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Selling practices policy

Policy overview

Setting clear buyer expectations and then meeting or exceeding them is a great way to make your buyer happy and ensure a smooth transaction.

Some of the simplest things you can do are to provide accurate and consistent details about your items and to be clear and specific about the terms and conditions of the sale. You should also make every effort to provide excellent customer service from start to finish, including:

  • Charging reasonable postage and packaging costs

  • Specifying your dispatch time and returns policy in your listing

  • Responding to buyers' questions promptly

  • Being professional throughout the transaction

  • Making sure the item is delivered to the buyer as described in your listing

  • Frequently reviewing and updating listings to make sure all information – such as inventory status and item condition – is accurate and up to date

To help you meet our seller performance standards, we have some basic requirements all sellers must meet. We also have tips on how you can meet – and exceed – buyers' expectations.

Also, if you're a business seller, you should ensure that you include a comprehensive returns policy within your listing. Learn more about your returns obligations.

If you're a private seller, you should include a returns policy, which sets out the circumstances in which you will accept returns and any relevant timelines.

Guidelines

To help you meet the minimum performance standards on eBay, we've outlined the basic requirements regarding selling practices below. In addition, we have included a few best practices that can assist you as a seller to both meet and exceed buyer expectations.

Make sure you follow these guidelines. If you don't, you may be subject to a range of actions. We may limit, restrict, or suspend you from buying, selling or using site features. All of your listings may be removed, displayed lower or not shown in search results, without refunding any or all applicable fees. You may also forfeit special account status and any discounts. You may be subject to the application of fees and recovery of our expenses in policy monitoring and enforcement.

Buyers expect their items to be delivered on time, especially when they pay additional fees for express delivery services. Using a slower delivery service than the one selected by the buyer during checkout may result in the item being delivered later than expected, and an increase in claims for items not received.

What to do

  • Offer delivery service options in your listings only after reviewing their costs and delivery speeds.

  • Post items using delivery services with features that meet or exceed those the buyer selected.

What not to do

  • Use delivery services with features that do not meet those selected by the buyer. For example, using "Royal Mail Tracked 48" with a maximum delivery estimate of 3 days when the buyer selected "Royal Mail Tracked 24" with a delivery estimate of 1 day.

Be sure to specify postage and related service charges in your listings. It's against our rules to provide unclear or misleading delivery information or to charge unreasonable fees for postage and related services.

What you can charge

Actual postage cost: This is the final postage charged. Consider what others in the market charge for delivery of the item being sold to ensure you remain competitive. Also be consistent with eBay policies for the postage charges for the category you are listing in.

Packaging cost: This can include the cost of packaging materials.

Delivery confirmation and extra services: If these options are offered to the buyer, you can only charge what they actually cost. Examples of services including:

  • Proof of postage

  • Recorded delivery

  • Proof of delivery

  • Signed for proof of delivery

  • Special dispatch fees

Tax and government imposed fees: Only applicable duties, VAT or equivalent taxes may be charged.

Categories with maximum postage charges

eBay sets maximum postage costs in some categories. The maximum limit for postage charges applies to the first postage option for all sellers listing on the UK site. This is the first service offered with the listings.

When using the Postage Centre, ensure that the calculated cost isn't higher than the actual postage cost. If so, it's considered excessive postage and isn't allowed on eBay.

Free postage

You can offer free postage to select or all destinations.

For a destination with free postage, no other fees related to postage, dispatch, insurance or packaging can be charged.

Remember, you can't change the postage method to a slower option once the buyer has committed to purchase the item.

If you offer free postage in your listing - and we can confirm the buyer didn't pay for postage - you'll automatically receive a 5-star detailed seller rating for Postage and packaging charges.

What you're not allowed to charge

Insurance: Sellers aren't allowed to charge a separate fee for insurance, although they still need to make sure their item arrives as described. Business sellers may choose to purchase postal insurance; however, they can't pass this cost onto buyers.

Tariffs, duties, and customs fees: For international transactions, sellers aren't allowed to collect tariffs, duties, or customs fees. (Buyers may be responsible for paying these fees as required by country laws.)

  • Don't inappropriately classify an item as a gift in order to avoid certain duties, tariffs, or customs fees. UK law prohibits submitting false or misleading customs information.

