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Subject: Something I have always wondered about international buyers rss

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Darian Tucker
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Why do most international buyers always ask me to give them a shipping quote on my eBay auctions, then balk at the price and ask me if there is any way I can make it cheaper?

Almost invariably, every time I submit an eBay auction to sell off one of my more popular board games, I always get at least one message from a buyer saying they live in X country wondering what the shipping rate would be to that country. I don't have a problem with that so much, since certain sellers charge more for shipping than others to cover handling costs, but can't these people do a little bit of research themselves to try and figure out what it might cost them?

Usually, I end up looking up the price for them and it's around $56.00. This is due to two main factors: there is a 4 pound weight limit and 36" cubic size limit on items mailed First Class International from the United States, which limits me to shipping by Priority Mail International on most items in existence, and I tend to use Flat Rate Boxes since they fit most games so well, anyway, so it's practically a moot point.

But even if I clearly explain this to the buyer, they still ask me to try and make it cheaper. I don't get it. What am I supposed to do, try to cheat the post office into thinking a package is smaller or lighter than it is (lol) or pay to ship the game to you?

The only conclusion I can come up with is that international buyers really don't have a clue about what it costs to ship to their country, in which case I withdraw most of my complaint, save the "please give me a discount" BS. But if you really do have a good idea what it costs, why am I the bad guy if I explain to you that I really can't make the price any cheaper? That drives me nuts.
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I'm assuming they might think there are other shipping options available.Maybe you should make it clear to the person asking that the price you are providing is the absolute cheapest (which allows you to dictate whether tracking is include etc.).
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Wulf Corbett
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You ask why the buyer can't do a bit of research on this. I have another view on this - since you are the one who stands to make money out of this, why shouldn't you do the work?

I say that as an eBay seller who has been asked this question many times in the past. I avoid it now by always including three postage prices, UK, EU and 'International' - which I base on the US. If I should have to post to some more expensive destination, I'll suck up the loss in the hope I'll make more profit from the increased potential customer competition.

But, essentially, you will keep getting asked because postage from the US is just so expensive that, even if people do their own research, they can't believe it's right...
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Many buyers in the US do exactly the same thing when buying from abroad. Most people don't really know how much international shipping costs these days. The easy fix is to include shipping costs when listing.
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Darian Tucker
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Wulf Corbett wrote:
You ask why the buyer can't do a bit of research on this. I have another view on this - since you are the one who stands to make money out of this, why shouldn't you do the work?

I say that as an eBay seller who has been asked this question many times in the past. I avoid it now by always including three postage prices, UK, EU and 'International' - which I base on the US. If I should have to post to some more expensive destination, I'll suck up the loss in the hope I'll make more profit from the increased potential customer competition.

But, essentially, you will keep getting asked because postage from the US is just so expensive that, even if people do their own research, they can't believe it's right...


Oh, I've already done the work. That's why I said it's about $56.00 per item.

And again, it wasn't so much that I mind doing the work, but that I'm surprised that people balk at it being expensive. What exactly were they expecting?
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Tim Benjamin
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I routinely ship from US to Istanbul at a cost of about $20/kg. The lack of a 'surface shipping' option is a real killer.


Edit: Initially wrote $10/kg.... English to Metric converter (weak mind) failed.
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Darian Tucker
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berserkr wrote:
Many buyers in the US do exactly the same thing when buying from abroad. Most people don't really know how much international shipping costs these days. The easy fix is to include shipping costs when listing.


See, this is my other big tiff. Thanks for reminding me of it. I don't even want to ship internationally. When I'm setting my eBay auctions up, I always make sure to select "No international shipping".

So why do I always get the one guy asking me if I will ship internationally? Do they not read? X_X
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Chris Geggus
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Speaking as a Brit who both buys and sells to the States, shingold has given what is the most obvious cause as to concerns and questions being raised by non-US buyers.

The U.K. still uses surface mail and it is much cheaper (about half) than most air rates quoted. Yes it takes a lot, lot longer, but you aren't losing vast amounts of cash on a shipment. Why overseas buyers would query your costings is firstly because they may not realise that the U.S. does not have a surface option, but secondly because the U.S. airmail prices are definitely high in the international market. As I'm writing this I have also thought of a third reason - you (the U.S.) has a number of potential carriers, so a question as to whether all those carriers have been asked to quote is not an unreasonable point.

I get the same questions occasionally, but we have very limited options over here as to carriers for parcels up to 2 kgs., so our prices are rather more transparent. You may also have been tarnished by some traders who look to make a profit on postage charges as well. If you see someone do that, then it becomes natural to ask if future sellers might have some room for scope in their pricing as well.

