eBay consider allowing UK postage surcharges

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According to a post on the PowerSeller board eBay are considering enabling surcharging* for different regions within the UK. This has long been an issue for sellers of heavy or large items which can’t be sent via Royal Mail. There’s a considerable cost difference with most couriers if you need to send to the furthest reaches of the UK or to off shore islands.

The downside is that buyer don’t generally like surcharges and in addition it reduces transparency of pricing. The price you see will no longer necessarily the price you pay and surcharging in a world where Detailed Seller Ratings and Buyer Protection Claims form part of Seller Performance measurements might not be the best option.

Whilst many buyers are aware from painful experience that it costs more to deliver to their address for many it comes as an unwelcome surprise. There are two options available for most sellers – either charge a flat rate across the UK for all destinations, or surcharge buyers when it costs you more.

eBay are asking which areas of the UK should be included if surcharges are introduced on the site, and the current list includes The Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Isles of Scilly, British Forces Overseas and (a surprising one as few couriers surcharge for this destination) the Isle of Wight. The Channel Islands are also mentioned, but they’re not actually part of the United Kingdom and eBay currently treat them as an intenational destination for buyer blocks, although up until recently they were treated as part of the UK.

Would you like the option to surcharge for domestic deliveries based on Post Codes or would you prefer to have a flat rate across the whole of the UK? Will the fact that buyers can rank you with Detailed Seller Ratings affect your decision? Would you apply a surcharge for items which you deliver to some parts of the UK with free postage?

*PowerSeller log in required

8 Responses

  1. I remember someone visited one of my sites over a year ago telling me how crooked UK sellers were (and how this somehow makes me crooked as well). His issue seemed to revolve around the fact that sellers were charging a fixed amount to ship anywhere in the UK but it was actually cheaper to ship to him than to others. I guess this will make him happy.

  2. I have highish single fixed price UK shipping to encourage multiple sales and discourage small single “one off” sales.

    Even with this discincentive buyers still make single purchases for £1 or £2 plus the highish set price shipping.

    This really bugs me as:-

    a) Single purchases have a high admin time relative to value
    b) I risk being marked down on DSR’s for shipping when I am clear and upfront and don’t really want the low value single purchase sale.

    The above eBay review suggests that ebay themselves are a little unceertain how to keep both buyers and sellers happy when it comes to shipping charges.

    I have a simple solution.

    Introduce a minimum eBay wide UK shipping charge of £2 for a listing and include this as a final value fee free allowance in the value of all listings permitting far more sellers to offer “free” shipping. When shipping costs exceed £2 sellers can build this “FVF free” £2 into their price and show extra over shipping charges seperately.

    And increase the free listing/5p listing fee threshold to £2.99 for sellers (which includes the £2 FVF free element) which would mean that many auctions could offer free shipping also!

    At a stroke shipping on eBay would suddenly look very cheap compared to competitors!

    And at the same time sellers could offer big discounts on multiple purchases!

    So everybody is a winner including eBay as more sales would be generated!

  3. Have eBay UK completely lost the plot!
    They now propose to market this latest initiative as a ‘surcharge’ to our buyers.
    It is nothing of the sort – it merely reflects the economic costs of shipping items to all these UK areas.
    For example we cannot find any courier who will ship to NI for the same rate as mainland UK.
    Perhaps they should call ‘free’ shipping ‘subsisized’ delivery as well based on this idiot level approach!
    All most sellers have needed for over 10 years is a simple matrix based table built around the buyer postcode and main regional areas which we complete and that generates the map/shipping cost that the buyer sees BEFORE they purchase on the listing.
    If you don’t like my costs to ship an item to NI go buy from someone else – simple.
    But no let’s muck up and mis-represent the much needed and long overdue solution to a serious problem for many sellers.
    Despite the recent change in UK CEO it seems little has changed for the better.
    pip pip

  4. “For example we cannot find any courier who will ship to NI for the same rate as mainland UK”

    Have you tried Parcelforce !

    OK, so if you have PF account, then a Highland and Island surcharge applies, but sent PF via a Post Office, booked direct, or even through ebay, then there is NO surcharge

  5. Personally I can’t believe it has taken this long for this feature to be discussed. Why should a regular buyer from mainland UK subsudise the extra cost of a highlands & Islands delivery, as is the case with a flat fee system?

    It costs more to send to Channel Islands at the moment, but short of just banning buyers from those areas, you cant make the differential count. In my experience, buyers ignore comments that explain the requirement for extra costs for non mainland UK. At least this way, they would see the surcharge BEFORE they attempted to buy.

    People who live in these places know that there is an increased charge to deliver to them and will therefor be happy to pay the surcharged or “fair” price to receive the goods.

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