eBay opposes USPS withdrawal from Universal Postal Union

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We often hear complaints that it costs less for a Chinese seller to post a packet to the UK than it does for a local UK merchant to post a similar packet domestically. I recall a time when Tamebay Co-Founder Sue moved to France and her postage also went down when posting from France compared to posting from the UK.

The mis-match occurs as international rates are agreed with the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and there are low rates agreed for so-called developing nations. Strangely China has been considered developing thus attracting low postage rates.

The Universal Postal Union is a double edged sword, as whilst it might set postal rates for other countries to ship into the UK, it also sets rates for packets leaving the UK to be delivered in other countries and operates similarly in the US and around the world.

This is an issue around the world and, now under the Trump Administration, considerations are taking place to withdraw USPS from the Universal Postal Union as early as next month. eBay are calling on their US users to write to their member of Congress to oppose the withdrawal of USPS from the Universal Postal Union citing potential increased costs for US small businesses who ship Internationally. They are offering tools to write a letter to Congress or to tweet elected officials opposing the move.

This is an issue for UK and EU sellers who ship via postal services to the US as it means from October delivery rates will be unknown just as we enter the busiest part of the year.

“This October, the United States is planning to withdraw from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), which oversees and manages critical parts of international mail delivery. If the US withdraws, small businesses that sell online to customers around the world could see service disruptions and dramatically increased costs for shipping through the US Postal Service – all heading into the holiday season. Congress needs to hear from you about how small businesses would be hurt if the US goes through with this plan. We encourage you to take advantage of these easy-to-use tools to contact your representatives and stop the US from withdrawing from the UPU.”
– eBay Main Street

24 Responses

  1. On this one issue I agree with Trump!!!!, Chinesse sellers have massively benefitted from all there sales are subsidied by not just USPS, but the like of the Royal Mail who receive a pitance for delivering the millions of packet/letters sent from China. China is not a developing nation and this is not about the poor people of China not being able to send letters cheaply to relatives, which is why the postage rates are set low for developing Countries. There is no reason that USPS postal rates with the rest of the world should go up, just postage rates from China. Until China plays by the same rules as everyone else, i.e. foreign sellers to sell directly to the Chinesse without having either a estiblished place of business or Chinesse partner, why do let them sell here, whilst subsiding there postage???. Ebay have a check and as usual this is just about their benefit they dont care about US sellers international rates.

  2. Yes, China is taking advantage of both the Royal Mail and USPS but this is brain surgery with a blow torch!
    Fix the problem, don’t break it!
    By leaving the UPU, it will only harm the small business community.

  3. It costs more to ship from New Jersey than from China. You can’t fix an international issue from the United States so the only option is to withdraw. We are subsidizing drugs coming from foreign countries in the mail while the post office is losing money, duh – sounds like a no brainer to me. I work in a mail facility and the machines don’t read a lot of these Chinese packages so they have to be hand sorted $$$ while at the same time they are subsidized.

    I bought a motherboard on ebay and it shipped from China, shipping was about $8. It was defective so I tried to send it back, $53.00 was the cheapest rate. Ebay got involved so I got my money back and trashed the motherboard.

  4. I wanted to add I bought 2 coats from a foreign website. Neither of them fit so I requested to send them back and get 2 larger coats. The shipping from the U.S. to was so expensive they just sent me 2 larger coats. IT WAS CHEAPER TO GIVE ME 4 COATS FOR THE PRICE OF 2 THAN SHIP THE 2 THAT DIDN’T FIT BACK.

    I’ll contact my representative and tell him to vote for this, not against it.

  5. Ebay would oppose this because we are subsidizing things being sold on ebay from foreign countries being shipped to the United States. How about subsidizing U.S. business!!!

  6. I agree, I’m surprised that every other developed Countries postal providers haven’t got China onto 1st world rate sooner as they are the one bearing the cost of devlivering this mail.

