First a bit on what the eBay Global Shipping Program entails: (CTRL-C/CTRL-V from http://pages.ebay.com/help/buy/shipping-globally.html )
The Global Shipping Program makes it easier for buyers in some countries outside the US and UK to purchase items from these sellers. The US or UK seller ships the item to a local global shipping provider, and the global shipping provider ships the item to you.
When you purchase an item through the Global Shipping Program:
- You pay any applicable import charges upfront. There are no additional charges at delivery.
- You get international tracking at no additional charge.
- Your purchase is eligible for coverage through the eBay Money Back Guarantee and PayPal Purchase Protection.
Important things to keep in mind:
- The charges that you see in the item listing are not final until you pay for the item. These charges could change if, for example, you change your shipping address during checkout, or if the applicable import rules change before you complete your payment.
…and this is where they got me big time recently.
I was purchasing a book on eBay for $251. Shipping cost was $17.17. So far, so good. But then they slap a whopping $70.81 on top of that! ‘Import Charges’, according to the receipt. Since there’s no import tax on books here in Norway, I decided to check with eBay customer service:
The reason why you are seeing additional fees labeled as “Import Charges” is because the seller has listed the item under Global Shipping Program (GSP).
Global Shipping Program is a third party shipper that will take care of your items’ international shipment, documentations, custom fees and taxes. So when your package arrives, you are no longer going to pay for anything. All of these costs are combined as import charges in the order details of your items. So when you see ‘import charges’ on your invoice or with the item listings, this may or may not actually cover all of the following costs:
- Value added taxes
- Excise taxes
- Other amounts assessed or levied by any government involved in the import of items
- Third party brokerage fees
- Classification charges associated with the assignment of a Harmonized System classification code
- Charges for export compliance screening and verification and the assignment of an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN)
- Operational expenses associated with short-term loss recovery
They even give me a way out:
I certainly understand that you don’t wish to be charged with the $70 upon checkout. For this, you have to communicate with your seller and rearrange to cancel this transaction and relist the item not under the GSP. Then you can buy the item again with only the item’s price and the shipping cost.
…unfortunately the seller wasn’t interested in this, so I was left with no choice but to pay 28% extra for the book…
Lesson learned: Do not buy books listed under the eBay GSP if you live in Norway (or any other country where there’s no import tax on books.