Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Are eBay Shipping Costs A Transformer Killer?

No, I don't mean literally.  I just needed a catchy title.

The problem that I am actually referring to seems to be the ever growing costs of shipping Transformers bought off of eBay.

How much in shipping is this worth to you?
I came up with writing about this quite accidentally, though the the general idea crosses my mind anytime I surf eBay for TF's. 

Lately, I've been trying to catalogue all of my figures on a spreadsheet, and I am

happy to say that I have almost acomplished this feat. 

The general idea behind this project is to :
  • placate my OCD for having all of my figures accounted for
  • redefine the direction of my collection and need to figure out what I have so that I can decide to keep or sell it
  • so I don't accidentally buy the same figure twice (don't ask)
  • track and record the purchase location, item condition, cost etc.

Here's an example of my cataloging (still a work in progress)

Now, these two above pieces' information are pretty much complete, but unfortunately for some of my figures, either due to the passage of time or lost records, I am having a hard time filling in all the price costs for every figure.  I was going through all my pages of figures and I began to really look at what I have spent over the years and it's kind of disgusting.  Some prices I've spent are good....and some bad; depending on the figure, bidding wars, etc. 

One rising issue that we have all seen lately, and it seems to be only increasing, is the rising cost of shipping items, either through the "normal" postal service or through the Global Shipping Program. 

Obviously the two examples I have shown above don't count because $13 is cheap shipping and the Takara Collection Prime was a local pickup so even better, but others I'm going to talk about, especially with this "new/old" Global Shipping Program from eBay are a little frustrating, and are seriously becoming a major deciding factor in a lot of future purchases….at least for me and I know I can't be the only one experiencing buying decision dilemmas.

G1 Metroplex MIB
Here is a purchase that I did in 2013 for Metroplex.  Here, I have no issue with what I paid for a 1986 big boxed figure in excellent condition shipping into Canada from the States.  No Global Shipping on this item thankfully.

I'm not going to get into pulling screen shots of actual listings and pics off of eBay because I think there might be some legality to that, but as an example I have just easily found two listing :

  • one MOSC G2 Constructicon COST :$40 U.S. SHIPPING: $32 U.S. - clearly the Seller is looking to make a profit here
  • one MOSC G2 Constructicon COST :$49 U.S. SHIPPING: $9 U.S. - a lot more reasonable for the type of figure being shipped

Ruination (Walmart Exclusive) MISB - $50 + $30 shipping
Not the best deal I have made. $50 is good for this box, but at over half the cost of this set in shipping, maybe it's not so good.  Whose fault is this: mine, the Seller, USPS?

Okay, so before I go any further I would just like to clarify that I don't blame every Seller out there for these costs.  I completely understand that there is a whole cycle to this business of online selling. Granted, we have all seen people list items and then have an outrageous shipping price just to put that little extra into their pockets.

I'm also going to caveat this by saying that I have never had to sell anything on eBay before, and to be honest, I don't think that I ever would.  Local TF boards, word of mouth and free online pages will always do the trick for me…..and honestly, after trying to learn all the details of eBay shipping I nearly threw my laptop on the ground in frustration due to all the material to understand; Insertion Fees, Final Shipping Fees, Supplemental Service Fees?!

FUCK OFF eBay!! (Wow…do Canadians really talk like this?)  Is nothing ever simple anymore?

So briefly, if anyone gives a two craps…I honestly could be learning better things but I like to post some information when I do write ups, so here are some of the fees eBay charges for those who don't know:
Here are some comments on eBays board site regarding shipping :
" Do you think that Ebay is charging a final value fee on shipping and handling just to keep the thieves charging exorbitant shipping charges in check? Hell no! They want a piece of that pie. You have to keep the company in the black and pay the shareholders. Wake up, everyone…...Pass the buck like everyone else does. Raise the rates and the sale price to compensate for the increase. It's what Ebay wants you to do. You'll get to balance out the money you want to make and Ebay will get a little more in the process, which is what they were shooting for in the first place.

And as far as gas prices and all the other garbage going up all around us, I can complain about ebay fees because this is MY business. "I" am looking to make a profit. Maybe I don't feel like having to raise my rates because my sales will go down and I won't make as big a profit anymore. And whether I sell once a month or a thousand times a day doesn't make a difference. I am still looking to come out ahead. Ebay wasn't designed to lose money and they prove that to us every time some new rules come into effect. Why should a seller have to lose money, no matter how small they are…."


" They are putting an end to dishonest sellers who sell exspensive items for $1.00 and charge 100.00 for shipping. Fee percentages are going down and they will be charging us now for shipping."


This last point I can certainly understand as when haven't we seen an item listed super cheap and then the shipping costs exceed the selling price by 300%?

I've come across Sellers listing a figure's single weapon or instruction booklet and charging shipping of $15 (plus sometimes tacking on the additional GSP charges) for an item that could just be put into an envelope with some cardboard and shipped for the price of a few stamps.


