back to article eBay cans free P&P requirement

eBay is canning the requirement for sellers to offer free postage and packing on certain items, after a long-running campaign by sellers. Back in the day the oldest eBay scam was charging exorbitant rates for P&P. Last year eBay took action against this by introducing mandatory free shipping for some items. But from 8 …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Charging excessive P&P was only scamming ebay, not the customer.

    Surely nobody was so dumb as to fail to notice a £10 P&P charge on, say, a £1 USB stick and think they were getting it for a quid? However that £10 wasn't subject to ebay fees so it was just another way of sellers avoiding paying ebay fees. Obviously ebay didn't like this, and that's fair enough. If an item's retail value is, say, £10 and would cost £1 to post some sellers were putting the item up at £1 and charging £10 P&P. Most buyers were happy with this arrangement and were therefore complicit in this avoidance of fees.

    I don't think, however, that imposing free P&P was fair. Ebay had in effect discovered a way of charging fees on P&P which isn't part of the deal that most sellers signed up for.

    An upper limit on P&P seems a fair compromise. So (for once) fair play to both sides for coming to an arrangement that seems to satisfy the majority - because you're never going to satisfy everybody.

    I hardly buy from ebay these days except for used stuff. While the asking price often looks cheap it will often come with a fairly hefty P&P charge that makes it more expensive than many of the big shops that don't charge P&P.

    1. No, I will not fix your computer

      Re: Scam?

      >>Charging excessive P&P was only scamming ebay, not the customer.

      Think about it....

      Think about it....


      OK, If you scam eBay or any other shop/service then how do they recover their losses? they put their charges up or find some other way of offsetting the loss, and this.... wait for it.... wait for it... means you end up scamming other customers. There truly is no such thing as a free lunch (or postage).

      1. James Halliday

        so in that case

        We can expected fees to go down now?

        1. Dale 3

          @James Halliday

          Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha - ahem - hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

    2. Cosmo

      @ AC

      Although I'm happy to see the draconian Free P&P lifted, one scam with the exorbitant P&P was the fact that if you bought something that, for instance wasn't as described, the refund didn't include the P&P.

      So for instance, if you bought a USB stick for £11 (£1 + £10 P&P) you would only get refunded £1 if the item wasn't as described etc. etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        UK law states (distance selling act) that if a good is not fit for purpose and / or misdescribed, you are entitled to a FULL refund.

        "The Regulations generally give you the right to change your mind and claim a full refund (including postage) up to the point where you receive the goods. After you receive the goods you have 7 working days (beginning the day after you receive the goods) to inspect the goods and, if they are not suitable, return the goods for a full refund."

        Trust me I've used this several times, they sometimes still refuse, but I little warning of the small claims court always works.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Depends on the seller

        Read the sellers T&Cs carefully before you buy. I don't care if the postage is 99p or £99 if the item is faulty or not as described I expect a complete refund or replacement at no cost to me. If the vendor doesn't offer that I don't buy.

        Too many people are seduced by the convenience of buying online (and ebay is more convenient than trawling loads of online stores) and don't spend enough time reading terms and conditions and the like.

      3. Haku

        Rule of thumb when buying on eBay

        Never buy (or sell) more than you can afford to lose if the deal goes tits up.

        I've been using eBay for over 10 years now* and got a rating of almost 1000, only been stung about 4 times when buying & never received it, I have lost money on sales when things went wrong as I'd rather lose a bit of money than have to deal with an irate customer. Though I've all but packed in selling since the absurd 'no negatives for buyers' rule came into play.

        It always pays to check and double check the item, seller's T&C's and the seller's selling history if the item is expensive and/or valuable to you.

        *heck, has it really been that long? eBay never even sent me a card..

      4. David Barrett Silver badge

        No... Thats not a scam..

        Its the distance selling act - the retailer is not liable for courier charges on returns (Although some will pay them as a gesture of good will for damaged/unfit items) - However as the distance selling act says you have 14 days to send an item back jsut because you changed your mind, its not fair for the retailer to be liable for that carriage...

