17 eBay Selling Errors That Make You Invisible To Buyers



by Admin Joe

Published – Dec 29th 2017



eBay is great platform for sellers to trade on. This is why you should avoid making missteps that could hurt you, your business and most importantly your buyers.

It’s foolish to make repeat mistakes on eBay particularly as a seller. You’re not special and neither am I. Buyers can easily turn their backs on you and then go off to the plentiful other sellers. These other eBay vendors will provide just as good service or sometimes even better than you’re capable of.

If this isn’t a wake up call, then I don’t know what is. I’ve messed up several times on eBay so I know this first hand. Customers won’t give you many second chances so try to get it right first time.


“eCommerce leaders will have to keep up with these changes (and others) to survive and stay ahead.” Linda Bustos (expert in eCommerce)


I used the above quote because it gives off a very adapt-or-die kind of approach. I think is very relevant to doing well as an eBay seller. eBay itself is changing right alongside the needs of eCommerce customers. It means that we as sellers need to change too.

You will also need to adapt in order to keep your nose ahead of the other sellers. They may be doing great things for their buyers that you might be missing out on. You can even distinguish yourself by offering something completely original that your competitors aren’t wise to.

As it stands, there are 171 million+ members on eBay. This is a good and bad thing. It means that there is more competition between sellers which makes things harder. This is down to the market is becoming even more saturated.

Although, at the same there is much more business than ever from new buyers. As a matter of fact, there are almost 7 times more buyers than sellers on eBay. This should give you a glimmer of hope as long as you don’t fall into any traps. I intend to help you with this.

There are things you can do to stop tragedy from ever striking. Here are a few hiccups that you will want to prevent from happening.


facepalm 17 eBay Selling Errors That Make You Invisible To Buyers mistakes online eCommerce


1. Over-blocking

It can sometimes feel like your work is never done when it comes to blocking. The people who I tend to block most often are non-paying bidders. However, there are a lot of good eggs on eBay who don’t deserve your wrath.

If you have a regular customer that commits the occasional minor offence then you may see it fit to let them off the hook. You don’t want to shut down people on eBay who want to hand you their money after all now do you?

Try giving some slack before you decide to block a buyer. Most of them are reasonable and want to do business with you so only block if you have a very good reason. I would advise that you only block someone if their actions are severely hurting your income.

This is done by adding their usernames to your block list and they will never bother you again. You can block up to a maximum of 5,000 eBay buyers so block diligently. It would be wise to prioritize keeping the worst offenders on your list comparatively.


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2. Picking the Wrong eBay Categories

Putting the correct item into the correct box is important for customers to find what they’re searching for. You wouldn’t list a games console in the ‘women’s clothing‘ category would you?

Make sure that you are diligent when selecting the specific category for your eBay listing. If you pick the wrong one then you may be filtering out thousands of potential customers who will not see your listing.

It could be the case that more than one category is applicable for the item that you’re selling. I’ve found myself in this situation before. In this case, you need to pick the category that most closely describes your item.

The categories are extremely useful when a customer is searching for a product (which will hopefully be one of yours).


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3. Cancelling eBay Listings

Admittedly, there are occasions when you will have no choice but to cancel a listing. This can be if you are short on inventory (I’ve been there) or any other serious reason. That’s fair enough.

Having said that, you should make an effort to avoid cancellation wherever possible to prevent buyer disappointment. If you cancel a live eBay listing then they might charge you a small fee if there are any active bids or orders.


4. Mistiming your eBay Auctions

eBay auctions can run for either 1, 3, 5, 7 or 10 days. It’s common sense that you would want it to be active for the full 10 days. You will be getting maximum visibility that way.

A decent strategy that I use is to start your 10 day auction on a Thursday evening. This then means it will end on the Sunday evening after next. Sunday is a good day for people to be online so they will be paying attention to the final minutes of your auction.

Doing it this way also means that you will be getting 2 weekends worth of exposure. This is great as this is when most people won’t be working.

Why would you end an eBay auction on say a Tuesday morning, when the vast majority of people are at work getting chewed out by their boss?

Schedule all your listings (not just auctions) so that they cover popular periods of time like weekends. This is when they will get the most exposure.

If you sell overseas then you will need to think about time zones as well, especially the US where you will get lots of business. This is down to the United States having the biggest portion of the world’s internet users.


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5. Only using eBay auctions for every item

The two main options they give you when listing an item on eBay are buy it now or auction. Auctions have their time and place so you shouldn’t use them all the time for every scenario.

Auctions only let you sell one item for each listing. This is a let down if you have a large quantity of the same item that you need to shift. Also, you will have to pay the insertion fee for every single item.

Unlike fixed price listings on eBay, Google doesn’t index auctions. This can be a real disadvantage for the seller as they are missing out on a wealth of exposure.

This is mainly down to the price constantly rising on auctions which can be hard to get a handle on. Also there is the fact that auctions only last a few days. Google might not get around to implementing it on their search engine in this short time frame.


Stagger the publishing of your eBay listings out consistently over time so there are no big gaps in between. Click To Tweet


6. Breaking the eBay User Agreement

I would recommend that you try to stay in eBay’s good books if you want to form a long-term business on their platform. To do this you will want to get familiar with the rules of the site.

The rules on eBay exist for good reason in order to protect both buyers and sellers. Breaking any one of these tenants may result in being forced to forfeit your fees. Police involvement can sometimes occur in the most severe cases.

I’ve never got into any real trouble before. Just use your common sense and don’t do anything you know you’re not supposed to be doing.

Research eBay and Amazon to sell more

7. Dodgy SEO Methods

If you are not familiar with SEO (or search engine optimization) then let me fill you in on the basics. It’s essentially a method that people use in order to get more traffic for their content from search engines. There is good SEO and bad SEO.

