How can I protect myself when selling internationally on eBay?
April 8, 2010 8:47 PM   Subscribe

How can I protect myself when selling internationally on eBay? (I am in the US.)

Back when the iPhone wasn't available in many countries, I sold my used unlocked phone to a fellow in Germany for several hundred dollars more than it would have gone for in the states. I want to do the same thing with an iPad, but I haven't used eBay to sell anything in nearly 2 years, and aside from the iPhone, I avoided international transactions entirely.

What do I need to know in order to protect myself, as a seller, from getting ripped off, either by the buyer or PayPal? Don't ship to Nigeria, obviously, but what else? What do I need to know about customs fees? Best shipping carrier to use (I was thinking insured UPS)?

(I'm not planning on selling more than one--I don't want to make a ton of money, I just want to subsidize the cost of my own iPad.)
posted by cosmic osmo to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You cannot, without using a carrier like UPS or Fedex which will cost $50-100 minimum. Registered mail is good and safe, but it's not trackable online, which is what paypal will care about.
posted by Slinga at 10:06 PM on April 8, 2010


What do I need to know about customs fees?

When you ship something from the US to the UK, if its declared value exceeds £18 (£36 for gifts) customs will require that VAT (17.5%), and any import duty (rate varies depending on what the item is), be paid upon it. These taxes also cover shipping, so you can't sell something as £1, item, £200 shipping" to avoid tax.

Some people attempt to bypass this by shipping things marked as "gift, $0 value" but I'm not sure how well this works if an item is obviously a valuable piece of electronics.

Additionally, many delivery services will charge a 'handling fee' for dealing with customs, which can be £13 or more (it depends on the shipping company, and many companies won't deliver an item until the fee is paid). Some people have pointed out that this ought to be included in the initial shipping fee, but as long as they have your parcel you aren't in a very good negotiating position.

For example, I once ordered $60 of t-shirts from America (which was at the time £33), and paid £5.56 in VAT and a £4 'international clearance fee' - i.e. an extra $17.

Needless to say, if you're offering to ship to a number of different countries, there may be a number of different tax situations involved.

As a seller, this doesn't matter to you all that much - the recipient will typically pay the taxes - but it might be worth noting in your auction that the recipient should expect to pay their country's import taxes. You could also note the shipping company you will use, so they can assess the possible handling fees.
posted by Mike1024 at 12:46 AM on April 9, 2010


Paypal will most likely side on the buyer's side. I wouldn't sell internationally unless I was paid cash.
posted by wongcorgi at 1:11 AM on April 9, 2010


Beside's Mike's observations, this thread has some of the worst advice I have seen.

FIrst off, "$50-$100 min"? Huh? Where did you get that from? You don't even know where he's shipping to, and the weight of the package sent from apple is about 3lbs. Also...the buyer pays for shipping.

Second, paypal does not side with the buyer when the seller has taken all precautions.

Don't ship to Nigeria, Indonesia, etc...do a search on ebay of those 2 words, and you will find other countries that have problems with receiving goods, or paying with legit accts.

VAT does not matter to you. Anyone who buys from outside of the country should know exactly how much vat they will pay.

DO NOT list the value of the ipad for any less than the value you would be satisfied with if it got lost and they had to reimburse you.

DO NOT ship to countries not on the safelist from paypal.

Besides that, find out where you're sending it to, what option is cheapest (UPS, fedex, usps, dhl). Make sure its tracked, and make sure you have to get a signature.

Also...if someone wants to buy your ipad for an astronomical price and wants to do the transaction off of ebay...its best if you don't talk to them anymore. Having a transaction go through ebay protects you.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:35 AM on April 9, 2010


Consider using an escrow service (one that is recommended by eBay).
posted by applemeat at 4:31 AM on April 9, 2010


FIrst off, "$50-$100 min"? Huh? Where did you get that from? You don't even know where he's shipping to, and the weight of the package sent from apple is about 3lbs. Also...the buyer pays for shipping.

Well, cosmic osmo mentions sending a phone to Germany in the past; and mentions using UPS.

According to the UPS Retail Rates, a 3 lbs package from US To Germany (Or France or the UK) would cost:

"UPS worldwide express" (zone 901): $98
"UPS worldwide saver" (zone 401): $94
"UPS worldwide expedited" (zone 631/601): $90

If you are aware of a cheaper, insured and tracked shipping option for retail customers, I'm sure cosmic osmo would be glad to hear about it!

You're right that the buyer will pay for shipping - but when one bids on ebay, one chooses what one is willing to pay to get the item, subtracts the shipping cost, then enters the remaining amount as a maximum bid. That means a lower shipping cost means more money in the seller's pocket!
posted by Mike1024 at 4:46 AM on April 9, 2010


Second, paypal does not side with the buyer when the seller has taken all precautions.

This is not necessarily the case. I know several people who have been ripped off for major amounts despite having all the documentation Paypal asks for. For instance, note that Paypal offers zero protection against Item Significantly Not As Described claims or chargebacks -- and hey, guess what kind an experienced scammer is likely to file? On top of that, in order to get protection against Item Not Received and Unauthorized Transaction chargebacks, you need signature confirmation on international payments of $250 or more. Good luck getting that for less than a fortune.

In my experience (buying and selling items internationally on Ebay since '98), trying to meet Paypal's standards outside the US isn't economical, especially since their "protection" isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Escrow is also impractical, unless you're selling something worth far more than an iPad. I would probably just pack the iPad up tight in a flat-rate International Priority Mail box, seal it with tons of tape, and insure it for the total value. Sending it via registered mail or UPS/FedEx/DHL won't necessarily provide any greater protection in case of a scam... and it will cost the buyer a lot more, and thus cost you bids.

Besides, Ebay scams aren't as common as all that. Complete the transaction on Ebay, don't respond to people who want to make a deal, sell only to reputable countries, and check the buyer's feedback before you send. You should be fine.
posted by vorfeed at 2:53 PM on April 9, 2010


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