HM Revenue & Customs

Under the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002, business sellers must provide clear indications of price, if relevant, including any delivery or tax charges and your VAT number, if your online activities are subject to VAT.
In addition, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 prohibit business sellers from engaging in unfair commercial practices which harm consumers’ economic interests. The provision of information about prices is one form of commercial practice.
In particular, the regulations prohibit business from:
  • Misleading consumers about the price of a product, or the manner in which the price is calculated

  • Misleading consumers as to the existence of a specific price advantage

  • Omitting information on the price or any related charges including taxes, delivery and postage charges, unless these are already apparent from the context

  • Misleading or confusing information about the applicability of taxes or customs fees that may be payable on the item which are not included in the sale or postage price

Buyers want to know when they can get their items.

What to do

You should:

  • Clearly and accurately specify in your listing when the item will be dispatched

  • Post items immediately after purchase (see our pre-sale listings policy for further information)

  • Use tracking, delivery or signature confirmation to ensure that both you and your buyer can track the package and know when it will be delivered

  • For items above £150, use delivery and signature confirmation which will help to protect you should a request be opened that the item wasn't received

  • You’ll receive an automatic 5-star detailed seller rating for Dispatch time when a transaction meets the following criteria: you specify either same or 1 working day handling and upload tracking information within 1 working day of receiving payment, plus tracking data then shows delivery within 3 working days or less.

What not to do

You should not:

  • If PayPal places a temporary payment hold on an item you sold, delay delivery pending the release of those funds (after 21 days). Delaying delivery may affect your detailed seller ratings and buyer satisfaction, which will increase the chance of PayPal payments being held in the future

  • Say that you're not responsible for item delivery, or for ensuring that the item is delivered. For example, these statements aren't allowed:

    • 'I'm not responsible for the item once it's been dropped in the mail'

    • 'I'm not responsible for items lost in the post'

    • 'Without insurance, I can't be responsible for items lost in the post'

Listing formats without dispatch time

  • Classified ad format

  • Property sale ad format

Categories that don't require dispatch time

  • All Motors categories

  • Property

  • Services

It's important that you clearly specify the terms and conditions of the sale in your listing so that buyers know what to expect.

What to do

You're required to include the following details in your listing:

  • Forms of payment you accept

  • Return policy

  • Delivery method, postage costs and other information

  • Taxes and any applicable government imposed fees (such as electronic waste disposal fees)

  • Terms of the transaction

You're required to meet the expectations you've set in your listing:

  • Ensure the safe delivery of the item within the timeframe stated in your listing

  • Comply with the Presale listings policy where applicable

  • Items you list must be in your inventory or you must have an existing agreement with a third party to fulfill the delivery of the item under the terms of your listing

What not to do

You must not provide inconsistent or misleading information on the terms and conditions of the sale.

Here are some things you must not do:

  • Change the terms of the sale once a buyer has committed to purchase the item

  • List different postage charges in the listing description and the Delivery fields of the Sell your item form

  • State that you accept returns in the listing, but refuse to honour it after the item has been purchased, even if the item meets your stated requirements

  • Include references to the PowerSeller or eBay Premium Service programmes in your listing descriptions, listing templates, About Me, My World or Shop pages

  • Use phrases like 'eBay premium service seller', 'offering eBay premium service listings', 'trusted eBay premium service listings' or other similar terms. (If you are a eBay Top-rated seller at an account level and offer eBay Premium Service listings, a prominent eBay Premium Service badge will automatically appear in your listings)

Providing tracking details for items you've sold is an industry standard and something that your buyers expect. Tracking data lets buyers know where their item is throughout the dispatch and delivery process, and can be critical in cases where the buyer claims they didn't receive an item. Learn more about uploading tracking information.

What to do

  • Upload accurate tracking details.

  • Upload tracking details within your specified handling time.

  • Mark the item as Dispatched in My eBay or Seller Hub once it has been sent

What not to do

  • Upload information other than valid tracking in the tracking field, including tracking not associated with the transaction.

  • Upload tracking information later than the dispatch time window promised in your listing.

When a buyer purchases an item, they expect it to be dispatched from the item location included in the listing. Including false, inaccurate, vague, or misleading item location information may lead to confusion around delivery time and postage costs.

