Private eBay sellers now face fees on postage

New rules mean eBay can now take a cut of the money you charge for postage.

Casually selling goods online has just got more expensive for those that choose to do it via eBay.

The online auction site has extended the fees it charges private sellers to include postage costs.

eBay says the move is to encourage sellers to offer free or competitive postage - something that online shoppers are coming to expect.

But while the move might curb excessive postage costs that some unscrupulous sellers set, it will leave many who charge accurately for postage out of pocket.

The changes

Previously eBay sellers were expected to pay a Final Value Fee - typically 10% - based on the price an item sells for in an auction. But postage costs were exempt from this charge and sellers received the full amount listed.

So if an item sold for £30 with £3.70 added for postage, a seller would rack up £3.00 in eBay fees. But under the new rules eBay will also take a typical 10% of what you charge for postage, which in this example means you pay 37p more.

The move brings the rules for private sellers in-line with businesses.

According to eBay around half the items on offer from business sellers on eBay offer free postage, which prompted eBay to improve a number of other areas like subscription packages to offset the cost increase.

But for the time being it doesn't seem eBay will be offsetting the increased cost for private sellers. eBay’s insertion and feature fees haven’t changed since earlier this year when eBay allowed up to 12 gallery images for free instead of one and PayPal fees also remain the same (1.4%-3.4% plus 20p).

How to save on postage

There are ways you can cope with the hike in cost.

The most obvious way to make sure you are not left out of pocket is to put the price up. You can charge 10% more to cover the 10% shortfall that you will incur. So instead of £3.70 charge £4.07. eBay says that offering cheaper postage encourages buyers to bid, giving you a higher final selling price. But personally I wouldn't want to be caught out if you only sell something for 99p and have to pay extra to post.

Alternatively you can offer free collection, which means neither you nor the buyer get charged anything for postage. This will involve the buyer coming to collect the item from you though, which could limit who your item appeals to if you live in a hard-to-reach area.

Another way you can save is with the new Post Office Drop & Go service. This is a free scheme from the Post Office where you can drop off your post to be checked and sent for you. Until 15th September you can get 20% off posting small and medium parcels by first- or second-class delivery. Read more in Post Office offers 20% discount on 'Drop & Go' postage.

For more on how to make eBay work for you check out our article How to sell successfully on eBay.

Alternatives to eBay

If you're fed up with eBay fees you don't have to put up with them. There are now plenty of alternatives to eBay out there that are cheaper to use to sell your goods.

Preloved, for example, doesn’t charge any fees for private sellers. Instead you can list items using free classified ads. With over 500 categories, you can sell almost anything! Craigslist and Gumtree also allow you to sell using free classified ads.

Etsy is another great alternative for sellers. The site charges sellers a transaction fee of 3.5% plus a $0.20 listing fee (13p), which is only charged if an item sells.

Elsewhere, Amazon, MusicMagpie, CEX and Rakuten Marketplace are places to sell books, music and games.

And if you would rather give your stuff away Freecycle and Freegle are ways to put you in touch with local people that might want your old junk.

You can find more alternatives in our article Sell for less: the alternatives to eBay.

What do you think of the eBay fee change? Will it curb excessive postage and help buyers or is it just a way for eBay to make more money from sellers?

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