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Sat Aug 11 2018 16:44:55

eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

By: Ina Steiner

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A reader informed us that eBay has begun undercharging his buyers for international shipping - and since he can't reach anyone in eBay customer service who can help him, he's left paying the difference.

The problem is proving costly for our reader, named Bill. For example, Bill said eBay charged three of his European buyers about 60% of what he had to pay for shipping in a single day, costing him about $50. 

Based on his description of the problem, we suspected the problem might be related to a change USPS made in January, so we reached out to shipping expert Eric Nash who has written about the postal price change on the Stamps.com blog.

Here's the reader's initial description of the billing problem:

"I have multiple items going to Europe. All buyers were only charged about 60% of what I have to pay for shipping, even after my discount. This has occurred on 3 items today, so I suspect this is a major problem, perhaps the reason eBay's customer service system appears to be overloaded. This also happened earlier in the week to a few domestic sales, and for those the $ cost difference was not worth calling eBay. All of these have been associated with First Class mail, USPS. 

"I cannot absorb over $50 in added shipping costs, so will probably have to contact the buyers directly to explain they either have to pay the additional shipping, or I will issue refunds if they wish."

Compounding the problem, he has been unable to reach the right person at eBay customer service. "Once I get thru to the automated greeting, and explain who I am and what my problem is, they transfer me to "somebody who can help." After waiting between 2:04 & 3:04  minutes, the call is diverted to a fast busy signal, then disconnected. Happened 6 times before I gave up," he told us.

He then sent the following example:

"It happened again, I sold a package to France, eBay billed the customer $12.60, but then hit me for $22.33 after my discount. For a $25 item."

We sent Bill's letters to Eric Nash of Stamps.com. Here is his response to the reader:

Hi Bill,
I can certainly understand your frustration on this issue as the extra shipping costs you are being required to pay ($22.33 instead of $12.60) is taking up a huge chunk of your profits!

This issue is related to a major change the USPS made back in January for First Class Mail International Large Envelopes/Flats. On January 21, 2018, the USPS restricted the use of First Class Mail International Large Envelopes/Flats to only documents - merchandise could no longer be shipped with this USPS service. 

The merchandise restriction was implemented in order for the USPS to comply with requirements set by the Universal Postal Union (UPU). These requirements were set in order to help process packages through International Customs quicker. The UPU is an organization that coordinates postal policies among member nations and includes most of international postal services, including the USPS for international delivery.

Since most eBay and e-commerce sellers only ship merchandise, they will now need to upgrade their international shipping service to First Class Package International Service to ship these products. This upgrade of shipping service comes with a significant increase in cost, as you have noticed:

USPS International Shipping Service - US to France, 1 pound:
First Class Mail International Large Envelop/Flat: $12.60
First Class Package International Service (eBay Discount): $22.33
Difference: $9.73

In looking at the eBay Shipping Calculator today, it appears the calculator is showing the First Class Mail International Large Envelope/Flat rate for documents of $12.60. I’m not sure if this is also happening for Calculated Shipping on your listings but if so, that would cause this problem and I think you could contact eBay Customer Support.


Stamps.com has an option called the Global Advantage Program that allows sellers to use a variation of the First Class Mail International Flat service (it is more expensive than First Class International Flats but much cheaper than First Class Package International Service). 

When using the GAP program, your International Large Envelope/Flat is shipped to a Postal Processing Facility address in the U.S., where packages are consolidated (Customs Forms are applied and sent electronically) and then sent to the International Recipient's address. You can get more info here.

With the GAP program, that 1 lb. Flat traveling from Maryland to France would be $16.80 rather than $22.33.

Hope this information proves helpful!
Eric Nash
Stamps.com

We sent an email inquiry to eBay about the shipping calculator rates for First Class Mail International on Friday, with no response as of yet.

