[78-L] eBay, Global Shipping Program pitfalls, Insurance

Darrell Lehman nickjay49 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 9 11:55:02 PST 2013

To further this discussion... I was informed at my P.O. that they no 
longer insure to the UK. I guess it doesn't bother me since I use UPIC 
but curious since she didn't know why... ?

Benno Häupl wrote:
> I would like to clarify a few things about eBay and their infamous Global Shipping Program.
> -  First I want to explain how the world postal system works.
> -  Then I will show how you can opt out of GSP and I will go into detail about the flaws of eBay's
>     Global Shipping Program.
> -  My personal solution to avoid GSP as an overseas buyer
> -  Lastly I will give hints on inexpensive (non-USPS) insurance when shipping from the USA.
> -  Bonus info: why eBay may not show your items AT ALL -- although you paid for their services!
> First of all, we must know that the global postal logistics system is divided into 3 parts:
> -	Letter mail (called First Class Int'l by USPS) up to 4 lbs (USA) or 2kg (4.4.lbs) from other countries. Maximum length of all 3 sides L*W*H  90cm = 36 inches. Remember, a wooden box can be shipped at the low ''letter'' rate!
> -	Parcel mail (anything over 4 lbs from USA or 2.kg from other countries)
> -	Courier Service EMS (called Express Mail International by USPS)
> This is regulated by the Universal Postal Union in Bern, Switzerland, to which all postal services
> on earth adhere and where these things are decided in their annual Conference.
> All other carriers are not postal administrations, but private courier services (UPS, TNT, DHL, FedEx...)
> So, Pitney-Bowes, who run eBay's Global Shipping Program (GSP) are a courier service.
> For customs administrations courier services are business-to-business carriers (B2B), therefore
> ALL their shipments will be checked for customs duties.
> If you use USPS FCI (or even USPS Priority Mail when in excess of 4 lbs), and hand write the
> address on the package, you make the parcel look like a gift from auntie to her nephew and the
> thing will not be taxed, especially if you declare a low customs value (like $20).  Do not mark as
> ''gift'', because this makes the shipment suspicious. And low customs declaration is the best
> security measure against theft.
> Let me show you how you can opt out of GSP (a method well hidden by eBay):
> My eBay>Account>Site Preferences>Shipping Preferences>Offer the Global Shipping Program
> There is a new Opt Out button & a "Use the Global Shipping Program automatically when I list item" check box.
> If you don't want to opt out entirely, uncheck the box if you want to decide on a listing by listing basis.
> GSP pitfalls for buyers.
> 1) Shipping cost is double or triple, because GSP is a courier service
> 2) GSP shipping costs are published nowhere (except on eBay item page) and thus GSP help themselves
> 3) Buyer pays import duties and import sales taxes plus a brokerage fee
>       upfront - even in cases when no duties or VAT are legally due in the
>      destination country.
> 4) Duties and taxes once paid to GSP are non-refundable - even in cases when
>      they are not legally due or when the item is returned
> 5) Combined shipping is not possible. A buyer was to pay $450 shipping for
>      13 books!
> 6) The GSP shipments are not insured
> 7) Some envelopes and packages sent via GSP will be opened by Homeland
>      Security - with carpet cutters. Many damaged collectibles and antiques were
>     reported. No possibility to complain.
> 8) There is no customer service for GSP problems - neither for sellers nor for
>      buyers
> 9) "Returns from international buyers are not handled through the Global
>      Shipping Program at this time".    So, solve your probems yourselves!
> 10) In order to save on volume and weight in overseas containers, GSP may
>     repackage the shipments if "the package is too large for the commodity'' or
>     when the package it too heavy, then it will be ''repackaged into 2 or more
>     parcels''.  Parts of shipments were reported lost, others were missing protective
>     cushoning, resulting in damages (but there is nobody to complain with!)
> 11) As GSP collects duties, taxes and a brokerage fee ahead of time when they
>     are not even due yet, these will not be reimbursed in case of loss or damage to
>     the item.
> 12) Businesses buying via GSP will not get an invoice for duties, taxes and
>     brokerage fee that will be formally tax deductable. (Last time it took eBay
>    Germany three years to provide tax deductable invoices for eBay fees! Three years!)
> 13) Although GSP claims on the item pages that there will be no extra duties,
>     taxes or fees to be paid on arrival, many cases were reported by buyer who had
>     to pay extra on arrival. In fact, there is a clause in the User Agreement saying
>     that they are not liable if they undervalued the shipment.
> 14)  Items advertised internationally with shipping via GSP are not allowed to be
>     mailed by any other service, says the User Agreement.
> 15) Although there is no Customer Service for GSP, and no system set up for a
>     loss claim, eBay states that the buyer will only be refunded the national shipping
>     costs. The overseas portion and all other duties/tax/brokerage fee stay with GSP!
> 16) Undeliverable items (e.g. during vacation) cannot be refunded at all and will
>     neither be  returned to the seller.  Post Offices in many countries, in contrast,  will
>     keep overseas shipments for 6 weeks.
> All this jeopardizes the seller's feedback and star ratings!
> My solution to avoid GSP as an overseas buyer:
> I am now using the services of a re-shipper in California.
> I have a US street address in 90250 Hawthorne, CA  and get many records by media mail.
> My mail forwarder keeps the shipments in storage until I decide what I want him to do.
> I can select:
> - forward the parcel as received
> - open parcel and keep only the "item in its marketing packaging" (i.e. the protective cardboard or so),
>    which I always choose for the records. Discard all paperwork (invoices)
> Then I have the re-shipper consolidate 10 or more such items into one larger parcel.
> Most important of all:  I can fill out my own customs declaration online!
> In the first month I already saved more than $900 on shipping costs and customs duties that
> the Global Shipping Program would have taken. That was for 14 items only!
> If interested, I use shipito.com, because they are the least expensive- but there are many more.
> They ship packages under 4 lbs even cheaper than by USPS First Class!
> Make a google search for ''mail forwarding'' to find similar services.
> Now on to insurance.
> Although USPS FCI cannot be insured, you can use a third-party insurer.
> Check out U-Pic and Shipsurance.  They will insure for about a $1.oo premium for
> every $100 of value -- REGARDLESS OF VALUE DECLARED on the customs form!
> Better yet -- "self insure"!
> No need to feed insurance companies.
> If you add an extra dollar to your buyer's invoice for the shipping costs, put this dollar
> aside in a cookie jar and pay out any claims from there.  If an insurance company can
> make a profit with a $1.oo premium on $100 value, you can, too.  At the end of the year
> take the money left over and invite your loved one to a fine dinner.
> That's all.
> Except that I still have a goodie for y'all.  This is an official eBay announcement about the new
> User Agreement that we all had to accept:
> "To further create a marketplace where buyers find what they want and drive positive
> user experience, we updated the provision regarding listing conditions to recognize that the
> appearance and placement of listings in search and browse results will depend on a variety
> of factors. So, in some situations A LISTING MAY NOT APPEAR IN SOME SEARCH
> (Emphasis by me)
> Benno
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