Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ripping Off the Post Office and the Buyer on Shipping

Here is a situation in which I left a seller a "one" on the DSR for the shipping charge. I only go to that extreme when I feel that what the seller did was very wrong. The seller charged $7.38 for media mail shipping. The seller paid $2.57 postage, so the seller had nearly a $5.00 handling fee added to the actual shipping cost.

Wait—it gets worse. Not only was I overcharged, the post office was underpaid on the postage it was supposed to receive. The seller paid $2.57 in postage but was supposed to pay more. The seller's PayPal shipping label had a weight of 1 pound 0 ounces, so I know that the seller paid $2.57. The package actually weighed 1 pound 5 ounces, so the postage that the seller should have paid was $2.96. I am including the $0.19 charge for the delivery confirmation on these amounts, since all sellers must pay for delivery confirmation for those labels.

It gets even worse. The seller used a brand-new priority mail box inside the package. The seller used a free priority box that is made only for priority mail use but used it on a media mail package. This is against postal regulations. I have heard that USPS takes a loss on media mail, so for the seller to underpay USPS for media mail and use a USPS box for media mail is wrong on multiple levels.

The seller greatly deserved the "one." Now some of you might wonder why I didn't contact the seller with my grievances. I have done that in the past, and the response was almost always very unsatisfactory, and ultimately stressed me out. These types of sellers see nothing wrong with what they do, and they usually get very defensive and do not apologize. I don't want to deal with that type of response ever again. I remember one seller's response which contained lots of exclamation points, and it was apparent that my comments greatly infuriated her. Of course after reading that seller's response, I was even more angry myself. It wasn't worth it.

The only time I contact the seller with a complaint about shipping is when the package arrives postage due. While I had a positive reaction the last time I contacted a seller about a postage due package, I am still very reluctant to contact sellers about other similar problems.


rachel said...

I was ripped off recently too. A seller quoted me $10 more than it cost to post a book, and being an international buyer I didn't really have any way of knowing before hand how much the postage would really be. The seller made some lame excuse when I asked about it and didn't refund the money, and that resulted in me leaving negative feedback. (which I don't do very often) I still feel dissatsified though because of the dishonesty! (and I'll never buy from them again!)

Jennifer said...

There is no excuse for a seller charging $10 above the postage cost. Shipping internationally is more trouble for me, since I have to wait in line at the post office for the first class international packages (the lines are often quite long). However, I am not going to charge buyers $10 for my trouble. Sellers should either charge close to the exact amount for international buyers or not ship internationally at all.

Lenora said...

This is unrelated, but highly annoying. I received an e-mail this morning from Bonanzle stating that my listing for a 1941 Dana Girls book had been removed at the request of Simon and Schuster for copyright infringement. Have you had anything similar happen? I can send you the text of the entire e-mail if you like.

beautifulshell said...

I get resentful and sometimes don't bid on books when shipping is significantly more than I know it will cost to ship a book. I don't mind when sellers list a higher minimum bid amount, but to build extra value into the shipping isn't cool. I haven't seen anything this blatant in a while, though.

Jennifer said...

I sent a more detailed private message about the removed Dana Girls book on Bonanzle, but I want to address the situation here as well.

Those new Dana Girls books (Mystery of the Cameo Curse, Secret at Windmill Estate, and Clue of the Buried Box) were pulled off of Bonanzle in the last day or so due to charges of copyright infringement. Apparently at least one vintage Dana Girls book was also removed by mistake.

I have not yet had anything pulled down by mistake, but if I do, I will contact customer support. If any of you have a problem, send a message to

Lian said...

High shipping costs infuriate me as well. You've hit a subject that really burns me up. I can't tell you how many times I've emailed a seller informing them if they were lower their shipping costs they would get more bids. I would rather pay more for the book if it has the value than throwing money out the window for too high shipping just as beautifulshell said. I'm always very polite but I remember one seller that emailed me back and said "Don't bid on my book". That made me even more irritated for it made me feel like I was a problem. Grrrr. I need to go chill out.

Off topic, I am really curious as to what sets you all are still trying to complete. I'm still trying to finish my Judy Bolton collection. It is hard to find a bargain in the higher numbered books. I thought I had The Hidden Clue over the summer from a box of mixed books, but when I received the book, several of the pages were missing. That was disappointing.

rachel said...

Hi Lian,

There are so many sets I want to start collecting but I'm trying to complete the Beverly Grays and Dana Girls at the moment, just because I've read some of these and love them. But I have plans for collecting other series when these are complete and I have more money. Good question by the way :)

Jennifer said...

