Friday, 14 December 2012

New website, and an eBay warning...

Hi Everyone,

I have had a week from hell, not the kind of birthing process I had anticipated for my new website, also Karen's Crafting Nook (I know, hardly original but saves me getting confused at my age. :-) )

Karen's Crafting Nook

But here it is, for the moment at least. Once it has served its temporary purpose, it will go back into hiding for a little while so that I can make a proper job of it, rather than a rushed one.

There are things I need to sort, but just haven't had the time available if I wanted to get these seasonal candles and oils out in the public eye.

The idea had been to slowly build up a stock of hand-crafted items, such as hand-decorated and personalised candles, greetings cards and canvas wall art frames. Some are going to be digitally designed items, and some traditional hand-crafting. Then I would enjoy the challenge of putting together a new website, where I could show and sell these items.

This was all going to take place in the new year.

Unfortunately, fate intervened and things turned out very differently.

On 19th November I had a fall, which resulted in a fractured left wrist, now in a cast, and a very severely sprained ankle. Ironically enough, the accident occurred while collecting decal paper sheets from outside, where I had been spraying them with sealant, prior to applying them to candles for a Christmas Fair I had committed to at work.

I was just about able to manage to get to the Fair, but I was left with some items. Due to the accident, I haven't been able to work since the 19th November; the cast hopefully comes off on the 21st December, but I'm still not likely to be fit for work for another 2-3 weeks at least.

Being self-employed, that means no income. I had intended to take the candles and oils into work with me, as there would probably have been some interest. But I'm housebound for the time being.

Never mind, thought I. I can put these remaining candles on eBay - I might get a little to cover the costs, and a bit extra for Christmas pressies. Simples.

NO, it led to the week from hell!

I've posted about my experience as someone thinking of starting a small hand-crafts business on eBay UK on my Facebook page, and I've left a tell-all-about-account on their eBay page.  It really does wonders for your confidence to obviously be thought of as some shady, scam-artist, counterfeiting, copyright-infringing, restriction-avoiding total bad egg. I only tried to post 10 small bottle of my hand-blended Christmas essential oils for room scents. That was all I was allowed. Just trying to make a little income from my own work, when my other resources were currently limited. Especially when there appear to be similar items for sale without problems. 

Perhaps I was in the wrong somehow - but I had read all their links as to what was appropriate - it must be obvious I'm new to this as my other forays have been the occasional sale of duplicated gifts - but I have spent a whole  week trying to get a specific response to my queries, instead of generic references to linked pages, each contact someone different, and I'm still none the ruddy wiser! I'd at least like to know exactly where I erred - not that I'm likely to have anything else to do with them after this! If I did do something wrong, it was not at all intentional.

So, when I should have been resting up and healing, I've been flat out working at the PC. My foot is still quite badly bruised and tender 3 weeks after the event, and swelling in the evening because I've spent all my waking hours putting together a website very different to ones I've done before (THANK YOU so much, MJH of the Serif forums for all your help and support) and I'm slowed down considerably by having only one properly working hand. It's not the webste I had anticipated, but I'm hoping it will do for now.

So far from feeling festive, I am feeling very stressed out. So thanks for that, eBay. Looking at their FB page it becomes apparent I'm not the only one hacked off with their Customer Services and the way they treat people.

This is going to make this a very long blog post but I'm putting it on record here (my eBay post) as well for those who don't do Facebook. You don't have to read the following but I really do not want anyone else to have to go through this.

I'd just like to say thank you, eBay, thank you so very much for the WEEK FROM HELL!

On the 19th November I had a fall that left me with a fractured wrist and a very severely sprained ankle. I was just about able to attend a Christmas Fair at work that I had committed to on the 1st December but I had some stock of hand-decorated Christmas candles and festive essential oil room scenting blends left over. As the fractured wrist and the severely sprained ankle mean the likelihood of at least 5 - 6 weeks off work, with no income as a result I thought it would be a good idea to put the remaining stock on eBay.

Silly me!

Should be a simple job - get them put on, and then spend the time making my Christmas cards, and hand-made presents for family and friends, and just chill out and relax; getting into the festive mood, and perhaps even having a few sales to offset my costs.

How WRONG could I have been!

It took nearly a couple of days to get some photos taken and prepped. I checked the links for what was OK - couldn't see any problem. Spent quite a long time putting the details on.