Conclusion - you live in a country with a high postal threshold and you will therefore continue to get buyers surprised and/or shocked at such charges and they will inevitably look for reasons that might allow room for manouver. That's life and no reflection on your honesty and integrity.

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Darian Tucker
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Ahiksking wrote:
Speaking as a Brit who both buys and sells to the States, shingold has given what is the most obvious cause as to concerns and questions being raised by non-US buyers.

The U.K. still uses surface mail and it is much cheaper (about half) than most air rates quoted. Yes it takes a lot, lot longer, but you aren't losing vast amounts of cash on a shipment. Why overseas buyers would query your costings is firstly because they may not realise that the U.S. does not have a surface option, but secondly because the U.S. airmail prices are definitely high in the international market. As I'm writing this I have also thought of a third reason - you (the U.S.) has a number of potential carriers, so a question as to whether all those carriers have been asked to quote is not an unreasonable point.

I get the same questions occasionally, but we have very limited options over here as to carriers for parcels up to 2 kgs., so our prices are rather more transparent. You may also have been tarnished by some traders who look to make a profit on postage charges as well. If you see someone do that, then it becomes natural to ask if future sellers might have some room for scope in their pricing as well.

Conclusion - you live in a country with a high postal threshold and you will therefore continue to get buyers surprised and/or shocked at such charges and they will inevitably look for reasons that might allow room for manouver. That's life and no reflection on your honesty and integrity.



Thank you. That is a succinct and thorough explanation that provides some insight on the issue.

By the way, in case anyone cares, UPS and FedEx are far worse. Over $100 per item in most cases for even the tiniest packages.
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I always make it a point in my auctions or sale listings to point out that I will gladly ship internationally. Without exception I will get anywhere from 3-5 shipping quote requests that result in no bids/no sale.

Not that big of a hassle on my part, but the quotes inevitably shock potential buyers. I'd say one out of ten inquiries result in an international sale.

The only edge I have as a seller is that I often have items that are not easily available in other countries. Only those that really want the items pay the increased shipping.

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Several reasons:

1. Rates have shot up in the last few years.

2. Some sellers refuse to send First Class, even for games that are lighter than 4 lbs. I see this one often.

3. No matter how many times you ask, the answer is still shocking

4. Many Ebay sellers gouge on shipping. Not saying you do this, but some may assume that your price is a function of gouging rather than actual cost.


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SparkingConduit wrote:
Ahiksking wrote:
Speaking as a Brit who both buys and sells to the States, shingold has given what is the most obvious cause as to concerns and questions being raised by non-US buyers.

The U.K. still uses surface mail and it is much cheaper (about half) than most air rates quoted. Yes it takes a lot, lot longer, but you aren't losing vast amounts of cash on a shipment. Why overseas buyers would query your costings is firstly because they may not realise that the U.S. does not have a surface option, but secondly because the U.S. airmail prices are definitely high in the international market. As I'm writing this I have also thought of a third reason - you (the U.S.) has a number of potential carriers, so a question as to whether all those carriers have been asked to quote is not an unreasonable point.

I get the same questions occasionally, but we have very limited options over here as to carriers for parcels up to 2 kgs., so our prices are rather more transparent. You may also have been tarnished by some traders who look to make a profit on postage charges as well. If you see someone do that, then it becomes natural to ask if future sellers might have some room for scope in their pricing as well.

Conclusion - you live in a country with a high postal threshold and you will therefore continue to get buyers surprised and/or shocked at such charges and they will inevitably look for reasons that might allow room for manouver. That's life and no reflection on your honesty and integrity.



Thank you. That is a succinct and thorough explanation that provides some insight on the issue.

By the way, in case anyone cares, UPS and FedEx are far worse. Over $100 per item in most cases for even the tiniest packages.


Shipping UPS is a total deal breaker for me even if it WOULD save a couple bucks up front. The whole brokerage fee extortion they have going is terrible and is going to cost you far more than you would ever save anyway. It's USPS or bust when shipping US to Canada.

I understand the frustration though. From my end, I generally will ask if it sounds high (if the price is legit, it's usually because the package is just a bit to big or heavy to qualify for a cheaper option). There are some sellers that try to use shipping - especially international shipping - to squeeze some extra profit out of the auction, but more often it is because the seller isn't using the best box for the job, and could save the buyer a lot by cutting the box down an inch on one side.

Don't take it personally. Some sellers are dishonest and some sellers use boxes that are too big because that's what they happen to have on hand. When the seller doesn't advertise the cost or the advertised cost seems high, be thankful they contact you to see if they can work something out. I just ignore these auctions outright. I used to peruse eBay for games and minis, but you will occasionally run across someone who has an abnormally high shipping rate ($10 item, $40 dollar shipping when most of the items coming from the same state cost $5 for shipping). There is no excuse if you're in Washington and the guy in Florida has no problem shipping the same thing to BC for a fraction of the price.