  2. thefutureboy
    Thumb Up


    And hurrah! About time really.

  3. Greg J Preece

    That's better

    While I have taken advantage of free P&P on DVDs as a buyer, it did seem a bit unfair to the seller. A postage cap seems more appropriate and better for one-off sales/attic sellers.

  4. blackworx

    Common Sense Outbreak Alert

    The free postage thing was simply a way for eBay to screw their percentage out of every penny of a transaction. Good to see they've found some middle ground for a change.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ermm vintage scam ?!

    i sawa rc heli for 1.50£ and P+P for £899 the other day

    made me lol all the same

  6. ShaggyDoggy

    UK only

    Perhaps you'd like to have mentioned that the "free P&P" rule was for UK DOMESTIC POST ONLY.

    The entire rest of the world was not subjected to this "experiment" ... one wonders what would have happened if they'd have tried it on their home turf LOL

  7. Warren G
    Thumb Up

    A step in the right direction

    Postage has a cost, so clearly one should be allowed to charge unless it's excessive.

    It took them a while to realise but never mind.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    IT textbooks on Ebay

    Try selling some heavy old IT textbooks on Ebay, and putting in the standard Royal Mail charge of £4.50 for postage, the system doesn't allow this - maximum of £2.75 for this category, however Royal Mail will deliver upto 1.2kg which some books are easily beyond. Only way round this was to list the item as Free to collect and to specify delivery price in the advert. Bit ridiculous and confuses many buyers - finally they may have seen some sense. I can see that the system is being abused e.g. Phone cases from china for 1p with a P&P at £10 for example but there has to be a better way.

    A stop sign as this is what happens when a single provider is so dominent in one market, oh and don't they own paypal....

    1. No, I will not fix your computer
      Thumb Up


      Putting the P&P as an extra change in the advert is against the eBay rules (like adding any other misc or hiden charge like "add 3% for paypal") and you could refuse to pay it.

      That said, I set my "Free P&P" stuff to "Other/Courier", set it as a sensible amount and posted it using the fastest route (usually First Class) and put that in the auction, no problem.

      That said, a sensible cap on postage is a much better idea.

  9. gondrup
    Thumb Up


    Forcing people to offer free postage on certain categories was a ridiculous idea, it seemed to be eBays attempt at a quick fix to the fraud going on with delivery charges.

    I managed to lose an Xbox controller in the post recently which I sent unrecorded because I wasn't allowed to charge anything. Of course eBay/PayPal done it's usual thing of blaming the seller and refunded the money from my PayPal account without my consent. I then had to claim back from Royal Mail which took about 6 weeks.

    This change is very welcome as I feel I can start listing again without worrying about money spent on postage.

  10. Dave K Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Great news!

    The free postage thing has infuriated me before as well. Some items such as large reams of cable can be quite heavy, but eBay used to force me to offer free postage. Hence, I had to just bump the price of the item up instead and point out that several quid of the price was in fact covering the postage.

    It also used to make Buy-It-Now auctions for multiple items a pain in the backside as well - I wanted to offer discounted postage for multiple sales, but couldn't easily do it as the price for the postage was tied into the price the item was selling at.

    Now, I can finally advertise items for sensible prices with a correct amount of postage being charged, and easily offer discounts for bulk purchases. Better for me and for the customer!

  11. Stewart 3


    E-Bay put free postage on thier films hierarchy - this included real film. A 16mm print of a feature length movie can weigh up to 5Kg. That costs around £12 to post.

    The only strength EBay have left is their ubiquity. Their only interest is money and volume sellers.

  12. Martin

    I don't get what the fuss is all about....

