Out-Of-Control Shipping Costs on eBay Continue To Frustrate Buyers

If you have been watching the media in the last few years you might think that the biggest scams on Ebay would be for the large ticket items – like the fake works of art or non-existent imported Persian rugs. You may even consider the recent Phishing expeditions to be high on the list. While these are both notorious and newsworthy they don’t come close to a certain type of scam that is perpetrated every day, thousands of times on Ebay and other sites – in which most buyers are never aware that a crime was perpetrated against them. I speak of the great eBay shipping and handling scam. It’s the ultimate bait and switch and it is now in epidemic proportions.

The scam happens after you have researched several offerings for the lowest possible cost. Now it’s decision time. Which auction listing gets your bid ? But before you make your final decision, there is one more thing to consider making sure you’re getting the best price. The dreaded Shipping and handling costs – These are notorious scams on Ebay. This is where a lot of internet shoppers get taken, and not by some small amount. It’s big dollars.

The new style is for retailers to offer products that are very near their cost or, in some cases, below their cost to purchase the item – in some cases $20 products are sold for $0.99. For any successful Ebay scam to have any longevity it must have the following traits – Be simple, stay below the radar and make lots of money for the perpetrator

So this is how the ebay scam works:

Some retailers say they ship Federal Express exclusively and you’ll be charged for 2nd day Fed-Ex delivery. That’s fair. But how much is it? Several factors determine the cost. Weight is usually the determining factor for the vast majority of items. Some retailers tell you the shipping weight on their product page. For instance, we found an item that we know weighs about 2 pounds to ship. The advertised shipping weight is 7.5 pounds, meaning, you will be charged for an 8 pound shipment via Fed-Ex 2-day delivery. The Fed-Ex 2-day delivery, depending on your location for a package of that weight, can run in excess of $30.00. Wow! That’s a lot of money. But that’s not the whole story. The retailer isn’t going to pay anywhere near that amount of money. If you continue to read their shipping policy, they say delivery will take 5 to 7 days. For what… Fed-Ex 2-day delivery? Wrong. You won’t get it via Fed-Ex 2-day delivery. You’ll get your shipment by either Fed-Ex ground (comparable to UPS ground) or, actually by UPS via a ground shipment. Your friendly low cost retailer has probably paid somewhere around $5.00 to $7.00 to ship your package that you paid $30.00 in shipping and handling cost. They’re hoping you just won’t remember or care because you’re just pleased as punch to get your shipment. The retailer pockets the difference and has made a nice tidy profit at your expense. The sad part of this whole process is, you paid too much for the product.
Some retailers advertise that you’ll be charged based on the dollar amount of your order. But, why should you pay shipping of $15.99 for a $100.00 order and, in some instances, an additional $3.00 “handling fee” for an item that weighs 3 pounds? Because if you don’t, the retailer can’t stay in business selling product at the prices they advertise. It’s that simple. You pay for their profits in the shipping charges.
Some retailers, no matter how hard you look, won’t bother to tell you anything about shipping charges. At best you’ll find out at the very end of the online order transaction or, worse yet, when you receive your credit card bill. It isn’t going to be a small amount. This is common on Yahoo shopping – you have to get to the last transaction screen before it really tells you straight what the shipping and handling is.
The newest style of this scam I have seen is to ship poor quality product and charge you a very low initial purchase price – But a high shipping price – That way if you send it back, they will only refund the initial purchase price – Because – surprise, surprise – the money back guarantee only applies to the initial cost of the product not the S&H. This recently happened when I purchased a phone antenna from eforcity.com, but they are not alone – But really take it to an offensive level – Yes I got my initial purchase price back – But I waved goodbye to the S&H and that’s what they are counting on.

So what’s the solution ?

Demand that “handling” is outlawed – its made up term anyway. Insist that shipping is the shippers charges, IE. the cost it actually has printed on the postmark, not the vendors ideas of made up numbers. Only discuss the delivered price with a vendor. Demand that the total delivered price is the price it is put on Ebay for, not for a bait and switch price item.

Frank Roberts

A ten year veteran of remote tech writing, Frank hasn't set foot in an office for over two years. He misses the human connection, but is thankful that he doesn't have to put up with the distractions any longer. Specializing in wired/wireless tech and mobile software, Frank has written about everything from the iPhone7 to the Timex Sinclair z81/1000. This stiff is always interesting, never boring and the writing isn't bad either.