This is a bit of a rant, centered around one of my personal pet peeves. Take it as you will, but I do wholeheartedly consider this issue from the angle of buyer and seller, so please take that into account. After all, at some point in the future I do plan on becoming a seller myself!
Though the vast majority of sellers on eBay do offer reasonable shipping fees (some sellers knowingly taking a bit of a loss on that front), in the last few years I've personally had to pass up on some purchases I would have otherwise made, had it not been for shipping fees. In my case, specifically, I will use the example of purchases being shipped from the US to Canada, as this is my most frequent shipping scenario. Of course, sellers are free to charge what they want, but there seem to be more and more instances, in my case, where a truly unreasonable shipping charge is put forth.
Being the ardent collector I am, this does cause me some frustration. In the last week, I've passed up on about 5-6 fantastic banknotes because of shipping. The two latest examples include a $60 USD banknote (Buy It Now) with a $32.50 shipping charge, and a $42 USD banknote (Buy It Now) with a $41.50 USD shipping charge. Its almost a bit of an insult to see postings like this. So, in some cases I contact the sellers, and for the most part they are very reasonable.
I recently bought a beautiful, though beat up, old Finnish banknote from the late 1800's. The shipping, from Finland, was originally $15 USD. When the auction ended my winning bid was just over the $7 USD mark, and the seller shipped the note for $5 USD, and I am thrilled with the purchase and the sellers willingness to be reasonable. On the flip side, I've also contacted sellers that are charging $20+ USD for shipping for banknotes under $40 USD, asking them for regular shipping (envelope + $1 USD stamp) while mentioning that I have 1100+ feedbacks as a buyer, all positive, and that I live just across the border from the US. Quite a few sellers refuse to budge.
As I've mentioned before, they are free to do so. But they I ask: why even offer shipping to Canada at all? With the exception of very expensive banknotes, it makes no sense and, to be honest, is a bit offensive.
So, I don't mean to sound vengeful, and I do not intend to be as such. I write this as heed to the sellers that practice shipping policies along these lines: there is some consolation, in the fact that I've also recently seen some pretty nice banknotes, some scarce, some in unusually good condition, sell for far far below their usual eBay sales values. Why? Because the seller has eliminated competitive bidding from anyone outside the United States. Just now I watched two $40 USD banknotes sell for under $10 with free shipping within the US simply because international shipping was $20+.
So, I'll sum up this messy rant. Sellers, for everyone's sake, please plan your international shipping accordingly, and be prepared to take minor risks for buyers that present an excellent purchase record. If you do not wish to trouble yourself with international shipping fees, and you are not willing to spend a dollar here and there to facilitate more sales, I suggest you simply not offer international shipping in lieu of exorbitant and inflated fees. Unreasonable shipping can backfire, and it does -- it can completely eliminate competitive bidding, so keep that in mind.
What do you guys think?