eBay suspended my account: what can I do about it?


This week, we’re continuing our series on why the major platforms ban accounts, and we’re turning our attention to e-commerce giant eBay. The company has a whopping 18 million sellers on its marketplace, but with its popularity comes increased attention on usage policies – and sometimes sudden suspensions even when you’ve done nothing wrong. So what causes these bans and what can you do about them?

Why does eBay suspend seller accounts?

eBay bans seller accounts (or sometimes puts them on hold) for a number of reasons, the most common of which include the following.

You have unpaid costs

Your eBay account may be put on hold because you have unpaid money that you owe, such as selling fees to eBay or not having reimbursed a requested refund or claim from one of your buyers.

You have engaged in ‘shill bidding’

Shill bidding is how eBay refers to the practice of when someone places an exceptional bid on an item of merchandise with the aim of artificially increasing its desirability and therefore price and search standing.

You have inadvertently used another’s contact information

Using another person’s contact information for anything outside of transactional purposes can also lead to an eBay account ban. For example, if you were found to be using it for marketing information without permission, or to build paid campaigns, you could see a suspension.

You’re using automated scripts or other ways to access eBay

This is something of a grey area: despite common usage, it is actually against eBay’s user agreement to use robots, spiders and other crawling methods to access the platform’s services.

You’re running multiple eBay seller accounts

eBay is unusual among some of the bigger names in the e-commerce world in that it does acknowledge that you may wish to run multiple merchant accounts to manage separate product lines. However, it still prohibits certain activity that it considers bypassing the rules, such as exceeding your seller limit – which is particularly common for businesses entering a new category, and can make scaling difficult.

How does eBay detect suspicious activity?

A number of these reasons boil down to suspicious activity, particularly running multiple accounts to – from eBay’s perspective – potentially evade rules, or engaging in bidding tactics using other buyer profiles.

eBay, like we have previously discussed with Facebook and Google, uses increasingly sophisticated methods to detect different accounts.

Essentially it boils down to your browser fingerprint. This is the sum of all the pieces that third parties can put together to create a trackable online identity that is distinct from other such ones. It can include all sorts of areas, from basics like your IP, geolocation and time zone, to other specificities like your hardware properties (e.g. screen resolution, media devices, right down to your fonts on your system).

By gathering together this information, it can start to spot inaccuracies or inconsistencies. For example, if you say your account is located in the United States, but you open it with an IP and geolocation from Vietnam, then you will raise suspicions. Likewise, if your technical properties seem improper – such as having default fonts that wouldn’t be installed on the operating system you say you have – then, again, it’s a red flag.

What can you do about if eBay suspends your account?

So to the million-dollar question: what can you actually do if eBay bans your account?

Normally, you will have received a notification in your email telling you of the next steps, often either to settle a balance or to add identifying information under My eBay.

However, as the experience of many on countless forums and social media threads will testify, the chances of having your eBay account reinstated are quite slim, particularly if it’s related to multiple account bans.

Instead, the key is to make sure that you protect them from the very beginning, to ensure that the algorithm doesn’t penalize you even inadvertently when you haven’t actually done anything wrong.

What mistakes do businesses make that lead to eBay bans?

The biggest mistake, certainly in the area of multi-accounting, is to try to run multiple accounts from a single device or trying to add some protection through using dodgy, unreliable virtual machines.

Fortunately, it’s a mistake that’s easily solvable.

There are businesses out there that run numerous accounts, and they do so safely by using virtual browser profiles. A software like Multilogin lets you instead employ virtual browser profiles, whereby you can run each eBay account within its own virtual browser profile environment. Each of these environments is completely segregated – they do not leak among each other – and has its own fully customizable fingerprint. This means that it appears to third-party platforms like eBay as a genuine, distinct device of its own.

You can set up your virtual browser profiles to ensure that your fingerprints are consistent (e.g. that the geolocation matches that of your proxy), helping to robustly protect against the possibilities of an eBay account ban.

If you want to know more, and want to find out how you can join the thousands of e-commerce businesses protecting their accounts, head to our dedicated e-commerce and dropshipping use case page.