Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Great Ebay Shipping Price Debate

I've seen Ebay shipping charges debated on message boards several times.  I think I may have even had a post on it a while back.

A recent purchase had brought me into the debate again.

Basically, there are two sides to the argument:

SIDE ONE:  You know what the shipping charges are before you place a bid.  If you don't like the cost, don't bid.  If you buy the item, don't whine.

SIDE TWO:  Shipping charges are not a place for a seller to pad their profit.  If they charge a high price, you should expect high service.  If you don't get service that matches the cost, then complain away.

I'm with side two.  If I pay $3 for shipping and the card comes in a 46 cent plain white envelope, I feel I've been ripped off.  It doesn't matter if the card arrived safely or not, a $3 charge deserves $3 worth of service.

I've heard sellers complain about all the fees they have to pay to Ebay and Paypal with each sale.  They say that the extra charge in shipping helps the cover those costs.  But according to Ebay, sellers can't do that.  Ebay has a very specific list of what can be included in shipping and handling charges.  Fees are not on the list.  The fees are the seller's responsibility through the sale price of the item, not mine through the shipping charges.

Here's my recent tale:

I purchased the 1987 Classic Baseball board game--I wanted the complete set of 100 cards.  The shipping charge was $10.95.  It seemed a little high, but putting a game in a box might get heavy, making the charge seem more reasonable.

Here's how the game came:

No extra box, just shrink wrap. There was no box in a box.   Look what happened to each of the corners:

Pretty messed up.

I wasn't happy, mainly because the seller went the cheap route and that led to me getting a damaged item.  Putting his address into a shipping calculator gave me a shipping price of $8.05--not even close to the $10.95 I was charged.

I decided to contact the seller. I told him that the shipping was overcharged, the packaging was flimsy, and that I should get a partial refund because of the overcharge and the damage.  I also included pictures of each of the four corners.

The seller wasn't happy.  He told me that he uses shrink wrapping all the time with no problems, the game was in good condition when it left his house, he would not give me a refund, and he was going to report me to Ebay.  He also sent a second message that said the auction description said the box had a tear in one corner.


This was not going to go well.  There were several messages back and forth.  He asked me for an amount I was looking for, then said he wasn't going to refund me at all and was again going to report me to Ebay.

He said that he had never had a problem shipping games this way, and then I pointed out to him my problem and the problem another buyer had based on feedback given on December 11 ("Had all parts. $12 shipping for thin layer of shrink wrap? Box was damaged" -- almost the exact same situation as mine).

I told him to look at the pictures again, that they show all four corner.  He said the thought they were all of the same corner.

He sang the sad song about Ebay and Paypal fees.  I pointed out that he can't add those to the shipping charges--that an Ebay no-no.  He didn't like hearing that.

We eventually settled on a refund amount.

None of this would have happened if he had put the game in a larger box for protection.  The amount I paid for shipping would cover the cost of a six pound box.  The game was a little under three pounds.  If I had gotten $10.95 worth of service for the $10.95 I paid, the situation never would have happened.

I haven't left any feedback yet.  I'm leaning towards a neutral.  It wasn't a positive experience.  I got the game, and a small refund, but I also got a damaged box.  Plus he wasn't the easiest person to work with.  I think future buyers need to know that.

Your advice???

Positive? Neutral? Negative? Let it go? Thoughts on Ebay shipping charges?


  1. I can't believe the seller would shrink wrap a box like that a ship it and think it's okay. That's crazy! Since he eventually refunded you some of it, I'd probably leave neutral feedback so that other buyers get a better idea of how they do business.

  2. First of all, I fall under the second faction, if you charge a s/h amount, you better give that amount of service. I try, when selling on ebay, to match my charges with my shipping presentation. If it is free shipping, chances are I am going to use a refurbished jiffy pack or a manilla envelope (I never ever use PWE on ebay). But if I charge $3, I am going to use an new jiffy pack and maybe a second layer of bubble wrap. I do this usually on graded cards and the like. Taking the cheap way out on shipping methods is just gambling that the PO is going to do their job well, which is always very unlikely.

    Second of all, what a jackass that seller was with the game. I have sold board games on ebay before. If you are going to charge $11-$12, you better use Priority Mail boxes. You can actually tape two of the medium ones together and ship a standard board game quite securely. Plus, what was he going to report YOU for? You had photos of the damage and prior examples of his shoddy shipping. He failed and then tried to pawn off the issue on you. Refunding the shipping is the least he could have done. Please reveal his name so we can publicly shame this idiot.

    1. " Plus, what was he going to report YOU for?"
      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. I'd go neutral, but I'm feeling rather benevolent today. He basically threatened you while having NO legs to stand on. What a J.E.R.K.

  3. I expect the same results no matter what the charge for shipping is. I want the items to arrive as described in a reasonably timely manner. I figure the shipping costs into my bid amounts to avoid sticker shock, so an auction with free shipping will get a higher bid than an item with charges for shipping. I would be inclined to leave a neutral feedback on that seller. They did (kind of) resolve your issue, but in the end I think you wound up with an end result different than what you expected going into the transaction. You got a refund, but that doesn't undo the damage to the game you received.

  4. I am also of the #2 crowd. If I want a card shipped in a 49cent PWE I'll look for it on sportlots.

    Another practice on Ebay that I hate is sellers who start the standard auction price of .99 cents but then their shipping for a single card is $5 or more. I bet most of them will ship in a PWE w/nothing around the card other than notebook paper.They are of that padded shipping mindset. They are thinking that they will receive the cost of the card in the shipping charges, they hope that the customer will only see "WOW a 99 CENT CARD, What a steal" without seeing the inflated shipping, that is more than if they shipped a single card in a large Priority Mail box.

    Since the guy did partial refund eventually I'd give neutral feedback and then with the shipping DSRs ding him with 1 star on the "shipping and handling charges" star. Sellers hate getting less than all 5s.

  5. I'd leave a Negative. Yeah, you got your product and a slight refund, but:

    a.) Crappy packaging job
    b.) Threatening to report you to eBay (for what??)
    c.) Overall difficulty working with seller
    d.) Overcharging for shipping based on an eBay policy no-no

    That's four pretty big strikes, and other buyers oughta know what they're getting into. That's the point of the feedback system, no?

    Just .02 from a regular schlub like me.

  6. I had a bad eBay shipping experience last month that ended with a partial refund too. I won't try to offer you advice, since I'm definitely in the middle of those two sides.

    What I will say is that I'd be very upset if I were in your shoes. It's inexcusable for the seller to ship a game like that... even if he offered "free shipping". As for the feedback... I never left feedback. I refused to give the guy positive feedback, because it was a bad experience that turned out okay. But at the same time, I didn't have it in me to leave "negative" or "neutral" feedback. In other words, I wimped out.