eBay overcharge 120% on varation purchase

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Buying from multi-variation listings is never a pleasant experience, well that is if you want to buy more than one variant. Yesterday I was foolish enough to purchase seven items from one listing and as always eBay make it nigh on impossible to buy multiple variations. Then for my trouble I was massively overcharged on the postage.

I’d like to make it clear from the outset that I don’t blame the seller in the slightest. It’s not their fault that eBay make the buying experience so unpleasant and it’s not their fault I was massively overcharged on postage.

When you want to buy multiple variations eBay provide no mechanism for doing so. As soon as you add one item to your shopping basket you can adjust the quantity pretty easily – eBay even highlighted that I had added the “Last One” of a particular variation to my basket. What eBay don’t make easy is for the buyer to say they’d like to purchase more variations.

There’s still no easy method to go back to buy more variations and unlike most shopping carts on the Internet when you “Add to basket” eBay insist on taking you to your shopping basket expecting you to check out. Why I can’t add items to my shopping basket and stay on the page I’m currently viewing I do not know.

Having struggled to purchase seven items from one multi-variation listing I was then faced with the postage cost being massively inflated. For an item cost of £1.50 the seller specified a perfectly reasonable postage cost of £1.10 plus £0.40 for each additional item.

That’s not what eBay charge though, eBay count each variation purchased as separate times and charged me £1.10 seven times over. Instead of the seller specified £3.50 postage eBay gouged me for £7.70. I had to pay 120% more for postage than the seller wanted to charge me.

I know I’m being ripped off on postage and I’m not happy. I know I could have contacted the seller and asked them to reduce the postage amount. I know I could have chosen not to make the purchase. I know there’s an outside possibility the seller might refund some of the postage. I also know it’s totally eBay’s fault.

Purchasing on eBay should be a zero touch transaction. I don’t want to communicate, I don’t want to talk and I’m pretty sure the seller just wants to list and ship and has no interest in discussing postage with me. Quite simply eBay’s buying mechanism is antiquated and arduous and even with the shopping basket hasn’t really changed much over the last 10 years as far as checkout goes. They scrapped 3rd party checkouts preventing sellers from being able to correct eBay’s shortcomings so we’re stuck with what eBay have cobbled together over the years.

Questions for eBay

1) Why send me to the shopping basket every time I purchase an item?

2) Why not provide me an easy route back to buy more items from the same multi-variation listing?

3) Why not fix postage so I’m charged the amount for additional items as specified by the seller?

4) If I was to leave Negative/Neutral Feedback or Detailed Seller Ratings due to the overcharged postage would you notice and do you protect the sellers of all multi-variation listings when more than one variation is purchased?

I’m guessing that eBay’s standard answer is that the seller should offer free post to eliminate the problem. That simply means they’d be even more uncompetitive as “free” means “included”. The truth is that they don’t have a solution.

I don’t expect answers from eBay. I don’t expect they could fix the problems in the near term however much they wanted to, the site is simply to big and complex. Sadly I also don’t expect buyers to be happy being overcharged for postage and I don’t expect sellers to be happy getting dinged on their “How reasonable were the P&P charges?” Detailed Seller Ratings.

No one is winning, something needs to be done.

17 Responses

  1. Just received the following through eBay highlighting what a pain multi-variation listings are for sellers:

    Thank you for buying your purchase and for your payment. Unfortunately ebay only reduces the postage on their invoice for the same variation that is bought so they have overcharged you by £3.70. I will refund this back into your paypal account shortly and will post these items to you today – please allow 4-6 days for them to reach you.

    What a waste of their time going through every sale just in case they need to do a partial postage refund.

  2. This is why we offer FREE postage on everything, even without variations it was a nightmare when people purchased more than one item!

    Perhaps that is why ebay don’t do anything for postage on this to encourage you to offer free postage?

  3. As previously stated postage is not free. It means included, which also means it’s inflated to cover the ebay FVF that will be applied to the postage element of it. It’s the customer that loses out in the end as the cost is passed on to them so they pay more for their items than they would if ebay put this right.
    I try not to buy anything that has free post, as I know it could have been made cheaper by at least the postage final value fee.
    We also have terrible problems with the shopping basket(case) and we spend a lot of unecessary time processing partial refunds and advising customers of this. Customers appreciate our honesty and often message back, especially when we point out it was ebay’s fault not ours.

  4. .
    Actually we all have this problem & all a buyer has to do is ask for the total.

    Sometimes, if we see a buyer has paid to much, we upgrade the postage to 1st class, if of course they only paid 2nd.
    Also, sometimes [and with our forever increasing claims of INR] we will dispatch recorded delivery for piece of mind, allround.

  5. I’m giving up on MVL, nothing but a pain whether I’m selling or buying.

    This week I ordered 5 lots of jiffy bags all from the same ebay seller. The 2 with Free post have been delivered, another had 24 hour courier no sign of it and the other 2 with Free 2nd Class are now estimated 6th to 8th August.

    If I’d been that seller I would have just upgraded the whole order to 24 hour courier but I’m now left to wait around for 2 extra deliveries.

  6. As a developer MVLs are painful.

    You can’t write to multiple variations of the same item within separate calls quickly. If you do accidently have two outgoing API calls that revise two different variations you have no idea what the results are going to be. You may get one revised, you might get both revised, or you might get part of your revision on one and part of your revision of the other. And to make matters worse you’ll get acknowledgements of each and notifications of each even if that state never actually exists.

    You can’t mark a variation as out of stock if it hasn’t made an sales. Setting quantity to 0 on such a variation deletes it forever.

    You can’t relist or list an item with variations with a quantity available of 0 for a variation. You have to delete those 0 quantity variations forever meaning if an app wants to relist your MVL listings it better keep track of everything including storing your images just in case you ever restock or else just delete them (I chose the later since I don’t write listing apps).

    MVLs always show the sum of the quantity available for all variations if no variation is selected and the real quantity for those listings is obscured within embeded javascript. A regular listing hides the true quantity in the HTML so it can be scraped or accessible via extensions.

    And on the site MVLs are always presented in order of creation rather than any sort of alphabetical or numerical ordering. This makes it confusing to your buyers if they are looking for a particular size you sell and you didn’t happen to stock them in the right order.

  7. Yes I find this very annoying.. I got a lot less hassle off customers when my products were listed as free postage, but then I lost out on extra fees and sales as competitors headline price was lower.

    Wish they’d fix this sh*t.

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