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Getting a Handle on Your eBay Handling Times

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Last Edited 02:15:55 PM



Once upon a time, buyers came to eBay almost exclusively for one-of-kind, hard-to-find treasures. Think, Pierre Omidyar’s broken laser pointer and those ultra rare Beanie Babies.


Back then, shipping and handling times were loosey-goosey. Mark Fraser was probably just happy to find that rare pointer and likely didn’t expect it to arrive in less than a week.


But that’s history. Now you can buy pretty much anything on eBay—antique, vintage, new, consumable—and you can get it all in a matter of days. In fact, that’s what customers expect. Why? Because some online retailers are touting “two-hour” handling times.


So how do you keep up with the increasingly aggressive standards set by consumers and the larger online retail world? Outside of offering expedited shipping, you might want to take a second look at your handling time.


1. Select your handling time with care

Handling time on eBay is defined as the number of business days (that’s right, weekends and holidays don’t count) between when you receive payment and your package is scanned by your carrier. It’s something you set every time you list an item. The general rule of thumb is to pick a handling time that you can easily meet. But if you can swing same- or one-day handling, it’s in your best interest. Take it from Griff.



2. Learn to love that little green truck

Buyers want their stuff fast. But did you know that same- and one-day handling can actually help you sell more? If you offer free shipping in conjunction with one of these handling times, and the buyer can expect to receive their item within four business days, the Fast ’N Free badge will automatically appear on your listing. You’ve seen it. It’s accompanied by that speedy little green truck and an estimated delivery date. That logo is your friend. eBay data shows that it can result in a 11%* lift in sales.



3. Up your shipping game

Once you sell something and get paid, it’s like a race to the scan. And if the path to your shipping station resembles a Warrior Dash obstacle course, it’ll be increasingly difficult to honor your same- or one-day handling time as your business grows. Plus, you could break a leg. So here are some tips for optimizing your space to meet your handling time commitments:


  • Get organized. Use a dedicated area for packing items and make sure it’s orderly. The last thing you need when it’s crunch time is to spend thirty minutes looking for your tape gun.

  • Keep plenty of shipping supplies on hand. Nothing cuts into handling time more than scrambling for the right size box. Consider ordering from eBay branded supplies, especially if you have an eBay Store and are eligible for the quarterly credit.

  • Use eBay labels. This enables you to print postage from the comfort of wherever. You’ll spend less time in line at the post office, save money with discounted postage rates, and be able to automatically track your packages.


  • Figure out the fastest way to get your packages scanned. Maybe this involves scheduling USPS pickups, hiring a teenager for daily drop-offs, or making friends with your local post office clerks (donuts help). It’s all about getting that scan within your stated handling time. And if you’re ever in doubt as to how your handling time is actually calculated, use this guide.

With some the handling time window narrowing for big online retailers, expect this subject to come up often. In the meantime, roll with the changes (refer to Habit Seven) like the eBay boss that you are.


Do you have any tips or tricks for meeting tight handling times? Tell us in the comments below.


Feel free to share this article via email and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

*Percentage calculated is based on sales of listings that converted to Fast ’N Free. Individual seller results may vary. Percentage increase in sales depends on, among other things, item price, inventory, shipping cost, shipping speed offered, and historical performance of seller. Calculation assumes that sellers don’t increase the item price while making these changes.

by cshu1909 · Enthusiast

I'm so confused and in a query as to why I can't get a tele. # to receive help=don't believe my question is that mystifying-however,I 'm coming down with a dementia problem , and perhaps there's no problem at all.I need advisement.  We need to be gone tomorrow until about 5:00-please return a call later or on Wed.  Thank you---cherie & dale shumway

by gretchen53 · Adventurer

What do I do when I shipped the item within the stated shipping time by taking it directly to the post office.  I shipped the item internationally, the buyer left feedback that he received the item, in good shape within a week (which was faster than expected), yet for some reason Ebay didn't get the Post Office scan, thereby taking mty rating down?



... the most important Tip that I can offer to other Sellers regarding ebay handling times would be to very frequently compare the accuracy of ebays tracking informatiion provided to both Buyer and Seller ... as Sellers we do know that the tracking information posted here also is a reflection of our Performance, which can greatly affect our fee$ and we now have found it necessary to verify the info posted here as compared to the "actual information posted within the USPS Database ...



