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Sun Oct 14 2007 22:48:12

Is eBay Express Giving Correct Checkout Totals?

By: David Steiner

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In an article in Monday's newsletter, I relate my experience trying to check out on eBay Express. Although some sellers give multi-item shipping discounts, the checkout on eBay Express may or may not reflect those discounts.

Whether it's an error on sellers' part or a glitch, the effects may carry over when eBay introduces the new Checkout on It certainly points out the need to fill out the "Combined Shipping Discounts" feature properly if you want shoppers to take advantage of your shipping discounts, if you offer any.

Has anyone had a similar problem - either as a buyer or a seller?

Comments (13) | Permalink

Readers Comments

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by: Dean Kagan

Mon Oct 15 07:11:05 2007

Hi David, What we have heard is in some cases items are not combined and the buyer had to pay for the items separately.  We use CA and I am not sure if that is the issue.  We have refunded shipping a couple of times and have it on a list to address.  I do not think in our case it is the settings we have set up though.  For CA you just check a box if you want it to list on Ebay Express.    Since the actual order total has been low it was not worth spending a lot of time investigating but may be worth it now that you bring it up. Dean

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by: Joyce

Mon Oct 15 08:11:24 2007

I have been selling on ebay for almost 10 years and manage 3 eBay accounts.  I use mostly flat rate shipping but sometimes use calculated shipping.  I am aware that my auctions do not offer combined shipping "correctly" as stated in my descriptions and I am currently in the process of revising each and every one of my auctions so that the combined shipping is offered "correctly".  

eBay only recently began offering SHIPPING PROFILES where a seller could combine items of multiple weights.  For example, if you purchase one 1:18 scale item and three 1:64 scale items, eBay previously could not correctly calculate shipping since you were allowed only ONE shipping discount option amount.  

Also, in the beginning, shipping discounts only applied to U.S. shipments then the same discounts automatically applied to interational shipments (without sellers realizing this) which caused MUCH frustration for buyers and sellers and many many angry international buyers.  It was at that point that we disabled the automatic calculation of combined shipping discounts.

Additionally, there have been so many bugs with the combined shipping discount system that even when sellers checked the box for discounts for items in the store then 30 days later when the item was automatically relisted (GTC), the box might be unchecked because of eBay programming changes and the seller doesn't realize the combined shipping had been removed.

Bottom line is that eBay has had many problems with the combined shipping options and only now has finally gotten the combined shipping option to a point where it is usable.  

So, why hasn't every eBay seller jumped right on it?  

First, we devote only about an hour a day to revising auctions.  To revise all of our auctions on every account would take over a week with no new listing or shipping occurring.  So it has to be an incremental process.  

Secondly, because most buyers do NOT use EBay Express the number of potentially affected buyers is small and given the VERY limited amount of time eBay sellers have, resources are spent on areas of selling that affect the most buyers.  

Third, eBay buyers (but not eBay Express buyers) can automatically calculate and change the shipping cost if allowed by sellers and/or there is a place for "discounts" so buyers can subtract out any amount of overcharging.  For example, if the shipping shows up as $14 in checkout but should be $10 then the buyer deducts $4.  Most buyers are aware of how to do this.  

Lastly, we simply refund overcharges to customers through paypal since we only take paypal.

Hope this helps buyers to understand why so many sellers have auctions that do not "correctly" calculate the combined shipping as is offered in the auction descrptions of the items they are selling.

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by: Terry Layman

Mon Oct 15 08:15:09 2007

Only if ebay had auctions going will they know that every program that they have
for sellers to sell, or buyers to buy have major flaws in using them.

But since they don't they can't see the problems sellers get from using ebays programs,
such as checkout.

Yes, I offer combined S/H discounts, but I, don't have my preferences checked that I, do.

Why, I don't have them checked is because if you do, they affect all of your auctions the
same way.

I, live in TX and I do have it checked were as TX buyers pay sales tax for purchases.

