Can you name the UK three-day courier that Chinese sellers use?

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eBay have definitely had an impact on location abuse by Chinese sellers… in so far that many have changed their selling strategies. However it’s not perfect as eBay’s UK three-day courier option has left a loop hole that many are still exploiting.

eBay have done well in reducing location abuse. The issue is that there is so much money involved for Chinese Sellers that they’ll do anything they can to find a loop hole. If they can save pennies on each transaction, when this adds up to many tens of thousands of transactions huge sums are involved. Chinese Sellers don’t care if they are following the spirit of the eBay rules or even blatantly breaking the rules. All they care about is what is the lowest cost of doing business on eBay which meets the very minimum of metrics in order to carry on trading.

Is there a three-day courier in the UK?

We’ve checked just about every courier we can think of and there are none to our knowledge that offer a three-day service. Some, like Royal Mail Tracked 48 offer a 2-3 day service but there is no reason not to simply specify the Royal Mail service when selling on eBay rather than describe it as an anonymous three-day service. That is unless you’re deliberately doing so to try and game the system.

Pre-advice used to suggest items have been despatched from the UK

What appears to be happening is that Chinese sellers have to despatch fast and then deliver within three working days. What they are doing is printing a Royal Mail label, saying that they have despatched, uploading the pre-advice to eBay and then overnighting their parcels from China to be inserted into the UK mail system. The pre-advice enables them to claim that they have UK stock and that it’s been despatched on time whereas in reality some Chinese Sellers are still blatant liars and none of their stock is in the UK.

The reason the sellers are able to get away with this is by selecting the three-day courier option on their listings but using a two-day service once their parcels have been flown in from China. They can claim the goods are in the UK and indeed they appear to be despatched on a domestic UK service but the reality is that they are cheating consumers and gaining an unfair advantage over genuine sellers with stock in the UK – their costs are less and they’re delivering within the allotted time frame.

Unless there are some genuine three-day courier services available in the UK, is it time for eBay to remove the ‘three-day other courier’ option or at least to rename it as a ‘two-day other courier’ service? Why have a shipping option that simply doesn’t exist… especially when you know that scamming Chinese Sellers are making use of it for location abuse?

41 Responses

  1. I have in the last year received items via Yodel’s 72hr service. Still no reason to have a loophole for Chinese sellers.

  2. So if that was the case, who would pay the import duty and vat on arrival to the UK?

  3. so…. they say they will deliver in three days….. and they deliver in three days.

    I’m not sure what your complaint is

  4. My Main issue is with Ebay not promoting sellers who send 1st class. over sellers who send 2nd class.

    How can that be?

    In my opinion Buyers should be able to filter on Sellers who send 1st and 2nd class

  5. @Chris Dawson

    How are the Chinese getting around the location abuse, are they not required to upload a valid RM Tracking number that show the item was dispatched from UK location?

  6. You are worrying a problem that doesn’t exist, cn sellers need to delivered their orders within 3 working days, they can’t use the royal mail scan to trick eBay any more. Many got their eBay accounts suspended already so no worries.

  7. I have been notifying eBay of this item location abuse since late last year. All Chinese sellers have pulled in times from 3 day despatch and 5 day delivery to 2 day despatch and 3 day delivery. They perhaps are not getting 97% on time and so therefore have been losing TRS, however, they are actually now more attractive and therefore its more of an issue.

    On the positive side they have no better scam.

    I have been telling eBay to remove economy 3 day courier option as all these sellers are using RM24 and RM48. Make them use the appropriate service and they will then nosedive to below standard. That means better UK sellers are rising up best match.

  8. You don’t break postage options to solve item location abuse. You solve item location abuse to solve item location abuse. All you end up with is a more broken ecosystem if you withdraw legitimate options.

    The three-day courier option is extremely useful for many legitimate reasons (and there are several 3-day options), in fact the crime of the postage options is there’s not a “other three-day tracked” courier option since that is the default for the fast/free/premium service on non-cheap items.

    You might also offer a 3-day service as you have a two-day service but know that ebay will punish you if they fail to meet their promises (we could talk about whether the culture of underpromising is what is expected / desirable). You might like the “other” rather than the named service as you might not know which courier will be used until the package is packed (how many items in the order? UK but is it NI / Highlands? Does it contain any hazardous items?)

    The courier market evolves faster than ebay shipping options and the associated listing tools and legacy inventory. Offers made to customers should be clear, and eBay’s job is to allow sellers to present every legitimate offer on the planet to buyers. That means increasing options while maintaining simplicity for the buyer. Delivery date is the thing that matters — whether the item is coming from China or Chipping Norton.

  9. I understand what you are saying but I was referring to accounts where the seller is based overseas i.e China. For those accounts other courier 3 day should be prohibited

  10. A package I received recently from a Chinese seller claiming to have UK stock, had a Royal Mail 48 label. But there was a tiny “Sinotrans” logo printed on it also (the largest logistics company in China) and a customs label still stuck on the other side.

    The return address was just a unit number and postcode, put it led to Ecommerce Transhipment Solution Ltd in Manchester. A UK company whose website is in Chinese only. . Clearly they specialize in this kind of mail forwarding for Chinese companies.

    If a seller says their item is in the UK when it is not, then it’s false advertising and dishonesty. I don’t want to buy from businesses who lie.

  11. You would be better off highlighting the change to Amazons Seller Fulfilled prime.

    Now you have to buy all labels as next day at crazy prices even when a buyer chooses 2 day shipping option.
    We have removed loads of items from the SFP system after their response was.