  7. Good riddance UPU and hello to more expense on the consumer. I understand the problem but it is going to hurt everyone. China is not a developing nation and shouldn’t be treated as such.

  8. eBay is against this for one reason only: their dependence on revenue from the Chinese. Do not believe anything else how eBay tries to spin this saying that all consumers should be against it. eBay puts a spin on everything. They don’t really care how it would affect their sellers, consumers, anyone, only themselves and how much money they can squeeze out of everyone. They want to stay in the UPU because withdrawal would hit them hard! If there’s a withdrawal, maybe domestic sellers could actually sell something! Wouldn’t that be a novel idea? But knowing eBay and how they botch virtually everything, nobody should be surprised if they continue forcing the Chinese junk in front of your eyes. They just do not get it and never will again. They’ve been supplying “most searched” data to China for years so they can make knock-off products and surely they wouldn’t want to waste that effort would they? As CEO Devin Wenig once said recently, something along the lines of “China is eBay’s future”. Good luck with that…

  9. This whole thing is upside down. If the USPS is going to subsidize anybody it should be U.S. businesses selling and shipping products to foreign countries, not the other way around.

  10. I know this has affected me greatly over the past few years. I own a brick and mortar and a online store. With UPU, I can only compete against Chinese vendors on service and convenience. With Price, there’s no way I can ever compete. Chinese vendors has hindered my business in so many ways. I can’t hire any employee to scale up my business, or invest heavily on inventory because of price competitiveness. If USA does leave, I think my business will do a lot better and will give me the opportunity to grow.

  11. Problem with this is it puts strain and cost on the domestic postal system.

    Royal mail has a special facilities to sort this stuff and ask any postie they are delivering alot of it.

    On top of that try posting anything to China or India for example on a domestic service and pretty sure it won’t get there. You will need to use a courier. Not only is it x10 the price, but the package has little chance of arrival.

    Hardly fair.

  12. @John Greathouse:

    “So instead of totally pulling out, focus in the issue at hand, low or under paid postage from China.”

    USPS only has a say on _underpaid_ postage, as long as they are a UPU member, not the low terminal dues (the fees other countries pay to have their packages delivered) from China and developing countries. The core dispute is China being treated like a small, developing country with no real economy.

    USPS tried to get the UPU to change the terminal dues system. The one-year withdrawal notice was the ‘shot across the bow’ to the UPU: in essence, “Fix this or we’re out of here”. The UPU recently held an ‘extraordinary session’ and, through its inaction, effectively told USPS to pound salt. So withdrawal is a last resort, if the UPU still refuses to budge, at the 11th hour. USPS has made no secret about why they want to leave the UPU. It’s a game of brinkmanship, not unlike Brexit.

    On underpaid packages, it’s cheaper to deliver the short-paid package than to refuse delivery and send it back to China. China Post is supposed to refuse to forward short-paid packages, but that doesn’t really happen, in practice.

  13. As a small eBay seller and a USPS letter carrier, I support Trumps decision to pull the USA out of this boondoggle. I am required daily to deliver dozens of small international parcels from China where the value if the item is marked in the label as $1 or less! I know as an eBay seller that shipping on these items is usually “free”. These small worthless items cost the postoffice much more in transport, sorting, scanning and delivery time than are worth equating a net loss to the Postal Service. We have been instructed that if these items are not scanned as delivered, the USPS does not get paid. eBay only cares about its lost selling fees on this cheap communist sourced crap. Good riddance to the UPI! MAGA!

  14. Responding to IPH

    International parcels list the item enclosed as well as the value on the shipping label. I have seen values as low as .50 cents. It is not a free market if our postal system (and us rate payers) are subsidizing the communist chinese to the tune of $150 million per year by charging 300% less than the actual cost of handling and transport. As a small seller, the cheapest I can ship a lightweight item across town is just under $3. Due to subsidized rates a similar item from china can be shipped and delivered to the USA for a few cents. Dont like seeing my employer forced to lose money due to an outdated treaty and legal language written 150 years ago.


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