Someone asked me today about the Global Shipping Program on eBay. This is a system which allows sellers to outsource, as it were, the job of shipping their items to their buyers – to an outside company. As a buyer you are charged two separate amounts – one for the item, and one for the shipping and projected customs fees you will be charged upon entry to your country.
It is described thus on eBay:
The Global Shipping Program simplifies selling an item to an international buyer. All eligible listings for sellers who qualify are automatically included in the Global Shipping Program. Here’s how it works:
- List your item.
- Your item sells to an international buyer in an eligible country.
- You ship the item to a US shipping center.
- International shipping experts manage the international shipping and customs process and send the item to the buyer.
For me, nothing good has ever come of this program. I am sure it is extremely beneficial to the sellers, who can hand over all the annoying bits of the sale to another agent. And of course to the company which handles the Global Shipping itself. And perhaps many buyers as well. But definitely not to me.
My first experience of this program was when I bought a personal sized Domino Snake Filofax from the US. I am neither a Filofax nor an eBay newbie. I have 100% positive feedback and have been on eBay for ten years. I have several Domino Snake binders so I know that they are neither snake nor leather.
But no, Global Shipping refused to ship it to me as they felt snake was a restricted item. They cancelled the whole sale without any discussion whatsoever (despite the fact that both I and the seller contacted them to point out their error), and promised a refund in 72 hours. Needless to say, by the time two weeks had passed I had neither a refund not an answer from Paypal, eBay OR Global Shipping. Nobody could tell me where the item actually was. Nothing was done until I escalated a claim on eBay and on Paypal. Finally I was issued a refill. eBay blamed PayPal and PayPal blamed Global Shipping. But the losers were really myself and the poor seller (which happened to be a charity, which is why I bought from them in the first place).
The next kerfuffle involved a Brahmin Melbourne (embossed alligator, clearly marked on the tags). Same thing. All over again.
Third time the item got to me but took three times as long as items usually do (and believe me I buy a lot from all over the world). I asked the customs agency afterwards, and was told that no customs charges had been applicable on the item. What happened to the so-called customs fees I had been charged on purchase, I have no idea. Maybe they were paid anyway, maybe Global Shipping keeps them to cover shortfalls in other cases.
My questions are, why do they have to estimate in advance what fees *I* will pay on entry into my own country? In ten years I have been charged customs upon entry once, (for a Campomaggi bag) and was happy to pay it by myself. Why do I not have the choice to deal with that myself? And for customs that is not charged or valid on a low-value item – what exactly does Global Shipping do with this money?
Nowadays, believe me, I avoid Global Shipping items like the plague unless it is something I absolutely cannot find anywhere else.
Would be interested in hearing anyone else’s view on this – particularly positive ones.