I've looked through a lot of guides on this subject and cannot find one that is specific, so I thought it a good idea to bring this to the attention of eBay sellers and buyers, particularly new ones.
Buyers: Have you noticed that a lot of sellers will offer a refund if you are not happy with what they have sold you BUT exclude the postage and packing charge you have paid?
Sellers: Are you one of the many that are just selling one or more items that you hope to get a few quid for?
BEWARE the Post Office/Royal Mail method of making their business profitable!
A few months ago I offered 2 mobile phones for sale. Both had a few accessories and, if memory serves, I actually bought a charger for one of them just to make the offer more attractive.
Both phones sold and I posted them off on the same day. Have you guessed? One arrived and the other didn't. However, I had the receipt from my local Post Office, so I duly completed the extremely comprehensive compensation claim form, attached prints of the auction concerned and sent it off. Given my sense of honesty in my auctions, I refunded the Buyer the whole amount he had paid, including the P&P.
Some weeks later a letter, and cheque, arrived from the Royal Mail. All well, you might think! But the cheque was not for the amount my Buyer had paid, or that I had reimbursed him. When I queried this with Royal Mail, I was informed that it was not their policy to refund postal charges!!
So, if you are a Buyer, do not expect your Seller to refund the P&P he/she has charged you, because he/she can't get it back from the Post Office. If you are a Seller, make sure you inform your Buyers that you will not refund P&P amounts, because you'll be out of pocket on that twice over.
As for the Royal Mail or Post Office, whoever heard of a truly REPUTABLE business that keeps fees or charges paid to it for a contract it fails to carry out? They are a disgrace!
Most importantly, do not be fooled by the associations conjured up by the title ROYAL MAIL. Most of us who are regular eBay buyers or sellers will have come to know local Post Office employees quite well and find them friendly, helpful and straightforward. It is the management, the individuals who make the policies, that need to be removed.
I admit to being something of a Royalist, but I strongly believe that our Sovereign would be disgusted by the business practices of this second-rate organisation that is trading on their supposed connection with her position.
Added on 30 May 2007
Another member (I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say who it is, so I won't, but thanks to them anyway) has just brought to my notice another happy little change. Apparently, one now has to prove the cost/value of the item they have lost or they won't pay compensation, even if you have paid for insurance. This apparently is also true for Parcelforce. The member hasn't indicated the method of proof required.
How does one go about proving the cost/value of something you no longer have?
Added on 26 April 2008
I've received comments from member alchemicphoto that I include for members' benefit:
RE: Proof of value RM.
You keep a copy of the PayPal invoice sent to the customer, and use that. You also fill in the form and enter the total charged as the value.
The RM do not re-imburse the the postal cost of the item if they can get away with but I've never had that particular problem. I could point out that legally the price paid for the item is 'the price' paid for the item. P&P is included in the cost to the customer and not an 'extra'.
If RM are insisting that P&P are 'extra' then they may be in asticky corner if challenged in court.
In the meantime minimise losses by setting P&P as low as you can, or adding it to the asking price. Tricky for auctioned goods I know, but I never start my auctions at a loss-price anyhow!
My thanks to this member for their contribution and I hope it helps all members who read this Guide.