... and here's why -



Jan-25-17, 13:11 PM, OXFORD 53952



Jan-28-17, 07:33 AM, AUBURN 95603



Jan-28-17, 06:53 AM, AUBURN 95603



Jan-28-17, 02:55 AM, WEST SACRAMENTO 95799



Jan-28-17, 02:54 AM, WEST SACRAMENTO 95799



Jan-26-17, 22:14 PM, OAK CREEK 53154



Jan-26-17, 01:54 AM, OAK CREEK 53154



Jan-25-17, 15:08 PM, OXFORD 53952


Order Confirmed

Jan-25-17, 10:00 AM, OXFORD 53952



... the above shown information is one of 3) recently shipped orders with such incorrect information, and this data is clearly posted here for both myself as Seller and  to my Buyer ... as we can see the last posted update clearly indicates that my Shipment has been delivered "back" to me three days prior to leaving a Sorting Facility for my Buyers Postal Zip Code ...


... of the 3) Buyers involved with this matter, one had contacted me directly to bring this matter to my attention, and one of the other Buyers involved was permitted to open an "item not received" related case against me well within 24 hours of my actual mailing of the Order/Package ... funds were also withheld from my PayPal Acct as well ...


... this matter was addressed to ebay repeatedly by us "and" as recently as 2/7/2017,  and yet the same incorrect information is still posted here to my Buyers ...



... we also had Not received any feedbacks for a period of at least 3) days prior to my final call on the 7th of this month and yet my dsr rating for "communications" coincidently had dropped overnight from a 5.0 to a 4.9 rating ...


... as a thriteen year Seller with a once near Perfect feedback score recently adjusted without actually receiving feedbacks, we now have found it Mandatory to frequently compare the Actual USPS tracking updates to that of the ebay posted tracking information used within this site ...




... I should also mention, that the "delivered in/at mailbox" update shown was immediately posted here within the absolute first day of the shipment on the date of 1/25 ... this iswhat had prompted 2) of my 3) Buyers to contact me for the questioning of "My" actual handling of Their packages ...


... They were concerned as to why Their packages had been delivered "back" to me within the same day of shipment ... when in All actuality the packages were clearly within a typical transit time as shown within the actual USPS database ...


... compare those ebay tracking updates with that of th Actual USPS database, and if there's any discrepencies do Not hesitate to bring this to the attention of ebay, even if we need to pursue this matter on multiple occassions over a two week period ... and do Not be afraid to take a hit with the communications dsr's ...


The only comment I can make on this has nothing to do with the blogger - but with eBay. It is absolutely unfair that east coast sellers are not considered fairly when it comes to handling times. I have to get up at 4:45 in the morning to go to work every morning. In addition to that, if I made a sale before midnight, California time, which is 3 am MY TIME, I have to locate, pack and ship an item that same day (which is SAME DAY HANDLING) or I receive a defect.


This is ridiculous. A company this large ought to have figured this out already.



by vintagecraze50 · Guide

Fast and free works people. You are competing out there with other websites that give better and better customer service and you must keep up with these perks. So far everything that Ebay has recommended to increase sales has worked for us. Follow their advice. I know, every new change scares people at first. This is  an environment in which changes are happening all the time and that can actually be very exciting to be a part of. So, get your java and get up early to get those packages out pronto.


... quite Honestly I hadn't been watching the ebay tracking info with each and every single package shipped, and if it hadn't been for one of my Buyers messaging me to ask why Their package appeared to be doa in transit I'd have taken 3) defects in one day alone ... and with that in mind I gotta be Grateful that I only had to ship 3) packages in that one single day ...


... and I wouldn't have found out about the inaccuracy until it reflected with my fee$ ...


