11 Simple Ways to Lose Money by Over-Charging on eBay Shipping

Image by amalthya via Flickr

11 Simple Ways to Lose Money by Over-Charging on eBay Shipping

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the eBay book: move your profit margins from the item price to the shipping charges to avoid eBay fees. To the haphazard seller, this might appear to be actually saving you money.

Here Are 11 Reasons Why You’re Losing Money On eBay.

Your troubles will start when eBay removes your listing – and they will, if they catch you. Why? Well, for starters, it pisses off buyers, and the customer is always right, even when they’re wrong. You’re paying eBay because they can bring buyers to your items. If there are sellers like you on their site, the buyers are going to get fed up and leave – and then how will eBay bring the other good, hard-working sellers new buyers? And second, eBay is a business. Their business is the service of allowing you to toss up your items on their site – which they pay to advertise for – and when you try to skip out on your fees, they get kinda irritated.

eBay removing your listing will gunk up your cash flow in four distinct ways:

  • You’ll lose the sale. Obviously. If they take your item down, buyers can no longer see it and they can’t buy what they can’t see.
  • Lost trust. Buyers get all fidgety and nervous when eBay starts taking your stuff down. One minute they were winning the bid, the next, they have an email from eBay saying that they had to toss your item, but here are some similar ones that they might be interested in… Say good-bye to repeat customers.
  • Time is money – and you’ll lose it on the three hours you spend arguing with eBay Customer Support that your item shouldn’t have been removed – an argument that you will not win, I might add. Sure, having your item removed hurts your feelings, and of course now your buyers are all suspicious and curious what you’re up to, but you wouldn’t be having this problem if you hadn’t tried to rip eBay off in the first place – and that’s probably exactly what the ever-so-polite, yet bored and not-bloody-helping-you, rep on the other end of the line is thinking. Three hours on the phone over the 36 cents you would’ve saved on final value fees puts you at making a whopping 12 cents an hour. Congratulations on your raise. And, again – you won’t win.
  • Lost sales over your upcoming restriction or suspension. Gawd. And you thought the one item getting removed was irritating. That’s nothing compared to the bash-your-keyboard-against-the-monitor aggravation you’ll suffer when your account gets dumped because you’re a repeat offender and eBay got sick of sending you warnings.
    The restriction is pretty bad – anywhere between 24 hours to 7 days of not being able to list any new items at all will certainly put a cramp in your money-making style, but that’s nothing compared to when you finally get upped to a suspension and your entire inventory, which you’ve spent a collective hundred or more hours writing up and taking pictures for, gets flushed. What’s 0 dollars divided by a hundred hours? Oh, nothing dollars per hour. Not to mention all your would-be repeat customers see that you’re no longer a registered user. That’s always good for business.

Supposing that eBay doesn’t catch your transgression and your listing runs to its natural end, you’ll still lose the immediate sales from buyers who are actually paying attention – and let’s face it, those are the people that you want buying your items. eBay is chalk full of listings with over-priced shipping and big, red, ugly disclaimers proclaiming “please don’t bid if you don’t agree to the shipping charges!” I bet you’re the same people who whine about how the economy, and your sales, are in the crapper – which they probably are.

The resulting scenario in this case is that the people who actually read your neat little disclaimer (and are the more reasonable and patient half of the population) won’t buy your item, and the people who are too busy to read 6 pages of terms before purchasing a $12 USB drive will.

  • Unless there’s absolutely no one else on the internet who carries your item, which, unless you’re selling Ab Circle booties, is not likely, the people who actually read listings, and intend to comply with your terms, will go elsewhere. They’re observant and know better. That’s why they reviewed your listing before bidding.
  • If you’re charging too much for shipping, your listings will get buried anyways. A popular sort by method on eBay is: Price + Shipping: lowest first. Even if you’re selling your brand new Sony digital camera for $1.29, if you’re shipping is $600, your item will still be at the bottom of page 16. Now, if you had lower shipping, your item could still at least be in the running for a bidding war which pops your listing right up to the top of a Best Match search and might still get you that ridiculous asking price you wanted.

Angry customers. We just got done talking about the people who won’t be bidding on your item because they’re too smart to play your game, but what about the ones that aren’t? Not only are they now irritated to find out they have to pay massive amounts more on shipping than they really ought to be, they’re going to be the same buyers that’re all but impossible to reason with now that you’ve dug yourself into a hole with them.

There are two basic types of angry customers who get angry over shipping – the aggressive ones, who want their money back or else, and the passive-aggressive ones, who you won’t hear from, but they’ll @#$% over your DSRs and laugh about it later. Let’s start with the aggressive ones.

Aggressive customers who feel betrayed by your clever tricks will either realize their error in bidding on your item right off the bat when they get the invoice, or they’ll realize it later when they see $2.99 stamped on their package and recall that they paid you $25.50 for shipping.

  • When they don’t pay, there’s a chance you’ll be able to get your final value fee back. You could file an unpaid item dispute, which could get reversed because you were being a dingus about the whole thing, and could lead to negative feedback – which eBay will, under no circumstances, remove. You can try to get the buyer to cancel the transaction, which might prevent bad feedback, but the buyer might also tell you to kiss their dark side of the moon, and good-bye final value fee.
  • You’ll lose otherwise lucrative time, which you’ll inevitably spend filing your disputes and arguing with the customer – and eBay over how unreasonable your customer is being. Do I need to mention how time is money again, or continue to belittle you on how you keep making horribly small amounts of change per hour? Well, I won’t.

Now, let’s move on to our passive-aggressive (too bad you can’t buy medications on eBay) angry customer. While some people will bombard you about how upset they are that you charged them for “your time standing in line at the post office,” something to the tune of $20 and hour, this person will just quietly take a dump on your feedback and detailed seller ratings.

Feedback is such a touchy subject these days, well, actually it’s always been, that it’s almost a scary thing to talk about publicly – like that thing that happens to you at night and you just want to know if it’s normal… (it’s not). But, I’m all about touchy, so here’s 3 reasons why you don’t want them to do that:

  • Lower DSRs will result in loss of fee discounts. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of complaints for eBay to deem you unworthy of their lowered prices.
  • Lowered search standing. People aren’t going to sift through 14 pages of people who are better than you to find your customer-unfriendly tush all the way at the bottom of the barrel.
  • Buyers who are astute and thorough will check your star rating, and if it’s low, they’ll move on. Since there aren’t a whole lot of eBay sellers who have a star rating below 4.5, if you’re one of the few that do, your economy is going to take a significantly harder tank.

As a bonus, if you don’t know anything about eBay here. You can see other eBay selling tools at the eBay site.

And, as a super-extra-special-cool bonus, here is why to use duct tape when you mail your packages.

Duct tape for guys, by guys.