May 11, 2012

How much is my eBay account worth?

By Donald Ritchie

The other day, a friend asked me an interesting question: What was the value of his eBay account?

My friend has been an active seller on eBay for several years. He has built up a very high feedback score, based on several hundred transactions. He has now moved on to other things, and is thinking of finding a buyer for the account. He reasons that the good feedback score should give it a saleable value, but he doesn't know how to determine what that value is.

Unfortunately, the answer is simple: the account is worth nothing - except to the existing owner. That's because eBay's user agreement explicitly forbids the transfer of accounts:

While using eBay sites, services and tools, you will not …. transfer your eBay account (including feedback) and User ID to another party without our consent.

And eBay is highly unlikely to give that consent. After all, why should they? In fact, there's no information on their site about how to obtain their consent, and no mechanism for requesting it.

There is a possible get-out. If you own a business that happens to have an eBay account, and if you sell that business, the account will move with it, just like any other business asset. In that case, the account will still belong to the business, so there is no transfer of ownership as far as eBay is concerned. However, don't count on retaining the feedback rating in those circumstances. The user agreement doesn't cover this scenario, and the issue is clouded by the fact that the "user" (the person who registers the account) does so as an individual rather than as a business entity.

I reluctantly advised my friend that his account had no saleable value. It's a pity to have to write off the goodwill that he has built up over the years. On the other hand, eBay does have an interest in protecting its buyers. That clearly includes preventing a seller from claiming a feedback score that he didn't personally earn. For that reason, the policy is probably the right one.


  1. I disagree with this "opinion". eBay allows the account to function as a business, as in "corporation". The sale of a corporation transfers the shares to a new owner as the basis of ownership. This transfer has nothing to do with individuals or who signed a lease, a legal contract, purchased assets, or even the registration for the use of the eBay platform. An employee that is working for the corporation had to have been the registrar, which is immaterial. The corporation is the "USER" and they may even have several employees working in their eBay department over the years. Since the time it takes to accumulate feedback and trustworthiness on eBay based upon sales, the value should be as any other profit generating business, which may be form 2x to 5x the EBITA, using past web based business sales as comps.

    1. Thank you for your comment. You made some interesting and useful points.