How to get the most out of postage discounts on eBay

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Many sellers on eBay offer discounts on posting and packaging (p&p) if you buy more than one item. This guide is about how to make the most of those discounts and includes a step-by-step guide on how to buy multiple items from the same seller.

Check the discount on offer

First things first – be clear about any p&p discount before you buy. If it isn’t clear from the seller’s listings whether they discount p&p for multiple purchases or by how much, its best to ask before you commit to buying. If it isn’t clear on their listings, it’s also a good idea to check before you buy whether the seller is happy to combine purchases over several days (for example, if you are bidding on several auctions with different end dates).

Sometimes it isn’t possible for a seller to offer any discount for combined purchases – it isn’t always the case that two or more items can be sent cheaper, especially since Royal Mail introduced Pricing in Proportion in August 2006. Some sellers (particularly those selling in high volumes) may find it quicker and therefore more cost effective to despatch each item separately.

I offer free p&p for additional items purchased (you pay the highest individual charge) as long as you pay in a single transaction. For example, if you purchased three items with a 70p p&p charge, two with a 90p p&p charge and one with a £1.00 charge, you would pay £1.00 in total for all six items - as long as you paid for all six in one transaction.

Paying for all items together

If a p&p discount is offered, most sellers will want you to pay in a single transaction, rather than for each item individually. Why is this? Its because PayPal and Nochex both charge the seller a flat cost of 20p plus a percentage charge for each individual payment received, so it is more cost effective for a seller to receive one payment than lots of little ones.

How to buy multiple ‘buy it now’ items from one seller

If you'd like to buy several ‘buy it now’ items, purchase the amount of each item you require, click on 'Buy it Now' then confirm your purchase on the next screen. After you've confirmed your purchase, do not click the 'Pay now' button (until you have completed all your purchases). Instead, click the back button on your browser twice which will take you back to the seller’s shop so that you can continue buying.

Many sellers (including me) have eBay set up to automatically calculate p&p discounts. If this is the case, PayPal (or eBay’s checkout for postal payments) should combine your purchases automatically. If it isn’t the case, or you are unsure about how much to pay, just ask the seller to send you a combined invoice, by clicking the "request payment total" link from the listing page for any of the items you've purchased.

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