Beware Sellers profiting from Postage and Packaging

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Isn't it amazing, that despite eBay's assurances that they will deal with wayward sellers on eBay, just how many sellers still manage to get away with your money unfairly?

I am referring to Postage and Packaging charges. Most sellers are reasonable when it comes to such charges, but once in a while (and I have had dealings with far more than my fair share) you come up against a seller who thinks he is right and his customers are wrong. He is not at all interested in keeping his customers happy so that they will become repeat customers - no - they defend their activities to the hilt, often becoming offensive in the process, and you are either forced to leave it alone or go to the lengthy efforts to get eBay to deal with them (and believe me, that is a very lengthy and arduous undertaking).

Here is a recent example. I won a book for 7p (the start price was only 1p - a ludicrous start price considering it cost him 5p to list it!) and the postage and packaging charge was £3.99 - I thought to myself, OK, padded envelope to protect the book, plus postage first class and a little on top for handling - fair enough. I paid my total of £4.06...

The parcel arrived - it was a hardback book wrapped only in a thin piece of brown paper and posted large letter rate at a cost of 98p. Well, I felt that unfair as the book had not fared well through the postage system, and emailed the seller as follows...

"Hi. This book arrived today. I was astonished to find it wrapped in only plain brown paper, no padding or anything, yet you charged £3.99 for postage and packing when the item only cost 98p large letter rate. I don't wish to kick off, but one piece of brown paper does not cost £3.01. With eBay currently clamping down on unfair postage/packing charges, I am hoping you have simply made a mistake and intend to refund a substantial proportion of the over-charge. Kind regards. Tony"

A fair enough message? Polite? I thought so.

Here is his reply...

"Hi. We do not think it is necessary to bubble wrap books as they are not a fragile item and have not had any other complaints so far. The postage charges are very clear at the beginning of the auction and I believe that if you wasn't happy with paying £3.99 postage charge then you shouldn't of bid. The postage charges we make also include ebay & paypal fees, time & ink, petrol & packagaing equipment. After all deductions including postage we have only made around £2. It wouldn't be worth selling books on ebay if we were taking any less. So I am sorry that you are unhappy but unfortunately the auction was very clear on postage costs and you agreed to pay them when you placed a bid."

Hmmm - so what is wrong with this? Well, for starters, he says he only made about £2 on this auction - how odd seeing as the auction only sold for 7p. He has admitted fraudulently obtaining money as profit from his postage and packaging charges. Secondly, and most blatantly, he admits to factoring in his eBay fees and his PayPal fees, both of which are in contravention of eBay's policies.

Now any seller worth his salt and interested in continuing to successfully trade on eBay would have seized on the opportunity as suggested in my email to make amends and keep his customer sweet, so that he may come back to buy more of his items in future. After all, as a seller myself, I know that repeat buyers are the cornerstone to my success. If I had been in that position as a seller, I would have said 'you're right, sorry about that, I shall process a partial refund'. Not so in this case

He stated he has had no complaints so far - but how many of us buyers actually check the postage amount when the item is received and how many of us don't check the condition of the item against that stated in the auction? I only noticed because I was affronted at the flimsy packaging for a book that can easily get damaged by corner knocks as it goes through the postal system (and indeed did).

So, fellow eBayers, start checking your parcels - see what the postage actually was and look at the packaging - was it second hand packaging (no cost) or new? And then query the matter with your seller - don't let them get away with your money and don't let them profit from postage and packaging.

eBaying can be good and it can be fun - but you do have to be canny and quite wary. If you're in the habit of buying the same sort of goods, you will get to know how much they cost to send in the mail - query postage charges before bidding (something I should have done but felt I didn't need to because I wrongly assumed the seller would be interested in making sure I got the item in good condition and quickly).

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