PDA

View Full Version : International ebay buyers



NeXT
October 27th, 2010, 11:43 AM
I run an ebay store for my business and because of the items we handle, we can't really ship internationally. It's both expensive and we can not promise it will make it there in one piece. Because of this, in all our auctions we specify we ship to North America (Canada and the US) only.
Yet for some reason that we have yet to understand, we still get messages from people asking "Can you ship to Manilla, Spain"? or "How much would shipping be to Poland?"
Isn't ebay suppost to be filtering out locales so that they can't send us these useless messages? Why are they so persistant?
I know I'm haggling about people who might be making us money but seriously, your nuts if you want me to ship a monitor to the far side of the planet that you paid $30 for and shipping will obviously cost you four times that.

glitch
October 27th, 2010, 11:46 AM
I get quite a few of those, especially when I list any tube components...sort of amusing when someone wants you to mail a transformer to Japan. Of course, if they're willing to pay actual shipping + my time to fill out the customs form (invariably the wrong one), I'll ship anything anywhere! My favorite though is "well you see our country has a really screwed up import tax law...so can you please please please falsify official US customs forms to save me a few bucks?!"

Ole Juul
October 27th, 2010, 12:21 PM
Having shipped quite a bit of stuff (musical instruments) internationally from Vancouver (Canada) I can say that the customs papers are trivial and you can just drop stuff in the post. Apart from perhaps a little extra packing because returns are harder to deal with, there is no effort required to ship internationally.

I do understand about the problem with ignorant people not knowing that it can be expensive and subsequently wasting your time. I remember being quoted $150 to ship an empty trombone case to Germany - I shudder to think what a monitor would cost. People can't be expected to know that the cost is quite so astronomical. Perhaps put a note at the top of the offering with a few examples. Of course there will always be idiots, but I don't see why a business wouldn't ship to the moon as long as the customer pays.You might be surprises at how many people don't really care about the price. They just want the item.

Personally, and I'm fairly certain many others feel the same, it offends me when a vendor won't ship internationally. It's sort of like saying right off the bat "you can't afford it - bug off!" That just leaves a bad taste. I think it is better to put the price up front and let people decide for themselves if they have the money or not. Prejudging people always ends up tainting the relationship.

PS: As an aside, there was someone who posted here a few weeks back looking for a 486 or P1. I responded that such an item should be easy to find and cost next to nothing locally but shipping would cost a mint. The OP responded that his needs were quite particular and he would take 3 units if he could get them, and that costs were not relevant in this case. You never know. :)

pontus
October 27th, 2010, 12:36 PM
Some sellers list their auctions as "ships to: U.S. Only" and they will gladly ship to sweden if asked. I don't ask if it has been mention in the item description, but the fact is that it has payed of to ask! several times!

Now, I do agree that it is stupid to ask for a generic monitor to be shipped half across the globe, but for rare items its not so strange.

And I regularly search international ebay pages (german, french, USA) because things I want are more common there.. though sometimes ebay tries hard to keep me in the right country :)

glitch
October 27th, 2010, 12:46 PM
The biggest problem with eBay and international shipping is that eBay wants you to provide a number in your listing. That's fine if it's a flat-rate box and you know for sure the shipping won't cost more than that; however, if it's a regular package you're forced to insert your best guess, or rely on eBay's shipping calculator (which never agrees with what they charge me at the post office/UPS). Of course, if your listing says $30 shipping to Germany and it ends up costing $50, you're still obligated to ship it and suck up the loss. That's why I no longer list shipping rates for overseas destinations on non-FRB packaged items, but state in the auction terms that international bidders should contact me for an actual price.

While I can't say for sure about any other country, I can say with absolute certainty that US customs forms are /not/ straightforward...sure, the information they request might seem simple enough, but there are many different types of customs forms you fill out, based on what type of package it is and what rate it's going. Some of them are available online to fill out, which is great. Others, like the M-Bag form, are not, which means I have to go and fill it out at the post office, by hand.