    I list ALL my listings with P&P included. That way, the buyer knows exactly what he is going to pay, no messing about. Do I pay a fraction more in listing fees? I suppose so - but it's trivial compared to what I believe I've gained (especially on expensive items) where people have told me that they tend to bid on my item rather than another one because they know what they are paying.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid Again

    I fell foul of this selling a mobile recently. The trackable postage was nearer to £9, whereas a certificate of postage for spending more on the postal costs was cheaper.

    So I was faced with a dilemma - do I lose £1 but send by Special Delivery, or take a risk and send under £7 with an increased compensation amount.

    Stupid move (again) by eBay.

  14. Scott Wichall

    High value items

    I have sold some higher value items on ebay before, and the only way I would send them is using Special Delivery insured. This could be £10 for postage quite easily, which buyers were comfortable with. In fact this delivery type was the only one I would allow.

    Why on earth would you send a high value item by normal postage - the buyer only has to claim its never received, you get charged back and loose the item in the process, even with proof of posting.

    They can stick it, just they way they could stick their free postage bollocks

  15. I Like Heckling

    Anyone spotted the problem...

    There's a flaw in ebays scam.. I mean plan.

    If you look at those prices... then try actually sending them for that price (including purchase of packaging materials) for anything other than the cheapest, most basic postage... which doesn't include recorded and so forth... then it leaves the door wide open for scammers to claim they never received it.

    I never send anything through ebay that isn't recorded... too many thieves pulling that kind of scam.

    It's not worth selling anything on ebay any more... you pay them twice, you pay paypal and you are at high risk of getting scammed now over the new postage limits.

    I'll stick to buying cheap items and get decent stuff from proper shops.

  16. Andy ORourke
    Thumb Up

    That's why I sell my books etc on Amazon

    Firstly they (Amazon) sell the same stuff and when you list your item they seem to be able to get pretty close to the retail price for postage costs when they suggest the postage fee (although you can change it if you think the P&P costs they suggest are too low)

    Secondly, I have never been scammed on Amazon over anything or been complained at because the buyer didnt read my desription of the condition of the stuff I was selling.

    The people selling (and buying) on there seem to be a little more savvy, maybe not expecting the world on a plate for free.

  17. richard 69

    'don't own paypal'?


    "PayPal Inc. (which is a parent company of PayPal (Europe) S.à r.l. & Cie, S.C.A) was acquired by eBay in October 2002"

  18. Chris Evans
    Thumb Down

    Did they bother to actualy check the costs?

    The limit on CDs is £1.00. I've just checked a double CD weighs about 230g and it would have to be posted as a Packet because of its thickness, decent packaging would then take it over the 250g price point making it £1.85 second class post! Ebays guidlines acknowledge that the cost of packaging and the labour of packing can be charged for. So ebay aren't being consistant at all.

    Also I'm sure that some 'Accessories' in the various categories could be large, heavy and cost far more to send than the limits.

    They really are shooting themselves in the foot.

    Message to ebay: The royal mail has an online pricing calculator!

  19. Jay 2

    So everything has to go 2nd class unrecoded then?

    Haven't sold anything on fleaBay for a while, so managed to miss the "free P&P" debacle.

    Once upon a time I just used to send stuff 1st calss and be done with it, until one day someone claimed they didn't get the item and I (stupidly) hadn't got proof of posting. As a result I had to take the hit. From that day on everything was sent recorded/special, I didn't give an option for normal mail.

    However I seem to recall that even back that that just the postage for 1st class recorded for a CD or DVD was over £1. And jiffybags don't grow on trees!

    So in order to keep to eBay's rules you're going to have to send it 2nd class, so the seller has to wait longer. The blurb doesn't mention anything about insurance, so don't know if you can only offer with insurance (ie recorded) or not.

    And finally I have to point out that even if something is sent recorded Royal Mail will still stiff you over. I sent a DVD recorded, it never arrived and RM didn't know where it was. So I put in a claim for it, and all they gave me was the price of the DVD even though they had completely not fulfilled the service I'd paid them for! B'stards!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      RE: So everything has to go 2nd class unrecoded then?

