Beware, Ebay Sellers – Ebay Listing Glitch Could Cost You Money

by Nindo Mom on February 9, 2011

I was recently “caught” by an obscure oddity in Ebay’s listing process that’s causing me all kinds of problems. I’m just hoping that Ebay doesn’t require me to “eat” the extra cost I’ll incur by shipping the items in question.

When listing an item on Ebay. you are asked to fill out a shipping section. This is where you indicate whether you will ship domestically only, or if you’re also willing to offer international shipping. I always select “No International Shipping” in this section because there are a myriad of problems that can crop up when shipping overseas:

  • even the cheapest shipping method is still expensive
  • shipping cost becomes substantially higher when using a traceable method — which is a MUST for Ebay, as well as any other business-related shipping
  • shipments can become delayed in customs–sometimes for a month or longer–leaving you open to negative feedback on your Ebay account
  • overseas shipments are more likely to become damaged

Although offering an item up for international bid can sometimes increase overall sales, the problems involved with shipping items overseas make it clear why a seller would be hesitant–and why I had decided some time ago to avoid shipping overseas on any but the very smallest and lightest of items.

But despite selecting “No International Shipping” for a certain recent Ebay auction, Ebay’s system allowed an international buyer to bid. I learned this only after the auction had ended.

After chatting online with an Ebay representative, I was told that to prevent an international buyers from bidding on an auction, a seller should ALSO pull down the “Shipping Exclusions” tab and select all countries they wish to block from bidding.

So in other words, Ebay’s system will allow a seller to choose not ship internationally, while still allowing international buyers to bid. Which makes no sense at all.

The Ebay rep told me that I should contact the buyer to negotiate the shipping–which I pretty much figured would be my next step. So I sent the buyer an email explaining the situation, and that there would be an additional shipping cost over the cost for domestic U.S. shipping. Then, I took the package to the post office to get an exact shipping quote–which turned out to be $50 with tracking and signature confirmation.

I emailed the buyer with the price–but discovered that he had somehow managed to pay for the auction, already–even though  I had not listed any options for international shipping, nor had I listed a package weight with Ebay. Yet somehow Ebay had come up with $25 as a shipping cost and had sent the buyer the invoice. Clearly, this was yet another glitch in Ebay’s system–how could they possibly come up with a shipping cost for an auction when the weight for the items is unknown, and shipping cost is based on weight? Again, this just makes no logical sense.

I’ve since sent the buyer a second email informing him of the complication, as well as an additional invoice for the additional shipping cost–although I’ll still be eating a bit of the cost due to Paypal fees. I also offered to remove the new, sealed auction items from their manufacturer packaging before mailing them–which would reduce the package size and weight. I’m still waiting to hear back on this.

In the end…

In a situation like this, it’s important to make mental note that these glitches in Ebay’s system were not intentionally designed to foul anyone up. And the international bidder obviously really wants the items he bid on–though I’m not sure if the full shipping cost will be worth it to him.  If not, I’ll happily give him a complete refund. This situation is bound to catch him by surprise, just as it did me–and neither of us deserve to lose out.

I guess the lesson here would be that, when unexpected things happen in business, be sure to put yourself in the other guy’s shoes and do what’s right for both of you. That’s the way to keep customers in the long-run–by treating them with the respect they deserve–with the same respect we all deserve.

Oh, yeah–and the other lesson is to make sure you select both “No International Shipping” AND fill out the “Shipping Exclusions” tab completely if international shipping is not part of your plan.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rudy June 21, 2011 at 6:36 AM

Hi, Wouldn’t it have been better to refund the entire Paypal payment, so that you’ll get the fee refunded? The buyer can then send a new payment at the correct total price. I don’t offer anything outside of the 50 states, not even P.R. So I’ll make a few $ less over a year, but I protect my feedback and my sanity.
Good luck!

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