In an open letter to customers yesterday, eBay said it would begin enforcing its long-standing policy that prohibits the use of banner ads in areas reserved for auctions.
The letter, which appeared in eBay's "community" area, told users that because eBay had refrained from littering the site with ads, it "expects the same" from users.
"Our customers like the fact that eBay, for the most part, is free from ads," said eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove, attributing the company's move to a rise in customer complaints in the last two months.
"The ads would lead customers to believe that clicking on them would provide information about the merchandise being auctioned," Pursglove said. "Instead, the link would send them to an advertisement about an unrelated product or service."
The move comes as the leading online auctioneer contends with several issues involving its auction policies. Last week, the Justice Department initiated an investigation into eBay's efforts to block third-party search engines from accessing its auction listings. In addition, the company last week said it would ban auctions of items that promote hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan because of pressure from anti-hate groups.
eBay said it will continue to allow sellers to link to companies such as credit card firms that help in the sale of products. It will also continue to allow users to provide links to their personal Web pages.
As for how eBay plans to enforce the rules, Pursglove said the process would start with a written warning. "Once users are made aware of policies, they have shown that they will adhere to them," he said.