I have been doing a little shopping on eBay lately to take advantage of these decreased prices everyone is on about which I am discovering, much to my disappointment, are largely a myth in the categories I shop. Even so, I have won a few things and as I went to pay, I had my first encounter with the combined checkout.

I wanted to do a screen shot but I would have had to blank out so much privacy stuff that it would have all been a worthless blur so just bear with me as I describe it instead. When I went to pay for one of my purchases, clicking the Pay Now button took me too a page that had 4 listings I had won on it. It lists the seller names of each listing and the title but, beyond that, it looks exactly like a combined shipping invoice would when you buy several items from the same seller making it seem like all of those transactions were one. I discovered a little “Pay for items separately” button but this button was small and not immediately obvious.

Weirdly, only when you hit the Pay for items separately button do you get to proceed to the payment for the item on which you hit “Pay Now.”

Now, as an intelligent human being and a frequent eBay user, I obviously figured it out. But not before I had a little freak out for a second until I understood. If an experienced user like me took pause at this page, I can only imagine what a less experienced buyer thought.

What I was thinking as a buyer:

  • My first thought was total panic. “Who hacked into my account and bought all this stuff? I thought only bought one thing from this seller!” At first glance, the page made me think that all four sales were from the one seller I had clicked to pay.
  • Once I figured it out, while I suppose there was nothing wrong with me paying for all those sales with one lump payment, I couldn’t help but feel better paying them separately so there was less to double check. I didn’t like the item of forking over that huge chunk of change all at once and would rather do it separately.
  • From a bookkeeping standpoint, what would this show as in PayPal? Would it show as all one sale or as four separate sales if I pay for them all at once? Depending on the answer to that question, this could make record keeping a real challenge.

Now, obviously, whenever I am buying things on eBay, I am always thinking like a seller as well. This made me worry about a few things, namely:

  • If my buyers are paying for my transaction alongside of other purchases from other sellers, when it comes feedback time, how are they going to know which seller they are rating in terms of shipping cost or time?
  • My second objection is similar to the one above. From a customer service standpoint, if a buyer pays for an item with me alongside and item from someone else and they get bad service from that other person but great service from me, now my name is associated with that bad transaction even if I did nothing wrong.
  • Foil-hatters will love this one: If the buyer is paying myself and several other sellers at the same time, does that mean that I am getting a break on my PayPal fees since the per-transaction fee is split several ways? (I know the answer is no, I just like to give you people something to get angry over. It keeps you on your toes.)

That said, from a non-emotional standpoint, I bet this will cut down on the number of non-paid items. When you buy a ton of stuff all at once, esp with auctions, I know from experience, it’s easy to let a single listing slip. If nothing else, this combined invoice reminds the buyer of what items they still need to pay for and, if clueless buyers just hit pay all, makes sure sellers are more likely to get paid.

I am all for making it easier for the buyers, don’t get me wrong. I am also all for getting money whatever method eBay uses to get my buyers to actually give it to me and not flake out. I just don’t love the fact that someone who does a sale from me can so easily confuse my sale with an unrelated sale paid for at the same time.

Have any of you seen this? What did you think? Even if you haven’t seen it, what is your impression from the info above?