The problem with free postage is that it’s free

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Roger is a small seller on eBay, he’s also a buyer. He’s also a frustrated buyer who wishes eBay would do something about their outdated postal discounts options. He knows free postage is actually “Postage included” and feels there should be a way to discount free postage costs for multiple purchases. Here’s what he had to say:

I just purchased a matching pair of used door mirrors for my car from the same seller, both were listed with “Free P&P”.

Acting shrewdly before I purchased I contacted the seller to see if they would reduce there overall amount as the sales were combined. They agreed and I asked for an invoice.

Almost immediately back came a message stating “eBay customer support advise that we cannot discount postage where item is offered with free p&p.” They instead stated that, upon my purchase at full price, they would issue a refund to the discount agreed through PayPal.

What a hassle! Yet both I and the seller were simply conducting our business . . . let me stress that . . . “our business” . . . in a healthy manner not unlike many all the time.

eBay and PayPal still got their FULL FEES on a sales price that no longer existed!

Is there nothing that this Little Dictatorship won’t reach into the gutter just to squeeze the maximum out of their “customers”?

Oh . . . hurry up and get many times more customers eBid!

Here at Tamebay we acknowledge that customers like free post, hell we like it ourselves, so eBay have a point when they encourage it. However when it stops helping sellers charge a reasonable postage cost to buyers something is wrong. There’s a simple solution for eBay – amend the outdated postage rules to allow a discount off the purchase price for multiple purchases when free postage is offered – maybe 10% or similar. That way sellers can easily offer postage discounts reflecting their lower carriage costs.

We’re aware that there are some offers you could do with Promotions Manager, but that’s really a merchandising tool not a shipping tool. It’s intended for short term marketing promotions, what we need is the postage discount rules amended taking into account free postage, to make Roger’s buying and selling experience simple, trouble free and enjoyable.

46 Responses

  1. If you want eBay to introduce the 10% discount do you think eBay will reduce their fees to accommodate that reduction ?
    There is no such thing as FREE P+P we all know that.
    We still charge P+P on the first item and anymore items bought do actually go free, as long as it’s all paid for in one transaction and not one by one.
    I have lost count the number of times customers buy 10 + items, pay for them one by one and THEN ask for a discount on P+P to which we always refund back as they all go in one parcel.
    We then have to phone up eBay CS to get the fees back on those refunded P+P costs and with them it’s like treading treacle….we do get it back with the annoying “As a matter of courtesy we will do it this time” crap but it should be refunded back automatically….they take it automatically they should pay it back the same way.
    I did try this “FREE” P+P but it was a nightmare, they still paid for them one by one and sales dropped drastically because looking at the selling price it didn’t look a good option to buy multiple purchases

  2. I agree and I don’t.

    Everyone has gone on and on about free shipping, customers do think it is ‘free’ as often there are grumbles about the product price when they forget postage is in the price they paid.

    However a huge amount of websites, ebay included, now offer free shipping, it is some what seen as an industry standard. I have never seen any other website offering a discount when you buy more than one item because of the shipping.

    A lot will offer deals, you mention the promotions manager, to encourage you to buy more as they, and we know, the more you buy the cheaper the shipping gets per item.

    This is surely how you could use promotions manager as we do on cheap items were we have to charge a minimum for the product to be able to offer free shipping, we now offer them buy 2 get 1 free.

  3. As a seller I am happy with things as they are. Postage discount rules would just take another bite out my margins. Fixed postage is the standard, be that “free” or charged.

    Why change a rule for the exception?

  4. Any discount given at the point of sale is simply reducing what eBay can take off the seller in fees so of course they are going to make that as hard as possible to achieve..

    I’ve also often wondered how legally compliant the whole ‘free p&p’ thing is. First it’s not ‘free’ it’s included in the price, so the description of it as ‘free’ is a moot point. Second aren’t all costs associated with a purchase supposed to be clear and transparent? By embedding postage into the price that’s one cost that becomes obscured.

    And as for ebid if anyone’s cracked that please give me some tips, I feel like I’m broadcasting into the void.

  5. I offer free postage on all of my items, but I also offer separate listings which are multiples of singular items. These all offer free postage but clearly are at a discounted rate to take into account I’m not having to pay postage costs twice.

    If a customer asks for a discount on a multiple that I don’t list… then I just list one with the relevant discount and let the customer know.

    This has worked fine for me, and it helps me keep things free postage – which in turn helps with best match and being in ebay’s goodbooks.

  6. we list multiples of very similar items individually
    if a buyer buys more than one item in reality they are paying double treble or even quadruple or more “free” postage lol

  7. I’m slowly removing “free” postage from my listings as I have had a massive drop in multiple sales.
    Seeing as TRS is an impossible goal to reach in August I no longer intend to try and keep it

  8. The Advertising Standards Authority last week banned Holiday Inn from advertising Free Breakfasts, see below, same as Free Postage ?

    Holiday Inn Express has been ordered not to describe breakfasts as being free when they are already included in the price of an overnight stay.

    The advertising watchdog upheld three complaints against the InterContinental Hotels brand’s advertising on TV and its website.

    Banning the adverts, the Advertising Standards Authority said: “We told InterContinental Hotels Group not to refer to breakfasts as being free if the room rates were inclusive of them.”

    ICH told the ASA that the use of ‘free breakfast’ in advertising was implemented by the Holiday Inn Express brand in the UK in April 2011.

    The hotel giant said that breakfast had always been provided for free to guests since the first Holiday Inn Express hotels were opened in 1996. The company said that breakfast at these hotels was described as being ‘complimentary’ before April 2011.

    ICH asserted that the use of the claim ‘free breakfast’ was used by its competitors in the same manner in their advertising and that the use of ‘free’ was also frequently used outside the hotel industry, an example being ‘free wi-fi’ at a number of well-known fast food chain restaurants and coffee shops.

