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Should I Use The eBay Shipping Calculator?

Terry, you say in your book and on the site not to use the eBay shipping Calculator. What is your reason?

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I suggest using flat rate shipping for a number of reasons. Here’s a few of them:

  1. My original reason was it makes it easier for your bidders to know the shipping costs before they bid. I started doing flat rate shipping before eBay had a shipping calculator. Today with the shipping calculator a bidder must be logged in to eBay or enter his zip code to get a shipping price.

  2. This brings me to my second reason for suggesting flat rate shipping. If a bidder is not logged in to eBay, eBay sometimes shows the highest calculated shipping charge. This may turn away bidders.

  3. Many sellers don’t use the shipping calculator correctly. The calculator shows cost for the first entered shipping method. This means if you offer overnight shipping and a slower cheaper method, eBay shows the higher costs of overnight shipping. While this can be corrected by entering the cheaper method first when creating a listing, a flat rate avoids the problem entirely.

  4. As a seller, offering multiple shipping options creates extra work without increasing bids. Years ago, I sold vintage catalogs with the option of first class mail or priority mail. I did this because I got complaints from buyers when I only offered Priority mail shipping. With over a hundred sales, none of my buyers went for the more expensive, yet faster option, so my future listings offered only first class mail.

  5. Using flat rate shipping allows me to code shipping methods in the shipping cost. I ship by Priority mail, first class mail and parcel post or UPS ground. When I specify the shipping costs in the auction I use amounts ending with a number higher than 5 to let me know it goes Priority mail. This allows me at a glance to see the packaging and labels I should use. ($11.17 means Priority mail, while $11.14 means parcel post or first class depending on size of the item.)

  6. One last reason is it’s more work during the listing process. I have students who pack everything after taking pictures, but before listing the item on eBay so they can figure the shipping costs. I’ve been selling similar items on eBay for 15 years. I know what kind of boxes they’ll fit in safely, and can estimate what the shipping cost I pay will be. I don’t need to weigh or pack items while I write the listings to figure shipping costs.

That’s a few reasons not to use the eBay shipping calculator function.

While we’re on the subject of shipping costs, I sold some large heavy items on eBay last month. I shipped them UPS, and went to the UPS store. I know the UPS stores cost a bit more than going to the local UPS hub, but will pay that because it’s faster and the people at the local UPS hub tend to open my boxes.

I had some stuff to ship by Priority mail and decided I’d send them from the UPS Store too to save time. The UPS Store adds about $6 per package in handling fees. I went to the post office because I wasn’t willing to pay $24 to save 15 minutes, and had to go there to get my mail anyway.


PS here’s a quick and free shipping calculator that will get you USPS postage costs by entering only the weight and the zip code of the recipient. It saves you time by remembering your information.

Did this answer your question? If not, try looking at the questions and answers within the General, Packing And Shipping category, or do a search for other questions.
If you are unable to find an answer to your question, send me an email, and I will answer it.

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