Not eBay’s VAT Announcement

abLike many people (see TameBay), I’m staggered by eBay’s breathtakingly arrogant post regarding VAT. You’ll recall that the government announced Monday last that VAT would be reduced from 17.5% to 15% for 13 months starting Monday next. With customers firmly in mind, late Wednesday eBay made an Announcement on a change that will impact many eBay sellers. I used to write Announcements for eBay UK. Here’s my translation of their latest offering:

***Changes to VAT on 1st December 2008 – advice for sellers***

From 1st December 2008, the UK VAT rate will be reduced to 15%. This widely tipped change took us entirely by surprise but it’s only taken two and a half days to come up with advice and guidance for the thousands of sellers who rely on eBay as a source of income.

We’re making changes to so that the site’s ready for the changes. Here are those changes in full:

We are making no changes.

In one of the busiest weeks of the year, we suggest that you spend your precious time amending your listings to reflect this change made by HM Government without consulting us.

We could make have automatically changed the site so that all quoted rates of 17.5% were amended to 15%. We could also have made it easy for sellers to bulk edit VAT rates. But rather than bother our tech team we thought we’d inconvenience the thousands of busy people who pay our wages and ask them to do it themselves.

If you do need to amend your listing here’s what you need to do:

Current listings with no bids or sales made yet:

Simply spend hours tediously amending your listings one by one.

Current listings with bids or sales made:

If the listing has already had sales, you can:
1. wait for the listing to end then edit it and risk sanction from HMRC.
2. end it manually and then edit it. Needless to say, you will still be paying all your fees. There is no bonus for complying with government regulations and helping your buyers.

N.B. If you have paid for ‘Featured First’, end the listing and then relist you will not be refunded for any paid-for benefit you have not received. These redundancies don’t pay for themselves.

Tiny Glimmer of Generosity

Changing your item description will no longer affect your recent sales score, so if you need to change the item description to reflect the new VAT rate your recent sales score will not be affected. Just rejoice.

VAT on fees? Guess what: no change there. We moved to Luxembourg ages ago and it wasn’t for the nightlife.

And to close, we’re going to add insult to injury. Even though we’re running an ad campaign saying that eBay is 25% cheaper than the High Street we’re gonna make a veiled hint saying ‘pass the VAT cut on or else”: With strong competition and early discounting coming from the high street this Christmas season we know buyers are now, more than ever, being attracted to great value bargains.

Worse things happen at Woolworths!


The eBay Team


  1. I almost turned down a best offer today… because that’s now one more listing I can’t edit on Sunday night 🙁

  2. PMSL Dan

    Couldn’t have rewritten it better myself


  3. Spot on!

  4. […] of work involved in implementing this proposed credit crunch defying government change.  Read Dan’s blogand find out the ins and outs, it describes eBay’s take […]

  5. […] Santa’s not the only person making lists this week: Mark Buckingham has 14 sizzling sales tips for eBayers, while Dan Wilson tells us 7 things we need to know about eBay on the always excellent SmallBizPod. Dan also wrote what is, for my money, the best eBay post of the month: I already linked it in our comments but I make no apologies for linking it again: Not eBay’s VAT Announcement. […]

  6. Oh that is just stunning – saw the link on tamebay and came over here unprepared – I now have tea all over my keyboard – thanks for the giggle Dan 😉

  7. […] Make Serious Money on eBay UK, and he’s been known to have a thing or two to say about eBay himself. Not to mention that setting up TameBay was his idea in the first place. We have every confidence […]

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