Alright...I'm finally going to throw my two cents in.
A couple of years ago, I used to charge nothing, not a red cent above the shipping/delivery confirmation. No handling fee's. Nada!
Hubster thought I was crazy to not charge an additional "handling" fee as he saw how much time I put into my auctions. My best female friend in the world is a CPA and she stated..Donna from a purely business view, you gotta start charging a handling fee. It's the way business is done. Your time is worth money. The time it takes to research an item, design the ad and answering emails, your final value fee's to eBay and Paypal fee's.
Nike.com, CrateandBarrel.com, EddieBauer.com etc all have the fee worked into the flat fee and so should you. Do you question them when you buy from their sites? No, you don't. You just pay it and happy when the item comes.
Luckily, I have some great postal employee's that knew me from my many visits to the post office and they knew my business was eBay. (before the days of picking up at my door) One day it was quiet in the Post Office with no customers but myself and the postal workers were having a ball talking to me. Finally one of them said...Donna, when you sell items, what's your handling charge..I said, Charge? Exact shipping plus delivery confirmation. What about gas back and forth to the post office? What about tape to reinforce our priority mail envelopes and labels? What about all the time you spend answering emails and more? Your time is worth money. What about your fee's?
Well, finally it sunk in and I had one of those light bulb above the head moments...BAM!
Yep, MY time is worth money. I'm not saying my charge is exorbitant. It's not like my buyer is spending 10.00 to ship a tshirt. But if you buy that t-shirt from me on eBay...know what? You're shipping charge is clearly stated on the auction as $5.00. (Priority shipping + Delivery confirmation via Paypal at .14). And to me the seller? Delivery Confirmation is worth it's weight in gold. And .14 is a bargain! Especially with all the scammers around nowadays...delivery confirmation is a necessity.
The rest goes to line my pocketbook and pay FVFs to eBay.
Now to the discussion of your competition, the paragraph and getting your auctions to BRING you moolah!
Rick, you're right..it's called fee avoidance with eBay and is a reportable offense. However, you have to remember that eBay turns a blind eye ALOT of times.
I think the paragraph would bring you attention that you might not want to have from your competition.....negative attention.
The flip-side of the coin. It's a intelligently worded paragraph and if bolded would make a statement to those considering buying from you.
Now your auctions versus your competition.
The problem as I see it is this..think on it.
With the shipping costs now shown in the searches...how can you GRAB the customers to look at your ads to SEE your paragraph and not go to the lower priced auctions with higher shipping?
Sub-titles? That's more moo-lah that you'll be spending. If you had an eBay store, the sub-title (which isn't search enabled unless buyers choose the in-depth search) is pennies and might be worth the cost if you can 80 character get your words to BRING the customer to your auction.
A regular eBay auction? I know a subtitle on that type of auction is throwing money away.
Have you considered the Buy It Now Auction?
My thing with this is...If I want something on eBay, I very rarely wait around for an auction..I look for Buy It Nows and grab it.
Your competition has three different types of auctions up and running. So he must be successful at each type of auction or he wouldn't be running them. Right? He's running auctions to bring them to his buy it now auctions. Plus, he has a store which help him out too.
Here's a link of items similar to yours (and including yours)
Click the above link for an quasi-example of what I'm talking about. Many different and successful ways of selling your specialty. It is always wise to keep an eye on the competition, not to copy them. But to see how they are successful doing certain things that you might not thought of implementing. Think on which works best for you and fly with it!
Now I've bookmarked your site so I can come back and buy one of those Tinker Bell items for my daughter...but in order to buy, I have to make money and it's that time of the day..to get started working.