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Thursday, January 26, 2006

"Shipping and Handling"

I've been using eBay for about 8 years; both as a buyer and a seller. I've also used several other online auction sites to buy and sell stamps. In general, I think pretty highly of online auctions as places that are useful both in building a collection, and in selling duplicate material.

I am sad to say, however, that a lot of stamp collectors are on the border of being cheapskates. I certainly don't begrudge anyone a bargain-- and I certainly enjoy them, myself-- but when someone gets down to the nitty gritty of "arguing" with me about postage it gets under my skin.

When I sell on eBay, I don't charge a "handling" fee. In fact, I charge only $0.60 for domestic postage, which (until very recently) covered the cost of postage for a slightly-over-1oz letter. What's more, I start my lots at $0.99 and don't have a reserve.

Not long ago, someone won a mint LH German East Africa #18 from me-- for the minimum bid of 99 cents. That's a heck of deal, since it catalogues $12.00 in Scott-- and GEA is definitely not an "unpopular" area. "Market value" is probably about $7.00. So this fellow who wins the lot takes it upon himself to "adjust" the postage fee from 60 cents to 37 cents before paying. I guess he thought I was "overcharging."

Let me do the math:

I offer a $12.00 stamp and you get it for 99 cents? I don't begrudge you getting a bargain, but now you want a break on postage?

I got $0.99. But wait, I really didn't. First I had to pay eBay $0.25 to list it. I also paid a $0.05 closing fee. Oh, and you paid with PayPal. That cost another $0.35, plus a percentage. Envelopes and glassines are NOT free-- let's just say they add another $0.10. So by now I have $0.20 left on my $12.00 stamp. Twenty. Cents. And this person thinks I'm "overcharging" on postage?

Of course, there are lots of nice auction buyers out there-- like the friendly fellow from Germany who voluntarily (and unprompted) added 50 cents to his $3.00 payment to help out with the PayPal fees.

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