eBay announces additional measures to tackle coronavirus-related price gouging

Press Release

eBay is continuing to take aggressive action against price gouging, including suspending hundreds of accounts; removing hundreds of thousands of listings; and suspending scores of ‘bad’ seller accounts. Specifically in the face masks and hand sanitiser categories, only pre-approved whitelisted vendors will be allowed to sell these items

eBay UK has announced it is to heavily restrict the sale of all masks and hand sanitiser products from its platform in a bid to stamp out unreasonably priced listings. Unscrupulous sellers attempting to sell these items will find their listings blocked or removed and their account suspended.

Only a whitelist of closely vetted eBay sellers will be permitted to continue trading these items at appropriate prices, enabling people to continue sourcing the items they need. Other products will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

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 updated its measures and removed listings that are priced unfairly.

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 taken enforcement action against unscrupulous sellers who persist in attempting to circumvent eBay filters. New and additional measures are continually being introduced, and eBay has increased the size of its global security enforcement team. To date, eBay has removed over 350,000 items relating to coronavirus and has suspended hundreds of seller accounts.

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.

Rob Hattrell, eBay UK Vice-President, said: “Our policy is simple and clear. We do not allow the unfair exploitation of our customers. Price gouging, particularly during this period when people are worried, will not be tolerated on eBay.  We are doing all we can to abolish this selfish behaviour that is having a wider impact across the retail landscape. I can confirm we have already suspended hundreds of accounts and will continue to take all the necessary enforcement action on sellers who persist with this behaviour.   

“The reality is that unreasonably priced listings are already being blocked or removed from eBay. Where users are trying to circumvent our filters, they are finding that people are not buying products at their unreasonable prices. It’s not working for them. We will implement new measures designed to ensure only legitimate sellers are permitted on site and customers will 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.”

This update is part of an aligned global eBay initiative.