Ole Juul
October 27th, 2010, 01:00 PM
So it sounds like the only problem here is eBay. I'm not really familiar with their policies regarding shipping, but, from what glitch says, it sounds like they're a bunch of local yokels that need to get out more.

tezza
October 27th, 2010, 01:01 PM
...your nuts if you want me to ship a monitor to the far side of the planet that you paid $30 for and shipping will obviously cost you four times that.

Well, in that case I must be nuts because I've bought stuff internationally where it's cost me 20x the price in shipping! :)

I don't have any beef with people who only want to sell to domestic markets. Selling internationally IS a hassell as there is extra paperwork, etc. etc. It's the seller's choice who they want to sell to.

However the "value" of something in one country may not be the value of it in another. If it is common in one country but rare in another then often it's worth the shipping. Sold in the country of the buyer, they might well recoup the original price, the shipping and more! Also, in some cases there may be an emotional aspect to the value not just pure resale. If someone really, really wants something for nostalgia, or to complete a collection, then paying high shipping fees are worth it to that particular buyer.

Tez

kishy
October 27th, 2010, 01:10 PM
I've sold numerous items (in fact, I'd estimate 90% of the items I've sold) to out-of-Canada addresses. From there it's about 50/50 USA/rest-of-world.

The form to ship "rest of world" is pretty much identical to the one to ship to USA (in terms of information you provide - depending on parcel type they'll give you a different form for the appropriate service, such as small packet vs international parcel). There is absolutely no additional complication whatsoever.

Mind you, I haven't sold via eBay, just this forum/another forum/my own website, so I haven't dealt with the unfortunate reality that is eBay's shipping rate thing. I'd just list everything with no shipping rate ("contact seller", not "free" like some people have done for items I've bought - a seller who makes that error should be shipping it for free like they advertised) and say in big letters to contact me for the rate because the calculator is wrong.

I've shipped to Japan, Australia, UK, Slovenia and Romania without incident. The only damaged parcel was one that went to Michigan, a couple hundred kilometres away (rather ironic because of how well it was packaged).

There's a parcel to Taiwan that may have been lost but I can't confirm because the buyer is not responding to messages...

Anyway, my $0.02...or perhaps a bit more.

glitch
October 27th, 2010, 01:11 PM
So it sounds like the only problem here is eBay. I'm not really familiar with their policies regarding shipping, but, from what glitch says, it sounds like they're a bunch of local yokels that need to get out more.

Pretty much. As a seller, it seems that most of eBay's upgrades and "improvements" go into the bidder/buyer interface, not the sellers' tools. They've only recently gotten around to updating their shipping options. For a long time sellers were forced to list items shipping in a USPS Small Flat Rate Box as shipping in the USPS flat rate envleope, since they were the same cost. It was well over a year after the small FRB came out that eBay finally added it. They've at least set themselves up for compatibility with future USPS products, as they now have generic "Standard USPS Flat Rate Shipping," where you fill the rate of whatever product you're using in.

carlsson
October 27th, 2010, 02:05 PM
NeXT, my friend. I have an advice for you: simply ignore the unwanted messages you receive. You could even write in big, red letters in your auctions that under no conditions you will ship internationally, perhaps even threaten to report abuse to eBay about those who keep bugging you. I'm sure it would stop most of them from asking. Surely there will be other sellers, your competitors who are more forgiving about foreign bidders, but that is their problem.

Ole Juul
October 27th, 2010, 02:16 PM
The form to ship "rest of world" is pretty much identical to the one to ship to USA (in terms of information you provide - depending on parcel type they'll give you a different form for the appropriate service, such as small packet vs international parcel). There is absolutely no additional complication whatsoever. . . .

Anyway, my $0.02...or perhaps a bit more.
Actually invaluable. :) I don't understand where the common belief comes from that it's difficult. Put the price and item description on an extra sticker, and include (IIRC) 3 copies of the invoice in the shipping envelope. How hard can that be???