... imo they've indeed figured  it out.




by gretchen53 · Adventurer

The experience I had with this has caused me to decide to NOT ship internationally.  All of the USPS scans are in the report, then the package went to Colombia, so of course, there are no more scans.  Yet, the Buyer gave positive feedback to eBay that he received the product. So, not only did eBay downgrade my shipping because the country of Colombia does not scan the package, but now, the item is sitting on my sold list as eligible for a second chance offer!  Surely if eBay can track the scans, it can coordinate it with the feedback rating from the Buyer.  Either that or don't count international shipments against the Seller.

by vintagecraze50 · Guide

The fast and free option is also a very good way to prevent some buyer remorse issues. Sometimes people buy something and if they have many many days to think about what they purchased they might get in a remorse mode. When a package arrives ultra fast, not only are they wowed that they got it that fast, they are usually more pleased with the product--it's a psychological thing, and a good marketing tool. It also is good for the seller because you can go on with your business more effectively knowing that the buyer is pleased, or displeased and will return and the process will be quicker so you can move on, or you know your funds are pretty much clear for usage,



... and for those of us working razor thin profit margins as is ..??..


... sometimes, what works for Peter won't work for Paul ... which makes for even more frustrated Buyers when They see "free free free" from Some Sellers within an entire different Category and Market, and not from Others, such as those of us working wholesale to retail ...


... most of us are already working with a growing percentage of buyers that seem to believe refunds shall be granted without an actual return of the item ...


... no thanks' ... to any of the above.





by violet*owl · Guide

I offer same-day handling.  In most cases, the items I sell are time-sensitive, so same-day handling really boosts buyer satisfaction.  (Assuming the package suffers no hiccups along the way, that is!)


One tip I might add is to ship on Saturdays too -- if at all possible.  Most USPS offices are open at least a few hours on Saturdays.  If the post office is open and accepting packages, and airplanes still fly on Saturdays and Sundays, why not get your packages into the mailstream ASAP?  


Even though eBay does not require that any orders be processed or shipped on the weekends, it can sure make a favorable impression on a buyer who orders on a Saturday and receives their order on Monday.  


(1) I offer one day handling time, if you have an auction listing and it has bids on it pack it after the first bid and have it ready to go when the auction is over & confirmed payment has arrived. 

(2) A buy it now listing is getting much attention or even an offer package it and have it ready to go.

(3) One other way is to package medium to larger sized items as you list them, store them in an orderly fashion marking each box of it's contents. When the item sells it will be boxed, weighed & ready for you to print the label. Creating a label is much easier then people realize I think that is the biggest complaint of many eBay sellers.

Key in this sentence is to print your own labels it not only saves time but also money in the long run! 

(4) One thing that does bother me is when I've gotten a let's call it a red check for handling time, eBay has to consider the weather conditions all over the map, not only where it's leaving from. People love to get things for free and take advantage of one day handling times & make a complaint through eBay and in turn comes back to you in a bad way which isn't always fair! 


I have an average of 5 packages a day:  What I have observed that really has helped me is to compare the local post offices within reach: 1) the big suburban post office is slow - doesn't check in your packages that you must put in their big canvas hauler out by the desk until 4:30 and they get on the outbound truck at night. They do NOT check in your sales individually.

2) the nearest post office is a one-woman site and she can get overwhelmed and forget/misplace package . . .

3) the medium sized post office in the next community (4 miles away) is busy but small enough to check in my things immediately and they go out on the first outbound truck at 2:30 each day. I bring them cookies, candy, award badges - all kinds of things and they take my things seriously FAST!


If a last minute payment comes in, I always have my carrier pick up at 4 in the afternoon when he comes by with my mail! That way I can do same day shipping - at least, so far.


Finding the right post office (think Rainbowranchmom and the 3 Bears) has been the key for me.


Hi everybody - hope that might help someone.





Do you have any tips or tricks for meeting tight handling times? Tell us in the comments below.


I like scheduling items to end when I know I can be there to get started right away, I imagine scheduling would be profitable for large-quantity sellers as well. 


Great post!

by *coins · Rockstar | Updated

One thing to add..

If your handling time is 1 day or less, that helps qualify for a Top Rated Plus seal in your listings...http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/top-rated.html#plus. I'm pretty sure I didn't see you mention that Smiley Wink


