Wednesday, May 04, 2005

How to Sell on eBay Internationally without risk

I have been selling internationally on eBay for years, but it is not a step to be taken lightly. All the bases need to be covered. I will go through some very important do's and don't that can save you time and effort.

eBay allows you the opportunity to sell all over the world. It is exciting to communicate with a customer from England, Australia or Japan via email. It is almost as if you are speaking in person. It also opens a huge market! Many US sellers do not sell internationally so you can receive higher bids and more interest in your product; but you need to follow the guidelines I will explain below to ensure your payment.

There are only two methods of payment, which will ensure absolute zero risk regarding sending product overseas:

1. The first is wire transfer directly to your bank.

You can contact your local bank and they will walk you through a wire transfer transaction. It is very similar to the process of having a payroll check deposited in your account. As soon as a payment is deposited electronically into your account it can never be touched by any source other than by you, the account owner. Once the bank notifies you that payment is wired or transferred into your account, you can ship the product.

2. The second is http://www.auctionpayments.com/, which is a division of Western Union. This was originally called BidPay.com and the name has been changed to Western Union (R) Auction Payments.

Payment for this method is completely processed via email. You will then receive a physical check from Western Union. This usually takes three to four days after your email confirmation. Very Important! Do not ship the product when you receive the email confirmation. Wait until you physically receive the check from Western Union.

I do not accept cashier's checks, even from US customers. There is a common misconception that they are as good as cash. They are not! There have been cases where blank stolen cashier's checks, or even bank checks have been forged.

I also do not accept credit card payments from overseas buyers. They offer no protection from fraud as they do in the US. Even if it states Master Card or Visa, they are not governed by the same rules and laws of the United States.

Shipping product internationally is more work, but the rewards can outweigh the time involved. Unlike shipping products within the US, the first major difference is the "customs form". These forms are free and supplied by the shipping carrier you chose, whether it is the US Postal Service, Fed Ex, UPS, Etc. You will need to state the weight, the item and it's value, the destination, etc.

Important lesson - I learned this the hard way! I have a FED EX account, which allows me to print a label and send an item from my computer without having to go to a shipping company. I receive a discounted rate on my shipping as opposed to taking it to a Mailboxes, etc. or a shipping house. I shipped a computer using my account. I didn't realize I would be charged duty taxes on the item, which was an additional $150.00. Ouch!

Now when shipping internationally I use only the United States Postal Service, and the complete shipping amount is paid to USPS upon delivery. Country duty taxes will be collected from the buyer, not you.

Shipping internationally can be rewarding and interesting! Make sure you only take payment in the methods described above, be aware of the shipping procedures, and send via USPS.com.

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