay’s Senior Manager for Seller Advocacy), can’t talk account specifics on the air, but he may have helpful suggestions. Or email him: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach out to your fellow sellers in eBay-related Facebook groups, too, as well as in your local seller meetup group; they might have useful ideas to share, not to mention possible connections at eBay. And they’ll certainly sympathize with your plight.
If doing all of the above fails to get your account reinstated, wait awhile, then try, try again. It may take a full year to get an indefinite suspension lifted. Swallow your pride, and keep asking. Because if you can’t get reinstated, you can no longer sell on eBay and will have to develop other eCommerce selling channels (which is a good idea in any case, so you don’t have all your eggs in eBay’s basket).
I know one suspended eBayer who actually went to eBay Live! — this was quite a few years ago — to plead her case face to face with the Trust & Safety team and some well-placed eBay executives. It worked; she and her husband were reinstated by the end of the conference and went on to become Top Rated. So be persistent and insistent!
In short, if you really want to reestablish your business on eBay — and you do — don’t hesitate to pull out all the stops!
The best way to avoid violating eBay’s rules and policies is to be familiar with them. The eBay Rules & Policies page at ebay.com gives a 4-minute overview, complete with links to pages explicating specific policies:
Even experienced sellers should review this page and those linked from it to keep themselves up to date and well informed. As for new sellers, it should be required reading!
Seller Updates are definitely required reading for all sellers. You’ve got to keep up with policy changes, such as when active content was phased out or it became against eBay rules to charge a restocking fee. Not knowing what’s in the latest Seller Update leaves you wide open for inadvertent policy violations.
eBay’s Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) Policy should be required reading, too. VeRO violations are a kind of subset of policy violations. eBay’s VeRO program enables intellectual property owners (i.e., brand representatives) to report listings or products that infringe upon their intellectual property rights, such as knockoffs or unauthorized use of a logo or trademark. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, eBay is legally required to immediately take down any listing reported by a VeRO member.
Pleading ignorance will neither excuse your violation nor get you reinstated. However, that doesn’t mean you didn’t make an honest mistake. Velcro is a classic example: If you include the word “Velcro” in your listing, it must be in reference to that particular brand of hook-and-loop tape. If not, you have just committed a VeRO violation.
Another frequent VeRO violation is the use of the term “onesie” to describe a one-piece infant bodysuit. “Onesie” (with a capital O) can only be used if the item in question is from Gerber’s trademarked line of Onesie baby apparel.
Even if you believe your listing has been removed in error, it’s not eBay you have to convince. It’s the VeRO member. In order to relist your item, you’ve got to contact them and get them to retract their report, or else (in the US) file a counter report. For more information about VeRO, visit the Seller Center’s Verified Rights Owner page.
Remember: eBay doesn’t suspend seller accounts lightly. For a first offense, you’ll get an MC067 warning via regular email and eBay’s My Messages.
A typical warning goes like this:
We’re writing to let you know that activity on your account may not be following an important eBay policy that requires all transactions and payments to be completed on eBay. Offers to buy or sell outside of eBay aren't allowed. This includes:
• Offering or requesting contact information or links within a member-to-member message without a recent transaction
• Displaying contact information or links in a listing except as allowed in the policy or required by law
Below are the details of where the activity occurred: [redacted]
In order to protect you and your buyers if something goes wrong, transactions must be completed on eBay. We’re invested in bringing you more buyers and helping your business grow. We want to continue to partner with you to do that.
eBay provides methods to personalize a transaction. For example, you can make a private offer to your buyer or set up your listings to invite best offers.
We understand that you might not have known about these policies. At this time, no restrictions are being placed on your account. However all applicable fees for the item(s) where this activity occurred still apply. We encourage you to review the details of the policy to understand what you can and can’t do.
During the next 3 days, please make sure your selling activities follow these guidelines. If you don't, your account(s) may be subject to a range of actions, including:
• Final value fees may be assessed when you have offers to sell outside of eBay, even if the item didn't actually sell.
• You won’t be able to list or buy for up to 7 days.
• Some or all of your fixed price listings may be hidden from search results for 7 days, and fees won't be refunded.
You won’t be able to send or receive messages with eBay members unless you have a recent transaction.
Ignore eBay’s warnings at your peril! Not seeing them — or claiming you didn’t — will not get you off the hook.
Account suspension on eBay is a perfect illustration of an ounce of prevention being better than a pound of cure. Know and follow eBay rules, provide reasonably good customer service, and run an honest business, and you should be just fine. If not, at least now you know what to do!