Global Shipping Program at its best
This makes this program appear fantastic for both parties involved.  From a Seller's perspective it basically absolves them from any issues with shipping that might arise due to the third party involvement from Pitney Bowes.  And hey, the buyer doesn't have to worry about Import Charges and there is tracking and fast delivery….WOW, who wouldn't want this service.

"F" PITNEY BOWES and the assholes that thought of this program!

$48 US worth of shipping!

Let me tell you a story regarding how great this service is. Click HERE for one of my earlier deliveries regarding a GSP delivery for a G2 Megatron post for which I paid $138 + $12 shipping + $36 Global Shipping.
The following is one example of an eBay Buyers issue with the GSP :

The final straw with this GSP for me (and a few other people I have spoken to here in Canada is that when this package is finally delivered, it's just left exposed at our front door.  My friend "M", others and myself have all experienced this.  What is the good of all this extra paid "security" if in the end these items are left out in the open for anyone to drive by and just grab while we are at work?  At least with regular postal delivery it's either put into our locked mail boxes or a note is left for the item to be picked up at the Post Office.

So in the end, I guess there is not much that can be done with eBay's charges.  Yes, it's a auction site that tries to offer protection to all parties involved, and at the same time it's a business that needs to make money to continue operating.  Much like gas or food prices rise depending on worldwide factors, shipping costs, for the most part if listed fairly, rise due to item costs or delivery costs.

So what can we do as Transformer fans to change this?  Do you want the real answer?  Well, I really think it's nothing.  We can discuss and complain about it on the boards. We can choose just to not partake in using eBay, though that certainly limits us to a broader selection of choices.  We can choose to only buy from Transformer/toy collector shows.  But, in the end, it comes down to if we really want a certain item, we basically have to (excuse the expression ladies out there) "man up" and just pay the cost of doing business.

And this really sucks.  It really does.  Certainly, a lot gets taken out  of the joy  of collecting.  I'm not going to calculate it, but if I were to go and find out how much I have spent on shipping costs alone over the years I know it would go into the thousands…. and that just makes me want to vomit.  The figures I could have bought with all that "wasted money".

I know for me, with a recent new addition to our family, trying to save up for new camera equipment,  cost of living etc I really need to step back, and sometimes that means passing on figures when those shipping costs become too high.

Let's face it…in the end there will always be people willing to pay whatever to get what they want.  For some, money really isn't an issue and that is great.  I certainly don't begrudge them that.  I think I make a decent living, but I'm still in the middle-income bracket.  For others though, depending on what is going on in your life, family, job, other hobbies….it all takes a bite out of your budget for collecting so every little bit saved helps.

Whose the real winner in the end.  Ebay? Certainly.  As long as people are using their site how could they not?  The Sellers?  Like I said, I've never sold on Ebay, but it certainly looks like from what I've read that they have to pay their fair share on this so it's hard to say how much they win in the end.  The Buyers? Yes…only in the sense that they may get the figure they want, and sometimes if they're lucky at a "sniped" low price, but in the end there will always be those shipping charges to tack on.

So what direction can we go now?  I don't know my friends.  I guess we just keep on saving.....and then save a little bit more to cover the shipping as well.



  1. I've gotten to the end of my rope with the GSP, I actually asked a couple sellers why they used it since it deters bidders from outside the US. None of them were aware of the "import fees" since they conveniently leave that part out, Also, if you look up the regulations for Canada customs, toys are exempt.

    I've been prone to pass over any GSP auctions I find, or if it's a case of an insanely rare figure, i'll pay shipping to a friend in the US, then here.

  2. I won't do the global packaging thing service whatever. I have a hard enough time with fellow Americans when selling.

    Lesson I learned: there's still people who bid, win, then don't pay. What. The. Fudge.

    No more 7 day auctions. What's the point? I'll have 10 watchers until the last day, and then maybe a bidder or two. I get to the point where I get to the asking price. So, 3 day listings from now on.

    1. I agree Paul. Like I mentioned in my post, I've never tried to sell, but I've certainly heard all the stories about things going wrong.

      I don't think I've ever come across any of your listings. What's your eBay handle?

  3. It's been awhile since I've sold anything on eBay. The last thing I sold were comics and even then I was worried that I was overcharging on shipping. I think I wound up paying a portion of shipping just so I felt like I wasn't overcharging. Shipping is tough.

    As far as GSP is concerned, I luckily haven't had to deal with it. Most of the items I've purchased from eBay have had free shipping to the US, so no worries. Now if I ever get around to buying something from a foreign seller? Well, even then I doubt I'll use GSP as it just seems like a scam.

  4. As a very good buyer on Ebay. I will nerver buy from sellers using the Global shipping Program (GSP). I got scammed alot of money by this program. I called Ebay, because at no time they are transperant with the fees they charge, and it's after checkout that you could know buy searching on your transaction, that you will noticed the real HIGH charges for shipping. It's not normal paying 150$CAD dollards for 4 Iphones you buy from USA. It just doesn't make sence.

    I got scammed, and NOW I WILL NEVER BUY from sellers using this king SCAMM from Ebay.