Comments (28) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: smallstuff This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 11 17:43:35 2018

I understand the issue, but wonder if the original poster is offering all flavors of postage in his/her listings?  I offer USPS First Class Package International on most of my sales, but my packages are almost always over one pound ... I've never had this happen.  For most European countries, the postage calculator displays US $23.50 to the buyer.  I just checked one listing below one pound and the same price pops up $23.50.  So, I am not sure what would cause the calculator to think this is an envelope or thin parcel.

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: smallstuff This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 11 17:47:11 2018

Correction - if you select envelope, you get those lower rates.  The poster is correct that this should not be allowed.  But why is he offering that rate in his listings.

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 11 18:40:18 2018

Ebays new customer service is to disconnect after a few minutes. Been happening all month. Its their new way of problem solving. Make some one wait for an hour and then just disconnect betting they won't call back.

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: angryllama This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 11 20:52:33 2018

@Smallstuff   YOU will also see an even LOWER First Class Package Rate if you select a SHIPPING weight of 1 thru 8 ounces.  That rate for PACKAGES is down around $15 USD to most  Countries, but JUMPS UP to that $23.50 you cite for ALL weights 8.1 oz right up THROUGH 32 ounces.  The best way I've had to explain this WEIRD pricing to export buyers is that the USA post office rates offer a "Small Packet" rate for the first 1/2 POUND.  Then the NEXT StairStep on the rate schedule takes one all the way UP to full 2 pounds and THEN beyond that each new step is by FULL POUND units.  

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: OnlyPollyPocket This user has validated their user name.

Sun Aug 12 01:00:00 2018

@angryllama

What you outline is also a great sales tool.  When my customer goes over 8 ounces, I explain this odd pricing and their response is often "so I can add 3 more items for the same shipping cost?"   You betcha! :)

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Sun Aug 12 08:57:27 2018

How does this company turn the lights on in the morning?

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: Grady This user has validated their user name.

Sun Aug 12 12:19:04 2018

Another INTENTIONAL glitch. Lower shipping, which is subsidized by the seller

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Sun Aug 12 12:34:42 2018

I am going to guess that in this sellers case one item could go first class flat, but 3 items become too large?

This sounds less like ebay fault and move like the seller unintentionally putting the wrong shipping paramete's in.

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: angryllama This user has validated their user name.

Sun Aug 12 20:18:05 2018

I think the BEST WAY to look at this would be for BILL to verify the GROSS SHIPPING WEIGHT and DIMENSIONS of the example 3 shipments  he got the BEAT DOWN on.  My own  BEST GUESS is that initially when BILL listed these items he UNTHINKINGLY listed the WEIGHT as 8 ounces OR LESS.  Then when he went to PRINT OUT he WEIGHED it and entered the CORRECT GROSS WEIGHT that he recorded on the EBAY shipping labels page as 9 or more ( but LESS than 32 ounces).
Oingo-Boingo  MYSTERY solved.  1 thru 8 ounces TRUE GROSS WEIGHT does get the much lower (roughly $15), but as I said earlier any weight recorded as 9 thru 32 ounces IS that sharply higher $25.30 as it is the TWO POUND RATE no matter if BILL entered "only ONE pound".  
NOT SLAMMING HIS INTELLIGENCE as it is soooo easy to get confused when the eBay shipping label site quite correctly shows ALL weights up thru 16 as 1 by 1 higher weights, e.g. 1 oz 2 oz .... 5 oz 6 oz ... 7 oz 8 oz then OOPSIE all those stayed the SAME price, but 9 oz ... zings up 60 percent in ONE FELL SWOOP to $25.30.  My BETTING MONEY says this has exactly NOTHING to do with the WEIRD export FLATS rate. Remember that FLATS means FLAT as in SKINNY where the MAXIMUM THICKNESS dictates whether ANY package can go using those MAGAZINE RATES for EXPORT or... not.  Very similar to the DOMESTIC USPS rates where ANY JOE BLOW can mail a rollable, flexible, NOT RIGID, package under 1/2 inch at it's THICKEST POINT package using the First Class LETTER rates where it does to up by minimal amounts from 1 thru 13 ounces.

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: Truthalwayshurts This user has validated their user name.

