I hope you will all forgive me one more little rant about free shipping then I promise to shut up about it for at least a month. 🙂

I was looking at my items and I noticed something interesting. I had one item listed at $9.99 with free shipping that eBay had a big notice on that looked like this:

(The red circle is mine, not eBay’s). Isn’t that nice, I thought, they are marketing my stuff for me. I hopped over to one of my other listings, this one costing $1.99 with $2.34 shipping. Now, that item was $4.33 total which, on this version of Earth at least, is even cheaper than the aforementioned item. But this was not, in eBay’s mind, a deal. There was no deal alert on this item even though the cost of the item and shipping was still under $5 much less under $10. No love at all for the value on that listing.

This really irritated me. Is eBay really that stupid that they think buyers care more about free shipping than paying the lowest price? After all, the price of the item is really the total of the shipping plus the item cost.

Instead of pushing free shipping, why doesn’t eBay combine the two prices. The aforementioned item above would, instead of showing $1.99 in big numbers and the tiny $2.34 shipping would just show as $4.33. Plain and simple. Then the buyer doesn’t know what items are free shipping and which are charged shipping because he or she is only seeing the total price and the seller doesn’t have to worry about free versus charged shipping because all the buyer sees is the total anyway.

Let’s take these search results below as an example:

What I am proposing is that those three listings show instead as a single price of $44.79, $44.94, and $44.99 respectively. Then free shipping becomes a mute point because the buyer is only seeing the single price that is the total.

Using the other day’s example, I have an item I sell that costs $3 to ship. I normally charge $9.99 for it but, to offer free shipping, I now offer it for $12.99.

You might want to sit down because I am about to blow your mind. $9.99 + 3 =$12.99. Did you see that? That just happened!

Here’s the problem, though. Guess which one of those two listings is the better seller? If you guessed the $9.99 one with $3 shipping, you guessed right. Just like $9.99 looks much cheaper than $10 even though it’s only a penny, people seem to always go for the cheaper one, even if it means paying shipping. (What’s really crazy is that if I make that $9.99 listing an auction with charged shipping, sometimes they even bid that item higher than the cost of the item with free shipping, but that is a story for another time.) That’s the whole reason people started charging something .99 for things, it’s retail 101, people. You can offer free shipping but, physiologically, people will always go for what their brain thinks is the better deal which, in this case, is the one that is charging shipping.

My husband was comparison shopping an item on eBay and I was watching over his shoulder. He was deciding between an item that was $.01 with $24.99 shipping and an identical item from another seller that was $24 with $2 shipping. His mouse reached over to buy the second one and I said, “What are you doing? The first one is cheaper.”

“But look how much he is charging for shipping!” my husband protested.

“So what?” I replied. “The first one is still cheaper.”

“But it’s the principle of the thing!” my husband whined, reluctantly ordering the first one.

It didn’t matter to him that the total price of the first one was lower as much as the fact that he was looking at a total discrepancy between the two sellers item price and sale price. But, to me, that is irrelevant. The total cost of shipping and item price is, in the end, the price so why not just show the total and stop playing games with the shipping cost? I think buyers would be happier for it in the end.

What do you think? Would this ever work? Would you like this as a buyer?