I recently suffered from a loss in my TRS status due to late shipping times. Some were my fault in not understanding Friday to Monday tracking upload times vs received by post office times. Most of them were due to post office not scanning items in pickup during the busiest (and slowest shipping) time of the year.. late Nov & Dec. I also see several late scans on items that arrive at unit on time, but a notice is left for buyer and it takes a day or two for them to get in to get item and hence have it marked "delivered." There is too much onus on post office scans when not a single late item mark was due to customer complaint.
I also concur about East Coast shippers being held to West Coast time standards. I have scheduled postal pickups that have to be confirmed by 2 a.m. If I get a sale after I've gone to bed, it simply won't get to the post office the next day. (Not to mention the number of times I've jumped off the couch at 9 p.m. or later just to get something in the next day's mail. )
I sell items in various sizes and weights (currently more than 800 items listed for a one-woman business!) and I do offer international shipping and free domestic shipping for many lightweight items. I never know where my item is going to go, so I can't prepack everything in case something that's domestically priority mail has to go overseas for first class.
That all being said, my advice is to use standardized boxes as often as possible and set up a shipping area with supplies on hand. Print your labels through eBay for automatic tracking uploads (and discounts). Offer free shipping if shipping will likely cost less than $5. (And adjust your prices to account for it). If you have a reliable home base and post office, used scheduled pickups so you're not spending part of your day running to and from the post office.

And, unfortunately, when that sale comes through and eBay says jump... you jump.

by agnes-40 · Trailblazer

When our home sells, we will have 1/3 the space that we currentlly have, and no basement.  We will be going from 3,000 sq ft to 1,160 sq. ft.  I do the selling, packing,etc.  We will be in a mobile park - a very nice one.  We don't have money to buy another house.  We normally do 1 day shipping, and usually manage to get it done on our side.  We are going away to look more closely at the house.  Besides vacation settings, and changing handling time to 4 days. I change everything back as soon as I am home.   I now do only USA shipping.  There are central mailboxes for the park.  We need to see where the post office is.  Needless to say, I have great fb, but fewer sales.  I'm trying to find the right product.  A lot of items are going to auction.  If I need to go to the hospital for an emergency, I'm know to change my handling times and put vacation on.  Of course this is not always doable. My customers are happy and there are no returns.  I'll be doing more bulk listing, esp for lower price items. 




Speaking of handling times, would someone explain to me the following. I went on vacation for 2 weeks. I put my vacation settings on and an email note saying I would be out of town. When we returned I had 6 items to mail out and we mailed them on time according to our vacation status. I now have 6 marks against me and endanger of losing my top rated status because the items were not mailed out on time. Huh? What is the point of setting up vacation status if it still counts against you? 

When you set your vacation settings were there any auction listings that sold? Also when vacation settings were made did you leave a notice of your return and if anything did sell for buy now listings you would send them soon as you returned? 

by *coins · Rockstar

Hi, @kimberlys-precious-treasures.

You can set your vacation settings to let buyers buy items or block all fixed-price listings from being viewed. Yes, you would send them as soon as you return. Note that putting on vacation DOES NOT change your handling time. You can still get a defect if you don't ship in your stated handling time.

by beenbakin · Adventurer

I Have Had To Change My Handling Time For Selling On Ebay From 1 Day To 2 Days Because I Always Ship After Recieving Payment The Same Day Or The Next Day But Somehow My Seller Dashboard Does Not Reflect My Doing So. Your Article Was Most Helpful But I Think That Ebay Could Do A Better Job At Posting More Acurate Numbers And Selling Charts.


why is handling time defined as business days but your metric for the late shipment rate defines days as the post office open days. so saturdays are not considered in defining handling time but saturdays are days when it comes to late shipments. this doesnt make any sense to me.

by pndavis1 · Adventurer

Ebay could definitely do a better job in counting days. I too am an East Coast seller.  I get up at 5 each morning with the goal of leaving at 5:15am for work.  I have often been caught getting packages ready for shipment for orders that came in after I went to bed. I would change to a 2 day shipment, but Ebay sees that as a negative, too. I also got caught with the vacation settings thinking that if it was on vacation mode, then the clock wouldn't start until I got home. How wrong I was. I'm still not sure how Ebay figures I should be mailing packages while on vacation. I found out later to "block" purchases, but then discovered that buyers can still submit offers. If you accept the offer, the shipping clock begins.