Mind you, that's Canada, which is what we're talking about anyway. However I got a package with a computer part from California (USA) recently and it was the same - just a customs sticker with contents and price. In Canada you can pick up a handful of stickers from your local post office for free.

kishy
October 27th, 2010, 03:11 PM
Well, that's Canada Post. No invoices to put in envelopes, so even easier. I know couriers are a bit different.

Refer to:
http://img218.imageshack.us/img218/2438/expeditedparcelusaform.th.jpg (http://img218.imageshack.us/i/expeditedparcelusaform.jpg/)
for an example of the typical USA one. The form is practically identical for International Parcel (except the title at the top, lack of USPS barcode, and "UNITED STATES" is not filled in as the destination country). Basically, itemized list of contents, approximate value, type of item. Sender/recipient addresses, good to go. They do not care about the itemized weight.

Unrelated: Canada Post deserves BIG props for their claim system. That one item which was damaged, they paid out the maximum possible of $100 despite the claim being for less, and they paid it quickly and without hassles.

glitch
October 27th, 2010, 03:49 PM
So you guys to the north only have one customs form to fill out? I can see why Canadian sellers don't mind shipping to the US then. It isn't that US customs forms are insanely complex, it's just there are so many different ones. The ones that aren't available online are carbon transfer types, so they can't be printed in an inkjet/laser printer (I usually fill them out with my Selectric, but it's currently back home in Virginia). Things like M-Bags (the USPS answer to "we're not doing surface rate overseas anymore) require a special pasteboard tag that has a /string/ on top, which you use to tie the bag shut, in addition to the customs form. Even with parcels going the same rate, the USPS small flat rate box uses a different form that the other flat rate boxes, which can use a different form than regular brown-boxes going Priority mail.

For some of the online printed ones, you also need to run off 5 or 6 copies...one stays with you, several stay with the post office, and one or two get put in a stick-on envelope and put on the package.

kishy
October 27th, 2010, 04:40 PM
Well, you can't use an inkjet on that label either - it's also carbon-copied (top layer is the sticker itself that you apply to the parcel, middle is the sticker backing, bottom is the carbon copy). That said, I realize in the US it's a bit more complex (at least for Priority and any courier...First Class and the Priority Flat Rate boxes appear to be about the same as for us, based on what I see attached to parcels I receive).

That is perhaps the best modern use I can think of for an electric 'writer though...firmly hammer the letters down for a perfect carbon copy.

vwestlife
October 27th, 2010, 04:41 PM
I sold an IBM ThinkPad on eBay to a buyer in Beijing, China with absolutely no problems. Just put a disclaimer on the listing saying that international buyers must contact you for a shipping quote before bidding. Then if they do win the auction, send them an invoice with the correct shipping amount (which doesn't have to match what you put on the auction page -- it can be substantially higher, if need be). USPS International Priority Mail is a LOT cheaper than UPS or FedEx and gets to the destination in a reasonable amount of time. Shipping the ThinkPad to China in a medium flat-rate box ended up being about $35, IIRC.

glitch
October 27th, 2010, 04:58 PM
That is perhaps the best modern use I can think of for an electric 'writer though...firmly hammer the letters down for a perfect carbon copy.
Indeed, it's wonderful for multipart one-off forms. It's currently at my boss's place in Virginia, where it was used to fill out the multipart income tax forms for the business after his NEC SpinWriter died.

The disclaimer works most of the time, but I've stopped putting any international shipping numbers on my auctions after an overseas bidder opened an eBay case against me. I clearly stated in the auction terms that international bidders were to wait for an invoice that would have the actual shipping amount, but this guy paid immediately and refused to pay the difference for actual shipping costs. eBay took his side in the dispute, so I was forced to take the expense...fortunately it was a fairly high-priced item, so it didn't end up hurting too bad financially. It's a shame, because not listing international shipping as an option automatically takes you out of the default searches for other countries!

Unknown_K
October 27th, 2010, 05:44 PM
The main issues I have with shipping overseas is that you have no real proof it was ever delivered, which means paypal will side with the buyer in any dispute.

