Is it your customers' fault-I bought an item on eBay last week.

It was well described, with the price and postage clearly listed, so I had no qualms about clicking to bid. I paid immediately when I won the auction (oh the thrill!), and was pleased when my package turned up a couple of days later.

Before I opened it, I looked at the postage label.


I paid the seller £3.99. Even given the cost of the postage bag, I felt this was a stonking mark up.

So, when I left feedback, I gave full marks for everything except the postage, and noted in my comment that I was very happy, thank you, but the postage was excessive.

I didn’t expect to hear anything back, as I wasn’t complaining, I was happy with the item, and my feedback score was positive.

Oh, but the seller wasn’t happy with me leaving a comment that mentioned anything vaguely constructive. Oh no! I got a long (all the character allowance used!) message from the seller berating me for daring to suggest £3.99 was too high for postage that actually cost 74p (eBay rules do state you are not allowed to make money from postage).

The seller said (bearing in mind I had left positive feedback):

The price and method of postage is clearly stated in the listing. If you thought this was too expensive, you should not have bought the item. I believe it is very unfair to agree to paying that price then later deride it as being too expensive. This implies the postage fee was a surprise to you, which it was not. You were aware of the total price before purchasing and were clearly happy enough with it to buy the item.
I charge a flat fee of £3.99 on all my items (regardless of weight) to cover – on balance and across all the items I sell – packaging materials, the trip in to the post office and, of course, the postage fee itself. For some items, this is more than I have anticipated, for others it is less. £3.99 is just a general figure which allows for times when I have had to pay more than I have charged to post an item.


I couldn’t resist replying:

You’re right, my feedback was positive and I am extremely happy with the item. I was happy with everything about the purchase, but I felt that £3.99 for a 74p postage charge (even factoring in the costs of the bag) was a bit steep. Yes, I knew how much you were charging on the item, but I didn’t know how much it would have actually cost until it arrived. Hence my feedback.

To which her reply successfully put the final nail in her customer service coffin:

As I said, I didn’t know either how much it would cost until I arrived at the post office. In fact, I was only made aware that your item cost 74p when I read your message. I went in with about 6 items and the post office assistant did all the sorting re: the cost to post different items; I just handed over the money for the total. I charge a flat fee of £3.99 on all my items to cover, on balance, those that cost more and those that cost less. I’m often posting more than 1 item at a time and so it’s much simpler as it can be hard to keep up with changing P&P charges for different weights.

I respect your opinion. I don’t think it’s ingratiating or necessarily fair for you to leave negative comments for an item which you’re admittedly very happy with, was exactly as described and for which you paid the exact price advertised. So I suppose we’ll just have to agree to disagree, which is fine.


So, she admits she doesn’t know how much she pays for each item at the post office. How on earth does she calculate any kind of profit or loss? If she doesn’t know the cost, then how can she say £3.99 is an average?

Just “handing over the money” is no way to run a business (even a small-scale one on eBay), and even if you do do that, admitting it to someone who has questioned something you do is inexcusable. Making your customer feel that your ignorance about your own business is somehow their fault, is just the poorest of the poor excuses.

Next time someone is happy but offers a small piece of constructive criticism to you, don’t jump on the defensive. Instead, be wise, and use it as a learning curve. Your customers’ opinion is really the only that matters.


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