Wednesday, April 17, 2024

eBay's International Shipping Program

eBay's international shipping program makes international shipping much easier for sellers, who don't have to figure the shipping costs.  eBay also assumes all the liability, so this increases the likelihood that an eBay seller will be willing to ship internationally.  It can also save the buyer some money.  This is a win-win situation.  

Currently, eBay's program does not offer combined shipping.  If you are an international buyer and want to purchase multiple items from a seller, ask the seller to put them in one listing.  For instance, I had a buyer from the UK wish to purchase two Sweet Valley High books.  eBay was going to force the buyer to pay twice for shipping.  I created a listing with both books included, and this cut the buyer's shipping charge in half.  I didn't have to do anything special except place the two books in the one listing.

Every so often, an international buyer feels that eBay's shipping charge is too high and wants to negotiate with me.  Each time I receive an request like this, I play along but know immediately how the situation will unfold from start to finish.  Spoiler:  The buyer ultimately will decline to make the purchase because the shipping is too high.

I recently had an inquiry about this bulk lot of blue tweed Nancy Drew books that are in rough shape.

The bulk lot was priced at $59.99 with free shipping to United States addresses.  When I price these bulk lots, I am always giving the books away at cost or at a slight loss.  My expenses include the cost of the books, the shipping cost, the packaging cost, and eBay's fees.  All that combined meant that I was taking around a $5.00 loss on this lot at my price of $59.99.  I have no room for negotiation since I'm already taking a loss.  I seldom explain any of this to potential buyers, since it's irrelevant and doesn't impact them.

I would rather sell the books at a slight loss and send them to someone who wants them than drop them off at a thrift store.  I would get nothing if I were to do that, and I also would risk the books getting thrown away.  The books and I are both better off if I sell them at a slight loss.

An international buyer contacted me, offering me $70 including postage cost.  I didn't respond, for several reasons.  I don't accept offers, and I could not possibly accept just $70 including international postage costs.  I also didn't know what the buyer was seeing on their end, so I didn't have enough information to know what their costs were going to be.

The buyer then sent me another message, to which I replied:  "I never see what eBay charges for international postage, so I have no point of reference.  I don't know what I would need to take off of my price to get the total to be $70.00.  I suspect that the amount is higher than what I can do, but I have no way of knowing since I don't know what eBay's international postage charges are.  They hide it from us."

The buyer's response (paraphrased) observed that eBay makes money off of us sellers and that they would rather the money go directly to me.  They wanted me to avoid eBay's international shipping program so that I could figure the shipping myself and pay for the label directly.

Even if the money for shipping were paid to me instead of to eBay, I still would never see it.  I have to pay for the postage label which takes all of the funds.  Also, it should be noted that I pay fees on shipping, so I would then pay fees on the high international shipping charge.  If I charge directly for shipping instead of using eBay's international shipping program, then my eBay fees are much higher.  This isn't beneficial to me.

As I already stated, I knew that this wouldn't result in a sale.  Nevertheless, I retrieved the stack of books and weighed them.  I figured out the postage cost and added $18 to it to cover the eBay fees on the postage.  Since I was already taking a loss on the lot, I wasn't about to add $18 to my loss.  

I wrote in response:  "I doubt it will be cheaper for me to pay the postage directly.  I figured the postage, and my cost is $135.00 to mail the books.  This would make the total $194.99.  We are no longer able to use surface mail.  I have to use priority mail international."

I have no idea what eBay's international shipping was going to charge the buyer.  However, it was apparent by the buyer's reaction that what I quoted was even worse.  The buyer declined to proceed.  

So, eBay's international shipping does save the buyer money, besides being easier for the seller.  

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