eBay Shipping Changes Create Confusion & Concern

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


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eBay's handling of USPS shipping changes that went into effect January 21 is creating confusion and concern as sellers report incorrect information still being shown in the listing form and possible problems with new cubic rate calculations.

Several sellers noticed flat rate boxes are showing the wrong dimensions and still displaying the old rates when selecting shipping options on the listing form.

USPS Flat Rate Box Size Wrong
The Flat Rate Box sizes are wrong. It saying a large Flat rate Box is 24″x12″x6″ and a medium is 14″x12″x6″

The Flat Rate Box sizes are wrong. It saying a large Flat rate Box is 24"x12"x6" and a medium is 14"x12"x6"

Yikes, those dimensions make no sense.

USPS used to issue a Large flat rate box with dimensions about 24x12x3, but that's only about half the size of what's shown in your image, and the current one is about 12x12x6. And likewise the two actual Medium FRB's have dimensions far smaller than what's listed, roughly 11x8x5 and 13x12x3.

One savvy seller surmised the odd box sizes were eBay's attempt to program dimensional limits to limit access to certain boxes in the dynamic display eBay has created for shipping options in the listing form.

Educated assumption, this has to do with the way eBay programmed dimensional limits to access those boxes.

Med Flat Rate Box comes in 2 sizes:

11.25 x 8.75 x 6

and

14 x 12 x 3.5

So if you take the max dim from both boxes you get what's shown above:

14 x 12 x 6

Makes sense to me how they reached those dimensions even though it's technically incorrect for matching individual box sizes. eBay has to put in max LxWxH to accommodate both box sizes. While I agree it would be much better to show both box sizes on separate lines, I assume they are trying to keep characters to a minimum on that section of the shipping label page? I really don't know.

As for large flat rate showing 24.2 x 12.2 x 6 let's look at current large flat rate box dim:

12.25 x 12.25 x 6

But let's not forget the discontinued, but sellers can still use them if they have stock, large flat rate board game box:

24.25 x 12 x 3.25 (if my memory is correct)

So if you take the max dim from both boxes you get what's shown above:

24.25 x 12.25 x 6

It's confusing at first glance, but it doesn't appear to be an error, just a misleading display.

But even more concerning than the incorrect dimensions, eBay was still showing old rates in the listing form, which means sellers could be surprised when they go to purchase a label at the new (possibly increased) rates.

This is what I see for retail prices when I go to list right now so it matches the OP (so I guess it's the old rates)

While sellers are overall very happy that eBay has added Priority and Ground Advantage Cubic rates to the mix, the implementation of cubic shipping has created much confusion and also revealed some interesting limitations that could end up costing sellers more for cubic shipping through eBay than other providers.

eBay Will Finally Support USPS Cubic Rates With January 21 Postage Update
eBay reveals USPS Cubic Rate labels will finally be available to purchase through to platform with January 21, 2024 postage update.

eBay community member Wastingtime101 helpfully identified several key points and possible pitfalls sellers should be aware of with eBay cubic rates.

eBay launching USPS Cubic rates - Jan 21, 2024
https://community.ebay.com/t5/Announcements/2024-USPS-Rate-Changes/ba-p/34236252 Great news! Cubic services are now available for USPS Ground Advantage and Priority Mail effective January 21, 2024. Smart Ship Tip: Cubic pricing is based on the size of the package instead of the weight; this mea…

It's excellent that eBay has launched cubic rates, however there is a significant flaw.

On Pirate, you can choose package type such as tube, box or poly mailer. On eBay you cannot choose package type.

On Pirate, when you choose poly mailer (aka envelope or box-in-bag) you enter TWO dimensions - LxH and disregard width. Cubic is calculated based on LxH.

On eBay you will not be able to do that. So you will get good cubic rates for boxes on eBay, but not for polymailers or box-in-bag. On eBay you are forced to enter 3 dimensions so it will always be calculated LxWxH.

Until eBay starts accounting for package type, which in my opinion they need to do, sellers will still see lower cubic rates for polymailers through Pirate.

Plus we see all those sellers hit by UPS and FedEx surcharges when they use round mailing tubes. If eBay added in package type and let sellers choose tube upfront, they could account for that charge upfront in what's shown to buyers on calc shipping and what's charged to sellers when they buy labels, instead of applying cost adjustments after the fact when the carrier adds them.

eBay's made several positive shipping changes in the second half of 2023 (Ground Advantage transition disaster aside) - hopefully we'll see more improvements throughout 2024.