Just a couple "quick and easy" suggestions for everyone regarding shipping times.  I almost always pre-package the items I have up for sale on eBay, so that I know the weight and dimensions ahead of time.  If I am offering First Class and Priority Mail as shipping options, I use a plain box so either label will work with the package.  Sometimes I actually go ahead and package the item and put a sticky note on the outside of the box so I know what is inside, along with the weight and dimensions so I can just plug it into the label maker.  This works with most shipping options except Flat Rate, in which case you must use the USPS supplied box along with the Flat Rate label....the label alone is not a qualifying Flat Rate item as you must use their box as well.  I offer one-day turnaround and schedule for USPS pickup when time allows, and have not had any issues with this setup. As noted by someone else above, keep a clean and organized work area, have ample supplies on hand, know the box dimensions and weight of the item before you list it, and order free boxes from USPS where applicable.  I hope this helps!


The problem with getting the "scan" from USPS is that I normally have to wait in line simply to ask the clerk to scan the packages.  That defeats much of the efficiency of printing my own shipping labels and merely dropping them off in the bin for metered packages.  


Ebay isn't reasonable on this topic of the "scan".  It might work for FedEx and UPS drop offs but not for USPS.  And I can't use the free pickup service because that means I have to be around for mailman, and who knows when he will show up?

by agnes-40 · Trailblazer

I received 100% scan on time, but had 3% late delivery.  It doesn't make sense to me.  What does make sense is that if I have 100% scan on time, then the late delivery is not my fault. 

I need to ask the trailer park if I can sell on ebay from my mobile home, if we wind up being able to live there.  They run a very tight ship.  I can check with son to see if I can do it through his address.  The USPS isn't too far away unless it would be bad weather or we would be ill. 

by agnes-40 · Trailblazer

Issues were not affected by vacation.  All items were scanned on time at the USPS, meaning that the USPS scanned within the appointed handling time that was set.  eBay said this happened 100% of the time.


Yet 3 % were marked that the package arrived late.  I know one was because the PO put it in the wrong bin at the destination and it started travelling back to me.  The customer and myself managed to get it turned around again.  Why should we get a defect when the PO messes up.  My husband was a letter carrier, so he was able to figure out what had happened.  I ship from the east coast.  I beieve some of the problems were due to bad weather. I have seen some packages sit in Philadellphia longer than they should, as well as other places.  None of the customers had any complaints.  I do whatever is necessary to keep my customers happy.  Nurses know how to do that. 


I agree with Agnes-40. I got zinged last December for a package that was to go from Ocala, FL to Miami, FL and it went to Kentucky where it sat for several days! My customer did not get his package in time for his event and didn't leave me feedback. If he had, he would have been justified in a derogatory opinion about the shipping! He had a heart - but eBay didn't and zinged me. Thank goodness, it doesn't happen often but it certainly wasn't me that drove it to Kentucky instead of 6 hours south to Miami! I really think this is something eBay should fix for us.

I know eBay isn't reading this. I think that all in all, ignoring sellers and the fact that rules should apply to everyone evenly, and I am talking about weather announcements that affect shipping capabilities, particularly for TRS's where their cost is directly affected, as well as West Coast time zones being the standard for everyone, only creates frustration. Due to this, I am phasing out my store over the next few months (it expires in July) to sell the bulk of my best pieces elsewhere. I look at it this way - when I'm unhappy with my employer and see no changes on the horizon, I will look for and find a better position. I have been here so long, and faithful to eBay all along; however, I just can't see this in my future and never thought I would actually go through it. I'll take my 50 free per month, but no more store fees. 

by tabalg · Adventurer

I drop off my packages at our local post office in their bin with labels on them so that they can scan them and ship them out later that day, however, I have noticed that the post office doesn't scan the items until 2-3 later and I get a late shipment report. How is that my fault??!! If the post office didn't scan the items it's out of my control. EBAY SHOULD BE READING ALL THESE COMPLAINTS ABOUT SCANNING AND FIND A BETTER METHOD TO RATE SELLERS!!

by forgood2go · Adventurer

There has to be a very concise definition of a "business day". eBay defines a business day as 24 hours Monday through Friday. That is the most current information I received directly from eBay. In theory, there are many times when a 1 day handling time is not an option for a seller. If the clock starts running the second a payment clears and it is 1:00 PDT, you must get the scan within 24 hours. My USPS business day ends at 2:00 PDT. I live on the east coast so based on the above scenario I have 13 hours to get a scan.

PayPal's business day hours are 7:00am-7:00pm E.S.T.


Or maybe I am still just confused...