Determining eBay delivery etiquette

Determining eBay delivery etiquette

A recent discussion at Whirlpool looks at an issue for auction sellers that’s become more significant with eBay’s prominent (albeit unsuccessful) attempts to push PayPal: what should you do if someone has paid you for postage but you work out that it’s easier to deliver the item in person?
While the ethical answer is obvious (ask the buyer if they mind a personal delivery), the problem becomes more complicated if the buyer has already paid for the postage via PayPal (eBay’s preferred approach) and then decides to ask for a refund, leaving you stuck with the fees. And is it worth risking personal delivery anyway, since in a dispute PayPal will invariably side with the buyer, not the seller, and you won’t have much formal evidence of delivery? The best strategy would seem to be not having a fixed postage fee and waiting to get a delivery address before receiving any payment, but that makes the process of selling more time consuming. Tell us how you’d approach such a problem in the comments.


  • I had this recently. The postage was about $14 pre-paid on Paypal. The buyer was a couple of suburbs away so I hand delivered it with a tenner attached to the item. I took a punt and figured my time and petrol was worth $4. The buyer was blown away and left very positive feedback.

  • There wouldn’t be too many sellers who can quote a true firm or fixed exact postage cost because they don’t know the destinatiion until the item is sold, i.e. for any item over 500g packed.
    They would have to wait and send an invoice anyway.

  • That’s not always the case. I often quote a fixed Express Post price for deliveries within Australia, because it’s simpler, quicker, more transparent for the buyer (they can see that the price matches the existing Express Post fees and that I’m not adding a markup) and easier for me (I can post it without going into a Post Office).

  • True — that’s never going to be a one-price-fits-all scenario. And presumably someone buying a delicate item would be more than happy to have it hand-delivered if that was the most convenient option for both parties.

  • If a buyer has paid by credit card and issues a chargeback – 1) Delivery by hand will not provide documented proof for Paypal, 2) Express Post doesn’t require a signature from the buyer, so no proof again for Paypal, 3) Not sure how the seller protection works for eBay, but outside of eBay (unless you’re a power seller) Paypal Australia don’t offer any seller protection anyway.

    I’m planning to use insurance for all items sold by Paypal. If there a fraudulent buyer claims that they have not received the item or that it was in poor condition, then I’ll approach Australia Post to claim my insurance.

  • Why not don a hat, carry a clipboard and ask them to sign when they answer the door.. After all you need to have proof of delivery in the event of a buyer dispute. Plus you are doing the job of the post and you are delivering it so where’s the issue?
    I could understand the buyer wanting a reufund if they actually came and collected the item having spent money for delivery..

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