Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with eBay’s new Global Postage Programme and my frequent coverage of it!
While I’m pretty excited about what this GPP might offer in terms of better shipping rates from the US to the UK (along with the other qualifying countries) I am painfully aware of certain caveats around this process that are, at present, tempering my enthusiasm for the whole endeavour.
One particular caveat became a reality when I was browsing eBay last night and I thought that it would be a good time to share it with all you fine people out there…
The screenshot below is a fine example (albeit incredibly scuffed if that image is anything to go by) of Blue Jay third baseman, Brett Lawrie’s 2012 Topps Chrome Autographed Rookie card!!
I just wanted to point you in the direction of a few important nuggets of information that this listing provides –
Current Bid: $3.99 (as of 8.55 am GMT on Thursday 15th November 2012)
Postage: $11.11 ( approx £7.01) International Priority Shipping to the UK
Import Charges: $4.37 (estimated and based on current bid)
This is a perfect example (for those of you who have never seen it before) of an item that is listed with the GPP as part of it’s shipping options. However there are a couple of things that jump out at me straight away:
The postage cost is too high
As part of the GPP the seller will ship the item to a location in the US, and it then falls to Pitney Bowes to ensure that the item reaches its international destination. What this means for US sellers is that they don’t have to charge so much for postage.
I don’t know how much it costs to send a single Baseball card to a domestic location – maybe someone can confirm that for me – but I’m pretty damn sure that it isn’t $11.11! It doesn’t even cost that much to send a card direct from the US to the UK if you do it yourself, never mind going through a 3rd party.
This is something that eBay will need to be aware of or there’s a danger of the new system being abused by some sellers, making an extra few bucks by charging a larger than acceptable amount for shipping to another US location. Of course it could be just a genuine mistake, but the reduction of higher postage costs from the seller is supposed to be a significant aspect to the GPP and if this isn’t adhered to by the seller it will turn potential buyers right off from the word go.
— UPDATE #1 —
I have revisited the eBay Terms and Conditions and can confirm that the Postage amount is broken down into the US Shipping Fee, the International Shipping Fee, Fuel Surcharges, Transaction Fee, Parcel Processing Services Fee, Distibution Centre Management Fee, Loss Management Fee, Transportation Risk Premium Fee and a Referral Fee.
I’m not sure at this stage how the seller sets this Postage amount or whether this is something that is forced upon them by eBay as part of the GPP process
— END OF UPDATE #1 —
The Import Charges are too high
According to their website HMRC states “For goods sent from non-EU countries you have to pay VAT if they’re worth more than £15.00” (approx $23.70 USD). I’m sure that other countries have their own threshold amount before tax is introduced but the listing for the Lawrie card already has Import Charges being applied to it.
Now, I’m sure that part of this is an ‘admin’ charge imposed by Pitney Bowes, their way they make their money on the service they offer through eBay. But if you’re buying a single card on eBay, or another smaller item like a team set, then as a buyer you won’t want to be paying any extra than what you have to, particularly when import charges aren’t applicable to the item that you’re buying due the the low amount that you paid for the item.
In this sort of instance it would be better if the seller was to send it direct to the buyer, bypassing Pitney Bowes and any extra charges. However if eBay ever makes the GPP mandatory for all international sellers then this might not be possible!
— UPDATE #2 —
The Import Charges are broken down into Commodity Taxes, a Classification Fee, an Export Compliance Fee and the Importation Risk Premium Fee.
— END OF UPDATE #2 —
As this Programme is still very much in its infancy, and until more sellers sign on board, I’ll reserve my judgement! I still firmly believe that this will be the way forward for larger, more costly items purchased from US sellers but the status of smaller items seems to be far from clear!
If anyone out there can give eBay a poke to find out what’s happening I’d be really grateful…