What is a fair amount for postage, packing, shipping and insurance, if offered? In this article, we will use the term shipping to include postage, packing and all relevant costs.
Should You Gave Negative Feedback For Excessive Postage?
If the seller failed to state postage charges, and then "rips you off" for postage, then yes, but don't be hasty. Do bear in mind that packing materials cost money, and its takes time (time = money) to pack things carefully. It also takes time and fuel to travel to the post office. VAT registered businesses also have to account for VAT on postage (so they need to add it to the basic costs). We believe it is fair for sellers to recoup labour costs in their shipping charges. Ten minutes equates to about £1 at UK minimum wage rates!
What to do About Rip-Off Shipping Charges
Charging excess shipping charges is against eBay policy (this is because it helps the seller to avoid eBay selling fees). If you think a seller asks excessive shipping costs, you should report them to eBay, who may do nothing, but may suspend their account. warn them, or ban them, depending on whether the offence gets repeated and other factors. If shipping costs are clearly stated, it is illogical to give negative feedback, as you could clearly see for yourself before you bought, giving negative feedback under these circumstances is really giving yourself an "idiot" vote. The other thing you could do about excessive shipping charges is simply avoid buying from that particular seller. If everybody did the same there would be no excessive shipping charges.
None eBay Item Shipping Charges
One way of looking at shipping charges, and whether they are fair would be to look at the sellers standard charges for directly bought items from their website or store as opposed to via eBay. If these charges are the same as via eBay, then at least you can see that they are not using them to avoid eBay fees. Of course, this does not guarantee they are fair. One example we could cite here is Dell Computers. In the UK, Dell charge about £50 shipping on a computer system compared with about £12 to £15 for many of their their competitors. Whether you consider it unfair depends on you own viewpoint and ethics, Without doubt, the reason they do this is to make their own prices look more competitive, but recoup the difference, perhaps more, on the shipping costs. As a matter of interest, you may like to note that our company charge exactly the same to eBay customers as to non-eBay customers. We try not only to be fair, but also be transparent.
Increased Costs - Particularly for International Shipping
Because of the international nature of eBay, it is unreasonable for all sellers to know the cost of shipping all their products to anywhere in the world, by all the different services available. If the vendor of the item you are thinking of bidding on does not state shipping costs to your location, then the smart thing to do is to ask him BEFORE you place your bid, rather than bitching about it afterwards or giving negative feedback. Some sellers state that their shipping costs will be fair and reasonable, or will be at cost price. In this case, you could find the cost of sending a similar item to him, and you would not even need to ask, although shipping costs are not always the same in both directions. (We have a French customer who tells us it costs him more to post within France than we charge for international shipping).
Two Examples From Personal Experience
- Our First Ever Negative Feedback We have probably sold over 10,000 items via eBay. Of these, some people forget to leave feedback or can't be bothered, but we received over 6,000 positives, and under 50 negatives. The very first negative we received was from a private individual who also deals in coins via eBay. Despite not being VAT registered he charges a very similar amount to us for non-insured shipping within the UK. His reason for the negative? We suspect it was probably jealousy or stupidity, but he stated: "CHARGED £2.00 P&P YET GOLD SOVEREIGN WAS SENT WITH 19p STAMP !!!
Apart from the unnecessary use of capitals, his statement was inaccurate in a number of ways: Standard (second-class) postage at the time was 20 pence, not 19 as stated. It ignored our labour cost, VAT charges, packaging, admin costs of obtaining proof of posting. Our postage and packing charges were clearly stated on our listing.We felt so annoyed about this unfair negative feedback that we created a page about it on one of our websites. Indeed, we have continued this as a tradition, as we aim never to give anybody any reasonable grounds for giving negatives.
- New Zealand Dealer From Hell
A New Zealand coin dealer bought 1,000 farthings from us for a bargain price, (we buy at about £40 and sell at about £50 per thousand). We had, at the time, not thought enough about our "rest of world" shipping cost, which showed £5 (most of the items we sell are compact lightweight high value). Without a shadow of doubt, this buyer knew before he bid that the actual postage cost would be considerably more, and was attempting to take unfair advantage of our oversight. When we checked the actual cost, it was about £50 just for surface mail postage without any packing. The buyer was rude and belligerent. When we looked at his feedback there were many negatives, almost all of which alluded to his aggressive bullying attitude.
This last example, brings us to the point that you should try to be reasonable, and avoid being a total prat. Do not try to take unfair advantage if you think a seller has underestimated the actual shipping cost. If in doubt, ask them are they sure, or at least be prepared for an increase.
Apart from selling some items on eBay (under 4% of our turnover), we have been selling coins by mail order for over 42 years.
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Author & Copyright Notice
This page was written by Lawrence Chard of Chard Coins, please note we retain copyright on all contents including both textual content and images.