    Increase your prices to take this into account.
    I said is that why you keep telling me to lower my prices in weekly emails to sell more of the items that are slow sellers.

    But the best one was a customer was refunded because they did not get their item as it was attempted and then not collected by them so after the holding time returned to us. Amazon just refunded automatically.
    When i rang them and said its not our fault they said yes it is you shipped it next day 24 and the customer had selected 2 day so maybe were not expecting it.

    So what is that all about surely 1 day means 1 day and 2 day means 2 day so why remove the option to buy the labels.

    Oh i get it more money for Amazon.

  12. The only way to check if an item is based in the UK on eBay is to filter by click and collect.

  13. I purchased a phone cover from Funky Accessories on eBay, they claim to be in Watford Business Park, Watford but my delivery will not arrive until next Monday. They use “Economy Delivery (Other Courier 5 days)”.

    My item has been updated to been dispatched today.

    Not in a hurry could not care less how long it takes but I am guessing not all is what it seems.

  14. Don’t forget they use Chinese students who study in the UK to fulfil their orders

  15. @Tyler

    As a Buyer does it not bother you that the seller is lying about item location.

    I know for me I wanted to return an item but found out later it needed to be returned to China not Manchester as per item location.
    I very wary about buying on Ebay

  16. I have items shipped from China which arrived within 8-10 days to UK then resell on Ebay. Some Chinese sellers are super fast at shipping.

  17. Sorry, what’s the problem again?

    Pretty sure i’ve seen articles on this very website lauding the modern “just-in-time” worldwide delivery ethos. sounds like the Chinese have just bloody well nailed that.

    Are we even sure this is location abuse? Overnighting parcels from China doesn’t sound practical or feasible. if they are doing so succesfully en masse, well, congratulations! it’s not really location abuse it’s a fast supply chain.

    I bought from someone in the UK on ebay, it was shipped from the UK by Royal Mail in the times stated. i really don’t care how or when they imported their stock to the UK, even if it was yesterday it’s utterly irrelevent. if i need to return an item bought on ebay then i’ll return it through ebay to a UK address and get a refund.

    There may be a tax concern, that’s not going to be solving by removing useful postage options, and it’s not really ebay’s concern either.

    So what’s the problem?

  18. Why is everyone moaning about whether the Chinese are trying to abuse the delivery system!?!?

    They get around TRS, Delivery times, or any other way us UK sellers are supposed to have an advantage over foreign Sellers, by whacking up the “Promoted Listing” percentage. They don’t care if they pay a lot extra on fees. The percentage extra they pay in fees to Ebay is probably still less than if they were selling wholesale to a UK Buyer.

    Ebay don’t care because they are now earning an extra 15 to 30 percent in fees from the Chinese Sellers.

    That’s the problem

  19. Being a seller my suspicious nature of a long delivery date implied that the item was not located in the UK as advertised.

    The item being a £6.00 phone cover with absolutely no urgency meant I did not care that it was going to take a week to be delivered.

    The item was posted on Monday and arrived today by Royal Mail post.

    Bottom line is that we only read / hear about “supposed” problems with Chinese sellers on this forum, had I have been your average “Joe Punter” I would not have given it a second thought. It was the right price for what I wanted, delivery time not being important.

    The only downside was it was Black and not Red, but then they only did it in Black or Brown, so just goes to show,m you can’t please everybody.

  20. There is no overnight shipping from China to uk in bulk. Dhl and ups do it best in 48 hours. Most of these companies are not based in Shenzhen or close to airports that connect goods quickly. There are many factories and middle men that face waiting 2 days for their goods to arrive in Shenzhen/ Hong Kong before being ready to ship. Rumour has it Royal Mail just like usps are buying these contracts to offer such delivery. I’ve had tracked 48 from China come in about 5 days no tax no duty it’s royal Mail and parcelforce who assist them with this. It’s time we are told the truth and given some recourse to make the playing field even again

  21. I have just received this curious message from my supplier in china:

    By the way ,as my news,seems many Chinese sellers have ebay and Amazon store on UK and Europe site,as i known,looks like a lot of profit
    and sales is good,the parcles sent from China directly,these sales have not stock actually,in China have a website for supply many kind of items to
    these sales,also this website provide a software to help the sales post these items to Ebay and Amazon,this websit support different language,if the sales have a ebay store on UK site,they can choose English and then post,it is very easy,also the sales no need send the goods by themself,
    this website can synchronizes your ebay and amazon orders,then this website will send the goods to this customer,so the sales have not stocks and shipping company,the only need post the items to Ebay and Amazon,but i dont know this website name,as your news,do you know it?

    It appears that there is some kind of dropshipping service and website in China, which uses centralised stock in HK and they create eBay listings (this is why there are so many virtually identical ones) and when someone orders they press a button and the stock is sent. I have been thinking the only way they can get the stock to the UK is collate their daily orders, send them on a plane, then get it into RM’s system this end. What I couldn’t fathom is how it could be economically viable.

    Basically there are vast warehouses and many thousands of sellers get orders, they are all collated by the system, postage is bought from RM (pre-advice), but not manifested until a couple of days later. The orders from the central warehouse are sent via plane to the UK and arrive on day 3, then sent via RM to arrive on day 5. This is how they are managing to still get items to UK customers in 5 working days. If eBay found these sellers using economy 3 day service when actually its RM48 and they can see the postage has been bought but then the item doesn’t move for several days this is what’s happening. I am at the forefront as my products are fast selling low value items, but as this service grows then it will severely hamper all UK sellers to the detriment of eBay (see this eBay discussion)

    The last 2 pages are the most relevant. eBay buyers are starting to leave due to this issue.



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