Some time ago, perhaps 18 months or so I had had a listing for 30-ish of an eBook CD which I had compiled, and had no problems with that. So when I hit the list button, I was a little surprised to get a message that said I could only list 10 items. I had seen this browsing the site but it also mentioned £650 so I had assumed that my little lot of oil blends would be fine as they fell way below that amount.

OK - another browse around the site and it occurred to me that the things I had to sell were hand-made and going to be sold to make a profit, which comes under business use, so decided to set up a business account to cover that, instead of using my own personal account.

This had already taken up the best part of a couple of days, but I relisted the items. Still a 10 item barrier (which made me think how the hell does anyone manage to get a business started on eBay in that case?) so I decided I'd just put up 10 of my essential oil blends. I put them in categories for essential oils and aromatherapy, and home fragrances - essential oils and diffusers. (I see other's have 10 mls bottles of Christmas Blends for sale, with a link beneath that says Sell one like this - so how come they haven't been told the same thing as me?)

I sent off to lift the limitations on my personal account as I might need to sell off some crafting stock I never use, and that said it could take up to 7 days to arrive in the post. It actually came a couple of days later and lets me sell 100 items a month now. (Although frankly I doubt I'm ever going to bother with eBay ever again after this!)

So, 5th December - listing live.

However, a few hours later I got this email from eBay.

5th December

The following listing(s) have been removed because of concerns with your account:

130814581245 - Christmas Xmas Aromatherapy Essential Oil Blends

...The listing(s) removed from your account showed similarities to listings that have resulted in bad buying experiences, such as complaints from buyers that the item is of poor quality or inauthentic. Based on these similarities, please don't relist these items on eBay. For more information about our replicas, counterfeit items, and unauthorized copies policy, go to:

Sellers aren't allowed to avoid limits on their account by listing an item in the wrong category or by intentionally excluding descriptive information in their listing titles. Additionally, you aren't allowed to register new accounts or use other existing accounts to avoid selling restrictions or limits or other policy consequences. For more information about limits on eBay sellers, go to:

Learn more about our rules for listings:

We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.


eBay Trust and Safety

Counterfeit items, duplicas, replicas, copyright - mentioned in the link. ????? These are my own blends/recipes; I'm a qualified aromatherapist I clearly stated they were hand-blended by me. And had a list of ways they could be used to scent the house. WTH? Avoiding limits on accounts? I'd listed 10 items. On one account, which I've later learned is OK to have more than one account, personal and business.

My reply:

Hi there,

I was unaware that I would not be able to sell my own aromatherapy oil blends on ebay. I haven’t claimed them to be replicas or counterfeit items, but if you say they can’t be listed, then so be it. Will I instead be allowed to list 10 hand-decorated candles? It looks like trying to start up a business on ebay is far from easy if I can only sell 10 items a months. Looks like I’ll have to consider alternatives.

As I was sending that this appeared in my inbox:

We regret to inform you that, because of a recent policy breach, your account has been restricted from selling for a period of seven (7) days. During this time you won't be able to list new items, and you're not allowed to register a new account.

Please be assured that your account is not suspended, the restriction will be lifted automatically once the seven day period is over.

While your account is restricted you won't be able to sell on eBay, however you may continue to buy items, leave Feedback, access emails in My Messages and do most other administrative tasks.

Please be aware that repeated breaches of this or another policy may result in a range of actions, including the suspension of your eBay membership. This restriction doesn't relieve you of your obligation to pay any fees that you may owe to eBay.

If you have any further questions, please review the notice that was previously sent to you about this restriction.

Thank you for your cooperation in this important matter.


eBay Trust & Safety

Oh wonderful - instead of seeing that it must have been a novice error, they now made sure that the window of opportunity for time-sensitive items was b*ggered. Nice to know I can still spend money with them....

It was then a kick in the teeth to receive an email from eBay on the 7th talking about kick-starting your sales. Plus a letter thanking me for joining the eBay community and saying Business Seller Support "is available to you, with a team who can call you direct with advice and tips relevant to your eBay account. What's more, it's free.... so book a call today by visiting us at" Great, I thought, I can talk to someone and find out what the hell's gone wrong. Shouldn't have got so excited - click on that link - you get page not found.

So I decided I'd try live chat.

Justin North 15:20:55
Welcome to Live Help, my name is Justin. How may I be of assistance?

