4 October 2007
Welcome to this postage guide; hopefully a useful document to try and explain to buyers what you are getting when you pay for your postage. If it sounds patronising at points, then I'm sorry, but this is designed to be informative. This is by no means, therefore, written with the intention to be a rant at P&P ignorance in general. I'm just trying to help defend honest eBay sellers (like us hopefully), that charge honest prices for P&P, and indicate what that generally includes. Rather than a wall of text, hopefully this should turn out to be a good read. If not, then there really is no pleasing you. Read on if you want to know more...
I suppose I should firstly explain how this guide came into fruition. About a month ago, we received some neutral feedback relating to our postage charges on camcorder tapes. Slightly concerned, considering we have a (fairly respectable) rating of 4.6 out of 5 for this from over 7000 buyers, I felt obliged to reveal some aspects of exactly what your payment covers. "Pah (is that still used as a reaction?), I hear you say, it's only a bit of neutral feedback, what's your problem?" The problem is that no seller wants anything other than positive feedback, let alone feedback we perceive to be unjustified.
I hope this guide will therefore help to shed some light on P&P, or at least what we deem it covers in our case.
Well, let's start with the obvious. The actual postage charge for the item. The numbers you see on the franking label are not an illusion. That is the figure that that the fantabulous postal service charge us for the honour of getting your item out of our door and into your's. With me so far? Excellent. Now, some eBayers appear to think that the cost of postage should match this precisely. Well, this is a bit unfair. If this were the case, you would be paying for simply 'P'. So what do we sellers define '&P' as? Well, if I could divert your eyes to the next paragraph, I can tell you.
Materials. More than you might think. Say you visit our eBay shop, buy an item and pay for it straight away. You then receive it quicker than a greased ice-skating whippet, and notice that the postage charge on the franking label is not the same as the price you paid for the item. Well, what is said item packed in? In many cases, a Jiffy Bag. Well, as someone before me said, you get nothing in life for free (I would argue oxygen would be an exception, but then I'm not one to be petulant), and this applies to the humble Jiffy Bag, or cardboard wrapping, or whatever else. In some cases, we may use brown paper and Sellotape. "Far out", as the young whippersnappers would say, whilst parting their hair from their face in a curtain-opening fashion. I haven't even mentioned the occasional 'Documents Enclosed' wallets. Until then, obviously.
OK. What else? What's inside the packet? An invoice you say? Most probably printed on label paper I'd imagine. Not free either. One of the few occasions where the old "it doesn't grow on trees" cliché falls flat on it's smug face. I think that the majority of people reading this would know how much ink costs these days as well, so that's something else to consider. Hopefully you're starting to see where we're coming from with the charges...
Woah, did that nearly turn into a rant? Sorry.
Lastly, unless there are multi-national fancy-dans with machinery to do it for them, there's the actual human process of packing your item. Now, for many sellers, this would involve a great deal of time, especially if you, the buyer, have bought a particularly bulky item. This unfortunately applies to our company too. Can a value be put on time? Well, yes, but the problem is that everyone will have their own way of calculating it. Hey, that's actually not a bad quote. Maybe one for the autobiography. It's easy enough if you hire someone (or an army for our M-N friends) to do it - you just take into account their salary, but if you're a one-man/woman operation, it's a bit more difficult.
Well, that's it. The by no means definitive guide to what P&P really is. I can't believe one bit of neutral feedback lead to all of that. Of course, this description will vary from seller to seller, but if one person, after seeing this, is a bit more accepting of an honest seller charging an honest P&P price, then this has been worthwhile. Eurgh, that was cheesy.
Hopefully this has been a pleasant, easy-going and ultimately educationally nutritious use for your time. If it hasn't, then sorry, no refunds.
P.S. If, for some reason, you think this is good enough to copy, paste, and pass off as your own work, then shame on you. You should know better. You've let eBay down, your parents down, and worst of all, you've let yourself down. Go on, stand and face the wall, before I set the lawyers on you.