eBay launched their Global Shipping Program in partnership with Pitney Bowes in 2012 and have been expanding it ever since. The program allows sellers to send the item to a domestic address where Pitney Bowes relabels the packages, processes the import charges and then dispatches the item to the buyer. The buyer pays for import charges when purchasing the item on eBay and therefore does not need to pay anything else on receiving the item. eBay is also keen to point out that due to the discount Pitney Bowes has negotiated for shipping in bulk the shipping costs are cheaper then if the seller dispatched directly to the buyer.
While in theory this sounds great, I have actively avoided using eBay Global Shipping, instead opting for sellers who will send the item directly themselves. There are several reasons for this – I have seen plenty of complaints online about the program including delayed packages, lost packages and repacking the product poorly. I also find smaller, relatively low cost items often slip through the import charges net and I receive the parcel without having to pay anything. Finally, since the eBay seller first dispatches the item to a Pitney Bowes warehouse where it is processed and then dispatched to your address it can be a lot slower then the seller posting the item directly to you.
I was looking to buy a Google OnHub from eBay as it is not launched in Ireland yet. When I was looking, all the sellers used eBay’s GSP so I had no choice but to take the plunge and try it out. The item cost $129.99, postage and packaging was $27.96 and import charges were $32.11. Checkout was simple and I paid via PayPal as normal. However, what I thought would be processed as one transaction was actually two. One to the seller for $136.98 and one to Pitney Bowes for the remaining $53.08. It appears the seller charged $6.99 to cover the cost of posting the item to Pitney Bowes centre in the US and then the $53.08 covered the cost of posting the item from the US to Ireland and the import duties. While this isn’t that big of an issue it is worth noting that some credit card providers charge a minimum fee for currency conversion so it could cost you more in two transactions then it would it one.
You can track the item from My eBay on eBay.ie but I found more detailed information on the eBay.com site. There should be two tracking numbers. One for the parcel to the Pitney Bowes warehouse and then one from there to your house.
The tracking number beginning with UPAAA is the Pitney Bowes tracking number and can be tracked on their site. I found this site to be more accurate and much quicker to update then the shipping details on My eBay. Updated: February 2017 – It appears this site no longer works which is a pity. I haven’t been able to find a alternative yet.
April 2017 – The new site is https://parceltracking.pb.com/app/#/dashboard/ thanks to Guy who commented.
I paid for the item on a Monday and the seller shipped it on the Tuesday. It was then delivered to Pitney Bowes in Kentucky on the Friday. At this point it had been a whole week at the item was still in the US . I was worried it would sit in the warehouse over the weekend and not be processed until the Monday, however on the Saturday the status updated to “Shipped from the Global Shipping Center to International Destination”. It arrived into the UK on the Tuesday and on Wednesday it was updated with a link to ‘InterPost’ this link then provided an An Post tracking number. An Post received the item on the Thursday and it was delivered on the Friday.
Overall, it took 10 working days or 12 days total to be delivered from the sender to my house. In comparison, I had an item posted from the US on the Tuesday which arrived the following Wednesday, which was 6 working days or 8 days total. As a buyer I can see the benefits of eBays GSP namely you know exactly how much you will pay for the item and it certainly makes it easier for the seller. My experience with eBay GSP was overall a positive one and while it does seem to delay the parcel, in future I won’t actively avoid sellers from the US using it.