Little Bit of Shipping, Whole Lotta Handling

May 3, 2006

An eBay sellers group that I am in had a brief discussion about shipping and handling fees a few days ago. Someone had purchased 20 items from a seller whose combined shipment policy was designed for the purchase of 2 or 3 items. For 20 items, under that policy, the combined shipping rate was close to $40. She told us that she was estimating actual shipping costs to be about $14 and wanted to know if she should go ahead and charge the whole amount.

To me, this was a no-brainer, and I was one of the few who said they would charge $15 or so, just slightly over the actual cost. Before the discussion was over, she posted another message saying she was going to charge half of what the cost would have been under her combined shipping policy, or nearly $20. Personally, I still think that’s too high, but as it averages out to $1 per item, I suppose its tolerable.

eBay raises its seller fees just about every year. To make up for the rising cost of doing business on eBay, most sellers are charging more and more for their “shipping” costs.

I have always charged about $1 over the shipping costs (slightly more for high price items and buyers outside of the US) to make up for money lost in fees to PayPal (which, BTW, is owned by eBay). I am committed to continue charging that amount for “handling,” even though I see more and more that people are paying $6 to have a shirt sent within the US and it makes me sick. Honestly! The only explanation for why sellers get away with charging so much must be postal ignorance — buyers just don’t know what it really costs to mail something. So, as a public service and a subtle rant, here are some actual postage fees, calculated for East Coast to West Coast addresses. Keep them in mind and compare them to what’s being charged on eBay:

  • DVD — $1.35 first class mail or $4.05 priority mail
  • hard cover book, average sized — $2.07 media mail or $6.05 priority mail
  • cotton tee shirt, child’s — $1.59 first class mail or $4.05 priority mail
  • cotton tee shirt, adult’s — $2.31 first class mail or $4.05 priority mail

To find out for yourself what a package should cost to mail, go to the USPS shipping calculator and estimate the weight of what you’re buying.

Caveat Emptor.


One comment

  1. […] they charge me if the customer pays by PayPal. It’s really no wonder sellers are charging ridiculously high shipping fees — that’s the only place that eBay doesn’t take a piece of the […]

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