eBay / vast differential between ebay's and ups's calculated shipping rates

San Jose, CA, United States
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On December 26, 2014, one of my auctions successfully closed with a buyer for the item that I listed a week prior. The buyer very promptly paid the same day and to return the courtesy, I made an extra effort to provide same-day shipping. When creating the auction listing, the least expensive option for shipping was via UPS ground given the parcel's weight. To make certain that the shipping estimates for my eBay listings are reasonably accurate, I pre-pack, weigh, and measure each box. I'm careful about selecting the right shipping carrier relative to parcel size and weight, both for my sake and my prospective buyer's sake. No one likes to be surprised about higher shipping charges than expected. EBay's quote for shipping was $18.52.

Creating a shipping label entails logging into My eBay and under the Activity tab, one will find the items that successfully sold in the left hand column. EBay has the interface simplified such that once a buyer has sent payment, all a seller needs to do is pay for and print a shipping label and then get the paid item out the door.

It had been a very long time since I had used UPS's services, so I had to create a new UPS account from scratch since old accounts are deactivated and then deleted by UPS. This UPS account then has to be linked to the PayPal account through PayPal's user settings, which was also done so that I could successfully print a label. The amount that UPS charged for ground shipping with no Saturday delivery was $29.64. Recall what eBay quoted: $18.52. That's a difference of $11.12.

Once I had taken care of taking my packages to the respective shippers, including one specifically to the UPS Store, I called eBay to address the difference between quoted and actual shipping. The first eBay customer service rep passed the buck and transferred the call to PayPal. The PayPal representative in turn explained that eBay solely uses PayPal to process payments. The PayPal rep offered to transfer the call back to eBay and explain the situation, which he did. At that point, I found myself speaking with Rea at eBay, call reference number 1-[protected]. Rea ended up systematically walking through the problem from the start, from generating a quote on UPS's website to calculating the shipping using eBay's shipping calculator, just to confirm my story and the facts of the parcel dimensions, weight, and origination and destination addresses. Rea promised, repeating herself no fewer than 3x: 1) a credit of $11.21 to my account would be processed within 2 hours of the call, which was ended around 8:30P Pacific Time and 2) that she would call or e-mail me to confirm that the credit had been processed.

A few cursory checks of my eBay account after logging in indicated that no such credit had been issued by Saturday (12/27/2014) afternoon. I contacted eBay's customer service department again through their callback system and this time someone named Amor (spelling?) called me at 12:27P. All she could do was escalate the case once again so that a supervisor could approve the credit back to my account.

At 3:09P that same Saturday afternoon, Rea (eBay's Customer Service rep) called again, this time to inform me that her faceless and nameless supervisor has denied the credit to my account and to repeatedly press me like a broken, skipping CD player about some UPS discounted shipping program. Rea insisted there was an option for this discount as a seller buys a label through PayPal and then creates the labels for parcels being shipped via UPS. I retraced my steps to walk through the process of creating a label - NO SUCH OPTION EXISTS. Rea would not listen to me. It was clear that she and her supervisor had never walked through the eBay seller's website interface, let alone PayPal's or UPS's account setup interface, so neither Rea nor her supervisor has any concept of what buyers or sellers are looking at or experiencing. Although Rea did not call the program by its proper name, what she was blindly asking me about was the UPS Special Pricing Program for eBay Sellers. When a seller links their UPS account to their PayPal user account, one is defaulted into participating in the UPS Special Pricing Program for eBay Sellers; to not agree to the program is to be denied the capacity to ship via UPS through PayPal. Rea put me on hold for a 4th time to patch through a conference call to PayPal's customer service department and then a 5th time to let me know that PayPal put her on hold. This call to PayPal was to confirm that my PayPal account is linked to my UPS account and that I'm enrolled in this ridiculous UPS Special Pricing Program that I'm not allowed to opt out of anyway. The PayPal representative then informs me and Rea that the UPS discount will not be available to me as a credit until 12/30 or 12/31. Moreover, the PayPal representative cannot give me an estimate of the amount that I can expect to be credited.

EBay is doing everything that it can to skirt its responsibility for creating faulty shipping quotes while holding sellers responsible for charging for shipping fairly and accurately. It's impossible for sellers to charge for shipping accurately when we are forced to rely on the inaccuracy of eBay's shipping calculators, which Rea admitted has been an ongoing issue in my first conversation with her on the evening of December 26th. When I asked her when this will be resolved, she could not and would not say. The only workaround she offered was to restrict shipping to USPS, so 1) buyers end up bearing the brunt of higher shipping costs when lower cost options are possible and 2) sellers end up unfairly absorbing the difference between eBay's inaccurate shipping quotes and UPS's actual shipping cost.

Attached for the reader's consideration are the UPS Special Pricing Program for eBay Sellers Agreement as well as an indicator of what a seller sees when he or she clicks through eBay and then logs into PayPal in order to create a UPS shipping label. The original parcel to my buyer was already shipped, so I wasn't about to create yet another label - my address and the recipient's address have been blurred out for privacy. Note for the record that the shipping that eBay quoted and then charged the buyer was $18.52 and that there is no radio button or check off box to select the UPS discount program that Rea repeatedly and insistently but insensitively pressed me about.


Dec 27, 2014

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