With the dollar dropping like a rock over the last few years, and the rarity of some US made machines in Europe and Asia you have some deep pocket buyers willing to pay quite a bit of money to have something shipped to them (more then US buyers would pay). So for people who want to take the risk of something getting broken on the way or from a buyer claiming he never got it, there is money to be made.

kishy
October 27th, 2010, 06:42 PM
Indeed, it's wonderful for multipart one-off forms. It's currently at my boss's place in Virginia, where it was used to fill out the multipart income tax forms for the business after his NEC SpinWriter died.

The disclaimer works most of the time, but I've stopped putting any international shipping numbers on my auctions after an overseas bidder opened an eBay case against me. I clearly stated in the auction terms that international bidders were to wait for an invoice that would have the actual shipping amount, but this guy paid immediately and refused to pay the difference for actual shipping costs. eBay took his side in the dispute, so I was forced to take the expense...fortunately it was a fairly high-priced item, so it didn't end up hurting too bad financially. It's a shame, because not listing international shipping as an option automatically takes you out of the default searches for other countries!

Not sure if this is what you mean or not, but it is very possible to specify that you ship to a country without providing a rate to that country. I'm not sure how as I haven't listed on eBay, but I see many items where it says on the right "Ships To" and includes Canada, but it says to read description or contact the seller to get the cost. That should still get your item listed, and avoid the concerns about buyers paying a less-than-actual shipping rate.


The main issues I have with shipping overseas is that you have no real proof it was ever delivered, which means paypal will side with the buyer in any dispute.

With the dollar dropping like a rock over the last few years, and the rarity of some US made machines in Europe and Asia you have some deep pocket buyers willing to pay quite a bit of money to have something shipped to them (more then US buyers would pay). So for people who want to take the risk of something getting broken on the way or from a buyer claiming he never got it, there is money to be made.

Canada Post offers tracking with delivery confirmation for...I think surface. Not air, oddly, but that likely has to do with the specific exchanges it goes through not being equipped to report status. I know that with my parcel to Romania, it was marked as successfully delivered once it hit the local distribution centre in Romania.

A problem arises with that though, because surface can take anywhere between 3 weeks and 3 months, which is enough time for PayPal to side with the buyer anyway.

Unknown_K
October 27th, 2010, 06:48 PM
USPS no longer does surface packages outside of the US, it is all airmail and more expensive.

glitch
October 27th, 2010, 07:19 PM
USPS no longer does surface packages outside of the US, it is all airmail and more expensive.
Ask your local postmaster/postmistress about M-Bags. The last vintage computer item I sent overseas went via M-Bag, which is still airmail but at a comparable price to the old surface rate. The USPS website suggests they're only for "correspondence," but when you look at the definition it basically includes any business-related transaction. I used it to send a KIM-1 from here to Austria, and it arrived safely. There's a size limit (it must fit in the M-Bag, which is literally a bag) and I think a weight limit, but it's fairly high. The USPS doesn't seem to really push them, but our local postmistress says every post office should accept/process them.

Chuck(G)
October 27th, 2010, 08:54 PM
I found that going through Paypal shipping simplified things with customs forms greatly--at least for USPS shipping, you can fill out quite a bit online.

The last time I used it was for a large box containing manuals and disks for SCO Xenix to Japan. Cost more to mail it than the sale price.

But I packed it all up, ran the online forms and paid the shipping. Took the whole mess to the post office and they smiled, got my signature and took care of everything. It was relatively painless.

On the other hand, when I shipped some floppies to Israel using UPS, I got the third degree, even though I had the commercial invoice and other paperwork all filled out.

It all depends on the luck of the draw, it seems.

lyonadmiral
October 28th, 2010, 07:16 AM
That's why I say, ship it all via USPS, granted there is higher risk I guess for stuff getting damaged, but they are more than happy to get your business, and they show it. At least that is what I have discovered with my local post offices.