What to do

  • Include accurate item location descriptions. The city and state, or city and country should match appropriately. For example:

    • Hong Kong, China

    • Sydney, Australia

    • Omaha, Nebraska, United States

What not to do

  • Provide incorrect or inaccurate item location

  • State 'UK' when the item is actually being dispatched from China

  • Include inaccurate, vague, or misleading item location descriptions, such as:

    • Beijing, United Kingdom

    • Hong Kong, United Kingdom

    • Worldwide, Singapore

    • Direct from manufacturer to, United States

    • Somewhere in Florida, United States

  • Include item location information in the item description that doesn't match the information in the item location field

  • Include inconsistent information in your return policy around the item location which may result in higher return costs or confusion for buyers.

The listing page is where buyers get most of their information about an item. Information in the listing helps buyers decide what to buy and know what to expect when they receive an item. It's important to make sure that the listing is only used to describe the item for sale and to communicate the terms of the sale in a professional way.

What to do

You must:

  • Describe only the item you're selling in the listing and the terms of the sale

  • Provide complete and accurate details

  • Specify the condition of the item

  • Explain any defects or flaws on the item - this helps avoid problems or buyer dissatisfaction

When selling used, refurbished or flawed items, we recommend you also include pictures of the actual item for sale, in addition to a stock photo.

Occasionally, you may need to cancel a transaction because the item is broken, you made a mistake in your listing or the item is out of stock. In these cases, you must first contact the buyer and let them know that you are canceling the transaction and the reason why.  Make sure you use the correct process in My eBay or Seller Hub to cancel these transactions. Learn more about cancelling a transaction.

What to do

  • Inform the buyer that you are cancelling the transaction with the reason.

  • Cancel the transaction up to 30 days after the sale.

  • Use the correct process in My eBay or Seller Hub to cancel the transaction:

    • Go to My eBay > Sold and locate the item. From the More actions drop-down menu, select Cancel this order. Or;

    • Go to Seller Hub and locate the item. From the Actions drop-down menu, select End.

  • Choose a reason for the cancellation and follow the on-screen instructions.

What not to do

  • Not informing the buyer that you are cancelling the transaction.

  • Cancelling the transaction more than 30 days after the sale.

  • Not using the correct process in My eBay or Seller Hub to cancel the transaction.

  • Select the wrong cancellation reason in order to avoid a defect on your account.

Do whatever you can to provide excellent customer service. Meeting or exceeding buyers' expectations can help you improve your performance on eBay.

What to do

  • Respond promptly to any questions during the bidding or buying process, and after the item has been purchased

  • Be friendly and professional in all communication, including emails

  • Send delivery updates with tracking information, if available

  • Be responsive to any buyer concerns or problems

What not to do

You must not:

  • Use swear words or offensive language with anyone on eBay

  • Send anyone on eBay inappropriate images including nudity, profanity or other general content not related to an eBay listing

  • Use expressions such as 'optional insurance' or 'fake bidder or buyer' and threaten to leave negative Feedback (even though sellers aren't able to leave negative Feedback for buyers)

Under the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 you must provide the following information in the Business Seller Information section of your listings:
  • full contact details for your business, including the geographical address

  • details of any relevant trade organisations to which you belong

  • details of any authorisation scheme relevant to your online business

  • clear indications of price, if relevant, including any delivery or tax charges

  • your VAT number, if your online activities are subject to VAT.

Legal obligations for business sellers
If you trade as a business, you're legally obliged to sort things out for your buyer if an item is faulty or arrives damaged. A consumer buyer also has the right to return an item to you if they change their mind.
For more information on how UK law relates to returns and your legal obligations as a business, see the Additional information section.
To find out more about handling returns, see our Business seller policy.

What to do

If you're a business seller, you're required to specify if items can be returned.

If you accept returns, use the fields provided to specify:

  • The time period in which a buyer must notify you about a return

  • Who pays for return postage

  • How the refund is issued

In the Additional returns policy details section, you should also be specific about:

  • If there are item conditions required for return, and clearly state those conditions. (Note: Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, business sellers cannot insist that buyers return the item in a certain condition.)

  • How the refund is issued (for example, money back, a merchandise credit, or exchange for an identical item)

  • How long it will take for a return to be processed and the money refunded back into the buyer's account. Depending on the payment method, the time frame for a refund to be issued should normally not exceed 5 working days.

What not to do

  • You are not legally permitted to charge restocking fees or any type of administration fee.

  • Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, business sellers cannot insist that buyers return the item in a certain condition.

  • Include returns information in your item description where buyers may not see it. (Use the Additional returns policy details section of the listing form instead.)

