Knives on ebay (UK)

Although I buy a few items on eBay I had not sold anything since February 2011. I have been meaning to start again for a long time but what with one thing and a million others it took me till just a few days ago to get to it. I have a lot of unwanted stuff that is too good to throw out. Some of it I could give to charity shops, but to be honest the charities behind the local shops are not the ones that I would necessarily give to – I would rather try to sell things and maybe give some of the proceeds to Freedom from Torture. Anyway, the first thing I tried was a set of steak knives and forks which somehow came to be in my possession a few years ago and which I had never used. I looked them up on eBay and found similar sets for sale, both with and without the original packaging. It seemed like they would probably sell so I listed them.

The procedure was pretty much as I remembered it. An auction (as opposed to “buy it now”), accept the suggested starting price of £0.99, upload a couple of photos, write a brief description, calculate postage. It asked if I wanted to automatically re-list 1 time if the item failed to sell and I said yes (there were no listing fees). There are now 4 days left and although there have been no bids there are apparently 22 people watching the item. As I understand it a lot of buyers like to wait till just before closing to place a bid, so I am still hopeful.

There is a fly in the ointment though. Today I was notified that I had a question about my item. I won’t give the username but they had apparently tried to bid and were prevented from doing so by ebay’s policy on knives. They asked if there was a way we could negotiate outside of ebay. Before the actual message was some text inserted by ebay:

Do not respond to the sender if this message requests that you complete the transaction outside of eBay. This type of offer is against eBay policy, may be fraudulent, and is not covered by buyer protection programs. Learn More at

So I followed that URL and sure enough, they do not allow members to use eBay to contact each other to buy or sell outside of eBay and say “If you receive an offer to buy or sell outside eBay, please report it“. Following that link took me to a general “Contact eBay” page but I gave up trying to work out how to file a report, I guess I won’t bother.

As to why the member was unable to bid, when I received the message I assumed that eBay must have reason to believe they might be under 18. In the UK it is illegal to sell a knife of any kind (including cutlery and kitchen knives) to anyone under 18 (see Knives: the laws on buying and carrying). So I searched for for a policy and found the Firearms, weapons and knives policy on Knives are not permitted for sale on and with limited exceptions which should include my steak knives (Dining cutlery sets that include knives used for eating). However, they do also note that it is an offence to sell knives to a person who is under the age of 18 and presumably only allow bids from people who they have reason to believe are 18 or over (however they work that out).

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