NeXT
October 28th, 2010, 07:31 AM
We have had great luck shipping using Canada Post expedited or regular parcel but whenever we went overseas, Paypal's postage sticker generator liked to break and we had to fill it out by hand and then go and pay for it using the company card.

glitch
October 28th, 2010, 07:50 AM
We have had great luck shipping using Canada Post expedited or regular parcel but whenever we went overseas, Paypal's postage sticker generator liked to break and we had to fill it out by hand and then go and pay for it using the company card.

I've been less-than-lucky in getting it to work for USPS orders...but IIRC that had more to do with running Linux than problems with their software.

What's really interesting is one of the counter clerks at our post office always nags me about how I can print postage online and have the boxes picked up from my doorstep (albeit probably not by a postal worker, in this neighborhood). It's like they /want/ to be replaced by machines!

kishy
October 28th, 2010, 08:29 AM
We have had great luck shipping using Canada Post expedited or regular parcel but whenever we went overseas, Paypal's postage sticker generator liked to break and we had to fill it out by hand and then go and pay for it using the company card.

As a buyer, I generally dislike when sellers use that because (for reasons I have yet to understand) the rate is higher than the real rate if you take it to the post office (like, the postage amount itself that is purchased is higher - not a case where the actual postage is less than charged, but the rate itself is higher than...itself)

It's one thing if the seller bumps up the rate for their packaging costs, but something different entirely when the money disappears into thin air.

glitch
October 28th, 2010, 08:46 AM
It also prevents buyers from knowing exactly what you spent on postage. I recently had a guy send a QBUS board from Brooklyn to here (3 hours north) in a minimally padded, thin box. I was charged $13.something for it via USPS parcel post. The only thing you can do in that case is ding them on the eBay "stars" thing, since you can't prove they didn't spend that much.

MikeS
October 28th, 2010, 09:03 AM
I can .. have the boxes picked up from my doorstep (albeit probably not by a postal worker, in this neighborhood).LOL! Sounds like my neighbourhood...

kishy
October 28th, 2010, 09:32 AM
Well, in cases like that, you never know. Is the seller being overbilled by the online shipping system? I'd think so, in cases where they bought postage online...

I find it irritating because the money is going to some unknown party - PayPal perhaps, if it's their checkout, I don't know the arrangement - or the postal agency?

I wouldn't mind a seller revealing in the description "I buy new, good quality boxes to ship my items. Accordingly I add a $5 packaging fee in the shipping costs" or "I have to drive three hours to get to the nearest post office, so I add a few dollars for gas". But there was one seller who charged me the appropriate rate for Priority and then sent via First Class - no, you don't DO that. Disclose why the cost is higher up front and I won't even put the mouse near the 'negative' radio button.

kb2syd
October 28th, 2010, 12:56 PM
But there was one seller who charged me the appropriate rate for Priority and then sent via First Class - no, you don't DO that.
Depending on the weight of the package, there may be no priority option. Less than 13 oz in your own packaging and it goes First Class. At least that's what the tell me at the office I use. I couldn't find an exact quote on the USPS site about that though.

Chuck(G)
October 28th, 2010, 01:38 PM
Well, in cases like that, you never know. Is the seller being overbilled by the online shipping system? I'd think so, in cases where they bought postage online...

I find it irritating because the money is going to some unknown party - PayPal perhaps, if it's their checkout, I don't know the arrangement - or the postal agency?

Postage paid for online (including that purchased through PayPal) is generally a bit cheaper than if purchased over the counter at the post office.

eBay automatically calculates postage based on the weight and dimensional information given by the seller and allows the seller to specify an extra "handling" charge.

