How to avoid being scammed as a new eBay seller. Shipping Scams – Part 1

For various reasons my original title for this series of posts was “Scammy Scammers and the Scammy Shit they do AND how to avoid it.” but I’ve calmed down a little bit since the coffee kicked in.

I really want to share what I’ve learned so far so that I can help other new re-sellers not get scammed.  I’m sure there are still plenty of ways to get ripped off but these are probably the most common for the new eBay seller. I’ll break them down in excruciating detail so you can hopefully avoid my mistakes.

The very first item I ever sold in my new store  was an Aeropostle pea coat. I wasn’t sure how to ship it really and I chose a Priority flat rate letter sized envelope in the listing when I entered the shipping method for this item.  I didn’t have any of these envelopes at my house, I just printed out the label I purchased from eBay and brought the coat and label to the post office. I planned on getting some envelopes there when I shipped my coat. Upon looking at the envelope I realized a coat wasn’t going to fit in it. This is a thin (approximately 8.5″ X  11″) cardboard envelope for mailing documents, not clothes. Although many sellers stuff clothes into the legal size envelopes, mostly successfully, I chose letter size and there was no way in hell a coat was going to fit in there.

Even though I knew I was going to lose money on shipping I wanted to to the right thing ( as I understood it) and pay up for the proper shipping. So I grabbed an appropriately sized Priority envelope (not a flat rate thankfully) and paid by weight at the PO counter. I already paid eBay for the Priority Flat rate envelope label, I think that was around 6.50 or so but the customer paid for that even though it was wasted at that point. The new shipping cost around $13.50 or so. Coats are heavy and it was going to one of the coasts (I’m in Detroit).

I then notified the customer, through eBay messaging, that “great news, I was upgrading their shipping and included the tracking number for the larger tyvec Priorty mail envelope.

The item sold for $9.99 and including the cost of the item, shipping, eBay & PayPal fees I was probably already in the red for $10 bucks or so. I chalked up as a shipping learning experience and thought no more about it.

Until, I noticed (after the time frame for me to complain) that the buyer filed a claim that they never got the item. So they were refunded the cost of the item, plus the shipping they paid out. Now I’m out another $17 bucks or so. The important thing to note is that the customer never contacted me that they didn’t get the item.

I now believe that once the customer realized that the item wasn’t being tracked by the original shipping label that I purchased through eBay that they could claim “Item never Received”. So they got the coat for FREE and were reimbursed their shipping as well. 

What I learned:

Lesson 1:  Always be aware that some people live to scam others on eBay. They have lots of free time and have no conscience. Fortunately, most people are honest and wonderful to deal with, that’s why I still work towards making my store successful. I want to believe.

Lesson 2: Know your shit about shipping. Links/articles on how to do this to follow on this blog.

Lesson 3: Always ship within the eBay platform. Buy your shipping labels in eBay ONLY!

Here’s why:

  1. It’s easy to do. Just click the button on the page where you print out your packing slip.
  2. The Customer is notified immediately once you pay for shipping that the shipping process has begun, they get the tracking number. No funny business! Note: You still have to get the package to the PO (or get it picked up by the PO) in the time you agreed to i.e. handling time.
  3. It’s cheaper! you always save something when you buy labels from eBay. It can be a lot more if you are a top seller, so I’ve heard.

Lesson 4: eBay’s concern is keeping the buyers happy so they keep buying and as a result generating fees from sellers for eBay. You are expected to know how to sell your items safely and for the best shipping rate. This is a business, it’s your business, don’t assume they will be on your side all the time. Use all the tools you can to protect yourself. Be ready to prove when a customer is wrong. Most of this can be done just by using eBay shipping labels and only communicating with customers with eBay messaging.

Lesson 5: Keep a close watch on the eBay sellers dashboard. Learn how to use it. The information is there you just have to become familiar with it and how it relates to your sales, or lack thereof.

Unfortunately this was not my last issue with scammers using cracks in the shipping process to get free stuff. I have at least 1 or 2 more that I will publish soon. Please share this article if it was helpful and subscribe to one of the Social Media platforms that I am on to keep in touch. I love to learn about how other people are doing on eBay, Etsy, Amazon and Poshmark!