For the past month or so, eBay has been stating that it will aggressively tackle excessive shipping and handling fees on eBay listings. This text from Bill Cobb’s keynote speech at eBay Live in June, has some strong promises that eBay plans to address this problem head on.
You’ve probably seen listings with excessive shipping fees. A DVD which sells for 99 cents and shipping is $20.00, for example. This is an eBay fee circumvention strategy because listing and final value fees do not take into account the shipping charge.
This is a positive step in my opinion. I do agree that excessive shipping fees undermine buyer confidence in that marketplace. I do have some concerns about how eBay will enforce this however. eBay’s policy regarding Excessive Shipping Charges is still a bit vague in places. For example it says:
A handling fee in addition to actual shipping cost may be charged if it is not excessive.
An obvious question here is: How is ‘excessive’ defined? There is no separate entry for handling charges on eBay (it’s rolled in with shipping charges) so how can one know the cutoff between normal and excessive?
It appears to me that eBay will have a difficult time taking a formulaic approach to this. $20 for shipping on a DVD may be excessive, but it may not be for a cast iron 12 piece cookware set. Obviously one important variable is weight. But unless it’s an eBay cataloged item, it will be up to the seller to state the weight somewhere in the listing description. Size of item also plays into shipping costs. Something that is large or excessively long may require a bigger box even though it may not weigh that much.
This leaves eBay to police the problem using the “report this listing” feature (scary).
However, honest sellers should not have to worry. Just calculate your shipping via the method you advertise and maybe add a tad more for the cost of the box and supplies. If the item does have unusual size, weight, or handling requirements that justify a higher shipping cost, clearly state that in your listing so that your buyers understand why you’re asking that amount for shipping.