One of the things I have always found to be a bit of a sticky subject is overpayments. A buyer buys several items from me and the shipping calculator gives them a combined shipping quote that is far more than actual shipping costs.

Now, I have a warning on nearly all of my listings saying, “Please wait for us to send you a combined invoice that states, ‘This is your combined invoice.’ before paying as the shipping calculator often overcharges.” But many people, usually newbies, pay ahead of time anyway. So while they are still getting a combined shipping discount, it is not quite as much of a discount as they would have gotten if they’d waited for our combined invoice.

The why this happens is simple: The weight of each item listed on eBay is the item packaged. Combine all those items together and you have less packing so it costs less to ship.

For many years, if someone overpaid on shipping, even if only by a few cents, I would refund the difference. I stopped doing this for two reasons. Firstly, it was very annoying from a bookkeeping standpoint because I kept having to manually input very tiny refunds.

The second reason, though, is the bigger one. In all the many years I did this, not a single buyer ever commented on it. No one ever said thanks, mentioned it in their feedback or indicated they cared in any way. They comment on the other little things I do in feedback and emails like ship fast or have detailed descriptions. To me, if they didn’t say Boo about something, it means it wasn’t really impressing them. So I was giving money away for years that the buyers didn’t seem to want or be grateful for so it seemed right to stop doing it. Of course, if someone asks, I always refund the difference in that case.

So now, when someone overpays, I don’t refund but I still feel odd about it.

Take this transaction from this week: Buyer bought 7 items, each of which, packed, weighs an ounce or 2 depending. All together, all 7 items in one package weight 5 oz. That’s because some of the “ounce” packages really weigh less than an ounce so it all evens out. The eBay checkout page happily informs them that I gave them a $9.70 discount off of shipping (which they base on the weights).

The buyer in that case paid me $7.03 and selected First Class. Now, obviously, First Class would cost far less than that amount. Old Hillary would have refunded the difference but New Hillary instead just upgraded her to Priority.

I am of two minds in this situation. First is that even upgrading her to Priority, she still overpaid. The second is my little inner greedy monster who demands to know why I upgraded her at all. It insists I should have just sent it First Class as she requested and kept the extra.

Surely there are other of you that have run into this issue. How do you handle overpayments? Along the same lines, how would you have handled the situation above if it happened to you?