Why are eBay changing their links policy?

By Chris Dawson May 14, 2017 - 1:01 pm

From September, eBay will have a new links policy which prohibits you from including contact information or links to your website, email address, phone number or social media sites anywhere on eBay (including shop pages). This was announced in eBay’s Spring Seller Release, the one exception is classified ads.

From September 2017 you won’t be able to include contact information, i.e. phone numbers, email addresses or social media profiles, in item descriptions, images, eBay Shops or seller profiles. The new rules won’t apply to the Business seller information section.

Buyers and sellers should always use eBay messaging tools, such as My Messages or Best Offer, to communicate with each other.
– eBay Spring 2017 Seller Release

It would appear likely that eBay are doing this because they’re fed up with buyers being ripped off by scammers. Headlines such as ‘eBay fraudster stole £3,000 after we’d remortgaged our home‘ just shouldn’t happen in 2017 but sadly they all to frequently do.

A relatively small number of sellers take sales off eBay (for instance check out the feedback for sellers of granite worktops – relatively few sales because anyone buying a granite worktop needs it cut to the exact size of their kitchen with holes cut for sinks, hobs etc. They rely on buyers to contact them direct through their eBay listings and of course eBay miss out on commission on these sales.

The real problem however, is scammers who open an account (or hijack an existing account) and get buyers to purchase expensive items (often cars sold at ridiculously low prices) to pay off eBay. They’ll send a fake invoice to convince the buyer that ‘PayPal are backing the transaction and your funds will be held in escrow’ and as soon as the buyer has paid that will be the last they ever hear from the scammer.

The only way to eradicate this type of scam is to prevent website addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and the like from being published on eBay in the first place. It’s going to hurt sellers of custom made items that can’t receive images and hinder sellers who provide great telephone support from helping buyers contact them.

On many eBay sites this should have the desired effect, but not on eBay UK where sellers are obliged to publish their business information which includes their email address and phone number on all listings. All eBay are really doing is making it slightly harder for buyers to find the contact details, but they’ll still be there. Of course setting up a business account is slightly more work than setting up a private seller account, but not much. Plus if the scammer has hijacked an account it’s no effort at all to update the business contact information with their own details and they’ll simply ignore the rule that says you can’t tell buyers where to find your contact details.

Whilst it’s admirable (and good business sense) for them to eradicate fraud, I can’t help thinking that eBay are using the proverbial hammer to crack a walnut. It may well make it harder for scammers to rip people off, but it will also impact tens of thousands of great sellers and buyers.

  • Simon E
    4 years ago

    Does anyone know if links to images will still be allowed.
    We have webinterpret translate and as far as I know there are a few countries that still don’t allow FREE extra images and the workaround is to have images in the description HTML.

    As we host the images on our own server – ftp or whatever you want to call it, we have a small image on ebay description and then if the customer clicks it, it will take them to the larger image IN A NEW BLANK PAGE.

    I thought it would be fine as the links are to jpg’s but reading the links policy info on Tamebay, I am starting to wonder.
    Well it will give me something to do won’t it.!!!

  • 4 years ago

    ebay have told us that as long as the links (to images) open in a new blank page then they are ok.

  • Simon E
    4 years ago

    Phew, thanks for that Paul, much obliged.

  • james
    4 years ago

    Why are eBay changing their links policy?
    because it’s cheaper & easier for them to punish all sellers, than to find and punish just the bad guys.

    making the site secure and stable costs money, taking it out on sellers doesnt.
    yet again we need to do all the work for ebay’s benefit, to our own detriment, and suffer further if we dont comply.

    i havent ripped off any buyers, our contact info is useful and compliant, our days are spent jumping through ebay’s 3million existing hoops and trying to provide a service despite them, but yet again we’re getting the smelly end of the stick.

  • 4 years ago

    Any news from ebay about what happens to non-compliant information? Is it just blanked out or will they prevent listing/ relisting / damage seller accounts?

    If they do the decent thing and make it a soft impact for sellers — as they are doing for active content — ie block the offending information, then that’s great. If they start making work for sellers that threatens their listings and livelihoods if they fail to comply with a policy of such questionable utility — then they need to already have released tools to help with this.

    • 4 years ago

      ebay have said that they’ll stop us being able to re-list items which include non-compliant content such as contact info

  • james
    4 years ago

    and in their infinite genius wisdom, you now cant insert a tracking number into an ebay message.
    i mean why would anyone want to insert a tracking number in an ebay message? must be fraudulent, block it!
    cannot tell the difference between a phone number and a tracking number, yet claim to be the worlds go-to for online shopping. lmfao.
    absolute shower of jokers, you’d think they’d only been doing ecommerce for the past 12 minutes the amount of expertise they display.