Me 15:24:56
I have received a letter welcoming me after registering as a business on eBay. It mentions Business Seller Support being available via a Support Team available between 09.00-17.00 Mon-Fri "so book a call today by visiting us at" Unfortunately this comes up as not found. I would really like to have a chat with someone, having already encountered a big problem on my first tentative outing. Can you advise how I can reach this Support Team?

Justin North 15:25:16
While I am looking into this, is there anything else you would like me to look into for you?

Justin North 15:25:51
Can I have your concern so that I can look into this for you.

Me 15:29:28
My first listing was cancelled as inapprpriate. I had looked to check as I was trying to sell some essential oil festive room blends I had left over from a xmas fair. The email mentioned counterfieting and copyright - which I don't understand as I clearly stated they were hand-blended by me, a qualified aromatherapist. They aren't perfumes or cosmetics. On top of that, I also received a 7 day restriction on selling so can't even try to sell some xmas candles either. As I am unable to worjk at the moment due to a fall leaving me with a fractured wrist and a severely sprained ankle I'd hoped to get a little income from selling on eBay.

Me 15:30:47
As it seems I'm limited to only 10 items a month as well, I'm obviously not going to get very far as my items are only about £4-5 each.

Justin North 15:32:07
In order to resolve your issue, I will connect you with our UK Trust and Safety Team now. Would that be fine?

Me 15:32:47
Yes, that would be fine. I'd just like to try and see just how I've got it so wrong.

Justin North 15:34:26
Thanks for confirming. I will transfer you now.

Me 15:34:40
Thank you.

Ryan Kingshead 15:34:53
Welcome to eBay Live Help, my name is Ryan. Please give me a moment to read your conversation with previous representative.

Me 15:35:36
OK. You will have to excuse my slow replies - typing with one hand is rather slow work.

Ryan Kingshead 15:38:59
Thanks for contacting us in relation to the removal of your listing.

Ryan Kingshead 15:39:04
Please allow me few minutes to review your account details.

Me 15:39:25

Ryan Kingshead 15:41:32
Thanks for waiting.

Ryan Kingshead 15:41:41
I have reviewed your account and found that the issue on your account requires the attention of the relevant team who is specialised to help our members in such cases. What I’ll do now is escalate the issue on your behalf, so you won’t have to email them. They will get back to you with the best possible resolution via email.

Thank you for your response. Is email the only option as it is a long process to write all the relevant stuff down - a phone call would make it a lot easier, if it were possible?

Ryan Kingshead 15:44:05
Karen, as the concerned team don't have a chat line, they will contact you via email only.

Ryan Kingshead 15:44:27
You can expect then contacting you within the next 48 business hours.

Me 15:44:54
OK - that will do then. I look forward to hearing from them. Thank you for your help.

Me 15:45:36

Ryan Kingshead 15:46:51
Thank you for using eBay Live Chat. Have a good evening.

The chat session is being wrapped up.

The chat session has ended.

So still no idea what the real problem is. And notice - no response to the explicit question about the Business Support Team. I was so stressed at the time I didn't realise, but reading it now I notice that was totally ignored.

Did get a pretty prompt response.

Hello karen,

Thanks for getting in touch about the removal of your listings. My name is Rita and I'll assist you with your query.

We removed your listing because we don't allow seller to avoid limits on their account by listing an item in the wrong category or by intentionally leaving out descriptive information in their listing titles. Additionally, we don't allowed to register new accounts or use other existing accounts to avoid selling restrictions or limits or other policy consequences.
Please see our Limits on eBay sellers help page for more information:

I trust this information is helpful. (In a word - NO.)

Kind regards,
Rita Larkin
eBay Trust & Safety

My reply:

Dear Rita,

Thank you for getting back to me.

Unfortunately I still genuinely do not know where I erred. This is the first time I have tried to sell things other than bits and bobs of duplicated or unused presents. I thought I had put the listing in the right category of essential oils and aromatherapy. I thought I had put a correct title. Can you please specifically advise me where I went wrong as so far everything I have received from eBay has been vague generalisations, which have done nothing to illuminate things for me.

I originally started the listing on my personal account, but then realised that it needed to be a business account instead, as they were hand-made and going to be sold to make a profit, so set that up. Are we then only allowed one account on eBay period? I am genuinely trying to set up a small business as an additional income stream to my aromatherapy, especially as at the moment I have a fractured wrist and severely sprained ankle that means I can’t do my normal work for almost two months. I am not trying to avoid any selling restrictions or limits – I just want to earn a little extra income with products I have made myself.