Of course, that opens the way for abuse--eBay has no way of knowing what an item actually weighs.

carlsson
October 28th, 2010, 01:53 PM
It's like they /want/ to be replaced by machines!
A couple of years ago, I was shipping out a lot of Commodore PETs (*) and peripherals to European destinations. Those are packages at around 15-20 kg each. The lady at my post office complained loudly about the fact such large packages were allowed alltogether. In her ideal world, the post service would not deal with packages at all, perhaps not even letters. I don't know exactly what she would be doing all day if they stopped handling mail, but perhaps she never thought in terms of unemployment. In any case, she was a big fan of heavily increased postage costs to make every seller and buyer think twice before going through a deal and not send big packages just for the fun of it.

(*) A few packages arrived in damaged condition due to me cheating on packing material, but only one or two machines out of about 10 were severly damaged.

vwestlife
October 28th, 2010, 05:12 PM
If I had to carry around heavy packages all day I'd be grumpy too, but the difference is, I wouldn't take it out on the customer. Unfortunately, some employees don't have that self restraint and like to make you miserable by either enforcing the existing rules as strictly as possible, or even making up their own rules if they think you won't call them out on it and ask for their supervisor. I had to do that several times with one lady at the post office, and within a few weeks I think she was either fired or moved to a job in the back room, because I never saw her at the customer service counter again.

Shadow Lord
October 28th, 2010, 10:10 PM
I run an ebay store for my business and because of the items we handle, we can't really ship internationally. It's both expensive and we can not promise it will make it there in one piece. Because of this, in all our auctions we specify we ship to North America (Canada and the US) only.
Yet for some reason that we have yet to understand, we still get messages from people asking "Can you ship to Manilla, Spain"? or "How much would shipping be to Poland?"
Isn't ebay suppost to be filtering out locales so that they can't send us these useless messages? Why are they so persistant?
I know I'm haggling about people who might be making us money but seriously, your nuts if you want me to ship a monitor to the far side of the planet that you paid $30 for and shipping will obviously cost you four times that.

Sometimes, the item is not found elsewhere. You'd be surprised how much more prevalent high end audio gear is in Germany/Europe then the USA when you want to buy on e-bay.

Having bought a number of items, including some heavy ass Sony Decks (think 30 pounds of copper frame alone + transformer, electronics, etc...), I don't see the problem. The cost of the shipping is the cost of the shipping and is non-negotiable unless of course you got a very sweet premium on the item (think having bought an add-in card for $5 and then selling for $300). As for getting it there if you pack right it will get there (generally this is why I prefer items in original box and packaging, once you double box that baby even USPS can't break it - usually ;)) w/o a scratch.

Ole Juul
October 29th, 2010, 12:19 PM
I wonder why people think that things will always break if shipped. Yes, it happens, but do you actually think that everything you buy is built locally! That's ridiculous. Almost everything you buy is shipped - and that includes monitors. Like everything else, they ship just fine or you would never have been able to buy them where you live.

Unknown_K
October 29th, 2010, 12:27 PM
Nothing I have shipped has ever arrived broken, but the time and care I have taken is not something I would want to do every day plus the materials are hard to stockpile.

kb2syd
October 29th, 2010, 12:27 PM
Everything that a cheapskate ebay packager ships gets broken. I have had more broken big stuff from eBay purchases than not. Had a forum member ship me something from Delaware to New Jersey and it was broken in several places. It was only in transit for two days and it was in awful shape. This was a Mac Quadra 950. Several of the interlocking fingers on the case were snapped off, the case was cracked, the hard drive was dead and even the little piece of plastic they had on the terminator was smashed into several pieces.

Most of my problems have to do with shoddy packaging. If I ship anything it is double boxed, and since I hate packing things, I usually just offer up what I have for free if you can come get it.

If you don't double box it the USPS will find a way to break it.

Shadow Lord
October 29th, 2010, 09:46 PM
If you don't double box it the USPS will find a way to break it.

Amen Brother! The only time I have receive something broken from e-bay was from some jack ass who thought packing a 47lb deck in s single box w/ a few pieces of foam around it LOOSELY would get it across the Atlantic. But packed correctly I have received fully functional, sold in near mint condition (and arrived in near mint condition) items from Japan, UK, Germany, Greece, Netherlands and Indonesia to name just a few.