But, I do have Drop-shippers in 3 other states, MO, UT, IL, and if I update my Tax tables
for those buyers in those states, then the buyers from the other 3 states are affected also
at checkout with thier appro, state tax.  So if the Drop-shipper is in MO, and a person buys
from TX, they will be charged the TX tax rate at checkout.

Frankly speaking, I think that most sellers know that the problem exists, but won't do anything
about it.  since this is a extra $$ revenue for many of them to rip off their buyers and make
more money.  Ebay made it easy for the sellers to do that, with checkout.

Like I say, if ebay had their own auctions then they would delete most of thier programs they
try to get the seller or buyer to use

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by: Debra Long

Mon Oct 15 08:45:09 2007

This problem isn't limited to eBay express. I've seen the same problem occur on eBay's auction site. I have all my settings done correctly but yet the problem still occurs. It seems to come and go. It doesn't always lean in the sellers favor either. I've often been shortchanged on the shipping because the combined calculator just charges for one item or it drops a few of the shipping charges for some items. In those cases I just eat it because I refuse to go to my buyer after they've paid and ask for more money.

I was also affected by the infamous "free shipping" glitch which reset all my store items to free shipping. I had to end all the items early and relist because eBay claimed it never happened.

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by: Terry Layman

Mon Oct 15 08:48:52 2007

Anyone want to clarify this drop-shippers S/H rates and explain to me how to apply it to ebays checkout.

This shipper has the best combined shipping discounts on the internet, but to apply it to ebay checkout would be mind boggling.

If you want a clearer picture of the following email me.

Zone 1
Arizona.....Colorado.....Idaho.....Nevada.....New Mexico......Wyoming.....Utah

Zone 2
Dakota.....Okahoma.....Oregon.....South Dakota

Zone 3

Hampshire.....New Jersey.....New York.....North Carolina.....Pennsylvania
Rhode Island.....South Carolina.....Vermont.....Virginia.....West Virginia
UPS Shipping Rates
( based on total weights of combined auctions ) Country   Min weight Max weight  Zone 1 Zone 2 Zone 3 Zone 4
USA    -1 oz 8 oz's  $3.00  $3.00  $3.00  $3.00  

USA    8.1 oz's 5 lb's  $8.00  $9.00  $10.00  $11.00  

USA    5.1 lb's 11 lb's  $10.00  $12.00  $14.00  $16.00  

USA    11.1 lb's 20 lb's  $12.00  $14.00  $17.00  $20.00  

USA    20.1 lb's 30 lb's  $16.00  $18.00  $26.00  $30.00  

USA    30.1 lb's 45 lb's  $19.00  $23.00  $32.00  $38.00  

USA    45.1 lb's 65 lb's  $22.00  $26.00  $35.00  $43.00  

USA    Over 65 lb's E-mail for rates


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by: Peter Leeflang - CEO Leeflang Archive Corp

Mon Oct 15 10:03:29 2007

I read David Steiner's article.

My greatest suprise is that he was not aware that Ebay's 'combined shipping' does not work properly.

It never did work 100% on so why would it work on express?

The main problem is that Ebay doe snot offer sellers the right'combined shipping' functionality which they can get on any  shopping site and even on their own standard site.

Sellers with flat rates cannot combine correctly, because Ebay does not allow them to add calculation logic. Example: We sell antique magazines that often differ in weight per title, but also one title may have different weights when layouts changed over time. We have a high s/h charge for the first magazine of a title and a reduced s/h charge for each of the following magazines of the same title and same layout or period. Each quote includes also packaging. If we let Ebay combine, it will not be able to combine purchase with two different magazine titles so we loose a lot on the wrong s/h or customers get seveely overcharged.

We tried entering weight instead in combination with their calculator, but their calculator is often wrong or non functional, which adds to the cost and mutual aggravation.

In other words: Ebay's shipping calculations are a shambles and the only way to resolve it is by allowing for sellers to add more customization options and also by thoroughly testing the functions in coperation with these sellers.

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by: Tim Totten

Mon Oct 15 11:50:56 2007

Great article, David!