For example, there's a guy selling a forces of menoth book, and shipping is THIRTY DOLLARS. It's a soft cover book, and not very thick or heavy - maybe a hundred and some odd pages. Is he shipping it in a refrigerator box? All this guy's items are like that. Harbinger of menoth - $24.07. He's from Texas. Same model, also NIB from Florida - $4.32.
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It even comes up here regularly. Mostly when overseas buyers are looking for buying from an online game store in the belief that it will be cheaper from the US than locally.

1) I always mention that the US has done away with surface shipping.

2) I sometimes point them to the USPS.com site so that they can see the rates for themselves rather than continue to suspect that someone must be inflating rates and making money off of it.

If you want to head of questions on Ebay, you can always state in your listing that shipping overseas will likely be $40+.
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fastlane wrote:
For example, there's a guy selling a forces of menoth book, and shipping is THIRTY DOLLARS. It's a soft cover book, and not very thick or heavy - maybe a hundred and some odd pages. Is he shipping it in a refrigerator box? All this guy's items are like that. Harbinger of menoth - $24.07. He's from Texas. Same model, also NIB from Florida - $4.32.


You don't pay eBay fees on shipping costs. So it's easy to accept bids starting at $0.01 but charge $39.99 for shipping, so you're guaranteed a profit even if only 1 person bids. Plus you don't get hit with eBay's extra fees for having a reserve price or a higher start price or whatever else they manage to stick you for these days.
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SparkingConduit wrote:

See, this is my other big tiff. Thanks for reminding me of it. I don't even want to ship internationally. When I'm setting my eBay auctions up, I always make sure to select "No international shipping".

So why do I always get the one guy asking me if I will ship internationally? Do they not read? X_X


As international buyer, I can happily answer that one. Many people in the US just select shipping only to the US only, because it's the standard option or they think no one from outside would be interested.

When I ask people whether they ship internationally more often than not this has resulted in the person offering international shipping.

Nowadays I often see it in auctions that if a person really doesn't want to ship internationally for a reason, they usually repeat that in the description to clarify this point.
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the reality is unless people actually ship things for a living the average person has zero clue as to the true cost of shipping.
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Suggestion:

(Pick ship to the US only, possibly, and

Type something like "Will ship globaly but international shipping cost is expensive so only bother contacting me if the game isn't available in your country" + possibly "and you must have it at all costs."

Likely keep a bunch away?

You could even add (typically in the $50-60 / game) after the expensive part and then they know that.
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cool username wrote:
fastlane wrote:
For example, there's a guy selling a forces of menoth book, and shipping is THIRTY DOLLARS. It's a soft cover book, and not very thick or heavy - maybe a hundred and some odd pages. Is he shipping it in a refrigerator box? All this guy's items are like that. Harbinger of menoth - $24.07. He's from Texas. Same model, also NIB from Florida - $4.32.


You don't pay eBay fees on shipping costs. So it's easy to accept bids starting at $0.01 but charge $39.99 for shipping, so you're guaranteed a profit even if only 1 person bids. Plus you don't get hit with eBay's extra fees for having a reserve price or a higher start price or whatever else they manage to stick you for these days.


Actually, you get charged quite a bit on shipping costs with Ebay fees. Indeed, as a % of the total it quite often ends up being much higher than the normal fees if the item itself is expensive. Ebay realized the scam people were pulling with the $.01 auction and changed the policy around 6-9 months ago. Which sucks for legit sellers...
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Actually most of us international game buyers have already done the homework on what shipping games cost, and that's why we never do internet auctions from the States. If you're getting any bids from people overseas, I imagine most of those bids are from people who usually don't order internationally, so they don't have any idea of what the costs are.

Please don't make sweeping generalizations about international gamers. You're not actually interacting with the majority of international gamers. We would not make stupid requests to reduce the shipping cost because we already know that you don't have any control over that.
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I'll give you some reasons from an Australian perspective.
1) Many in the States don't realise how limited our choices and expensive our prices are compared to theirs, especially for older games. An overseas purchase is often our only option. Believe us, we'd buy locally if we could.

2) We get wildly inconsistant shipping prices from the States. I've had new games shipped for less than 20 bucks and others at 60. A quick EBay search shows someone who'll ship Puerto Rico to me for 23 while others are as high as 46. I'm not sure why there is this 100% variability from the US end, but when we see high postage prices without explanation we tend to get suspicious that the seller has just picked a random high number.

