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Login/JoinWelcome, 4onecollectibles [Logout]
Posted September 12, 2010 01:35 PM
Hey all -this whole shipping issue makes me so angry especially since I've been selling for nearly 2 decades and only since being on eBay have I encountered issues with customers complaining about shipping costs. I'm sorry my post here is unedited and rambling at times but there are so many issues here I don't even know where to start. And these problems have only gotten worse and worse with each new rule eBay implements that basically undermine seller's effectiveness of doing business. Starting with feedback, then insurance option and most recently this free shipping nonsense. This has been so frustrating because I work so hard to pack orders professionally and ship promptly only to have some customers complain about shipping charges.
Here's the problem and I've told eBay this many times - I'm working twice as hard nowadays to make half the money. It costs MONEY to run a business - no matter how large or small. It also costs money to properly pack merchandise - I personally spend THOUSANDS each year on brand new, quality packing materials to make sure my customers orders - whether it's a $5 order, $50 or $500 - are packed PROFESSOINALLY and PROPERLY. For some reason, eBay doesn't seem to think there is any value in offering a DSR for QUALITY of PACKING which to us is actually the SECOND most important thing next to ACCURATE DESCRIPTION. It shouldn't and doesn't matter how CHEAPLY or QUICKLY a seller mails a package if they did a HALF-BAKED job of packing the merchandise and the package arrives in a shoe box or pizza box (I know this is extreme but I've received valuable items I've purchased through eBay packed and shipped exactly this way!) or worse yet, DAMAGED DUE to IMPROPER and INSUFFICIENT packing. I've been asking eBay repeatedly to please add a DSR for QUALITY of PACKING so that buyer AND sellers alike see that there is a VALUE to the WAY the items are packed. QUALITY of packing goes hand in hand with how REASONABLE shipping and handling charges are.
And that's a whole OTHER issue - what is reasonable handling?
Again, there is a big difference between a seller who charges $5.00 handling to ship an 8x10 photo but then simply throws the photo unprotected into a plain manilla envelope with flimsy cardboard pulled from the back of a notepad and ships it off WITHOUT insurance aand a seller (like myself) who places that same photo into a brand new clear plastic polybag with acid-free backing board then sandwiches it between FOUR pieces of brand new, sturdy, thick corrugated cardboard pads to create an INCH-THICK sandwich block which is then placed into a brand new padded envelope and is shipped WITH insurance. That's what I'm talking about - quality of packing and reasonable handling. It costs money to properly pack a large piece of framed art - at least $10-$15 of actual expenses between the large shipping box, bubblewrap, packing peanuts, tape, fragile stickers etc - so $15-$20 handling for such an item IS reasonable. But most buyers don't have a clue as to what's involved to properly pack merchandise - they don't even know how long it takes for merchandise to travel through the mail (one time I had a buyer complaing to me "where's my package?" after just four days of placing the order and paying for PARCEL POST no less! And they were located on the east coast while I am in California! I mean, really?? Parcel post can take upwards of 7-10 BUSINESS DAYS (weekends/holidays not included) as it is. Not too mention, my listings state that orders are typically shipped within 3 days of receipt of payment (more like 24-48 if I can). But this buyer seemed to think that his package should have been pulled from inventory, packed, shipped AND arrived all within 4 days of paying and I got a negative feedback for this and eBay did NOTHING about it!! These sort of unreasonable and uninformed buyers are running around eBay and basically eBay is catering most policies to these very same unreasonable and uninformed people. I'm sorry but is this really fair??? There's only so much a seller can do when a buyer has it fixed in his/her brain that a package should have arrived by now or it should only cost $5.00 to ship that expensive vase I bought (when in fact an expensive vase most likely will costs $10-$15 to ship plus EXTRA handling for all the EXTRA PACKING materials needed to PROPERLY pack it!) This is the sort of thing I'm talking about folks.
And the whole insurance option is yet ANOTHER issue that complicated the whole shipping issue because ever since eBay took insurance option for buyers away, now you have sellers who either DON'T bother to pay for insurance and sellers (like myself) who DO insure almost all packages to protect both myself AND the buyer (especially now that eBay, again, unfairly holds sellers responsible for safe arrival of orders even though I have absolutely no control over what or how the USPS or UPS handles my packages once I give it to them - the only thing I CAN control is the QUALITY OF PACKING which goes back to my assertion that eBay needs to add a DSR for this!) and now have to include these insurance costs into the handling (which eBay actually tells/suggests to sellers to do). But then the uninformed buyer sees the higher costs of shipping and then complains "why is shipping so expensive?" and such. And this leads to yet ANOTHER problem in which the invoice total is incorrect because insurance costs are based on value of the item - but if I have to add insurance costs into handling upfront, well then that's a problem because what if the item ends up selling for $80 instead of $40 - insurance is more for $80 then for $40 but I was only able to include a fixed amount upfront into handling. How about if an international buyer choose first class mail instead of priority - well USPS does not provide insurance for first class mail. But if I already added insurance into the handling costs upfront and buyer chooses first class international mail, well that means technically I'm overcharging the customer (I always end up having to issue partial refunds to my customers in these cases). Again, all of these problems could be avoided if eBay didn't continue to undermine the seller and instead educated the buyer about HANDLING an INSURANCE and so forth.
