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eBay Global Shipping Program Generates Flak for Pitney Bowes

The motivation behind the eBay Global Shipping Program is to make it easier and more transparent to buy and sell across country borders, but in some cases, the program impedes trade.

Case in point, a reader said he went to buy a small paper ticket on eBay that’s listed by a UK seller – “but he’s using eBay’s global shipping program and guess what…. shipping is listed at $15.86 for something that could be mailed in a standard envelope,” a reader wrote. “Guess who’s not buying that item,” he asked rhetorically.

eBay outsources its Global Shipping Program to Pitney Bowes, whose hometown newspaper the Stamford Advocate published an article on Saturday about complaints from Canadian eBay buyers who purchased from sellers enrolled in the GSP program.

“More than two years after eBay hired Stamford-based Pitney Bowes to handle packages destined for Canada, the system has generated thousands of complaints and hundreds of thousands of web page views, with Canadians expressing confusion, derision and outright rage at what they see as excessive charges tacked onto transactions and other problems,” the publication wrote.

The article noted buyer complaints about “excessive shipping charges levied by Pitney Bowes, lengthy shipment intervals and, in at least a few instances, packages being opened at the Kentucky processing center, then repacked and resealed in shoddy fashion, resulting in damaged items and subsequent returns, with attendant problems recovering custom duties paid.”

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The reader who contacted us over the weekend about excessive shipping for an item listed on eBay UK wrote back to say he reached out to the seller.

He asked the UK seller if the shipping price displayed on his listing was correct and if he knew his auction was enrolled in eBay’s Global Shipping Program.

“Apparently he wasn’t aware his auction had that set and he immediately opted out of the eBay Global Shipping Program,” the EcommerceBytes reader reported. “Turns out his actual shipping cost was 50 pence compared to eBay’s $15+ cost, so now I have a bid on his auction and we’re both happy. Would have been a lost sale if I hadn’t contacted him.”

As we’ve documented, many sellers have reported they were unaware their items were enrolled in the program.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.