3) Most of us still have the old US surface mail prices in our heads. It's sad that they dropped this option and have traded price for speed. The UK is our other big game market and their first class air mail prices for most games are 9-10 bucks.

So an explanation of sorts, but sadly I'd have to recommend that you don't accept overseas orders if it causes you that much grief.


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Podicle wrote:


2) We get wildly inconsistant shipping prices from the States. I've had new games shipped for less than 20 bucks and others at 60. A quick EBay search shows someone who'll ship Puerto Rico to me for 23 while others are as high as 46. I'm not sure why there is this 100% variability from the US end, but when we see high postage prices without explanation we tend to get suspicious that the seller has just picked a random high number.



When I get variable shipping quotes, I always assume that the higher shipping quote is the correct one. I've never had an experience with international shipping where the shipping fee on the box is lower than the price I paid for shipping. It's usually higher than I paid. When I see low shipping quotes, I always assume that the seller doesn't really understand the costs of international shipping. While it's nice to pay lower shipping costs, the seller always loses a lot of money when this happens and ultimately it isn't good for maintaining the will of American merchants to continue international shipping.

If international gamers and sending e-mails to goad merchants into offering money losing shipping deals, then I can start to understand the irritation that the OP is expressing.
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Gryfalia wrote:
cool username wrote:
fastlane wrote:
For example, there's a guy selling a forces of menoth book, and shipping is THIRTY DOLLARS. It's a soft cover book, and not very thick or heavy - maybe a hundred and some odd pages. Is he shipping it in a refrigerator box? All this guy's items are like that. Harbinger of menoth - $24.07. He's from Texas. Same model, also NIB from Florida - $4.32.


You don't pay eBay fees on shipping costs. So it's easy to accept bids starting at $0.01 but charge $39.99 for shipping, so you're guaranteed a profit even if only 1 person bids. Plus you don't get hit with eBay's extra fees for having a reserve price or a higher start price or whatever else they manage to stick you for these days.


Actually, you get charged quite a bit on shipping costs with Ebay fees. Indeed, as a % of the total it quite often ends up being much higher than the normal fees if the item itself is expensive. Ebay realized the scam people were pulling with the $.01 auction and changed the policy around 6-9 months ago. Which sucks for legit sellers...


I had no idea they'd changed the policy. I know you still have to pay PayPal fees on the shipping amount, but I thought it was one part of the auction that eBay didn't touch. I guess they find a way to get blood out of every stone.
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cool username wrote:
Gryfalia wrote:
cool username wrote:
You don't pay eBay fees on shipping costs. So it's easy to accept bids starting at $0.01 but charge $39.99 for shipping, so you're guaranteed a profit even if only 1 person bids. Plus you don't get hit with eBay's extra fees for having a reserve price or a higher start price or whatever else they manage to stick you for these days.


Actually, you get charged quite a bit on shipping costs with Ebay fees. Indeed, as a % of the total it quite often ends up being much higher than the normal fees if the item itself is expensive. Ebay realized the scam people were pulling with the $.01 auction and changed the policy around 6-9 months ago. Which sucks for legit sellers...


I had no idea they'd changed the policy. I know you still have to pay PayPal fees on the shipping amount, but I thought it was one part of the auction that eBay didn't touch. I guess they find a way to get blood out of every stone.


Indeed, this scam is long over.
You pay the exact same fee % for shipping as for the item sale, which is also considerably higher than it used to be; 9% I believe. No more of the sliding scale system.
Sure, there is no listing fee any more (for most things at least), but you have to do more math now to make sure you're not losing money on shipping.
Basically just add 12%-14% to as exact of a shipping estimate as you can get and hope you come out even.
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I doubt any regular merchant would lose on shipping more than once or twice before they changed their practices and I'm not sure whether 'goad' is the right word. First time O/S buyers are probably genuinely shocked at shipping prices from the US and assume somethimg has been calculated incorrectly. Those of us from countries where postage is considered a cost centre (i.e a public service) rather than a profit centre take a couple of transactions to recalibrate to US prices.
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SparkingConduit wrote:
berserkr wrote:
Many buyers in the US do exactly the same thing when buying from abroad. Most people don't really know how much international shipping costs these days. The easy fix is to include shipping costs when listing.


See, this is my other big tiff. Thanks for reminding me of it. I don't even want to ship internationally. When I'm setting my eBay auctions up, I always make sure to select "No international shipping".

So why do I always get the one guy asking me if I will ship internationally? Do they not read? X_X


So, you don't want to ship internationally, you mark your auction as such and you complain about doing the work to find a shipping quote for international buyers?

I find it weird that you don't just reply with "I do not ship internationally, see the listing"...
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