On September 7, 2013, Ebay officially banned all sales of manufacturer and store coupons across the site. Sellers were warned via an email on July 16 that Ebay was gearing up to impose severe restrictions on coupon sellers and now it's official. The change in policy has one Columbus, Ohio, coupon clipping service up in arms because it affects both buyers and sellers who rely on coupons to stretch their household budgets.
In a move that's left both buyers and sellers frustrated and angry, Ebay instituted the following policy changes for coupon sellers, effective immediately:
- You may sell up to $100 or 25 valid, unexpired, original coupons per month.
- You can't sell more than 25 coupons in a single listing. The allowed 25 coupons per month include multi-quantity listings.
- You can't sell coupons for "free" products. This restriction includes coupons for free items, or coupons where the coupon holder buys a quantity of items at one price, and receives additional items for free.
Jessica Crowe, owner of TheHappyCouponer.com in Columbus, Ohio, says she tried circumventing the system this week by placing Ebay listings to promote her coupon clipping service rather than selling individual, clipped coupons and even those listings have been rejected by Ebay.
Ebay coupon sellers see these limitations as basically a full-blown ban. Twenty-five coupons make up one listing and most coupon clippers sell hundreds or thousands of listings every month. And banning the sale of BOGO coupons means they can't even list their top-selling coupons.
To coupon buyers who use dozens of coupons each week it's like a knife right to the heart of their checkbook. Buyers will now be forced to turn to other, less secure sites to find coupon sellers, but even those will be few and far between. Ecrater.com, another auction site, completely banned all coupon sales just one week after Ebay made their announcement and many other sites are following suit.
Crowe says she's worried for her customers.
“Here at the Happy Couponer we have so many loyal customers who use coupons out of necessity, just so they can afford to feed their families. They've relied on us week after week after week to quickly clip and ship bulk coupon orders so they can take advantage of great deals. And they've been buying from us at Ebay because they know and trust the site.”
“Now, many of these wonderful buyers have followed us here to our new website, but we're worried about those who haven't, and those who were buying coupons from other Ebay sellers who don't know about us. The potential for fraud is huge in this business and now that these unscrupulous sellers don't have to worry about the Ebay feedback and dispute systems, they essentially have free rein to do whatever they please. Most people who use coupons are already pinching pennies just to get by. They can't afford to be scammed.”
Crowe warns buyers to look for the following when they're choosing a coupon clipping service:
- A secure shopping cart system, preferably one that uses Paypal so you don't have to hand your credit card information to a stranger.
- A 24-hour shipping guarantee so you'll receive your coupons while the sales are still going on.
- Easy-to-find contact information including email, address and phone number.
“It takes a lot of work every week to maintain a coupon clipping service website. You have to list each coupon individually, along with the expiration date and other pertinent details, take pictures of each coupon and include them on your website. And then you have to organize and maintain your list to keep it current. I doubt many scammers would want to put forth the effort, especially when you consider the average sale is less than $10. But, you never know. So let's be careful out there, couponers!”
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