Digital Delivery on eBay – A Crime or Just Bad Wording?

Thousands of honest eBay sellers and small business owners made additional income on eBay by utilizing the service eBay created called “Digital Delivery” – Until…

Last month when Brian Burke, Director Global Feedback Policy, made an abrupt statement. On March 24th, 2008, Brian Burke announced digital delivery and information products would forever be banned on eBay core listings by March 31st, 2008.  This was explained as a “Feedback Manipulation” issue by Brian Burke. Later Stephanie Tilenius, GM of eBay North America, made a statement indicating the problem was an issue of fraud.

No matter the issue (and we all think neither fraud or feedback are the real reasons), ending Digital Delivery on eBay has effected many honest eBay members in a very negative way. These eBay members have not manipulated feedback or perpetrated fraud, they simply developed information or intellectual products and delivered them in a fast and convenient way. The sellers did this with eBay’s express encouragement for many years.

One such seller is a Disney fanatic and expert. His name is Tim and he has a website and eBay store:

  magicalmousebooks( 674Feedback score is 500 to 999) Member is a PowerSellerMember is ID Verified

You can see Tim’s eBay Store Here: Magical Mouse Books & MoreMagical Mouse

Tim and his wife started selling Disney merchandise on eBay several years ago. But as I said, they are both Disney fanatics and go to the Disney World theme parks as often as possible.

Tim learned about digital delivery from eBay. He researched how it worked and he thought it was a great idea. He just needed something to sell that could be delivered digitally. Tim studied and thought and then one day it came to him…Disney! Disney

Tim and his wife produce, write and edit guides to the Disney Theme parks. This information is not available from Disney and covers topics such as where to stay, what to see and how to avoid the crowds.

These guides sold well and people found the guides to be a good deal. Tim and his wife became big fans of eBay Digital Delivery and are loyal and honest sellers on eBay. Magical Mouse Books & More sells Disney merchandise as well as the downloadable guides, and Tim & his wife also have a Disney World Travel Business.  They did not think of themselves as people who were manipulating anything…nor did their customers.  Tim was simply offering his customers something they wanted – information they needed – and he delivered it in a modern and efficient manner.  In fact, it is the same manner in which airline tickets are delivered across the world in today’s travel industry.

Then it all came crashing down.

Brian Burke made his announcement and eBay ended Tim’s and his customers’ mutually beneficial relationship. Tim had invested a great deal of time and effort into these guides. He and his wife had checked the details, updated the location information and written the guides all on their own. They had an investment in all of these materials.  No matter if they were printed on paper or delivered in bits and bytes, the information still took time and a real concentrated effort to assemble and organize.

Tim was not just going to forget all of that work and leave the guides on his hard drive. He found a way to get the information transferred to DVDs or CDs, printed the labels, found the Jewel cases and the special media shipping packaging…

Magical Mouse relaunched the Disney Travel guides on eBay. Guide

To make life more convenient for his customers, Tim decided that in addition to delivering a real hard copy of his Disney Guides, he would also offer the a downloadable guide at no extra charge to anyone who bought the hard copy.

Tim had heard from many experts that this would not be a problem. In fact, Griff had said on his radio show that this would be an acceptable solution as long as the hard copy of the product was offered and delivered.

Below you can read what happened to Tim on eBay.

Do you think he broke the rules? Are the words “Digital Delivery” banned on eBay even if the hard copy is sold and delivered as well?

Hey Scott,

I thought you’d want to hear about my latest experience with eBay and the digital delivery policy.

We finally got a physical product provider and listed three on Sunday.

Sunday night, eBay canceled all three, saying it violated the DD policy. They cited a specific line of our listing where we stated that in addition to the physical data CD, we would provide a digital copy immediately upon payment.

When we contacted eBay support, they responded that they canceled the listings due to a link violation in one of the three listings and did not address the DD issue at all. It seemed like a canned response. We have since relisted the items and removed as many references as possible to “digital” anything and they’ve stayed up.

Here’s a link to the current listing: eBay Listing

Just thought this might be an experience you might be interested in. Take care.


I think Tim has done everything he can to continue his business on eBay and satisfy his customers. There is no fraud here, there is no manipulation and no link violations.

What is the REAL story, eBay?

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10 Responses to Digital Delivery on eBay – A Crime or Just Bad Wording?

  1. Crabby Patty April 12, 2008 at 11:26 am #

    Wow, this is deplorable, for eBay to basically say that the listings are fine, and then remove them. But it’s just another instance of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing at ebay.

    I checked out the listing and the product looks amazing – great information – and it sure looks like buyers are very happy with the product. So why is eBay throwing out the baby with the bathwater by removing ALL DD items? Stupid, stupid, stupid (and par for the course with eBay).

  2. gatoroxinc April 16, 2008 at 11:58 am #

    Since this article, I had another issue with eBay. They show my item as a DD item in the gallery view under the shipping charges column. When you view the listing, it shows the correct shipping. Mine was the only item among many former DD items that showed this in the gallery view, so I contacted eBay live help, thinking this might cause them to cancel the listings, again. I was told it was a technical issue that they were resolving. A technical issue that’s only affecting my listings? Sounds fishy, but they promised not to cancel my listing….the saga continues.


  3. Lisa Sparks April 17, 2008 at 11:26 am #

    Great article, Scott. Thanks for putting a “face” to the results of eBay’s new changes. Quick observation: Tim’s workaround shows just how resourceful small business owners can be.

    Yes the changes pose a considerable challenge, but truly successful biz owners find a way to make money no matter what. Keep up the great work Tim and Scott!


  4. payless_software April 24, 2008 at 2:22 pm #

    I am quite baffled by this whole “rules change” thing. I just looked up Ebay\Computers and Networking\Software\Digital, Downloadable Software…there are 496 items listed as I type. The policy was supposed to end these listings as of April 1st. I stopped listing in this category because I wanted to follow the rules. Now I’m watching everyone else make money while I sit here and try to figure out a new solution to sell my items (primarily self-authored guides for audio and video programs)

    So, what is the REAL story, Ebay??

  5. TJ May 15, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    Great , DD banned on Ebay… How do I get my Turbolister 2 downloaded now !

  6. PeterP May 28, 2008 at 6:46 am #

    I think Ebay is a bully and instead of letting themselves be treated in that way the sellers should complain to the BBB. Companies like Ebay will never listen without anything other than costly legal procedures, but they would want to show a clean BBB image. A tarnished image is the worst a company of any size wants.

  7. RICK June 22, 2008 at 3:26 pm #


    We all made eBay successfull, and so did this great disney seller who is now being harassed by eBay!

    The solution is obivious, ban eBay and find a new online marketplace to replace eBay!

    e-Bay is now banned for everyone!

  8. Scott Pooler June 22, 2008 at 3:36 pm #


    A couple of months have passed since this article was published, thanks for joining the conversation. I think the Disney seller referenced in the article has moved to a information product delivery model. (He sends a CD or DVD of his e-books). He has no plans of leaving eBay.

    I still do not fully understand eBay’s digital delivery position, especially when they were there at the inception and helped to create the industry.

    There are many solutions they could have pursued which would have protected buyers and still allowed instant delivery of digital content. This is a fact we are all aware of…

    So the real reason for ending digital delivery on eBay could be eBay’s perception of fee circumvention from the category. Think about all of the e-Books which sold on eBay extolling the virtues of using digital delivery on eBay to then build a list and avoid eBay fees completely.

    It was nice while it lasted…

    But a new Sheriff is in town. Maybe you should look into a hard copy solution, rather than fret about what was…

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