Items You Should Never Sell on eBay

a woman holding a tray of cupcakes

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eBay is the world's largest marketplace and the rules for selling items are pretty liberal. The rules are so liberal in fact, that eBay shows more than 800 million listed items for sale at any given time. But, there are a few items that don't make sense to sell on eBay, or that are high risk in terms of scams, fraud, or safety. Here are five items you should never sell on eBay.

Handmade or Homemade Food Items

While baked goods, candies, and other foods meant for human consumption are allowed on eBay, take a few moments to think through the implications of selling food products can be far-reaching.

First of all, any food items that are sold to another person through a retail or wholesale venue (either online or in person) must have been prepared in a commercial kitchen that has been inspected by local authorities.

In other words, before you bake up a batch of Aunt Betsy's famous brownies, your kitchen must be licensed by your state and you must have a permit. You will also need to consider liability issues. If someone gets sick from eating something you baked or prepared, you can be sued.

If you have watched the news lately, you have seen reports concerning salmonella, listeria, botulism, and E. coli. You definitely don't want to be responsible for someone getting sick, nor do you want to be sued. If you aren't already in the business of selling food products, eBay is not the place to start.

Unauthenticated Designer Handbags

Designer handbags are one of the main products that fuel the counterfeit industry. eBay does not tolerate the selling of fakes. Unfortunately, many people don't realize the bag they have is a fake, or they think it is ok to sell it on eBay if they disclose it is fake. Wrong!

Before selling any designer handbag, have it authenticated by a service like Authenticate First. eBay can pull the listing if it is a fake, and your account can be suspended. eBay also has a watchdog program called VERO that monitors the most commonly faked brands including:

  • Coach
  • Fendi
  • Prada
  • Gucci
  • Vuitton
  • Kate Spade
  • Hermes
  • Tory Burch
  • Stella McCartney

Large or Bulky Items

Always think before you consider selling an item on eBay, "How will I ship this?" Sure, items can be listed for local pickup, but it is actually easier to sell those kinds of items on Craigslist or a Facebook Buy Sell group for free. Obviously, it is going to be very difficult to ship a washing machine, dining room set, or queen size bed. This one is about common sense. 

Wedding Gowns or Formal Dresses

These are high return items. Here's how the story usually goes. You list a gorgeous wedding gown for several hundred dollars you found at Goodwill for maybe 20 bucks. You even paid to have it dry cleaned so it is ready for a bride to wear. The item sells, you ship it, and the buyer is happy.

About three weeks later, you receive a return request. Guess what? The wedding is over and the bride doesn't need the dress anymore. Because of eBay's Guarantee, the buyer is within her rights to return the dress within 30 days of the receipt date. The seller is required to accept the return under eBay's guarantee.

This is a common scenario with bridal wear, formal dresses, or anything is intended to be worn at a special event. (Note: One workaround is to attach a Tyvek wristband to the clothing in a prominent place. If the person wears the garment, the band will show. If they cut the band off, the item isn't eligible for a full refund.) 

Digitally Delivered Goods

eBay used to allow the sale of digital products including:

  • eBooks
  • Video Courses
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Video games
  • PDF files

It is permissible to sell digital items, however, they must be physically shipped to the customer. For example, if you can sell eBooks and video courses, but they must be delivered on a CD to the customer through the mail. The item will have a tracking number. Also, the seller must include this verbiage on the listing:

"I will send this eBook by postal mail. Sending it by email or by any other digital delivery method is not allowed and violates eBay policy."

Before listing anything on eBay, make sure to check the eBay Help section to verify the item is allowed on the site. eBay changes the rules frequently, so don't make assumptions. If you can't find a sufficient answer, call eBay at 1-800-540-3229.