We're a relatively new eBay seller, and without question, our biggest headache to date has been the shortcomings of the combined shipping calculator.  Most of our customers purchase multiple items, and most items are flat rate shipping with combined discounts.  When it works, it's great, but it regularly overcharges.  In those cases, we usually end up issuing PayPal partial refunds, which is an unnecessary burden requiring several minutes of my time when you factor in the bookkeeping chores.

The biggest problem we've noticed is that the checkbox for applying combined shipping discounts is often mysteriously unselected when we relist an item, or choose ''sell similar''.  We've noticed this when using SYI or Trubo Lister.  Now we're very careful to check this setting on each listing, and it STILL somehow gets unselected.  I believe it's happened at least once or twice when a GTC store item is automatically relisted after 30 days.

Anyway, thanks for shining some light on this issue.  Let's hope eBay puts a little more elbow grease into fixing it.

By the way, one related annoyance is that for international buyers, I'd like to offer flat rate for Canada and caclulated rates for other countries.  But there doesn't seem to be any way to do this.  I'm sure our international sales volume would increase dramatically if we could solve this one.

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by: Coyote

Mon Oct 15 11:51:17 2007

I had to comment on the faulty checkout system that ebay offers on it's site.

It's been a train wreck for quite some time, and it's not confined to only ebay express, but the main site as well.

I know that they keep trying to fix the system, as the glitches are infrequent, unpredictable, random, all over the map type occurances.

The biggest 2 problems I see happening most often are a big pet peeve of mine. As it is time consuming to correct problems with the incorrect billing of customers, and the communication that this entails, is no picnic either.

#1 issue is the checkout system overcharges for shipping insurance. It doesn't happen all of the time, but most of the time it charges the insurance to each item, instead of once to the entire order. Say you charge $1 for insurance per order, and the customer buys 5 items? The checkout charges them $5 for insurance. And yes, I've even had poeple that actually paid it. But since insurance is an option, and few poeple buy it anymore, that it rarely happens. It's just so very unprofessional for ebay to allow this to continue to happen, and then wonder were all of the customers must of went?? Were's the ebay majic??

The next #2 glitch with shopping cart gives my International buyers a nice little discount when they purchase multiple items. Even though my ebay settings are correct, and the listing settings are correct, the checkout discounts incorrectly for shipments to foreign customers. This glitch costs me the most money, on an extremely regular basis by the way! I lose between $10 & $20 bucks a week because of ebays goofy checkout system. Hoorah for the bidder!

So for the most part, I lose, which ebay can stand to screw me, I guess?? But when it's the buying public, then I wonder if they'll really come back for more of the same BS treatment if I hadn't bothered to uphold to a higher standard of professionalism?

I guess ebay is way to busy counting money and buying ''new properties'' to care about the mundane world of getting it right? Oh well, it's always been an imperfect system. Ebays an imperfect company. It's never been perfect, and unfortunately for all, it's not getting any better with age!

I guess yet again it's the sellers job to make amends with the buyers, because ebay sure as hell doesn't give a hoot how correct the system treats the user base, sellers & buyers alike!

God Bless America, God Bless The Ebay Majic!!

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by: Ann

Mon Oct 15 11:56:19 2007

Thanks to the corageous gentleman who dared to run the guantlet, to get answers from ebay. I too am an experienced seller and buyer for 7 years and even I hit a snag, trying to set up ebay's last change to the SYI format. The options are poorly worded, leaving the seller at a loss for how to even offer discounts on shipping. If a seller offers only one product, knows the extact shipping cost for one of the items, two of the items etc, the system might work. Sadly, for most sellers (including myself), my items can range from 2 oz to 3-4 lbs and it's impossible to set-up an exact discount. So for each listing, I must chose to include the one discount I am allowed to select or uncheck the box. Some of my items must ship by weight and some low flat rate shipping.
Since I am opposed to excessive shipping, I thought I had the solution by adding wording to my listings, ''Please contact me for combined shipping before checkout''. After reading the letter from this diligent buyer, I realized I must be losing many sales, from buyers who are shopping from multiple sellers and not able to take advantage of my discounted shipping.
I had not considered this possiblity in setting my shipping discounts, so this was very helpful. However, I still have no solution for entering a flat discount amount, without the possibility of not even covering my actual shipping ocst.
If you too had trouble understanding how to set up the discount, you are not alone. If you share my problem, selling items weighing vastly different amounts, please let me know how you solved the problem.
I want to give him a big ''thank you'' for his determination and opening my eyes to another ebay glitch.

