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What I learned about customs fees and eBay (Read 279 times)
Stacks_o_Books
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What I learned about customs fees and eBay
Oct 11th, 2014 at 8:43pm
 
Let me preface this by saying that I've been selling on eBay for over 11 years. I've shipped items all over the world through a variety of venues. Almost all have been trouble-free. This morning I woke up to a message from a UK buyer, upset because the Royal Mail was holding his $50 item until he paid about $22 in customs fees. After threatening negative feedback because according to him, I didn't state in my listing that international buyers were responsible for customs fees, he suggested I refund him the cost of the fees as a "goodwill gesture." I find it hard to have a lot of goodwill in my heart after being threatened!

Fact is, indirectly, I DID state the buyer is responsible for those fees. I have a link in my listings directing international buyers to a "Complete Payment and Shipping Info" page link (set up through my eBay store) and on that page is that very statement. Strike one.

Then I called eBay, told them my tale of woe, and asked for their suggestion on how to handle this. They said it is their SOP on all transactions that the buyer pays those fees - never the seller - unless they use eBay's Global Shipping Service. I told them the buyer was threatening negative feedback, and they told me that if they did leave a neg, I could call and have it removed. Strike two.

There really is no strike three, other than I sent another message to the buyer saying, in essence, "Sorry, you're responsible. If you don't want to pay the fees, refuse the shipment, and when I get it back I'll refund the cost of the item, but not the shipping." I don't imagine he's going to be happy about this but at least I can sleep tonight knowing I'm protected.

BUT here's the real reason for this post. Even though I had that link in my listing, it obviously wasn't enough. I found this statement on one of the eBay help pages:

Quote:
"Who pays for customs?

Generally, buyers pay additional costs such as duties, taxes, and customs clearance fees. To avoid problems, make sure that your listing clearly states this. You can cut and paste this directly into your listing:

International Buyers Please Note:

Import duties, taxes, and charges are not included in the item price or shipping cost. These charges are the buyer's responsibility.

Please check with your country's customs office to determine what these additional costs will be prior to bidding or buying.

If you add this information to your listing and receive negative or neutral Feedback from the buyer about having to pay import duties and taxes, we may remove the Feedback. Find about more Feedback which refers to customs delays or customs fees."


So I have now updated my eBay templates to include this exact suggested wording (I put in in bold and in red!) to hopefully avoid this happening again anytime in the next 11 years! I thought I'd share and maybe help others avoid having to deal with cranky buyers who get hit with a customs fee!
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robin_culver
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Gender: female
Re: What I learned about customs fees and eBay
Reply #1 - Oct 13th, 2014 at 2:57pm
 
Thanks for the advice Stacks. It's been a while since I sold anything internationally on eBay.  I used to have a disclaimer on my listings. I'll need to make sure it's still on there. Thanks, Robin
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Stacks_o_Books
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Re: What I learned about customs fees and eBay
Reply #2 - Oct 14th, 2014 at 4:33pm
 
This buyer tried every trick in the book to try to get me to pay for his fees, or at least half of them. I've lost track of how many messages he sent. I flat out refused. He sent me a photo of the customs form which indicated that there were customs fees due, plus an 8 pound fee charged by Royal Mail to collect them (which I think is a bit excessive, but nothing I can do about that!) There was another box that was unchecked for packages that were postage due. Yesterday he sent me a message saying that the fee was because I hadn't put enough postage on it. Idiot. He already sent me a photo of the form proving the opposite!

Finally I spelled it out for him. UK residents pay a 20% VAT. The price of his item, times 20%, plus the Royal Mail fee equaled almost exactly what Royal Mail was asking for. I told him my US customers didn't expect me to pay their sales tax, and I was NOT going to pay his VAT! Pay it or return the item, but "I am done." Told him to feel free to contact eBay (another of his threats), that they could look at our entire message history and undoubtedly would side with me.

I haven't heard from him today. It's a good day. And I have a new entry on my blocked bidder list.

I read entirely too many messages on seller boards of sellers just rolling over and caving to any customer demand. While I'm all for customer service, and if I do something wrong, I will MORE than compensate for it, I will not be bullied or scammed when the customer is wrong. All that does is reinforce bad behavior and make us all victims eventually. Guess I've gotten a pretty thick skin after doing this all these years! Smiley
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robin_culver
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Gender: female
Re: What I learned about customs fees and eBay
Reply #3 - Oct 15th, 2014 at 9:54am
 
Happy to hear you didn't cave to his demands.
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book_seller
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Re: What I learned about customs fees and eBay
Reply #4 - Oct 15th, 2014 at 10:56pm
 
Good going Stacks! I wish I had a better way of dealing with the scammers on Amazon....
Serious question. I sell books on Half but have never tried eBay. Any thoughts? I have never listed anything on eBay either so I am not sure how to go about it. I am thinking maybe a few books and extra stuff I have personally accumulated over the years. Also extra light switches, lights, etc that I bought for the new house but never used. Suggestions are welcome.
Thanks in advance.  Smiley
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