eBay announces more emergency listing restrictions in next phase of anti-price gouging measures

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Following its announcement on Friday to restrict sales of masks and hand sanitiser products, eBay UK is widening its emergency listing restrictions policy to include toilet roll, baby formula, nappies, baby wipes and tampons.

From today, consumers will not be permitted to sell any of these items, as the online marketplace continues to stamp out unreasonably priced listings. Only business sellers will be permitted to continue trading these items at appropriate prices.

eBay announced on Friday it was heavily restricting the sale of all masks and hand sanitiser products from its platform, with only a whitelist of closely vetted eBay sellers permitted to continue trading these items at appropriate prices. Sellers attempting to sell these items not on that list were warned they would find their listings blocked or removed and their account suspended.

New and additional measures are continually being introduced, and eBay’s monitoring and enforcement team was recently more than doubled in size. To date, eBay has removed nearly half a million items relating to coronavirus and has suspended hundreds of seller accounts.

The broadening of eBay’s policy on restricted categories marks an increasingly aggressive stance from the online marketplace in tackling price gouging.

Rob Hattrell, eBay UK vice-president, said: “We do not tolerate price gouging on eBay. For almost two months we have been introducing increasingly tougher measures to tackle this deplorable practice and will continue to suspend the accounts of those who try to exploit other users. The team that is monitoring and enforcing our policies has been more than doubled and we will continue to implement our zero-tolerance stance.

“eBay is a marketplace that depends on our seller community, so we hope that these measures will deter the instances of poor behaviour we have seen. However, we will continue to review our policies in this area, and if necessary, will take even further action to ensure customers only see fairly priced items.

“The wellbeing of our users in the UK has always and will always be eBay’s priority, and we are absolutely dedicated to ensuring everyone can find the products they need at reasonable prices during this difficult time.”

Following the outbreak of coronavirus, eBay had started to see a small but growing number of sellers attempting to exploit other users by listing in-demand products at unreasonably inflated prices – an activity known as ‘price gouging’. eBay has zero-tolerance for this type of behaviour and, like governments and business around the world, has adapted and evolved its policies as the coronavirus pandemic has developed. Since the outbreak, eBay has continuously updated its measures in line with the evolving guidelines from regulatory authorities and governments. eBay is also continuing to support government authorities with their investigations against non-compliant sellers.

Since the end of February, eBay has had block filter algorithms in place and a global security team working around the clock to remove listings and take enforcement action against unscrupulous sellers who persist in attempting to circumvent eBay filters. While the vast majority of non-compliant listings are blocked from appearing on eBay, a small minority are not. Due to the current unprecedented volumes, there may be some delay in items appearing on the site and being manually removed.

eBay is an open marketplace with 1.3 billion listings live at any given time. For over 24 years, it has remained a popular platform for millions of people around the world to trade items – and the overwhelming majority of sellers do not attempt to exploit other users. For example, recent analysis of relevant protection masks sold on eBay shows that 95% were bought at reasonable prices.