eBay decided to increase the ship-free pressure on sellers today with their announcement that they will charge fees on shipping costs. This is another change where eBay is trying to mimic Amazon (which they are ever so in love with as well). Amazon, although a nifty place to buy books and CDs and the like, heavily controls the amount of shipping that can be charged, doesn't allow the selling of vintage and antique dolls, and has always charged fees on shipping (as well as higher fees overall in the "toys" category). Therefore, im my view, Amazon has always been a pretty poor place to sell dolls, and now here comes eBay charging down the very same path.
What is wrong with free shipping, you ask? Well, not so much if you are selling a doll dress for a five inch tall Nancy Ann Storybook Doll and can ship the dress in a small padded envelope for $1.00. You can easily tack that $1.00 onto the selling price and happily (or unhappily) pay your added .12 fee from doing that.
But, what if you want to sell a large modern porcelain doll via an actual auction that starts at only $9.99? That sounds nifty...until the doll sells for exactly $9.99 in that auction, and then it costs you $30 to ship it from the East Coast to the West Coast. eBay will now charge you the final value fee on that $30...you probably took a big loss on this auction to begin with, and now eBay wants nearly four times the fees!! Further, if you decided to list your item with "free shipping' included, your auction would have started at $39.95. Probably wouldn't have sold at all for that price, but if it had, you'd be in the same lousy eBay fee-gouging situation as before.
Don't even get me started with trying to ship large antique dolls--the new final value fees on the shipping will eat you alive. It will also cause all sorts of problems with shipping consignments.
Personally, I saw the writing on the wall earlier when eBay created the so-called TRS (top rated seller) system. If you sell large heavy items (like many dolls) and ship them far distances (like across the United States) maintaining TRS is nearly impossible on the shipping cost detailed seller rating (DSR)...(follow this)...UNLESS you ship for "free". Without TRS, your items are buried in the listings AND you pay much more in fees, not to mention you can quickly become at risk for losing your whole selling account if you get even a small percentage of low DSRs in one area.
I am an eBay doll seller who was in that exact situation--I charged exact shipping to clients, did not charge shipping and handling, yet, due to the heavy items I sold and the fact I was located on a coast--had low DSR scores from buyers for shipping. I therefore felt forced to offer "free" shipping on eBay to get a high DSR on my shipping rating (if you ship free you get an automatic five stars). Of course, there is no such thing as free shipping, so I had to raise my prices to cover the shipping, which of course raised the fees I paid to eBay, caused lower sales, and plummeted my already thin profit margin. Finally, this change also forced me to moved all of my fixed price antique and vintage doll sales to Ruby Lane--you know, the great, hard to find stuff that used to make eBay such a fantastic place. However, I still do run auctions for antique and vintage dolls on eBay and I am now in a terrible quandary as to what to do about those, given the new fees on shipping.
The good news from eBay's latest changes, if any, is that you can now use a shopping cart on eBay across various sellers. Meh. I guess it is good news, but I'd rather see eBay trash its subjective and unfair TRS system and also take a big step off the free shipping/charge fees on shipping bandwagon.
In the interest of full disclosure, I've been buying and selling dolls and toys on eBay since 1996. I am a Top Rated Seller, although I have not always been so. I also sell dolls on Amaon.com and on Ruby Lane.