About requests

Even if you specify that you don't accept returns, a buyer may be able to open a request for eligible items if the buyer didn't receive an item or the item doesn't match the listing description.

It's important that you reply quickly. You have 8 calendar days to respond to a buyer's request.

Keep in mind that your seller status (including PowerSeller and eBay Premium Service) and search visibility may be affected by the number of open and closed requests without seller resolution.

Learn more about requests that might affect your selling status.

When buyers bid on or purchase an item on eBay, they should feel confident that the item is available and will be delivered in a timely matter.

What to do

You must make sure the items you’re offering are in stock for the duration of the listing and are delivered to the buyer, unless the buyer doesn't meet the terms of your listing.

For multi-quantity listings, make sure you have ready access to all the items you’re offering. For pre-sale listings, make sure you'll have ready access to all items on the release date.

If you run into an inventory problem that's beyond your control, you're responsible for letting the buyer know when the item will be available or issuing a refund immediately for the full amount.

What not to do

You must not:

  • List an item that may be out of stock by the time of purchase

  • List an item that you're simultaneously selling outside of eBay without ensuring beforehand that you have enough product available

  • Offer an item that may not be what's delivered to the buyer

  • Offer an inflated number of items in a multi-quantity listing

Other rules for sellers

You're responsible for reviewing and understanding eBay selling policies, as well as all applicable laws and regulations as outlined in the User Agreement. Therefore, learning about eBay’s selling policies before you list an item will help you avoid unintentionally breaking the rules. 

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended), places numerous legal obligations on business sellers. In particular, items sold on eBay by business sellers to non-business consumers must be:

  • of "satisfactory quality";

  • "as described"; and

  • "fit for purpose".

Where the seller is a private individual, the goods must be "as described". The goods are not legally required to be of "satisfactory quality" or "fit for purpose".

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 prohibits businesses from treating consumers unfairly. In particular, a misleading act or omission by the seller, which results in the buyer purchasing an item that they wouldn't have otherwise have purchased, is a criminal offence in most cases.

  • Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (buyers' legal right to cancel a purchase)

    The Distance Selling Regulations generally apply to sales to non-business buyers made by sellers acting in the course of a business, which have been made at a distance. In other words, where there is no face-to-face contact between the seller and the buyer before the contract is made. The Distance Selling Regulations usually cover sales made over the internet, including:

    • Buy it now listings on eBay.co.uk

    • Second Chance Offers on eBay.co.uk

    The UK Distance Selling Regulations do not apply to auction-style format listings on eBay.co.uk, and do not apply to all types of items.

    Under the Distance Selling Regulations, buyers have a period of 7 working days after the date of delivery within which they can cancel the contract (often referred to as the 'cooling off' period) and get their money back, including the original postage and packing charges. If the seller has not provided all the information required under the Distance Selling regulations before the contract is concluded, the buyer will have up to three months. You must refund the original delivery charges. However, you are permitted to require the buyer to pay for the cost of returning the item, but only if you clearly inform the buyer of this before the contract is made.

    You can specify the returns time frame and who pays for return postage when you create your returns policy. Please note that the minimum time frame for returns on eBay is 14 days. We've chosen this because a 14-day returns period will be required when changes to UK distance selling regulations come into effect in June 2014.

    If your listing doesn't fall under the Distance Selling Regulations, you're not legally obliged to refund a buyer if they change their mind. However, you may choose to provide a service that goes beyond the minimum legal requirement in order to encourage consumers to buy from you.

  • Faulty items (your legal obligations to your buyers)

    Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended), items sold by business sellers to non-business consumers must be:

    • of "satisfactory quality";

    • "as described"; and

    • "fit for purpose".

    If an item you sell doesn't conform to these criteria, the buyer has the right to request money back within a "reasonable time". What is considered a "reasonable time" varies from item to item. For example, a pair of skis is unlikely to be used straight away, so a "reasonable time" is likely to be longer than for an item normally used on a daily basis. Other factors may also affect what is defined as a "reasonable time" for specific items. In addition, the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002 gives consumers a right to a repair or replacement where goods turn out to be faulty.

  • Items damaged in the post (your legal obligations to your buyers)

    When a business sells an item to a consumer, the default position is that any loss or damage to the item that occurs in transit is the responsibility of the business. This means that you are likely to be required to replace items lost or damaged in the post. Most eBay business sellers choose to replace lost and damaged items as a matter of course, using insured postage services where cost effective.

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