You will want to stick with the good techniques such as providing quality content with accepted marketing practices.

Certain sellers are prone to using black hat SEO techniques. Examples include poor quality backlinks or keyword spamming in order to attract more traffic. This is when you use a particular keyword more times than necessary in an unnatural way in order to rank highly.

If you use any of these bad methods then you could be punished by eBay, Google and other search engines with a decreased search ranking. This essentially shooting yourself in the foot OUCH.

You will disappoint your customers and it will eventually hurt your business so there are no winners here.


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8. Lying & Misleading

There’s a reason why your Mother taught you not to tell lies. Well, it turns out that this can help you in the world of business. Any kind of business is built on trust so always act with honesty because that’s what buyers want.

You should be honest and avoid creating misleading eBay listing that may give you an unfair advantage. This includes both the title and the contents of the description. Don’t exaggerate or paint the item as something that it isn’t.

Your nose won’t start growing at an unrelenting rate like Pinocchio. On the other hand, dishonesty will really hurt you business. When eBay buyers decide to express bad word of mouth, you’ll definitely know about it.


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9. Showing the eBay Reserve Price

It’s entirely your decision whether you want to hide the reserve price from bidders. Conversely, you could be open and make it clear in your listing.

It might in your best interests to choose not to show it, as it may stifle your auction price if you do. They know too much. Why would it benefit you to let them know what the reserve is? After all, the reserve price is there to maximize your profits.

I would suggest you keep it hidden. This is because eBay bidders will see it and purposely stop bidding just after the reserve has been met. They have little motivation to go higher.


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10. Competing with yourself

Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy in business. I wouldn’t advice listing multiple eBay auctions of the same item at the same time. This can kill your bids if bidders know that they can get the same item for a cheaper price in your other auctions.

Be strategic and spread them out over time. You could stagger your eBay listings out over the year consistently so that there are no huge gaps in between.


11. Shill Bidding

Shill bidding (bidding on your own auctions to push up the price) is illegal. It will result in major consequences such as eBay account closure and sometimes even legal action.


If you select the wrong category then you filter out thousands of buyers who won't see your eBay listing. Click To Tweet


12. Actively selling to friends or family

Similarly to shill bidding, you can’t actively sell your own items to yourself or friends and family on eBay. Your buddies may want to help your business out with their custom but unfortunately this is against the rules. You can’t ask people you know to indirectly shill bid on your auctions for you either.

Someone you know might unwittingly decide to buy one of your products. This could be without knowing that you are the seller and without your instruction or awareness. If this happens organically then that’s okay. There is nothing you can do to prevent that eventuality so you won’t get in trouble.


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13. Expecting Instant Results

From a newbie’s perspective, eBay selling might look like a piece of cake from the outside. However, we sellers know that there is much more to it than meets the eye.

Buyer may take a while to notice your eBay business when you start. When you first join eBay they will assign you a ‘new member‘ icon. This can be a disadvantage mainly for sellers as experienced buyers will not trust you very much.

The icon will disappear just over a month after you first sign up so it won’t last forever. Keep working hard and your efforts will be rewarded.

Money isn’t just going to come rolling within your first few months, at least not big money anyway. This is why you should lower any high expectations for the time being.


new member eBay online selling errors mistakes eCommerce


14. Banned eBay Items

eBay does not allow you to list any of the following:

  • food
  • guns
  • knives
  • offensive material
  • fake/counterfeit items
  • food, competitions
  • healthcare products
  • artifacts
  • Government or police material
  • lock-picking products
  • other people’s personal data
  • stolen goods
  • prescription drugs
  • left-handed screwdrivers

Your eBay may suspend your account if you try to sell any of the products mentioned. Just kidding about the left-handed screwdrivers, even though they don’t really exist.


15. Strong Language

eBay doesn’t take well to sellers or buyers using foul language or any other type of verbal abuse. They do not allow this on listings, messages or on any other community feature on the site such as forums. Blasphemy!

Again, this all comes down to putting across a professional attitude to your customers. Treat other people how you want them to treat you (this is also a great life lesson in general). You should avoid expletives no matter how tempting it might be with some unsavory characters.


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16. Bartering too much

When you are negotiating using the best offer feature you don’t have to accept it. Yourself or the eBay buyer can always decline the offer if neither party is content and suggest a counter offer.

You can prolong doing this but I wouldn’t push it too far as you might frustrate the buyer. You may end up talking yourself out of the sale. Try to find a fine balance between not being too greedy and not being a push over.

There is also the fact that buyers don’t like wasting their time with long, drawn out negotiations. I’ve made the mistake of taking too long which can annoy customers with limited time.


best offer eBay online selling tips eCommerce bartering negotiations mistakes errors


17. Losing patience with new eBay members

We were all newbies to eBay at one time so don’t be too harsh and snap at people who don’t know what they’re doing.

You have to be patient with new buyers on eBay as they are still learning the ropes and may be slow on paying up. I can understand the pain but you can even message them with help to speed up the process if they need it.



I hope you can learn from these errors before you get the chance to make them. Whichever way you look at it, treating buyers with respect and kindness is the main point to take away from all this.

Why not see if you can think of any other eBay errors that I have missed? You can then make a note of them as a reminder to steer clear of.

I would suggest you look at these points and get straight to fixing your own listings. That’s if you think that you’ve made any of these mistakes.

On a more positive note, you might think it a good idea to check out my 53 Epic eBay Selling Tips To Skyrocket Your Profits & Reputation list so that you can truly excel on eBay.

Have you ever suffered repercussions for any mistakes you might have made while selling on eBay? What’s the biggest eBay no-no you can think of? Please don’t forget to share this with your friends and comment below. Thanks for reading!


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