When Bad Things Happen to Good eBay Sellers: A Cautionary Tale


I’m sure you know there are many ways to get into trouble buying and selling stuff on eBay and other places. Nigerian wire transfers, designer knock-offs, items that never ship, and buyers that never pay are all well known pitfalls online. But I recently learned of another, and oddly enough it came directly from the eBay “powers that be” and bit me–even though I’d done nothing wrong. All I can do is warn people, and wait 90 days until my account is fully reinstated.

Long story short: Careful where you eBay, and don’t eBay at work. What happened could happen to you even if you log into your on your lunch break and get eBay purchases shipped to your work address. It’s possible it could happen if you use a smart phone to check an auction status via your company WiFi, but I don’t know for sure because no one at eBay will give me a solid answer.

Here’s what happened:

At my old job we maintained a web site and an eBay store. It was my job to take care of all the eBay stuff, because I made extra money myself finding old car and motorcycle stuff and selling it via my own eBay account.

Of course, much like working for Savings.com, sometimes I would find something online I just couldn’t pass up when I was supposed to be working, so I’d log out of the company account and log into my personal account.

This seems to be the sort of thing eBay’s fraud department looks for: Two accounts logging into their site from the same computer (or possibly just the same IP address).

Now we had gotten their attention, and they made a note of it.

I spend most of the day at the office, so items I bought on eBay were often shipped to my work address. Now there were two pieces of evidence that eBay used to connect the work account and my personal account. Then I left that job, forgot about their eBay store, and went on with my life.

Mind you, I pieced all this together afterward, after an angry unhelpful phone call to customer service.

Months later, the minute I listed an auction of my own I got an email from eBay informing me that my account was in a state of limited usage, due to negative feedback on the other account. Three complaints of slow shipping over the course of a year, and your account–and any account linked to it–are limited.

There was never any warning on my account alerting me of anything when my former employer’s account was limited. It has been over a year since I had anything to do with that other account, and more than 90 days since the last negative feedback. The former co-worker, who now runs their eBay store, has tried and can’t fix it. There is no way to counter the bad feedback; you just have to wait it out.

Both accounts had been on eBay for more than ten years, and both of them had hundreds of positive pieces of feedback.

Here’s the direct message:

“Dear “SELLER,”

To help sellers be successful and ensure a safe experience on eBay for everyone, we sometimes place limits, restrictions, or suspensions on accounts.

Based on your financial information, contact information, or buying and selling activity, it appears that your account is associated with user ID “OTHER SELLER”. Normally when 2 accounts share this sort of information it indicates that the accounts belong to the same person. Since this other account is limited, restricted, suspended, or otherwise not meeting minimum seller standards, we’ve limited selling on this account as well. You can now sell up to 10 items monthly and up to $500.00 monthly.

In 90 days, we’ll reassess and may adjust your limit. Alternatively, you can increase your limits immediately by resolving any issues with the original account. Instructions on how to resolve any issues were sent to the email address registered to that account.”

Can you imagine this happening to co-worker in the same building? Or students in a dorm? IP addresses are often assigned randomly by routers, so you never know who might be on one you were on yesterday.

I warned all my former co-workers, to protect them from the same sort of punishment. And now, I am using the soap box of Savings.com to warn the general public. Make absolutely certain you aren’t sharing shipping information and an IP address with co-workers who are less conscientious about their eBay performance.

For some reason I am reminded of when Yogi Berra said “It’s so crowded nobody goes there anymore.” This may be the very last straw for me and eBay, I may begin looking for a new place to buy and sell things online. Anyone have any favorites?

Comments (8)

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  1. SavingsIQ

    3 years ago

    Craigslist is good. ebay has too many rules and people can screw you over just because they want to. not too keen on that.

  2. stella.louise

    3 years ago

    Agree with the Craigslist rec: no listing fees, no shipping (it’s local, so buyer will come to you). Just price your item reasonably–although maybe a bit higher than you actually want to get since Craigslist buyers like to haggle you down.

  3. brwood

    3 years ago

    What I used to love about the Ebay auction though was that it was a textbook example of the free market. Even if you had no idea what a Mickey Mantel rookie card was worth, the buyers at Ebay would pay the market rate regardless.

  4. ebbeszoo

    3 years ago

    i have never sold anything on ebay, just bought items but had good experiences buying items. now on craigslist i have given items under free and i have alos bought items, seveal good experiences on both

  5. ebbeszoo

    3 years ago

    alaso agree the reason i havent used ebay to sell things is the rules, thats why i just went ahead and gave things away on craigslist, even though i didnt make any money, less hazzle. less rules

  6. ChuckG

    3 years ago

    I motion also for Craigslisting however I would not give up on eBay. I bought software here for $35 and sold it overseas for $200. I could not have done that on Craigslist. While eBay has its issues, so does every other auction site. I say, let the past be the past and try again.

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