The Light at the End of the Tunnel for International Postage…?

Last night I was perusing eBay, looking to buy a box of 2012 Topps Heritage Baseball!

You can pick up both Retail and Hobby boxes at pretty reasonable prices but one particular item caught my eye. Click on the link below to check it out…

2012 Topps Heritage Baseball 24 Pack Factory Sealed Box

This box is listed by the seller pittsburghsportscards and you can click on the link to visit their eBay store (or alternatively click here to visit their website)

The thing that particularly caught my eye about this was how cheap their shipping was to the UK!! £7.25 for a full box of cards – sounded too good to be true!! I figured that it must be some kind of typo until I saw an extra amount for ‘Import Charges’ at $16.23 just below!

Ahhh… Hidden charges, I initially thought, until it suddenly dawned on me that I’d never seen ‘Import Charges’ against a listing before.

So, I investigated a little further and found that pittsburghsportscards appear to be signed up to the Global Postage Programme.

Say WHAT!?!?!?!

The Global Postage Programme appears to have been implemented as part of a number of changes that eBay made from 1st October 2012, and is aimed at making life easier for buyers outside the US getting hold of items direct from the US!

Click here for the lowdown on this new service direct from the pages of eBay and here for details of the T&C’s!!

There is a restriction for items listed in the category – Sports Memorabilia, Cards, & Fan Shop (excluding Fan Apparel & Souvenirs) – which I thought automatically excluded Baseball cards, but then I noticed that the majority of US Baseball card listings seem to be under the category of – Sports Memorabilia > Other Sports Memorabilia > Baseball > Trading Cards – and so didn’t fall under this ineligibility clause!!!

It appears that eBay has had a relationship with Pitney Bowes since 2004 with regard to the shipping of items in the US (read all about that in this press release), but this looks like the first time it’s been introduced for international shipping!

So… Where does all this leave us UK collectors?

Well, I’m not too sure at the moment until I use the service!

What I’m hoping is that this will remove the worry of buying boxes of cards from the US and then being stung by extra customs charges and Royal Mail/generic courier ‘admin’ charges when the box arrives at the door!

This was going to be a topic for another post, but lets face it… We’ve ALL been there! We get ourselves a bargain off the ‘Bay, pay a little extra for international postage, and then see that ‘bargain’ turn into a financial liability due to the ‘extras’ added at our end in the form of Import Duty and handling charges!!

This is NOT, and NEVER has been, the fault of the seller! It’s just one of the problems we face in the UK (and Europe) with respect to receiving items from the US through the postal service. Sometimes it happens, other times it doesn’t, and it’s these sorts of inconsistencies that drive us absolutely mental!!

Case in point – I purchased a box of 2009 Bowman Chrome Baseball from Dave and Adam’s Card World eBay store for a snip at £27.00 with around £12.00 postage. Grand total approximately £39.00 ($62.00). When they arrived I ended up having to pay an extra £18.00 in Import Tax plus the couriers ‘handling’ fee turning my box of Bowman Chrome into a rather costly £57.00 ($91.00), or thereabouts!

I know I’m not the only one to have a story, or several, like this!

What it looks like the Global Postage Programme intends to do is make things simpler for international sellers and buyers! Sellers can, and hopefully will, offer cheaper postage rates as they are shipping to a domestic address (I’m assuming that they are charged a small amount for being able to use this service which will probably be passed on to the buyer) while the buyer will benefit from consolidated postage and import charges!

With the box of Heritage that I initially looked at the total postage for the box was just over £17.00, including the Global Postage Programme charges. With most sellers you can be expected to be charged between £12.00 and £20.00 for postage on a standard 24pk box of sports cards through USPS, sometimes more. However through the Global Postage Programme I’d be happy to pay just a few pounds more for shipping costs, happy in the knowledge that the package will include tracking and that there will be no extra charges slapped on at the end when the postman come a’knockin’!!

How well this whole process works remains to be seen but it’s a mammoth step in the right direction for buyers who regularly purchase items on eBay from the US.

Hopefully more sellers will start to sign up for this programme as word starts to spread. And if it helps increase their overseas customer base, especially if buyers know that the Programme works and can be trusted, then this can only be a good thing for all parties!

I’m going to try and contact a couple of sellers that I’ve used before just to get their take on it and I’ll report back I know more!!

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7 thoughts on “The Light at the End of the Tunnel for International Postage…?

  1. Sounds like a reasonable concept, but being an old cynic, I have a few doubts that I’d like to see answered before I get too excited about this. First off, are the Royal Mail and HMRC signed up to this? I’m a bit confused about how tax and duty due to the UK treasury makes its way back across the Atlantic when paid to a US-based 3rd party. Seems to me there’s nothing to stop an HMRC officer from saying “Nothing to do wiv us, guv!” and slapping an EXTRA round of charges on to a shipment.

    I’d have to see this in action and hear a few positive testimonials before I’d be convinced. The true test would come if someone a) bought an item of appreciable value (ie above the lower limit for tax and excise duty), b) utilised the Global Postage Programme, and c) actually had their item inspected by HMRC and processed with no extra charges. I’d be willing to bet that even if the tax and duty payment question has been dealt with, they’d still hit you with a “handling” charge.

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