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Knowing the Rules for Buyers

eBay policies are rules and guidelines that help to create a safe, fair, and enjoyable trading environment for all eBay members. As a buyer, you're responsible for reviewing and understanding eBay policies as well as all applicable laws and regulations outlined in the User Agreement and in Rules for Buyers - Overview.

Policies and guidelines specifically related to buying an item are:

Learning about eBay's policies before you buy an item will help you avoid unintentionally breaking rules (including the law). When a policy violation does occur, eBay emails the bidders, as well as sellers, that the listing has been ended. eBay policies are updated to respond to marketplace, eBay Community, and security issues, so it’s important to check them regularly for changes.

eBay’s policies are intended to:

  • Support government laws and regulations

  • Minimize risks to buyers

  • Provide equal opportunity to all buyers

  • Protect intellectual property rights

  • Provide an enjoyable buying experience

  • Support the values of the eBay Community

Violations of these policies may result in a range of actions, including:

  • Listing cancellation

  • Limits on account privileges

  • Account suspension

Non-payment of an item

Most items on eBay are offered in auction-like listings and involve submitting a bid. Bidding is meant to be enjoyable, but remember that each bid you place enters you into a binding contract.

Buyers are not permitted to win items at auction or buy an item in a Buy It Now listing without paying. Not paying can block legitimate buyers and disappoint sellers. To understand what happens when payment is not made, please see Unpaid Item Policy.

Bidding policies

To promote a safe, fair, and enjoyable trading experience, eBay has established a set of bidding standards and guidelines. The following activities are not permitted on eBay:

  • Transaction interference  Contacting other buyers by email to warn them about a seller or item is not permitted. 

  • Misuse of the bid retraction option  Manipulating the bidding process to discover the current high bidder’s maximum bid. 

  • Shill bidding  Bidding to artificially increase an item’s price or apparent desirability.

To keep eBay a safe place for buyers, eBay limits the display of your bid history information. Other members can’t view your member-specific information—such as your user ID—on the Bid History page. All bidders are assigned anonymous names, such as x***y, which are used consistently throughout an item’s bid history. When you bid on an item, your user ID is shown only to the seller of the item.

Regardless of the current high bid, when the reserve or Buy It Now price is set at a certain level, your user ID will appear as an anonymous name throughout the duration of the auction, even if the seller lowers the price.

Notes: Anonymous names may appear more than once in the bid history and may represent different bidders from different auctions.

Buying policies

  • Buyers who do not meet the seller’s terms as outlined in the item listing are not permitted to bid on or buy the item. In addition, buyers are not permitted to place bids or purchase items with the primary intent of disrupting a listing. This is known as unwelcome and malicious buying

  • It is a violation of eBay policy for a buyer to contact a seller and offer to purchase the listed item outside of eBay.

Rules for all members

Additional rules and policies apply to all eBay members and are part of the transaction process. These include:

These include:

  • Providing false contact information – Your identity is a building block in the eBay community. Both buyers and sellers are required to maintain accurate and up-to-date contact information to facilitate communication.  

  • Feedback abuse, withdrawal and removal – Feedback is a valuable indicator of a buyer’s or seller’s reputation on eBay. Your reputation as a buyer is established by the score and comments from your trading partners. Learn more about Feedback Policies.

To know about other rules that apply to all members, see Rules for Everyone Overview.

Reporting violations

eBay monitors listings, including reviewing reports of policy violations from its members. To report violations, locate the policy that is being violated, review it, and report the violation using the links provided on the appropriate policy page. You can also click Help at the top of any eBay page and then click the "Contact Us" link on the left side of the page.

Make sure to include the appropriate information, including any relevant emails, with full descriptions in the subject line and complete email headers. Your participation and vigilance as part of the eBay Community is invaluable in helping eBay to help you to be a successful buyer.

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