    But the ASA in its judgment today said: “We considered that the hotel room rate was inclusive of the breakfast, regardless of whether guests chose to take the breakfast.

    “Therefore, we concluded that the claims ‘we give you a free breakfast’ and ‘free breakfast’ were misleading.”

  9. This is why I don’t usually offer “free” postage. It makes my stuff look expensive (especially when I’m up against cheap Chinese junk) and it makes discounts hard. I’m sick of Ebay dictating how I run my business, as I make my own jewellery I’m planning to try Etsy for some of the more expensive items. Ebid never really worked for me.

  10. We get the same where we work. We may charge £6 for an item but it actually includes £3.90 post and packaging.

    A buyer buys this item expecting a £6 item when in fact it is a £2.10 item, so they give you a negative complaining about the quality.

    I like the fact the price of an item is upfront, but it should say something like “£6 including £3.90 p&p”.

    It just misleads people and raises expectations, which does no one any good.

    Also negative feedback left on Amazon actually relating to how the buyer feels about a product is removed if you ask them.

    Ebay refuses to remove such feedback. You could offer excellent service and speedy delivery, but because a buyer has these raised expectations they will happily leave you a nasty negative + defect, a second after they have opened the parcel.

    Why does Ebay never talk to sellers before implementing changes? I think someone should really look into how they operate.

  11. This article addresses a problem which no longer exists, at least in the United States. The new Store format allows you to set pretty much any type of discount you prefer through the “Manage Promotions” feature. We offer a 10% discount on all multi-item orders and free shipping on everything.

  12. I agree. Etsy feels better than ebay (though they are catching up) and makes Amazon look like it was created in and run from a garden shed.
    The one tip I came across that worked was to do something with it every couple of days. Add an item, buy something, change a listing, anything to keep it updated tends to works in your favour. They also have a Tv add for the UK (not seen it yet though). They need more traffic to create sales, but it’s a good starting point. Folksy is another.

  13. Here’s a tip to buyers like Roger: stop being such penny pinchers! Two items cost more to pack and send. And the risk if they’re lost or damaged is twice as high.
    If you feel the need to haggle for a measly discount, contact the seller like he has done. There no problem!

  14. As for eBid…they really are about as useful as a barber shop on the steps of a guillotine. I have 3500 collectors items for sale on eBay. All are one off items not multivariations. I contacted eBid 3 times over 3 years asking for help with their import from eBay system which never worked. I have given them my phone number but they have never used it preferring to send frustrating unhelpful canned replies. If eBid were seriously interested in competing with eBay they would jump at the chance to have me on board. I have since given up with them because they will never be any more than a family run business. They will always be a waste of time & effort if they can’t be bothered to communicate with potential business sellers with a 3500 strong inventory. It’s a shame…they were our ouly hope!

  15. I have several thousand items on ebid having successfully transferred inventory from ebay using some tool called ninja lister,pretty easy really ,only problem is I have sold one item in 6 months and the customer didnt pay for it? These are all model kits,paints etc etc so I don’t even see how ebid can possibly make any money at all ?

  16. You could add a variation if it’s available in your category of pack quantity. 1 for £5 and 2 for £8.50 for example. It encourages multiple purchases and only 1 20p paypal charge too.

    Been doing that for a good while. 😉

  17. WOW!!! I’m just amazed its taken this long for there to be a post on this issue.

    I don’t agree with eBay’s drive to “encourage” sellers to include free postage on listings (encourage under threat of crap search placement if you don’t). I also don’t agree with eBay charging fees on shipping, nor do I agree with PayPal charging fees on shipping (ohhh, lets not forget eBay and PP are the same company) – I actually don’t agree with their excessive fees full stop!! But if you do happen to meet the requirements for a 10% discount on eBay fees by jumping through all the hoops then the saving is actually only about 1% of sale value – i.e. equals virtually nothing and offering free post may put you at a disadvantage. And remember, you can always recoup some costs, within reason, by inflating shipping slightly so is the 1% really worth it?

    As I see it, by offering free postage you actually increase the overall item cost so when buyers filter by “Price and P&P” you end up much lower down in the search results which is obviously not good. If buyer does not filter by “price and P&P” then you are relying on the effectiveness of eBay’s Cassini search engine to give you placement under “Best Match”. In my experience Cassini and Best Match is seriously flawed so I normally do 3 day listings and rarely offer free postage. Consistent high placement in search results is vital to selling on eBay. Cassini is far from perfect. Low price and item duration seem to be the two most important factors when searches are generated. Furthermore, most buyers do not filter the results so you really need to be high up on that first page. Short listing duration and low price seems to achieve this best.

    But there is a flip side. When I do offer free postage and buyers contact me directly to order, many of whom then purchase multiple items, I rarely get asked for a discount so having already built shipping costs into the total price, and after allowing for the increased weight of multiple items, I actually end up with a greater overall margin. What’s more, International buyers often pay additional shipping for a courier, etc.

    Whilst fees on shipping are costing me a little more overall, on balance its not quite as bad as it may seem!!

    I would be more concerned with the likely problems that will surely come in August from Managed Returns and Defect’s.

  18. i recently made a promotion for buy 4 get 1 free.

    buyer buyers in january, buys two items.

    then few weeks ago makes offer on item, and in desc puts ” i would like another two, please be sure to put in the 1 free item, as i have bought 4″

    eg they wanted to buy the 4 items months apart, and still get a free item! the offer was put in place as the item costs the same to send 5-6 of as it does to send one.

    i really had to stop myself from emailing with “are you really that stupid that you dont realise they have to bought TOGETHER”

    im never surprised by what some people will try and get away with!


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