Going Postal for eBay International Shipments

Posted on June 25, 2008. Filed under: eBay, Tips - for the eBay Seller | Tags: , , , , , , , |

It is not uncommon to find sites that give eBay sellers the tip – use U.S. Postal service to ship international packages.  Even the eBay website recommends using the post office to ship outside the U.S.  But I have found that although this is a great tip, nobody is really explaining WHY the post office is best choice.  For me, I learned some lessons the hard way (school of hard knocks) so I have first-hand knowledge of why postal is best.  I wanted to share some of those reasons with you today.

1. We tried shipping to Canada using UPS and then later we received a ton of bills in the mail from UPS for customs duties.  UPS will deliver packages to Canadian residents and then send them a bill in the mail for customs duties.  If the recipient doesn’t pay the duties, then the shipping (that is you!) is on the hook for the customs duties.

2. We tried shipping to Australia using FedEx and when we printed the label we saw one fee but later we were billed a different fee that was sometimes $40+ higher because Australia has some areas that are considered “outlying” and the shipper only knows what areas are considered outlying if they are willing to pay additional fees every month to access the information and then take the time for EACH shipment to search for the information OR the information about outlying areas comes to you AFTER THE FACT when you get your bill.

3. Shipping by FedEx or UPS allows the recipient to change the address where the item is to be delivered.  Not only does this cost you money (to have the item redirected) but this is a great way to get scammed.  Your proof of delivery won’t be to the original address where you sent the package and the package could be directed to a temporary address where the recipient is long gone a few weeks later.

4. Using your buyer’s FedEx or UPS account number is definitely a way to get scammed.  All the buyer has to do is give you a FedEx or UPS number that is not theirs and you use it to bill the package to and then later the real owner of the account disputes the charge and guess who gets stuck paying the bill?  Yep, that would be you!

5. Most customers prefer that you ship by postal because in many countries, the postal system only assesses customs duties randomly or when the package is valued above a certain amount.  In contrast, UPS and FedEx are required to collect customs duties (and brokerage fees) on EVERY international package that is delivered.  So your customers will be furious when they receive a huge bill for customs duties w/ brokerage fees.

International shipping makes up approximately 1/3 of our business and we have learned a great many lessons the hard way.  I hope these tips help you avoid some of the costly mistakes we made.  Happy selling!


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3 Responses to “Going Postal for eBay International Shipments”

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Now if only Paypal would offer international first class postage printing and coverage for using this service. 99.9% of my international customers choose this option, since it usually costs the least. eBay wants us to offer cheap/free shipping, but doesn’t protect us or give us the tools to do this easily. What serious business person has the time to go stand in line at the Post Office every day?

Endicia offers first class international labels and postage but charges for the service 🙂 We’ve been asking Paypal for this since May 2007. They claim they can’t do it because First Class international doesn’t offer DC/Tracking.

I agree, never ever use UPS to ship Ground to Canada. Anything over $20 Canadian is subject to brokerage fees, the GST and provincial taxes. The brokerage fee for Canada Post/USPS is $5. The UPS fee varies from $7-60+

Since the postal changes, international packages are getting there MUCH quicker than they used to…except for Italy.

hello great post I have one question for you i sell cellular phones on ebay valued at over $250 in order for me to be covered with paypal i need to get a signature do you know if theese countries get signature i used priority mail in the past and havent gotten a signature conformation nor a deliver conformation as a matter of fact all i get on the usps web site is international dispatch which is not good enogh if the buyer disputes that he never got it what do you do to combat this i am trying now only to use express international i will see how that works!
Thank You very much
Jack simcell@gmail.com

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