But an even bigger issue is that most buyers do not seem to know the difference between what's reasonable and unreasonable - again, I go back to eBay for NOT properly educating buyers upfront to understand that there is a difference between sellers who OVERCHARGE for shipping & handling and CHEAP OUT on packing, sellers who UNDERCHARE for shipping & handling AND ALSO CHEAP OUT on packing and those sellers (like myself) who charge ACTUAL SHIPPING PLUS REASONABLE HANDLING based on the type of merchandise being packed/shipped. eBay keeps telling me to offer free shipping and that'll will solve many complaints. I'm sorry, but how about educating buyers to know that it takes money to run a business and packing materials costs money. In fact, I think the ONLY reason why eBay is pushing free shipping is because they only get a percentage of the sale price NOT shipping. So by telling sellers to incorporate shipping and handling costs into the item's sale price only increases eBay's percentage of the sale. eBay tells me that other sites like amazon offer free shipping and that's why they need to offer free shipping. THIS IS BOGUS! First off, amazon.com is a BILLION DOLLAR company who can AFFORD to absorb & subsidize shipping and handling costs - I, and other sellers like me, am a SINGLE PERSON, SOLE PROPRIETOR who is working hard just to BARELY turn a profit nowadays. Regardless, amazon ONLY offers free shipping for orders of $25 or more - NOT the individual seller (I know because I sell on amazon as well). So eBay reps are under this crazy delusion that because a multi billion dollar company like amazon can afford to offer free shipping (and again, that's NOT on all orders - only orders of $25 or more ordered and fulfilled by AMAZON DIRECTLY or sellers who use FULFILLMENT by amazon - regular sellers such as myself who sell books and cds are NEVER EXPECTED TO OFFER FREE SHIPPING - I can reimbursed a shipping credit directly from amazon for every order I sell on their site - so eBay is GROSSLY MISINFORMED HERE). eBay reps constantly tell me to simply add shipping & handling costs into the cost of the item - NOOOOO- that doesn't always work. There's a limit to how much you can charge for certain items - especially lower ticket items such as an 8x10 photo of a movie star. I charge $6.99 for one photo and usually offer a discount getting that price down to $4.89. If I have to add shipping, handling (which also includes insurance) to the purchase price then my $6.99 photo now because $16.99 for priority mail. Most buyers will simply look at the price and say i'm overcharging for the item with the thinking that it should only costs $2.00 to ship the item when in fact the item costs $4.90 to ship via priority mail, costs almost $2.00 to insure, and that leaves just $3.00 reasonable handling for me to PROPERLY pack the item the way I described earlier. Now what this whole free shipping campaing is doing is making sellers CHEAP OUT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE - on packing materials as well as shipping service (they'll always go with 1st class or media mail to save money and keep costs down - but what if a buyer WANTS faster service and would have paid for priority mail? That's why this free shipping business STINKS. Hey, as a seller, you can do what you want - if I CHOOSE to offer free shipping on a particular item because I know what my costs are and can afford to, great - but to make buyers think that free shipping should be the NORM and that any seller charging for shipping and handling (like most NORMAL businesses do!) is the bad guy is just plain ridiculous. But that's PRECISELY what's happening here. And eBay is basically forcing sellers to HAVE to do this in order to get 5 star feedback ratings while at the same time making more money off the sale of your item because the s&h are now part of the sale price. THIS IS INSANITY! And why sellers are no revolting against this is beyond me. HANDLING IS A PART OF DOING BUSINESS. INSURANCE SHOULD BE AN OPTION FOR BUYERS, NOT SELLERS. FREE SHIPPING should be an OPTION for sellers to use when they want or can afford to on certain items (I'm happy to offer free shipping to entice buyers on larger ticket items in which I have a lot more profit to work with - I can't offer free shipping on an $10 item when the item costs me $5 and eBay and paypal take another $1.50 or more of that - what's that leave me with? Pretty much nothing.)
Anyway, I'm sorry for this long post - but this issue is so frustrating because it could all be avoided if eBay would simply help work with sellers and not against them. And educate buyers so that they know there is a big difference between sellers who overcharge (and undercharge) for s&h but CHEAP OUT on packing/insurance and those sellers who charge ACTUAL shipping plus REASONABLE handling based on the type of item being packed with QUALITY PACKING materials. AM I REALLY THAT OFF BASE HERE??? The only way I see this changing is if sellers UNITE and stand up against the sort of manipulation going on here.
Here's the bottom line folks - without sellers, eBay doesn't exist. eBay reps always say no - buyers are just as important. Well I'm sorry - but it's my understanding that you need sellers to FIRST POST items before buyers can buy them. And eBay makes money off sellers from the time that they post - even if a seller never sells anything, eBay still makes money off a seller. And when a seller DOES sell, again, eBay makes money off the seller. eBay does NOT make any money directly off a buyer. EBay with only buyers basically will DISAPPEAR. So I think it's fair to say that eBay should be working more closely with sellers to help educate buyers more completely upfront on all of these issues to help make the total experience for the buyer more realistic and enjoyable instead of making sellers constantly feel like they're being taken advantage.
I'm sorry my thoughts aren't better organized and streamlined - but I hope I raised some issues that you all can agree with. But more importantly, I hope we can all do something about this and work with eBay to better assist us with these issues instead of making it MORE difficult for us to do business.