      Some people don't have a clue regarding postage. Everything sent by 1st AND 2nd class post is insured for £39. Just make sure you get a receipt when posting. Sending via Recorded Delivery tells you as the seller it was signed by someone - thats all. Still the same £39 insurance. And stuff sent recorded can be a bloody nuisance for the buyer having to collect it from the local sorting office. Anything over £39 either use Special Delivery if not very heavy or use a courier.

    2. Annihilator Silver badge

      stiffed over

      "And finally I have to point out that even if something is sent recorded Royal Mail will still stiff you over. I sent a DVD recorded, it never arrived and RM didn't know where it was. So I put in a claim for it, and all they gave me was the price of the DVD even though they had completely not fulfilled the service I'd paid them for!"

      Sorry, what else do you want? You're not out of pocket, that's the point of insurance.

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Harry

    You're wrong there ...

    "if you bought a USB stick for £11 (£1 + £10 P&P) you would only get refunded £1 if the item wasn't as described etc. etc."

    No, paypal refunds whatever you paid. You'd get the £11 back unless you stupidly allowed the seller to refund you some other way instead of putting in the paypal claim.

    Where ebay/paypal goes wrong is that it requires you to return defective items to the seller to obtain that refund, thereby incurring expense which the SELLER is legally liable for under the Sale of Goods act. Most people then don't bother to sue the seller for refund of their return costs, so the seller gets away with it.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other news

    ePay is now forcing sellers with less than 50 points to offer paypal (`for their own good') in certain markets. Sneaky move, that.

  23. Philip Cohen

    eBay: Dead Man Walking

    You can be sure of one thing, that any chage that eBay makes (or does not make) is for eBay's benefit, not for their consumers (buyers or sellers).

    And does not Amazon’s remarkable fourth quarter results say it all!

    eBay: Dead Man Walking

    Absolutely everything that eBay says has to viewed through smoke and mirrors; if you want an understanding of what they actually mean, you have to take the exact opposite of what they say! They really do think that we consumers are all stupid.

    eBay (aka “the eBafia”) is a criminal organization!

    How could that be, you ask? Well, with much effort and some multi-auction analysis, it can be very clearly demonstrated (see the following link) that shill bidding fraud by unscrupulous professional sellers on nominal-start auctions, is rampant on eBay auctions, and the executives “in the know” at eBay, unless they are actually as stupid as they apparently think all we simple consumers are, cannot but be aware of that criminal activity (and, if indeed they claim to be not so aware, I am pointing it out to them here and now).

    And yet they do nothing proactive nor truly effective to prevent such criminal activity. Indeed, they have done the very opposite, they have introduced a non-unique masking of bidding IDs, which serves no logical purpose other than to deliberately further obscure such criminal activity and aid and abet said unscrupulous sellers to, by fraudulent means, maximize their sale prices, thus maximizing eBay’s FVF.

    It’s even worse in the UK, where the form of bidder masking makes it simply impossible for buyers to detect the unscrupulous, sophisticated shill-bidding professional sellers that undoubtedly infest eBay UK auctions. Needless to say sales by auction on the UK site have collapsed to a fraction of what they used to be.

    It’s known as “criminal facilitation” and, in most civilized countries, anyone who knowingly facilitates such criminal activity is also considered to be a criminal. It’s as simple as that! Is it any wonder that, relatively speaking, buyers are staying away, and this business is still going down the toilet the world over?

    The full ugly story at

  24. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  25. Daniel Owen

    Great news

    Great news for people that want to shift old dvds, I did this recently and lost money on some!!!

    How can you sell something and lose money? All I wanted was 50p towards postage.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Amazon have been imposing fixed P&P rates on sellers for ages and nobody seems to complain about that. I used to sell loads of books through Amazon, but their fixed £2.75 P&P charge made selling larger tomes financially unviable.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    diddums about free postage

    Set a bloody reserve price instead of hoping the bid gets to where you want or adding your profit with shill bids or postage costs.