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by: Christine

Mon Oct 15 12:08:30 2007

I promote .50 cents extra per title on my listings but I don't use eBay's shipping discount calculator because of International Shipments. There is no way I can offer .50 cents extra per title for overseas shipping. Also, I have it only for Media Mail, not Priority Mail since prices vary widely.

I end up doing 4 - 5 partial refunds per week through paypal. Much easier than having to tell someone in Iceland who has ordered 10 books that shipping will be ''slightly'' more expensive.

It would be nice to have: a checkbox not to include international items for a shipping discount and be able to select the type of shipment (media mail, priority mail, etc.)

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by: Bill A.

Mon Oct 15 12:56:56 2007

Between Ebay functionality being inconsistent on most everything we do and paypal unique problems with software,  I am incredibly frustrated.
I really wonder which it is:
Does Ebay really not care that buyers and sellers are getting increasingly frustrated ?
 Is the IT department so isolated from the help desks thaty they really are not aware of the problems?
 Or are they really this inompetent?

I have been a low volume seller for a few years and it keeps getting worse and worse.

Every seller I know personally is getting fed up with lack of support and broken functionality.

 I got stuck with a $15.00 shipping charge because of a 'glitch'.
 What really sets me over the edge is when the support team says 'We are sorry for the inconvenience'

  EBAY ---- It is NOT an inconvenience,  it is real time and money that is lost from these issues.

 I use inkfrog to manage my listings...
they had a server problem the other day. Inkfrog displayed incredible professionalism -- they answered my query within 15 minutes,  they kept people ito unformed of the status, when it was fixed  they informed their customers of what needed to be done if they saw problems. They worked their tails off to fix a problem.
When you logged into the systems there was a broadcast message saying that were problems.

All software breaks ,  It is how you handle the problems that makes the difference.

EBAY  take a lesson from Inkfrog about dedication, customer support and professionalism.  

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by: Patricia

Mon Oct 15 14:12:26 2007

I read David's story with full realization that this seems to be the norm for Ebay.  Anything they touch or tinker with ends up looking like an old Rube Goldberg mishmash of programming.  We've been suffering thru this type of bad programming for many years now.  Its sad because I've been selling on Ebay for 9 years ....but if I have to buy something I automatically go to Amazon or a B&M store.  I rarely think of buying on Ebay.  Will they never ever wake up?  Being the first online auction site can only serve them so far and I feel they're coming to the end of their road! :-(

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by: Tracy

Mon Oct 15 14:27:25 2007

Thank you so much David, for taking the time to illustrate this problem.

I am a long-time Ebay seller and buyer. We have attempted to stay up-to-date on all the changes that Ebay launches on sellers with little thought to the ramifications systemwide. It's very hard when they don't announce the changes and we only find out about them (or issues they have caused) via Auctionbytes or chat boards.

Each and every issue we have had, we have heard Ebay trot out the "it's the seller's fault" with little or no help actually available to correct the problem. It gets old real fast. And I've been around the Ebay block long enough to know my way around buying and selling.

We usually have to end up revising each and every auction individually, which is tiresome and rarely fixes all the problems.

With this current issue ... and with Ebay planning to launch search based on seller's stars ... we are really bracing for the worst. Even IF Ebay can get the proper shipping attached to the calculator/transaction, why on Earth should I be rated on that? And shipping time -- I can only imagine what that's going to come to during the holidays with weather delays and whatnot.

Keep up the good work. It's important that these issues be heard.

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