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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ebay Selling - The Shipping Debate

A post over at VOTC got me thinking about an experience I had while selling my last round of masterpieces cases.  The two I ordered on Friday will be here on Monday.  I convinced Josh at Atlanta Sports Cards to unseal my two cases and put the boxes into flat rate priority boxes.  This saves about 5 days and having to wait for the UPS man to come by.

Anyway, I had a particularly bad experience with "argmaytee".  This guy bought 3 big lots of jerseys and autos from me.  Without combined shipping the total cost would have been $18 but I combined it down to $11.  There were 70+ cards so I knew I was going to have $1 worth of penny sleeves.  I also knew that I was going to have to use a box.  Card boxes are .50.  I also had a suspicion that shipping was going to be anywhere between $7 and $12 with DC.  One of the issues that us west coasters deal with on shipping is that many of our packages are shipped to the east coast.  That is 8 zones.  First Class is limited to about 14 ounces and parcel post isn't an option because it takes 5-10 days.  Plus with Parcel post there are limitations with Delivery Confirmation.  I'll tell you that I don't try to make money with shipping.  I often use recycled bubble mailers to cut down on costs and environmental reasons.  I have had many instances where I have charged $4 for like 4 cards and then realized that it only cost me 2.58 shipping plus supplies.

That's the other issue is the toploaders and team bags.  I often use recycled toploaders, but sometimes can't because I don't have any used ones in a particular size.  The thick toploaders cost anywhere between .20 and .40 each depending on where I get them.  Now with Ebay charging final value fees on shipping costs too, thats 9% more that I have to charge.

Anyway, shortly after I sent the invoice, I received payment from this guy....then the emails started:

Hi there! Thank you very much for allowing me to bid on these auctions. I was curious if there is a combined shipping rate of lower than $11 or if that is accurate. Please let me know. As a seller Ebay has told me that I'm not able to charge more than actual cost and I usually can send a lot of 100 or more cards for about $5 or so and I had hoped you had a similar policy. If not, that's ok too. I just wanted to ask. Thank you
I answered:
Penny sleeves team bags a card box and priority mail should be about $11.
He Replied:
Ok:) Your money has been sent. Thank you for your reply and honesty. If you would like, I can show you sellers on EBay who sell bulk sleeves and team bags for a few cents each so you can save money in the future. I think I pay about $12-$15 apiece for 1000 team bags and 1000 penny sleeves which translates to under $1 for everything this lot would entail. I suppose a box might be a buck or two but even after that and paying for standard shipping its less than $7.

I answered:
How about I just refund your money and offer these to the second place bidder? I foresee you not being happy about the shipping and/or the cards for one reason or another.
He replied:
Well that kinda sucks because you're essentially saying my only 2 options are either to be happy that you're severely overcharging me on shipping and completely disregarding Ebay rules or lose these cards that took my time and energy to bid on. Ebay is clear that sellers aren't supposed to make big profits off of shipping. I'm a power seller myself and sell about 6,000 cards a month on here so I know the true costs of shipping. There is a 3rd option that is much better than either of the other 2. If you would charge just a few bucks less, we could still complete the deal and I'd have no reason to be unhappy with the sale. You could then choose to block my future bids if you wanted and you would suffer no negatives or neutrals on my account. Let me know if that works for you. I hope so because I don't have any ill will towards you or want to create an enemy but I know that $11 is simply way higher than its really going to cost and feel that's a dishonest price to charge.
I replied:
I find it ironic we are having this back and forth considering your feedback. Regardless, if shipping ends up being much less than what I expect I will refund the difference. Good enough?

He replied:
Why is it ironic and what do you mean by "considering my feedback?"
I don't want to read into what you meant by that without asking you first. Let me know.

