Woman shocked by FedEx oversized package shipping charges for print sold on eBay

ByRenee Koury KGO logo
Saturday, July 6, 2019
Medium-sized package, super-sized shipping bill
After selling a lightweight painting online, a Sunnyvale woman was shocked to see "oversized package" charges after shipping. Here's why the fees were assessed -- and how you can avoid them.

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KGO) -- Shipping a package no longer requires going to a store or post office. Major carriers now let you calculate your shipping fees online and print a label from home. That's what a Sunnyvale woman did -- only to be shocked by an unexpected bill.

"There's no accountability and they can charge you whatever they want,'' Tori Bock said. "It's not fair to the consumer. We should have some way to present our claim and have somebody listen."

Her ordeal began right after she sold an 18-by-24-inch print of Thomas Kinkade's "Gardens Beyond Summer Gate" on eBay.

"I packed it up really nicely, weighed it, shipped it," she recalls. And she paid $33 for a shipping label. Then, the shock.

"I got a bill for $143 for shipping," she said. That was four times more than she charged the buyer for FedEx shipping.

"It's a big deal because I'm going to take a loss on the picture," Bock said. "I wish they would have notified me first because it would be no benefit for me to send it at that price."

Bock had used an eBay shipping calculator to figure the cost to send a 30-inch package weighing 23 pounds. However, eBay said it was much bigger.

"They said it weighed 90 pounds,'' she said. "Which makes no sense. Although I'm strong, I can't really lift 90 pounds to take the picture to FedEx and ship it."

Brock says there is no way the picture could be so heavy. Even the Mona Lisa weighs only 18 pounds!

"I could understand if it was within reason of a couple pounds,'' Bock said. "They could say maybe your scale is off or something. But this was a significant amount of weight."

Customer service at eBay explained it was FedEx that charged the higher fee; FedEx claimed it was an "oversized" package, measuring a hefty four feet tall by 40 inches wide. For oversized packages, FedEx calculates weight based on the dimensions, not the actual weight. That's how it arrived at the charge for 90 pounds of weight.

The oversized package rule was news to Bock.

However, in any case, she says, there was no way her package was four feet high.

"I explained to them multiple times this couldn't be right," Bock said. "I showed them several examples of other pictures that were the exact same size and weight. I explained that when you send artwork you want it to be in a box that's only slightly larger than the picture so it doesn't slide around during shipping... No one would listen."

But how could she prove the size of a package that's long gone? She contacted 7 On Your Side. We reached out to both FedEx and eBay. FedEx did not explain how it determined the package was so large, or advise how a customer could dispute such a differential.

eBay couldn't say why it cannot notify customers if their true shipping charges will be much higher than expected. Instead, eBay said it appeared Bock "did not know how package dimensions are calculated."

And because of that, it refunded that $143 shipping charge "as a courtesy."

Bock was elated.

"I was thinking I'd just live without my money, and instead I called 7 On Your Side,'' Bock said. "And I'm glad I did."

So how can you avoid surprise shipping fees? You may consider going in person to a FedEx or UPS store to have your items weighed and measured. And if you do it yourself at home? Take a photo of your package and make sure you are aware of that oversize package rule. It means if you have a big box, you could be charged a much higher rate even if it's a lightweight package.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.