Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Say "no" to eBay's Global Shipping Program

As some of you may know, I play Magic: The Gathering (MTG), and as someone who plays the games and collects the cards, a more cost effective way of gathering the cards is via eBay. I am not new when it comes to on-line shopping. I doubt many other people out there who are connected to the internet are also unaware of eBay. They connect sellers with buyers on a global scale.

Recently, eBay introduced a new feature for sellers in the USA - the Global Shipping Program (GSP). The GSP sounds like a great service - on the surface. Sellers in the USA package their goods, and send it to the GSP hub, in Kentucky, where Pitney Bowes takes over and ships it to international customers. As long as the seller gets it to the GSP hub, the service takes care of the rest. It will also calculate the international shipping costs, and any additional customs costs, and that will be all billed to the buyer.

But in reality, there are many problems associated with the GSP. The cost to cover such a service is very expensive. As I mentioned, I play and collect MTG cards. The cost of shipping 4 pieces of thin cardboard to me is around $US30. Who thinks that is reasonable? Even with padding / protection, expedited shipping, and tracking - it would be around the $US12 mark. My usual expectations for 4 pieces of thin cardboard safely shipping to me is around $US3 to $US4 per item. This will get cheaper (per unit) if the seller allows for combined shipping. Obviously, there is some additional mark-ups inserted into the GSP fee - which as I mentioned gets passed onto the buyer. While this make make it easier for the seller, it does not make it easier or cheaper for the buyer.

This video has someone discussing some of the other problems:

The video gets interesting around the 10m22s when the person in the video reads out a response sent to him from eBay around a dispute he has with damage to a product.

So, summing things up:
  • Greater costs get passed to the buyer
  • GSP opens up packages sent to them, and repackages them
  • Any disputes over damage are ignored by eBay
  • GSP has a "hands-off" approach to resolving disputes
  • No value declaration
  • It means less money in the hands of seller, as more goes to eBay - which in turn, means international buyers will not tend to spend as much for products US sellers may be offering
  • GSP also has a tendency for under-calculating the shipping costs of items seen on the search page when compared to the single item listing pages
What can you do as a buyer? Inform the sellers about the reality of GSP. Do some of your own research, weigh up comments from people who have bought products via the GSP. Most people use eBay to find bargains. Inform the users using GSP that you prefer sellers that "manually" ship items. If the fact that eBay fees are now making internet goods more expensive, support your local stores - buy from them.

What can you do as a seller? Deactivate GSP by doing the opposite of what is listed in this link, or via the steps listed in this eBay forum thread. Listen to your buyers. Without them, all you have is your product, and less potential customers.

Lastly, both groups can keep complaining to eBay. I am sure GSP has some benefits in some situations, but I am yet to see what those situations are, and am yet to read a glowing review of GSP, but I have read that eBay Global Shipping Program Exposes Sellers to Bad Feedback.

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