Monday, November 28, 2011

Unintended Consequences

eBay has apparently started charging ten percent on shipping costs that sellers charge, as well as taking its cut of whatever the item itself sells for. Supposedly they are trying to get people to offer free shipping. But you know that crazy law of unintended consequences. What some people are doing instead is jacking up the shipping costs to cover the ten percent extra, and informing the buyers as to why. And I don't blame them.

Yes, shipping items can be a pain, because the Postal Service can get expensive, and unless you go flat rate, it can be hard to tell how much an item will cost to ship. And flat rate has become outweighed by cost over convenience, especially when you're selling items, and buyers want to pay as little as possible. Is eBay trying to avoid the hassle of buyers overpaying for shipping by "encouraging" sellers to offer free shipping? Or just taking another slice of the pie? I don't know. I do know that by offering free shipping, most sellers will end up tacking the shipping cost onto the selling price instead, and that creates issues of its own. Simply because of the difficulty in estimating shipping, how much easier just to be generous in your estimation and raise the selling price a little bit higher than your guess. Whereas lots of sellers, including myself, pride themselves in providing accurate shipping costs and refund any overage.

When it comes to my particular eBay interest, dolls, there seems to be a particular price range for various items. If you're charging more for your item, but offering free shipping, will buyers be astute enough to do the math and realize that the cost evens out? I don't know, because I've become cynical and think its hard to underestimate the intelligence of the masses. I also hate overtinkering to manipulate others. It generally doesn't end well.

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