This morning I received a letter from eBay referring to a Business Seller Support Team, of which I am obviously in much need. The letter states they “can call me direct with advice and tips relevant to your eBay account. What’s more, it’s free! ... to book a call visit us at .” However, that url comes up as Not Found, yet another frustration as I really would like to be able to physically talk to someone about all this instead of having to painstakingly (literally) typing it all out.

So I would really appreciate some specific clarification before I get so fed up with it all, especially after all the time I have spent on this these last few days, and yes, I did look at the pages you indicated before I started, and the restrictions and all that but could not see that I did things intentionally contrary to what is stated. If I have, then it is a genuine error on my part, which is why I would like to have it spelled out to me exactly what I have done wrong.

I look forward to your reply.


Karen Lewis

Two days later: 9th December

Hello Karen,

Thanks for your email about the removal of your listings. My name is Nathan and I will advise you.

I have looked at your account and see you were in touch with Rita who said your listings were removed because it appeared you were trying to avoid the limits on your other account.

We're not saying you're not allowed to have another account but if your account has limits on it then you list on another. If you simply listed your items on another account just to avoid the restrictions then that would defeat the whole purpose of having the restrictions.

If you wish to know more about the restrictions and how to lift them please write back to us from the relevant account. I appreciate you feel this situation can be resolved easier over the telephone but I'm afraid we do not offer telephone support for this kind of query.

Nathan Crowther,
eBay Trust & Safety.

As I've been desperately trying to sort out a website of my own since it became obvious that eBay think I'm some kind of scam artist - and websites aren't really the kind of thing you can just throw up in this instance, and I've been spending pretty much every waking hour on it for almost a week - not easy when you only have the use of one hand and have a sprained foot that badly wants to be cossetted and up on a cushion, not sitting for hours at a PC and getting stressed up to high hell - and didn't have the time to waste. I finally replied to this yesterday, Wednesday 12th at 2.04 pm.

Dear Nathan,

I am so totally depressed and stressed out by all this – you cannot believe how much this has made a distressing situation even far more stressful. I have been trying to throw up my own website over the last few days to try and get some income from my handiwork and keep hitting snag after snag – just because it seems that eBay have me marked down as some shady counterfeiting con-artist, trying to dodge restrictions and God knows what else, when all I wanted to do was to put some things on eBay, in a business account separate from my private one. Which from what you say is OK.

I am going round and round in circles, getting nowhere fast, and as for feeling festive, or trying to relax so I can heal after my accident, that is well and truly stuffed thanks to eBay!

No-one has got back with an answer to say what the proper link is to the Business Support Team, and if there is no such thing why is it ( ) put in the letter sent out to me?

Please do let me know about these restrictions and how they can be lifted, although it’s pretty obvious that all the time I have spent on this means that I’ve missed the boat anyway.

And it would be really nice if there was some continuity – every time I send a message, there is the time drag getting back to me, and then it’s someone completely different. I can’t remember now if you are the 4th or 5th person to deal with this. I have tried to reply to this from inside my eBay account but hitting the Reply button does nothing at all in relation to this message. So hopefully this will have to do.

Karen Lewis

Still waiting for a reply to that one!

So thanks eBay for making me feel like some kind of criminal. I am still none the wiser as to how I have digressed, especially when I see others have similar items to mine listed.

So instead of having a fun time crafting, and continuing to heal after my accident during this last week, I have been stressed up big time. It's hard to get in a festive mood feeling like this and at this rate we are wiping out Christmas this year.

Your customer support is laughable, with at least 24 - 48 hours breaks between emails - there is no continuity, and it seems that generalisations alone are the order of the day. I see other posts talking about working to scripts - I think that must indeed be the case. Where is the answer to the so-called Business Seller Support query.

Hacked off is only part of the way I feel about your company. Believe me, this experience is going to be logged on my blog as well as my own page. Let others see how badly eBay treats the little people. I see I'm not alone in being disgruntled with the way you treat people.
So if you are thinking of making a bit of money from your crafting - whatever it is, and I consider my aromatherapy oils blends as a hand-crafted item, just be very wary about using eBay. They might have the buyers gathered together,  but I'd rather work on building my own client base than go through this again. Just my experience.

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