Sun Aug 12 23:02:03 2018

This is totally seller error and that guy from stamps.com is off his rocker and probably shouldn’t discuss eBay shipping. The seller here selected envelope as the package type in the calculator so he buyer was charged that rate. When the seller purchased the label, he chose package. And was charged the package rate.

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Sun Aug 12 23:52:58 2018

Just so you know this guy is not me. I use flat rate shipping and I have been shipping for over 30 years plus I have never used eBay for shipping labels (only and fool would do that in my opinion since it is a lot cheaper at other sites).


eBay = Dead Man Walking

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: 1st Armored Div. 1971-1973 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 13 00:55:40 2018

Just checked a package and a letter to see what the rate ebay is asking to the UK.

Package 5oz $15.00
Letter 3oz $17.50 (it is higher because of handling)

Ebay is kicking letter rate into the package rate which makes the item unsaleable out of the country. It wasn't that way last week since I shipped some postcards to UK.

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: 1st Armored Div. 1971-1973 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 13 00:58:12 2018

PS. Last week to ship a letter to the UK was $6.50. Now it is $17.50.

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

This user has validated their user name. by: Lightning

Mon Aug 13 01:04:35 2018

@Bill
Maybe I can learn from your 30 years experience.  I have been using ebay shipping all along, so maybe a fool.  I would prefer NOT to be a fool.  I took a look at shipping sites/tools and saw about the same prices as ebay shipping, with a monthly fee on top of it.  Figured it was better without the fee and didn't have to worry about merging platforms, sales flow, or anything, staying on ebay the whole time.  I ship media and Priority, usually 3 lbs. average.  What is your recommendation, the answer that I have been somehow missing?

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 13 01:08:24 2018

Not to be mean, but it seems the OP hasn't been keeping up on postal rates. If he ships the same doggone packages, same weights all the time, he should have the rate locked into shipping.

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Aug 13 02:35:04 2018

@Lightening - I no longer sell on eBay, however, for any non-Amazon order, I use Endicia. Yes, it has a fee to use. In the 14years I thin it has been that I've been using it, it had ONE glitch that I am aware of and they realized they had a glitch. Sellers were apologized to the next day and were also promptly refunded the excess shipping cost they had been charged. When is the last time eBay/PP have done that? The other day my printers, both of them in the office, were acting up and I couldn't print with them. That required me to use the printer in my sewing room and my upstairs laptop that does not have Endicia connected to it. What a pain trying to figure out PP postage. I don't know how many times just in the past year I have heard of PP postage having glitches and was unusable. The only reason that I use Amazon's postage program is the supposed way that Amazon would cover INR claims by buyers, but It doesn't always work from what I hear.

I wish these venues would let us pick the programs that we want to in running our businesses. Let the companies that do an excellent job get the profit and the companies that keep having problems can go belly up as far as I am concerned.  

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: kvl1 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 13 09:21:19 2018

Rexford: Thanks for making me laugh out loud!

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

This user has validated their user name. by: Bidonmine

Mon Aug 13 09:38:26 2018

International was once about 5% of my sales. I stopped international 3 years ago and am glad I did. That 5% was not worth the problems associated with foreign shipments, including Ebay's shipping programmers incompetence.  

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 13 10:44:27 2018

> How does this company turn the lights on in the morning?

Set fire to an intern and let him run around screaming until the blinds catch fire?

Perminate Link for eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills   eBay Shipping Calculator Flaw Leads to Exorbitant Bills

This user has validated their user name. by: Lightning

Mon Aug 13 13:53:22 2018

@Moonwishes
Thanks for the suggestion.  I used Endicia 15 years ago, and I can't remember why I stopped using it.  Maybe I found ebay labels to be ok to use at that time, or there was no particular advantage to using it.  I haven't had a problem making labels on ebay for as long as I can remember.  Not fond of the ''new'' shipping page, but it's just little peculiarities, so it's manageable.  If there's something out there that is substantially cheaper, I'd look into it.

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