Guide To Buying Digital Scales For Calculating Postage

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If you are buying weighing scales to calculate postage costs for printing your own postage labels, or just for the calculation of likely postage costs for items you are selling, be careful when buying your scales on eBay.

Many sellers have realised, quite rightly, that this is yet another potentially lucrative market now that eBay/Paypal is pushing the print your own postage labels idea and a whole range of digital weighing scales (typically for the kitchen) are now available at prices that, yes, are generally allot lower than elsewhere online and which seem to be a bargain.

However, there are four things to consider here:

i:) Most of the scales can be purchased in the trade price/discount supermarkets allot cheaper (and without the postage costs).  This is not unusual in itself - eBay and PayPal fees alone can add over 25% to the price of an item even without any optional extras, but some sellers are currently selling their scales at a price several times the cost of these retailers for identical or even inferior quality items!

ii:) Do you receive batteries with the scales? - Some of the scales require button type batteries, whilst others may require "E" type (9v), AA or even AAA type batteries, so maybe now is a good a time as any to consider buying a battery recharger, too (Ni-Cd rechargeables are usually cheaper batteries to choose if you do buy a charger, and a massive mAh figure is not necessary for weighing scales, but may be useful because the batteries could also then be used to power your Walkman, camera, bike lights, radio... think how much you would save in a year...?).

iii:) You need a decent sized measuring surface in order to use your scale for calculating postage costs or you may struggle getting items to balance correctly whilst you weigh them. - A square topped scale is best for this, but not all the scales have a square top and some scales have their top set inside a rim, meaning that you will not be able to weigh anything that does not fit inside the rim. - A small number of sellers also add items to their scales prior to photographing to disguise or even hide the top of the scale, so check the images before buying!

iv:) Most of the images on the listings make the scales look quite large, so the postage costs of £4, £5, etc. may seem quite reasonable. - In fact, bare scales (not sold with a battery or jug/bowl/etc.) are unlikely to exceed 10" x 10" x 5" or 25cm x 25cm x 12.5cm and weigh next to nothing. - About £2.51 by 1st class post or £2.13 by 2nd class post (both including packaging).  Recorded Delivery currently costs about 72p more per item.

Some sellers will also try to justify their inflated postage fees with excuses like "...the postage covers both postage and packaging - eg: packaging materials and also petrol to get to post office, car park charges, time spent queuing etc..." and "...the p&p costs were clearly set out in the auction, your bid on the auction says you are willing to pay the amount entered for the item plus agree to the sellers p&p costs...".

For the first, if you are a small seller you will most likely post items when you are doing your shopping or other day-to-day tasks, whilst large-scale sellers are more likely to have an arrangement with the Royal Mail or a courier service, or they will take a number of items to be posted together in one go.  Whichever, a seller should not charge time spent queuing in the post office, car parking charges, etc. to the buyer!  Neither should sellers be using inflated postage charges as a way of sidestepping eBay charges (eg: £8.00 with £6.00 postage as opposed to £12 with £2.00 postage, which would attract larger eBay listing fees).

The second excuse is highly questionable: when a buyer enters into an agreement to buy something they are trusting the seller to charge them a fair postage amount; that is, an amount necessary to get their item from the seller to the buyer taking into consideration the service that is to be used (eg: Royal Mail, courier, etc.) and which delivery method offered by that service would be most appropriate for their requirements. - This is what a buyer is paying for on the delivery side of things, and is all that they should be paying for on the delivery side of things!

Personally I find that including packaging costs with the item [50p easily covers a bubblewrap envelope and cardboard sleeve, especially when many sellers (myself included) reuse packaging materials from items they have received] works best because then a fully accurate and totally unobfuscated postage charge can be given to the buyer.  This also helps avoid the buyer giving a low rating on postage costs charged when leaving feedback.

I hope that this guide is of some use to people searching for a digital weighing scale to suit their needs and in helping them avoid getting overcharged.  Please feel free to contact me with any queries about this guide or should you feel that anything further needs to be mentioned in it.

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