Someday I hope to have the last Linda Carlton book that I need. Aside from that, I am working on the Grace Harlowe and Marjorie Dean sets. I just bought three Grace Harlowe with dust jackets off of eBay. I think I'm getting pretty close to having all of the Grace Harlowe and Marjorie Dean books.

stratomiker said...

I thought eBay enforced a maximum charge of $3 for a book; that's what it says on the form I use to list books. Yet I have seen higher postage prices listed.

There are times when I quote too high for international postage because the calculator gives only certain increments in weight - but overcharges are easily refundable, and I always do that.

Also, I have noticed at my post office, an inner-ring suburb office staffed by inner-city workers, that international charges for similar weight packages often differ considerably depending on who the clerk is. I swear there are different ways to figure it on their machines. The couple times I asked about it I got an ornery negative response.


rachel said...

Hi Mike,

In my case the seller admitted estimating the cost when I questioned them- a very dodgy dealer!

Jennifer said...

One can bypass the $4.00 maximum postage charge on eBay in the books category by using calculated shipping. Each time I sell a bulk lot, I enter the weight so that I can get the correct amount to display. Personally, I think it is stupid for eBay to have a mandated postage limit and then also have a very easy way to avoid it.

I have several times overestimated the postage cost for international because the package ends up weighing a few ounces less, and this can sometimes reduce the cost by $2-3. When that happens, I refund the extra postage charged.

I try to charge very close to the exact amount for international, and often do not add in the full amount of my $1.00 charge for supplies as a courtesy to those buyers. Even so, I often have international buyers try to tell me that I can ship the book for less. I agree....I can ship the book for less if I wrap it in flimsy brown paper and slap a postage label on it. The dreaded brown paper is not up to my usual standards. I have had too many disasters as a buyer with brown paper, so I do not use it.

beautifulshell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beautifulshell said...

to lian's question: i just finished my marjorie dean collection (although only bothered with dustjackets on five of the fourteen). otherwise, i'm in the middle of so many series that i couldn't say i'm actively trying to complete any in particular. the only ones that i am always on the lookout for are the grace harlowe overseas series, but being in grad school, i'm not in a position to bid as high as i know i will need to to finish that, and the second to last betty gordon book. so close!

(that was my deleted comment - blogger needs an "edit" function...)

Donna said...

As an international buyer, I always confirm shipping charges before I bid on eBay. I've learned this the hard way. I request First Class International for packages under 4 lbs. which is so much less expensive, notwithstanding the lack of insurance and tracking. Sellers are generally very willing, but I get the occasional rude response. Some sellers charge as much as $5 or $6 above the USPS rate for their extra effort. I appreciate cheaper shipping and I usually tell the seller the extra savings will go on my bid. Like everyone, I consider my cost to be the "bottom-line" cost. I've bought over 200 books in the last six months and sometimes the cost of shipping is more than the book! I keep an Excel spreadsheet of cost, shipping plus foreign exchange (and sometimes duty on top of that) which can sometimes be depressing to look!
It does annoy me when sellers put the value on the customs forms at $50 when I've bought the books for $47 or something, because I have to pay duty on that number. I don't expect a seller to low-ball the number, but I wish they wouldn't round up either.

I have most of my collections now, but I'm still missing some 3 or 4 Penny Parkers, several Betty Gordons and a couple of Kay Traceys. But even with my complete collections, there's always the temptation to "upgrade"!!

I have to admit, I love auctions - it's fun!

Kathleen said...

I agree with you totally, Jennifer.

They are supposed to be limited to $4 for media.

I complained aboutsomeone tattling on me.

I emailed her. You probably know who I am referring to. Someone who is ripping Nancy buyers big time probably making more profit than anyone else as she has basically no overhead.

Talk about ironic.

She made my life TOTAL HELL. She stalked me.

Ebay never reads the complaints sent by email.

There are some real serious nuts out there. And some are as vindictive as all get-out!

I bought a vintage Mickey Mouse watch. It was cute. I was pleased.

It literally TOTALLY fell apart when I put it on after a couple weeks and he would do nothing. All of it fell apart. I was startled.

It was too late to get him with feedback.I had already left it.

And sometimes you are better off NOT giving any negative feedback. If you are on Ebay just hit them with low stars.

I totally agree with you.

I have had three online stalkers. One I had never done ANYTHING to her.