Starting May 31, eBay will ban sellers from posting hyperlinks on its auction pages, eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said Friday. Some sellers have used the links to whisk buyers to independent Web sites where the seller will finalize sales to avoid paying eBay its auction fees.
Any seller using hyperlinks for that purpose risks being suspended from selling on the giant auction site.
"We were seeing a growing trend," Pursglove said. "We were alerted by some sellers who know the rules and were asking why others were allowed to violate without getting punished."
Since late last year, eBay has stepped up its enforcement of its policy against off-site transactions. These are deals done by sellers who hold auctions on eBay, but then close the sales away from eBay. For example, a seller might contact a losing bidder on eBay to offer that person the same product without going through eBay.
Pursglove said that part of the problem was that the company was too lenient in the past and not clear enough when setting its policy. Some sellers were confused about the rules.
The practice of off-site selling has led to instances of fraud, Pursglove said. Some buyers have complained to eBay that they did not receive the merchandise they paid for after conducting an off-site transaction.
In such situations, eBay must tell the buyer that because the sale was not completed on the site, the customer was unprotected by eBay's buyer-insurance program or other fraud protection services.