Combined Postage and Packing - How It Really Works

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The actual way ebay will automatically work out combined postage costs in checkout is different to how many ebayers think it works.

The way ebay calculates combined P&P is based on items from the same listing. In other words, it only calculates a combined P&P discount for multiple items bought from the same listing. Buy from another listing from the same buyer and the P&P for this item will added at the full P&P charge.

For example a seller has two listings, one for widget x (P&P is £1 + £0.50 for each additional item) and one for widget y (P&P is £0.99 + £0.49 for each additional item).

If you buy 2 off widget x the P&P will be calculated as £1.50.

If you buy 2 off widget y the P&P will be calculated as £1.48.

All that is straight forward. However, if you buy one of each of widget x and one of widget y, ebay will calculate the combined P&P as £1.99. As a buyer you are expecting it to be £1.49.

The term ebay used 'for each additional item' only applies to items from the same listing, not every other different item you could buy from  that seller.

As sellers ourselves we realise this problem and we do not mind giving a combined P&P discount for a multiple purchase of different items from us. I suspect that most good sellers would not mind either. Ask the seller for a total at checkout if you are unsure. Be prepared though, some sellers will not give you that same discounts or work out their discount in the same manner as we would. You lose nothing by asking for a total at checkout and this is the easiest way for a seller to sort out a P&P discount for you.

As a buyer it is generally not a good idea to:

  • Combine the purchases yourself and then pay via paypal without asking for a total and then ask the seller to refund you the presumed P&P discount via paypal.

There may not be one! Please don't assume that this is the case. It's always better to ask first. It's more work for a seller to issue a partial refund via paypal and it makes a mess of the transaction in their ebay selling manager.

  • Buy different items and then just pay for them as separate transaction. Your doing yourself out of a possible discount there.

As with the previous example above, this is likely to be a bit fustrating for the seller if you ask for a P&P discount after you have paid. Your also less likely to get the discount you expect beacuse you'll have cost the seller £0.20 per transaction in paypal fees. Combining items for one paypal payment saves the seller on paypal fees.

TIP:

If you are unsure about any possible combined postage discount just ask the seller for a total at checkout. They will (or should) send you an invoice. Don't expect the sellers discount to match what you calculated if you have purchased different items from them. As mentioned the ebay way, your way and the sellers way of calculating combined P&P for different items may all differ. 

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