Selling by mail is a good idea

Purchase from private

The German Civil Code (BGB) provides clear rules for so-called sales by mail: If the seller sends the sold item at the buyer's request, the shipping risk is transferred to the buyer as soon as the seller has handed the item over to the courier service or post office (Section 447 BGB). In other words: If the seller - as on eBay - is to ship the item, the buyer bears the shipping risk.

Purchase from the dealer

If an online purchase is not made between two private individuals but between an entrepreneur and a consumer, different rules apply. It is then a so-called purchase of consumer goods (§ 474 BGB), in which the provision on sales by mail (§ 447 BGB) does not apply.

In this case, the seller always bears the shipping risk. He must therefore make an insured shipment or live with the risk. Incidentally, it is a matter of mandatory law that cannot be changed by agreements between the contractual partners. If the supply side contains statements such as "Shipping costs: uninsured € 2.20, insured: € 6.50", the commercial seller bears the shipping risk in both cases.

The seller (also the private one) must ensure that the item is properly and securely packaged as part of his secondary obligations under the purchase contract. As a private seller, you are not liable for transport damage. However, if the packaging is unsafe, you can still claim damages. In the case of technical devices, the shipping instructions in the operating instructions should be strictly observed (e.g. use of transport locks, safety screws, etc.).

Shipping costs for internet auctions

On eBay, the shipping costs are usually borne by the recipient. They are specified on the supply page. As a buyer, you can partially choose whether you want insured or uninsured shipping, shipping by post or a courier service. The seller can also add a small packaging flat rate to the shipping costs - after all, the goods should be well padded and arrive undamaged. And the seller also has to bring them to the dispatch point.

Sales offers with excessive shipping costs are to be assessed as dubious. The seller wants to earn a lot from shipping. For example, worthless goods are sometimes offered for enormous shipping costs - or in some cases even just an empty box (original packaging of a device). In these cases: You should read offers carefully before bidding. If the offer expressly states that it is only about an empty box, you have hardly any legal options. Then you should stay away from this offer.

Before commissioning a shipping company, a price comparison can be worthwhile. You should note that the providers differ in the assessment criteria. Partly the weight of the package is decisive, partly its external dimensions. If you don't send the parcel in a mail order shop, but print out an online parcel label yourself, you can save costs. You can find more information on the providers' websites.

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