Wastingtime101 also provided some interesting comparisons showing how allowing only one decimal place can impact the rates available - and how differences in the single label printing process versus bulk label printing could put some sellers at a disadvantage.

Zip 10001 to 90210

Weight 20 lb

Size 10x7x5 = $17.26 Priority through eBay / $17.26 Cubic Priority through Pirate

Size 10x7x4.75 = not possible through eBay since eBay allows only 1 decimal place / $13.17 Cubic Priority through Pirate because they allow 2 decimal places

Size 10x7x4.5 = $17.26 Priority through eBay / $13.17 Cubic Priority through Pirate

Size 10x7x4 = $13.17 Priority through eBay/ $13.17 Cubic Priority through Pirate

To get the lower rate through eBay you have to trim down to 4"H. To get the lower rate through Pirate you have to trim down to 4.75" or lower.

This is a problem kyle@ebay that eBay is not factoring in decimal places to determine volume for Cubic rates. See that 4.5" box size above? eBay is rounding up to 5" behind the scenes when calculating rates...

...Another problem kyle@ebay - sellers can enter decimals on bulk labels but not single labels, so if eBay does correct volume calculations per my above post, sellers using singles labels will be paying more than those using bulk labels.

The possible perils of passing on discounted shipping rates to buyers also become even more apparent with cubic shipping, especially for multi-item orders with combined shipping.

I thought of a fun new challenge for cubic rates and sellers that choose to pass on carrier discounts to buyers.

Selling multiple items, with combined shipping rules, system will combine weight but has no way to factor in a larger box size. Say single item is 6x6x6 box. Buyer could be charged cubic rates for a small box, and the seller could be out $$$$ when they have to up the size to a 12x12x12 box if multiple items are purchased.

There's a lesson in there: if you pass carrier discounts to buyers, combined shipping rules can become problematic for you.

Another seller made a very excellent point that eBay should put a banner or some other warning on the shipping page information sellers about the change to include cubic rates.

I also really don't understand why eBay isn't making it more clear that they switched to cubic shipping for people that don't happen to come on the community forums or look deeply into their eBay emails.

I never bother with accurate dimensions with eBay labels because I don't ship things that are oversized. I think many sellers are like that and they know it's based on weight not the actual dimensions. If I didn't know about this cubic shipping change I could have underpaid on shipping my straightener today that had pre-populated much smaller dimensions from when I hit sell similar create the listing.

There's not even anything that says that it's ground Advantage cubic when choosing the shipping method to give me a clue that my dimensions are a part of the charge.

So thousands of labels are going to have people just happy they see a lower ground Advantage rate not realizing it's because their dimensions are completely wrong and either USPS is getting stolen from or they are going to end up with a really large surprise bill later.

I just really think eBay needs to make it much more clear with banners that dimensions are very important now when creating a label.

Many sellers had believed cubic would be a separate option for them to select when printing labels, but that's not how it works.

Instead, eBay automatically selects cubic rates if they are cheaper and the only way you will be able to confirm if it is cubic will be on the label after you purchase and print it.

From the eBay Seller Center help page FAQ:

USPS® and eBay Labels | Seller Center
Explore the convenience of USPS shipping with eBay Labels and enjoy a comprehensive delivery and pick up locations, and save on retail prices.

How can I receive USPS cubic rates for my eBay shipments?
Simply enter accurate weight and dimensions for your package when printing your eBay shipping labels. eBay will automatically offer the best rate, and apply cubic pricing for Priority Mail and Ground Advantage if the cubic rate is better than non-cubic rates.

How will I know whether I was charged cubic pricing or non-cubic pricing for my shipping label?
If you were charged for cubic pricing, you will see the cubic price tier above the USPS zone indicated on the top section of the label—remember, you will be charged the lower of cubic or non-cubic pricing for packages that qualify for cubic pricing.

Sellers who do not participate in the eBay community may not even be aware of these changes and there is nothing on the label purchase page to inform them.

While ultimately it is the seller's responsibility to make sure they have entered correct weight and dimensions, eBay should absolutely proactively and transparently advise on the shipping page that calculation methods have changed due to the addition of cubic rates.

Are you experiencing problems or confusion due to these most recent shipping changes on eBay? Let us know in the comments below!

eBayShipping

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Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of experience in online sales & marketplaces, providing expert commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Amazon, Etsy & more at Value Added Resource!