Seller screwed up eBay shipping price, and I want to help
April 28, 2021 3:37 PM   Subscribe

Seller underestimated the international shipping price of an item I just won. I knew the shipping was a bit low when I bid, but I didn't expect my low-ball bid to win. I know I don't have to make this right, but I want to: does eBay have a legit way of fixing this?

I've been trying to pick up a slightly rare and weird little retrocomputer for some time. They come up on eBay about once a month, and they typically sell for over US$200 + about $30 shipping. I've been outbid lots of times.

A mint-condition unit appeared on eBay last week, just after a slightly beat-up one sold for the typical $200+. I noticed that the shipping was priced at ~$15. This is way too low, but I figured the seller would get a decent price, so put in a snipe bid for just under $200. Much to my surprise, I won, and at just over $100, too. I was expecting to pay much more.

I could be all lolInvisibleHand about it, but in reality, I budgeted way more for this item than I ended up paying. I'd gladly drop the seller the extra $15 if there was a proper way of doing it. The seller has suggested I buy one of their other items for $15 and they just don't ship it, but that seems a little dodgy. Last resort would be me paypal-ing the seller $15, but I'd prefer not to do something outside eBay. Any other way around this?
posted by scruss to Shopping (9 answers total)
The seller can send you an invoice with adjustments on it it. Here's another guide. The seller can definitely increase shipping price up, and I think the seller can also just add charges to the invoice.

Note this can introduce problems if you have to return the item and the seller is not inclined to "refund your shipping", if the shipping happens to be half the price of the item.
posted by saeculorum at 3:59 PM on April 28, 2021 [7 favorites]

"The seller has suggested I buy one of their other items for $15 and they just don't ship it, but that seems a little dodgy. "

And weird and inefficient.

Why do you want to take care of this "inside" of eBay, and why would you not want to send money via PayPal?

Ebay has nothing to do with the fact that the seller only charged $15 for shipping when other people are charging $30. And you certainly don't owe the person more than what they charged (you didn't cheat them out of the money, after all). If you want to give them more money, just send the $15 to them via PayPal and be done with it.
posted by jonathanhughes at 4:16 PM on April 28, 2021 [12 favorites]

If you wait until after you've received the item, can you see what the actual shipping cost was? If so, and if you're satisfied with it, PayPal the difference.
posted by kate4914 at 5:29 PM on April 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

Not quite to your question, but to be honest someone whose shipping prices are much lower than others for similar items would make me wonder about whether the packaging will be subpar or the shipping will be really slow. I do consider it the seller's responsibility to price fairly and adequately so this isn't something I'd be very concerned about, but I would agree the simplest solution would be another Paypal transaction (and not this whole scenario of pretending to buy another item).
posted by sm1tten at 6:17 PM on April 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

If somebody posted something for $15 (or whatever) postage to draw in bids ("omg postage is half as much as anywhere else!"), and then after I won the bidding told me postage was actually more than $15 (and closer to what literally every other seller is saying it is), I would tell them to take a walk.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:42 PM on April 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

The seller was not asking for the additional money, the buyer is offering it out of either guilt or some concept of being a good guy.

I would wait until I receive the item in good order and PayPal the difference in actual cost versus the $15 list price.
posted by AugustWest at 10:02 PM on April 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

My mistake. Well I guess the deal with eBay is you win some and you lose most. But I think if you get "caught" doing extraneous money stuff for an eBay transaction that is against the TOS, so I say go for it but be careful!
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:26 AM on April 29, 2021

My 14-year-old daughter makes and sells fur suit heads and hands on Etsy. (She's really good at it!) She recently asked me to ship one to a customer in New Mexico (we live in Portland, OR) so I printed a label from her Etsy account, boxed it up, and dropped it off at the post office.

When the customer received it, the post office told them there was postage due, as my daughter didn't actually know how much it would cost to ship and just guessed. They had to pay almost $80 before the USPS would release the item. I told my daughter about it, and after the customer sent us proof of the extra cost, we sent them the difference via Paypal. That was an expensive underestimation for shipping - the total cost of the sale was only $250, so $80 was a big chunk!

If you had been our customer and had offered to pay even half of that cost, we would have been elated. The mistake was my daughter's, but it was an innocent mistake by a kid. I salute you for wanting to make sure things were fair.
posted by tacodave at 7:03 PM on April 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: To resolve this, now that I've got the item (a Cambridge Computers Z88!):
  1. after the seller marks something as shipped, they cannot issue an additional invoice. The seller tried, and even contacted eBay support: no dice.
  2. there is no way to send your email or Paypal id over eBay messages: eBay have filters for that sort of thing. Unless the seller writes their e-mail somewhere inside/on the package (which this one didn't), you can't get in touch outside eBay. Even the PayPal transaction masks the seller's ID.
The seller is cool that I'm happy with it, and is okay not getting the extra £11. But I tried. (Their packaging was amazing, btw)
posted by scruss at 1:08 PM on May 5, 2021

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