eBay’s Descent Continues

eBay is selling off StumbleUpon.  And if you’re anything like me, you’re thinking, “Wait, eBay owns StumbleUpon?  Why?  What’s next, Skype?!? Oh, wait. . .”  I think the theory is that under eBay ownership, people might stumble upon more eBay auctions.  Not sure that ever happened, though.

This is minor compared to their other big stumble of the week.  Have you seen eBay’s new Maximum Shipping Price policy page?  Starting in October, eBay is controlling how much you can charge for basic shipping.  If you’re selling a DVD Audio, you can only charge $3 for it.  Cookbook?  $4.  DVD?  $3.

Sellers are required to offer at least one shipping option within the maximum and may also offer other options above the maximums for expedited or international shipping.

I’m sure this is an effort to stop people who charge outrageous fees for “shipping and handling” as a profit center.  I guess eBay is too big now for the community to police that kind of bad behavior. I can guarantee you right now that an awful lot of sellers will not be happy with this attempt by eBay to control their fees. (Thanks, Chad A., for the link!)

4 thoughts on “eBay’s Descent Continues

  1. While I have been annoyed a whole lot at recent going-ons at eBay – them getting some control over the shipping fees is one of those “about f’n time” things for me. Years ago – when eBay was more of a community, very often – the shipping was almost at cost .. because a lot of people involved in eBay back then did it because it was almost like going to a garage sale or farmer’s market – the fun was in the particpation in a community event ( on top of doing the transaction ). Now – it’s all business, which is neither good nor bad, it just is. The whole point of ebay – whether it be community or business – is for people to make money off the transactions NOT the shipping. Too many people on eBay the last few years have purposely jacked up the shipping in order to make a few extra bucks, which is just wrong. Others – have jacked up the shipping – when they don’t get as much as they had intended to on auction. There was definitely abuse going on. Someone had to come on and put some kind of control in place.

  2. It’s taken to extreme lengths. Local retailers often offer up premium items at insane markdowns, but with unjustifiably ginormous shipping costs in order to minimize sales tax liability.

    Two years ago, I noticed a Fort Lauderdale store was selling name-brand, top-of-the-line universal remotes for, say, $10, with $150 shipping costs. (Numbers made up for the sake of discussion, but they were around that magnitude) Since they were local, I called them up and asked if I could come in and pay $10 cash and skip the shipping. I was promptly cursed at in either Hebrew, Arabic, of Pharsi, and then hung up on.

    “Whatever the market will bear” generally works… I think regulation of shipping fees will push more sellers into doing “fixed price” auctions to maintain whatever profitability they can eke out between listing fees, selling fees, Paypal fees, etc… which is exactly the way eBay wants it. Well… they GET it. I don’t like it any more than you men…

  3. You’re welcome, Augie.

    As a buyer, I love PayPal, but I think it screwed things up for the regular-guy seller in some ways. In the olden days, I had three days after the auction ended to give someone a shipping total, which meant I could pack up the item and get the exact shipping costs from the post office. These days, with the instantaneousness of PayPal, if I tried to do that, I’d get 40,000 e-mails from potential bidders asking what the shipping cost is.

    Sure, I could put in the info necessary for folks to be able to calculate an exact shipping cost, but I object to packing up an item to figure all that out before the auction, as it’s a waste of time (and packing materials) if it doesn’t sell. So what do I, a regular-guy seller, do? I guesstimate shipping when listing the item. And sometimes I’m dead on, while other times I’m way off. If I’m off and I charge too much, I refund folks. If I’m off and I’m under, I eat it, but this has sometimes meant I pay for someone to buy something from me, which kinda sucks.

    But as long as everything’s laid out ahead of time as far as shipping costs, I don’t get the need for this new policy. (Unless the sellers are changing shipping costs after the fact, as you suggest Rob, which is ridiculous, but I’m guessing that was already against the rules.) If the shipping on an item is too much for you, don’t buy it. In most cases, the same item is available in another auction with more reasonable shipping.

    At these prices, I don’t see how regular folks can afford to sell the listed items on eBay without paying for the privilege, at which point it becomes pointless.

  4. re:Chad

    as a “regular guy” seller – with Paypal or not, you don’t have to accept “instant payments” if you don’t want to – you can as a matter of fact, accept it after you adjust it with the shipping costs. Even with “Buy it Now” – the shipping can be adjusted- or waited for if needed.

    If you’re selling stuff – I think it’s a good idea to know how much shipping will cost before you list things, it’s just common sense. If you’re buying things, it’s a good idea to know how much shipping wil be as well – because depending on what you’re bidding on – it could change from a great deal to a crap one. If the shipping isn’t listed – I make it a point of writing the lister and asking them ahead of time.

    As well – if you’re a so-called “international bidder” – a lot of US sellers go insane on the shipping charges in order to discourage people outside the US from bidding on their stuff, not being xenophobic as much as not wanting to have to explore shipping costs/options for several or more countries. What bothers me as a so-called “international bidder” is that as a Canadian – I tend to get charged as much as someone from Australia for shipping – sometimes more than DOUBLE “US to US” shipping, when it’s sometimes pennies more.

    That all being said, msot of my experiences buying on eBay have been pretty descent. In fact, one US seller severely miscalculated the shipping ( in advance ) and UNDERCHARGED me to such a point, that when I got the package and realized how much it really cost – that I sent him the additional funds to cover it.

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