In a rare display of seller engagement, it appears eBay is softening their stance on "banned" books after community members rallied around a seller who had been threatened with account suspension for supposedly breaking policy but was given no specifics about which books are not allowed to be sold.
I really appreciate everyone hearing me out. We are absolutely devastated today. We are going to lose our account, and if you listen to me you'll realize that there's truly nothing we can do about it.
So we are a book seller. We own about 50,000 different books in our book warehouse. We are just a bookseller, that's it, no other items. We have been completely safe and fine on Ebay for 6 years without any issues selling large amounts of books.
We were doing fine, until about 3 months ago. About 3 months ago, we started getting notifications from Ebay that we are selling "hateful" books that need to be removed. Absolutely no issue with that. I totally understand, and we will remove any banned books. But here's the thing: They're suspending our account every single time a single "banned book" gets listed and THERES NO LIST FOR US TO REFERENCE TO KNOW WHAT'S BANNED.
And so, as a seller of 50 + thousand titles at any given moment, we cannot avoid listing things that are banned.
In 3 months, I've had my account restricted with a suspension 7 times now for listings "hateful" items, and we cannot get a list of items to not list from Ebay. I cannot find anybody at Ebay that can give me a list of things that I can't list.
And so today, I received a notification that I am suspended for 10 days for having a book about O.J. Simpson listed. I had this book listed for a long time without issues. No warnings from Ebay whatsoever. They didn't ask me to remove it, they just suspended my account for 10 days.
I am flabbergasted as a person and as a seller. I feel like my entire account is gone now, because at any moment I'm going to be told I'm listing a "hateful" book that I have no idea about. There's no list, there's no warning. You're just suspended and there's nothing you can do.
I messaged and called Ebay and there's nothing I can do. I am lost and feel absolutely thrown away.
I am just an honest person trying to sell books, and the bookselling model for bulk booksellers is completely threatened by the method by which they're removing books like this.
I really hope someone see's what I'm talking about. I don't know what to do. I can't do anything. The next time I get a warning about these Ebay has told me that my account will be suspended for a month.
I'm lost guys, and my business is over until I can figure this out.
A spirited debate ensued about where to draw the line on what is acceptable or not acceptable to sell, but almost everyone was in agreement that it is unreasonable for eBay to impose such severe punishment on sellers without provided a complete and accurate list of books which are not allowed so that sellers can proactively avoid listing them.
Eventually eBay staff joined the discussion to provide some good news - the policy team had taken the feedback under consideration and would no longer restrict accounts for this infraction going forward, they will simply remove any offending listings.
Hi all! We have shared this topic with our Policy Team and they have a big update they wanted to share with everyone:
"We heard your feedback, and we’re making changes to this immediately.
Starting Thursday, November 17, if you have a book removed under eBay’s Offensive Materials policy, there will not be a selling restriction.
We don’t want you to have to try to figure out which book titles could be considered offensive or not, or worry about a selling restriction because of this. If we find a book title we don’t allow, we will remove it and let you know, with no penalties or further action needed on your part.
We appreciate your feedback on this issue which helps us continue to make eBay a trusted and inclusive environment."
While that is certainly great news, it still doesn't address the underlying problem of sellers not being informed in advance if their items are not allowed to be sold on the site.
Taking away the possibility of a selling restriction is very important, but sellers still face wasted time/resources and lost profits if they source items and take the time and care (not to mention possibly listing fees) to create a listing only to have it removed by eBay after the fact.
If eBay is going to be in the business of deciding which books are allowed to be sold or not, they can and should have an easily accessible list of banned books to save sellers the hassle.
It would also likely save eBay some customer service resources to provide that information in a self-serve manner rather than having sellers contact support to find out why a listing was removed.
And speaking of support - we've all had experiences where the reps on the phone, chat, or social media haven't gotten the latest policy change memo and that's especially true if the only place the new policy exists is buried in post 138 of a ~150 post forum discussion thread.
And what about seller who have previously been suspended? Will they now be eligible for reinstatement and if so, how can they appeal the suspension?
If the policy team really has had a change of heart on this, they need to put it in writing, in detail, on an official eBay help or policy page so it can be easily found and referenced when the inevitable missed memo happens or sellers contact support to appeal a previous suspension.
What do you think of eBay's softening of the banned book policy? Should they still be required to provide a list of disallowed books? Let us know in the comments below!