  • 4 years ago

    In my opinion, a solution has to match the problem.

    A “scammer” is not an ebay problem. Scammers scam…that’s what they do. Ebay simply has to EDUCATE and SUPPORT their buyers to remind them that EBAY (and PAYPAL) covers their Arses when items are purchased through ebay…. and NOT to make any off-ebay transactions as they lose that protection.

    Amazon has scammers too – I’ve seen some furniture sellers when you can’t check out.. and when you contact them they tell you to pay with Amazon Gift Cards. Don’t ever buy from anyone where you can’t use Amazon’s checkout. Duh. Reporting them to Amazon gets them kicked off the platform. Amazon has that “TRUST” factor with its buyers… but they too have some dumb people buying who fall for it.

    This is clearly ebay trying to make sure that they get their share of each purchase, which they are entitled to.

    This blocking of URL’s, emails and now phone numbers is just bad business. I applaud the EU for forcing sellers to include contact information.. and I hope ebay recognizes this sooner than later.

  • 4 years ago

    Lot cons on eBay esp p&p and out date washing products

  • 4 years ago

    Blocking anything that reduces buyers and sellers taking the business off site is in the interest of ebay. I’m just suprised they haven’t done it ages ago. Surely most of here would do the same if we were running it.

    • northumbrian
      4 years ago

      thats why we could never understand the off site advertising links on the bottom of every search page
      ooops silly us!
      the money was going direct to ebay and we daft sods paid for it

  • Jenny
    4 years ago

    Are we still allowed to provide links to other listings within eBay? We have lots of items where you can purchase upgrades in other listings, so this could have a big affect on our sales.

    • Scott Brown
      4 years ago

      Yes ebay links are allowed

  • northumbrian
    4 years ago

    in fact sponsored links are still there until ebay introduce the new way to squeeze the lemon with sponsored listings

  • Toby
    4 years ago

    Funny how they are so keen on this…. but have little or no interest in those we bring to their attention as blatant scammers even when we provide evidence, oh hang on it’s only scammer sellers they are after, the scam buyers are still very welcome.
    Now what do i do about pcitures of some of our own branded items where our web address is part of the packaging or label design?! After all the picture must clearly repsresent the product sold. I once had a customer have a go as the label design on one of our products had changed, when i say changed i mean the font and text size had changed…. imagine if it had a line of text that wasnt in the picture!!!

  • Gussie
    4 years ago

    Like the message I got the other day for a £50 item .
    ” I’m interested in this at £27 price point ”

    Formulating a reply – and then taking the swear words out , I replied
    “Its a shame it isn’t £27 then ” and was blocked from sending it .

    I had to make an offer back to them to deliver my message (at 10p less than my BIN )

    The lunatics are running the asylum

  • George
    4 years ago

    I’m a little curious to how their links policy will be enforced. Will they rely on member-to-member reporting or will there be a outright ban on all link tags? It’s from my understanding that links to legal information is allowed. Will it be a case of calling up and getting it approved?

    They are some perfectly ligitiment reasons to link to external content (albeit not ‘legal information’. I wonder how stubborn they’ll be and whether the outlet stores such as Argos will have to comply?

  • G. Forshaw
    4 years ago

    Ebay are constantly coming out with new rules and regulations, so many being of a politically correct nature, that many sellers are wondering about the number of sissies in their executive middle management. It’s not really British is it?

  • Rob
    4 years ago

    I sometimes ask them the reason why they would like money off and see what response they give. Usual reason is I only want to pay x price. If they want to buy more items etc then could be a valid reason.

  • ebay are stealing postage fees
    4 years ago

    Ebay are stealing millions of pounds in final postal Fees!
    this fee is not legally aloud to be taken, Ebay are stealing illions of pounds in final postal fees.
    Ebay are not the company with whom you are using to ship an item, so Ebay have no rights to take a final postal fee!
    if i send an item to a buyer,nd i charge £10 p+p then Ebay steal £1 as a final postage fee?
    Ebay are not legally aloud to do this. i have had to get many many pounds returned to me from Ebay!
    but just think of all the people who do not challenge this final postal fee. Ebay keep all the millions of pounds!
    Ebay are commiting theft on a huge scale, please share this information.

  • 4 years ago

    Ebay did the Shipping Fee FVF for a reason… People were selling items for $1.00 and $35.00 shipping… trying to NOT have to pay ebay their due…. They had no choice. They tried to tell everyone to make every item FREE SHIPPING and to include it in the cost of the item… but that makes people unable to purchase multiples…
    There is no real solution here. PS>. Amazon did the same thing.

    • 4 years ago

      You’re right – might as well complain that PayPal charge a processing fee on VAT and Shipping charges 😉

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