I replied:
It's ironic you are banging on me about the cost when you charge people $3 or so and ship cards in a PWE. Go ahead and leave the negative and I will refund your money.
He replied
I don't know where you're getting your information but its wrong. I don't charge people $3 shipping. I charge $2.25 total per order and the majority of my customers buy several cards at a time. I used to charge $3.25 total per order and .75 cents per additional item and that's when I was told that Ebay had changed their policy. A few of my older auctions still show that price but they are all dropped to $2.25 when I send invoices out. I'd have changed them all over automatically to $2.25 but Ebay doesn't have a feature for mass reduction of shipping.
I replied:
From your feedback. Anyway, I issued you a refund.
He replied
I guess you really, really want to keep overcharging on shipping huh? So much so that its worth spending $8-10 in Ebay fees on a sale you now won't get to make and getting 3 negatives over it? Really? I mean this move of yours is up there with the Michael Vick getting caught with marijuana at an airport move. I always thought that was the most foolish thing I'd ever heard when I saw the Saturday Night Live spoof where they made comments about how he's got entourages in every city and could have easily just bought more once he landed rather than risk jail time and a huge fine from the NFL for being caught with it on board the plane. You're a man of convictions though. I'll give you that. I can honestly say that I've never met anybody who would rather receive 3 negatives, a possible suspension for excessive shipping charges and pay more money in fees on a sale he didn't make than the amount of money that the bidder asked for back on an overcharged shipping cost. I guess to some people, their being allowed to set their own rules supercedes all else. Enjoy the negatives buddy. You've earned them.
I replied:
You apparently want me to stuff these cards in a box and ship them to you for $1 or $2. Insult me all you like, it doesn't matter. It seems you like to threaten people to get what you want, but sorry no dice.

You never said how much you wanted to pay for shipping anyway. You obviously know how to play the shipping game as a seller and a buyer. If you decide to be reasonable let me know.

He replied:
I've not been anything but reasonable with you. You assume way too much. I asked simply will you please combine the shipping for a more accurate actual cost and then when you lied to my face about it costing $11, I paid your price, thanked you for your honesty and suggested that I could put you in touch with the people I buy supplies from to save you money in the future. That's when your assumptions poured in. First you assumed I'd find something wrong with the cards and offered me a refund. When I said no thank you and that I just want to be treated honestly, you brought up the irony of me overcharging bidders and started pointing the finger at me for things you know nothing about. Scroll down and actually read what I wrote. You put words in my mouth that were never spoken. Had you offered to ship for around the true cost of shipping ($6-$8) it would have been just fine. You can defend your right to charge way too much all you want but in the end all its going to cost is time and money for you. I've lost a potential lot of cards that was a fairly good deal. You've lost much more.
I replied:
I sent you an invoice with $9 shipping, take it or leave it.
For the record.  Actual shipping was $8.60 (priority mail was the only option I had), .50 for the card box, and 1.00 for the pack of penny sleeves.  That is a total of $10.10 plus 8 or so team bags.

So the question is, how are sellers that sell irregular lots supposed to set shipping costs?  I have lost money on shipping before because I didn't charge enough, yet I know I have inadvertently charged a dollar or two too much. 


Pop Startled said...

The amount of rationalization done by the other guy is ridiculous. What a passive agressive schmuck. Thanks for the warning...will not buy from this user.

Pop Startled said...

Oh, the satisfaction of blocking on eBay. If you don't know about this feature, here's the link:


skoormit said...

Interesting back and forth there.

I do get cheesed at sellers that charge $3 to ship a single card and don't make explicit their rates for combining shipping. But I just move on to the next item. If it is a card I really want, I figure out what I'm willing to pay for it, subtract the shipping cost, and that's how much I bid. As a buyer, I don't care if eBay assesses a fee on the selling price alone or on the price plus shipping charges. As a seller, if eBay doesn't assess a fee on the shipping charges, then every dollar I shift from card price to shipping charge is nine cents I save. If I'm selling thousands of cards a month, why wouldn't I shift as many dollars as possible? Final price: one cent. Shipping charge: five dollars. I've seen tons of single-card auctions like that.