I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with eBay for about 8 years now. If found it handy in the past to try and sell more obscure items on eBay than Craigslist when I didn’t think I would find locals that would be willing to pay what I wanted for the item.
In all that time, one absolute thing has always stood clear to me: I’ve always felt like I was getting fucked when it came time to print out shipping labels.
I couldn’t put my finger on it and didn’t know what I was doing wrong. Year after year, ever time I went to ship a package, no matter how detailed the listing had been, I always ended up coughing up more money for shipping than eBay had charged the buyer for.
I was really incensed by this 2 years ago when I went to sell off about 10 pieces of hardware from a desktop computer I was dismantling. I actually took the time to weight each part in it’s box as well as measure the dimensions before listing it just to make sure eBay charged the buyer the right amount. I figured “hey I can’t go wrong here, eBay/PayPal is integrated into UPS and USPS and they have the dimensions and weight, this will be dead on”.
NOTE: When you enter the shipping method, weight and package dimensions, eBay tells you how much shipping will cost before the listing is posted. It is all automated, no way to get it wrong.
So fast forward to current day and I just got done selling a few things on eBay, one item was 8x8x4 and weighed 6lbs (I listed it at 8lbs to compensate for margin of error). eBay told me the shipping would cost $15, so I listed the item and the winner paid that. When I finally go to print out the shipping using the integrated seller tools, eBay decided that shipping was now 67% higher ($25) that I would have to pay out of pocket:
What the hell… I told eBay the weight, dimensions and carrier method (USPS Parcel Post, the cheapest service USPS offers) 5 days ago, and now the cost of shipping is 25% higher? I smell shenanigans…
I decided to go directly to USPS.com and price out the same package. What I found out was that USPS Priority Mail, the fastest method USPS offers, was 60% cheaper than eBay’s calculation:
I went with the USPS.com purchase and sent the package, but this confirms my long-time assumption that eBay has been dealing in shenanigans when it comes to shipping fees. If the real cost of this package was $18 (or less, since eBay was instructed to price out Parcel Post) where is that extra $10 going? USPS doesn’t need it, and I’m sure eBay and USPS have a mass-discount deal arranged for directing people to use USPS… so let’s say eBay/PayPal’s cost for Parcel Post was actually more like $10 or $12… where is that 100% markup going since it’s coming out of my pocket?
And before you say “Yea, but you compared different shipping methods!” I also calculated the cost for “Parcel Post” (exactly as eBay had) using the dimensions and weight and got an evencheaper quote:
I declare shenanigans all over this…
It is interesting that instead of transparently passing this onto the buyer, eBay saddles the seller with this burden? And what can the seller do, eBay already passed the policy that sellers cannot leave feedback on buyers. So if I found this shipping cost too high (and it’s eBay’s fault) and I decide to cancel the transaction, the buyer will give me negative feedback.
All I’m seeing right now are a bunch of hidden policies and functionality in eBay intended to spur shopping (buyers), increase revenue and leave the sellers with the tab for the whole thing. I also realize this punishing behavior may have a lot to do with the fact that I’m a small-time seller on eBay. I’m sure mass-listers and the big-box stores that were recently allowed to start mass-listing on eBay don’t experience this as they would pull their listings in no time flat.