April 14 2008 by Ellen Roseman
in my Saturday column, I talked about how winning an online auction at eBay can be bittersweet. What you save on the item’s purchase price can be offset — and more — by high shipping costs.
Using PayPal to cover your online purchase, as most eBay sellers prefer, means you’ll be zinged with a currency conversion charge. Forget the Canadian dollar being at par with the U.S. dollar. Either PayPal will hit you with a 2.5 per cent fee at the time of purchase or your credit card linked to PayPal will hit with you with a similar fee later.
That’s how a 1,000-page cookbook, which I won for $11 (U.S.) on eBay, ended up costing me $50 in Canadian dollars by the time it arrived at my door.
My readers had lots of advice about how to buy online and avoid excessive charges for getting merchandise to your home. Some complained about the brokerage fees that couriers impose (luckily, I avoided that trap). And some said they had given up on eBay and electronic commerce altogether.