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Error when listing. "The item cannot be listed or modified. The title and/or description may contain improper words, or the listing or seller may be in violation of eBay policy."

When attempting to upload an item to eBay you may receive the error message "The item cannot be listed or modified. The title and/or description may contain improper words, or the listing or seller may be in violation of eBay policy."

What causes this?
There are two reasons for this error message.
  1. There may be a restriction placed on your eBay account.
  2. eBay has detected something in your listing that may be improper or in violation of their listing policy.

1. Account Restrictions
You may find that eBay have placed selling restrictions on your eBay account that prevent you from listing new items. You should have received a message in My eBay explaining the problem and what needs to be done in order to remove the restrictions.
In some cases you may have limits on your account or on certain categories and items. These limits are normally in place until you have provided certain information or established a positive selling history. Other reasons for account restrictions or limits include:
  • Not paying your monthly invoice.
  • Registering a new account or using another existing account to avoid buying and selling restrictions or limits or other policy consequences.
  • Not following the rules and polices that apply to the items you were trying to sell.
Further information on seller limits can be found using the links below.
Seller limits for eBay UK
New seller limits for eBay UK
Selling restrictions for ebay US
Selling limits for eBay US

2. Listing Policy Violation
eBay will analyse the text within the title and description of an item in order to determine that it follows the many sets of rules and policies that eBay have concerning listings. Various algorithms are used to search the text for several issues (profanity, illegal/banned products, fee avoidance, etc.). The item will not be allowed if eBay belive that it has violated a rule or policy.

Fixing it
Unfortunately eBay does not return any information as to the reasons behind the message and how to avoid the error. It can therefore be tricky in tracking down what in the item's title or description needs to be changed in order to list successfully. There is however some pointers listed below that should help.
  1. You should familiarize yourself with eBay's overview on rules for listings. There are many examples of what eBay do and do not permit within a listing.
  2. Searching for reasons as to why an item violates eBay's policy should not be restriced to just the title and description. It is often overlooked by users that the information contained within the five tabs, located at the bottom of a template, will be considered as part of the description when analyised by eBay. Since these tabs are applied to all items when listing it is worth examining their contents to reduce the time spent on tracking down errors. Instructions on how to edit the tabs can be found in this article.
  3. Be aware that phrases within a listing can trigger what is know as a "False Positive". For example the phrase "We do not accept Money orders" could mistakenly be considered as offering a form of payment outside of eBay. Other examples we have seen have been due to including the words "insure" or "insurance". E.g. "All handling costs include insurance" or "Insurance is optional but recommended when purchasing this item".
  4. A very rare form of "False Positive" is when the end of one word combined with the beginning of the next word creates an improper word. For example, an item with the title "Belt with metal buckle" would contain the word twit.
  5. eBay rules and policies change all the time and items that have successfuly listed in the past may now no longer be allowed. You should check eBay for more detailed announcments on policy changes.

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