    You wants £10 for your books and the postage is £4.5 then setthe reserve or starting price as £14.50

    1. Sapper
      Thumb Down

      Sure, except for the fact

      ...that eBay charges you $2 (up to $200, 1% after that) for setting a reserve price. Which raises overhead a bit more on smaller items.

  28. David Barrett Silver badge

    about time...

    I sell a lot of used laptop screens and they were in the FREE P&P Group -

    I was loosing about £4 on postage materials that are required to keep the screens safe in transit...

    Finally I may actually be back to not loosing out on postage on these - or at least a smaller loss!

  29. Wize

    How about this big idea

    The sell price always includes the P&P.

    You can still charge what you want for P&P (1quid or 1000) but the amount you bid (and the bit eBay take their cut from) always includes the P&P

  30. Chris Evans

    "diddums.." Minimum Reserve?

    ebay used to have a minimum Reserve price of £50! I've just looked and they don't seem to mention a minimum anymore, can anyone confirm this or is the help page I looked at like many of the others not very helpful?

    ebay of course charge extra £1 for a reserve of £30!

    99p start + a realistic P&P meant you knew you couldn't make a loss, now you can:-(

  31. VulcanV5
    Paris Hilton

    Just to inject here. . .

    Glad to see eBay has rolled over on this one: the way it was so blatantly trying to push up its profits by raking in commission from a compulsory in-built P&P component was one step too far, and one step too bloody objectionable, for too many (including me.)

    But let's not confuse eBay's climb-down with anything to do with customer service. eBay works in its own best interests and when that work back-fires -- as here -- then it's time to have a re-think.

    And let's not cite the original implementation of this compulsory P&P scheme as evidence of eBay's anti-scam stance. Because it wasn't.

    As to other posts on here about the scams that continue on, well, er, that's eBay reality: the company hasn't enough people on the payroll to police its websites so relies upon others to do the job for it -- only it hasn't enough people on the payroll, either, to handle the sheer volume of reports that those others have so thoughtfully provided.

    No wonder that continuing inadequacy signals a continuing vulnerability, and no wonder, either, that this vulnerability grows steadily worse.

    Recently, I had to warn eBay's tech people of a genuine listing which, when opened, flashed up but briefly (a second, no more) before being replaced with a scam listing for a similar item.

    The scam looked 100% authentic, the item number, seller's ID, 'star' ranking, etc etc. The text was persuasive and there was no give-away insofar as the listing required prospective buyers to communicate by hotmail or mobile phone only.

    The less experienced could easily have fallen for the error screen that occurred when clicking on the user's feedback history (it looked like eBay was having a temporary technical difficulty, and reporting so) and after clicking on the Ask Seller a Question link, such a user might well have accepted that the message box that opened was entirely genuine.

    The original listing, of course, had been well-nigh instantly overlaid in an injection scam, the kind of thing that's not supposed to happen but evidence that unless eBay commits far more resources than is currently the case, then it's still as open to abuse as it is open to business, free P&P or not.

    Paris: the injection's entirely genuine here.

  32. Harry
    Thumb Up

    "The sell price always includes the P&P."

    I suggested that a LONG time ago -- long before ebay had even the *capability* to sort search results by price including P&P. Which it still only partially has -- only the "advanced" search form has the capability to display the initial results properly sorted by P+P&P. You can't make it the initial default with the standard search.

    Don't show the "goods only" value at all, not even as an option -- except in the rare case where the seller allows free collection and the seller is within a buyer-specified distance. The buyer doesn't need to know how much of the price is goods and how much is postage. Though the user ought to be able to specify "I will want 5 of them" and have the sort order determined by the seller's postage discounts rather than the price for posting just one of them.

    Making bids postage-inclusive isn't a problem. Ebay knows what the postage is, so can subtract it from the bid price.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020