Buying on eBay & Amazon: DVDs

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It’s the busiest shopping time of the year, so we decided to do some online buying to check exactly what sort of experience your customers are receiving. We’ll be writing about a few of the experiences this week, kicking off today with our experience of buying DVDs.

We settled on 16 DVDs and decided to split the purchases between Amazon and eBay. First off all the DVDs had to be new offered on Buy It Now and then the decision as to which site to purchase them was purely on price – whichever site offered the DVD at the lowest cost.


We know that “Free” postage isn’t free, so we weren’t too concerned whether postage was charged separately or included in the item price. However to make it a fair comparison we chose on eBay the lowest total price and on Amazon we selected super saver delivery.

It ended up that we purchased 11 DVDs on eBay and 5 on Amazon. The average price on Amazon ended up being £4.31 and the average price on eBay was £3.38. Not surprisingly with eBay’s promotion of free postage over the past few years only 2 out of 11 DVDs had postage charged separately.

Speed of dispatch

All items were purchased after hours on the same evening so that the orders were waiting for the merchant to dispatch next day. All bar two eBay orders and all Amazon orders were dispatched the following day, with the two remaining eBay orders posted on the second business day.

Delivery methods

There was no real surprise that all items arrived via Royal Mail, that’s pretty much what was expected for low value low weight items. However two DVDs were delivered by Royal Mail but postage with TNT.

What was surprising was the range of postage costs paid. 6 DVDs had 2nd class PPI stamps and along with the two TNT franks we don’t know the exact cost paid. However the remainder ranged from 1 x 1st plus 1 x 2nd class stamp (£1.10), 2 x 2nd class stamps (£1.00), 1 x 1st Large (£0.90), 1 x 2nd Class Large Letter stamp (£0.69) 1 x £0.53 Frank and 1 x 2nd Class Stamp (£0.50).

Postage prices from 50p up to £1.10 is quite a large range for what’s essentially the same product.

Delivery Time

Two items arrive next day after postage, six items took two days in transit, another six items (including four from Amazon) took three days to arrive, the remaining Amazon item was a day late on their estimate at five days and one eBay item took a full six days.

It’s worth noting that the item which took six days to show up had a 2nd class Large Stamp and was one of the two items posted on the second day after purchase.

Item Condition

All items purchased were described as “New”, however two of the eBay DVDs were not factory shrink wrapped upon arrival. Sadly one is a fake showing bleeding of the ink around the edges of the DVD and has obviously been inkjet printed instead of screen printing which is the norm for retail DVDs.

All items from Amazon were shrink wrapped as you’d expect.

Strange Seller Terms

Three eBay sellers sent notes following the purchase, including one who thanked us for the purchase and advised us they’d be posting the following day (2nd business day after payment).

One note was rather unexpected including the message that “I have to advise also that shipping is at cost. Prices for postage in the UK and to Europe, were increased by the Royal Mail by up to 80% in April”. This was the seller with the most expensive postage at £2.00 charged, but stamps to the value of £1.10 on the parcel.

We all know that postage costs might include VAT and definitely include packaging, but leaving a note referring to a price rise seven months ago really doesn’t make sense.

The strangest note however said “I marked the package faulty returns, this is to help ensure you get your item and I track the items I send but obviously it is not faulty nor being returned, this is just to help it get to you”. They lie, the item was not tracked. I’m guessing they hope by marking a package as faulty returns they’re hoping the postie won’t steal it. This is a terribly confusing buyer experience, and whilst sellers may have sympathy there really aren’t that many buyers desperate to steal a £2.98 DVD.

eBay Feedback

Six out of eleven eBay sellers left feedback when they shipped the items. The remaining five have yet to leave feedback. I really don’t understand why sellers don’t just leave feedback straight away, although I know many sellers still wait until they’ve received feedback before they leave it.


Overall the length of time items took to arrive was more than acceptable, although in truth we were starting to wonder when the last would actually turn up. Although we selected the lowest cost, many sellers could have added 50p to the item price or to the postage cost and still have been the cheapest on both eBay and Amazon.

Amazon gave the best overall service, simply because of the one counterfeit purchase on eBay and the strange “faulty return”. However having said that the majority of the eBay sellers gave superb service and we’d be more than happy to purchase from them again.

20 Responses

  1. Interesting experiment, thanks.

    It’s worth pointing out though that not all new DVDs come shrink wrapped. Having worked for a retail shop that used to be supplied by a now defunct massive media supplier, I would say at least 5% of brand new DVDs did not have shrink wrapping of any kind, which doesn’t make them any less new.

  2. It seems that the ebay experience has just gone from bad to worse!

    What percentage of DVD’s purchased on ebay would you say are “Sale not as described”?

    The feedback for these ebay sellers clearly does not reflect what they are sending out so there does seem apathy on the part of buyers when it comes to feedback, reporting, and DSR ratings.

    And the comment:-

    “I’ve done nothing with it. I simply can’t be bothered to claim through eBay/PayPal as it’s such a low sum of money.”

    seems to reinforce the view that a high proportion of buyers think like this.

    The ebay feedback and reporting system has been for a long time way to complicated for its own good which could be the root cause of the buyer apathy towards it. The only way of rooting out and getting the poor sellers removed from ebay is for buyers to actually take a far more critical approach with feedback and to do far more reporting to ebay than they actually do.

    As it stands ebay will think that all is sweetness and honey and as such they cannot be criticised for taking no action if buyers are not prepared to.

  3. The whole shrink wrap thing has always been an issue. “Like new” isnt the answer as it would be an inaccurate statement. New is new not like new. It is ebay in this instance who are at fault mentioning shrink wrapped as a part of being new.

    It is also coincidental that Amazon were shrink wrapped and ebay were not. You can buy non shrink wrapped items via Amazon both directly and via FBA sellers

    Cheers Bryn

  4. Interesting point about the faulty returns guy, he must be like us and hit hard with items going ‘missing’.

    We have had another ‘missing day’ just recently, on the 22nd so far 40+ items have not arrived with customers, guessing the posties need Christmas presents!

    I don’t blame him for trying something like that to stop losses as RM don’t give two hoots!

  5. I would be interested to know how your eBay seller managed to send out a DVD using only a 50p ordinary letter stamp.

    Surely it should have been treated as a Large Letter and cost 69p. You were lucky not to have been slapped with a £1.00 underpayment charge from the Revenue Protection police at Royal Mail.


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