We received an email from a reader on Friday who said eBay is refunding her international buyers whose deliveries are delayed due to pandemic-related issues. When she contacts eBay telling them the buyer will end up with the item plus the refund, she said eBay is telling her to take it up with the buyer. (See her letter on the EcommerceBytes Letters to the Editor blog).
International sales are always more challenging than domestic, now more than ever due to shipping issues resulting from the global pandemic. The USPS has even taken to sending some international mail by sea transport due to limited air transportation resulting from widespread flight cancellations and restrictions due to COVID-19, as we reported in April. (Online postage provider Stamps.com has been publishing updates about mail disruptions on its website.)
Many sellers use third-party shipping tools that offer advanced features, including offering multichannel and multi-carrier support, but low volume sellers may choose to purchase postage on the marketplace on which they sell.
In addition to offering shipping labels, eBay offers two international shipping programs, and it’s important to understand how each works since they offer very different protections to sellers.
Many are familiar with eBay Global Shipping Program (GSP) – the seller is only responsible for sending their packages to a domestic address, and eBay’s shipping partner takes over:
“Send your eligible item to our domestic shipping center, and once it reaches us, your job is done: We’ll manage the international shipping and customs process for you.”
In the fall, eBay introduced another program called Standard International Delivery Service, aka SEND:
“eBay’s seller levels and performance standards apply the same as they do for a typical international eBay order. While eBay has worked with shipping carriers to create the eBay international standard delivery shipping service, you’re still responsible for getting the order to the buyer in good shape. However, each eBay international standard delivery shipment includes a $100 shipping protection plan to help in case of lost or damaged items.”
Note that both eBay programs are optional.
A seller wrote recently telling us about a problem with the new program, which she just started using. eBay’s Standard International Delivery Service generates a label with two tracking numbers, she said. “The first USPS tracking number gets the parcel to eBay’s Distribution Center. After the parcel arrives at the Distribution Center the second tracking number takes over,” she explained, but the service starts to break down if the parcel gets lost between the initial scan and the Center, she said.
“A package is now lost, and I cannot prove the parcel was scanned even though I witnessed the scan. eBay has “no idea” where the first tracking number can be found and I have spent several hours on the phone and via email trying to resolve this issue,” she said.
After that experience, she now writes down the first tracking number and manually adds it to tracking information.
“How can eBay not realize this is an issue when it comes to claims,” she asked.
The following excerpt from eBay’s help page explains why there might be two tracking numbers: “eBay international standard delivery uses USPS’s domestic service to transport items to eBay’s trusted warehouse partners. Our partners screen packages and then forward them to your international buyers around the world.”
It also states, “You and your buyers can track the entire transaction via eBay.com.”
However, in its Terms of Service, eBay states, “Once your label has been purchased, we will send you a link to track your delivery. If you do not receive this link, please contact Customer Services” – making no mention of more than one tracking number.
Another seller on the eBay boards describe a similar problem with tracking they experienced with one of their shipments sent through the new program. It seems advisable to pay close attention to tracking numbers when using the service.
When we wrote about Standard International Delivery Service in November (it was set to launch to all sellers in January), we noted that eBay marketed it as “an economical alternative to USPS First Class Package and Priority Mail International.”
In our blog post, we highlighted the differences between the new program and the Global Shipping Program. GSP offers protections that the new program doesn’t. Not everyone is a fan of the Global Shipping Program, however – for example, some sellers say buyers view the option as too expensive (GSP automatically charges duties and tax during checkout on eBay).
Since the program launched this year, eBay published a help page where it describes the differences between the programs in the following FAQ:
What’s the difference between eBay international standard delivery and the Global Shipping Program?
eBay international standard delivery is a Delivered Duties Unpaid (DDU) shipping solution – buyers won’t pay duties and tax at checkout on eBay, but may have to pay the carrier for duties and tax on delivery.
The Global Shipping Program (GSP) is a Delivery Duties Paid (DDP) shipping program – buyers pay duties and tax during checkout on eBay via GSP.
eBay international standard delivery gives you full control of what you want to charge buyers for shipping (Free, Flat, Calculated) from end to end.
With GSP, the buyer always sees the GSP shipping charges, and also any costs you set for the domestic shipping leg (Free, Flat, Calculated).
Other FAQs state, “eBay international standard delivery will protect you from negative feedback and any impact to your seller standards and service metrics due to late deliveries.”
eBay also states, “You can be assured that your international shipments will arrive at their destinations, or we will protect you if there is an issue that is beyond your control,” and it points to the eBay SEND Terms of Service.
According to the terms, “You’re protected under this Shipping Protection Plan (“SPP”) in amount not to exceed the lesser of (i) the total sale price (including taxes) of those products or items contained in any individual shipment or (ii) one hundred dollars ($100.00 USD).”
The protection offered under the SPP is administered by Parcel Insurance Plan, a third-party company – “Importantly,” according to the terms, “the SPP is not an insurance policy, warranty or any type of guaranty.”
Shipping internationally is fraught with peril these days due to the coronavirus pandemic, so it behooves sellers to be especially careful and to understand what protections you’ll be offered if your package goes astray or a buyer files a claim.
Feel free to share your international-shipping stories and tips in the comments.
eBay’s International Shipping Programs
eBay Global Shipping Program (GSP) – link to more information
eBay Standard International Delivery Service (SEND) – link to more information