Can you name the UK three-day courier that Chinese sellers use?

By Chris Dawson June 21, 2019 - 2:00 pm

eBay have definitely had an impact on location abuse by Chinese sellers… in so far that many have changed their selling strategies. However it’s not perfect as eBay’s UK three-day courier option has left a loop hole that many are still exploiting.

eBay have done well in reducing location abuse. The issue is that there is so much money involved for Chinese Sellers that they’ll do anything they can to find a loop hole. If they can save pennies on each transaction, when this adds up to many tens of thousands of transactions huge sums are involved. Chinese Sellers don’t care if they are following the spirit of the eBay rules or even blatantly breaking the rules. All they care about is what is the lowest cost of doing business on eBay which meets the very minimum of metrics in order to carry on trading.

Is there a three-day courier in the UK?

We’ve checked just about every courier we can think of and there are none to our knowledge that offer a three-day service. Some, like Royal Mail Tracked 48 offer a 2-3 day service but there is no reason not to simply specify the Royal Mail service when selling on eBay rather than describe it as an anonymous three-day service. That is unless you’re deliberately doing so to try and game the system.

Pre-advice used to suggest items have been despatched from the UK

What appears to be happening is that Chinese sellers have to despatch fast and then deliver within three working days. What they are doing is printing a Royal Mail label, saying that they have despatched, uploading the pre-advice to eBay and then overnighting their parcels from China to be inserted into the UK mail system. The pre-advice enables them to claim that they have UK stock and that it’s been despatched on time whereas in reality some Chinese Sellers are still blatant liars and none of their stock is in the UK.

The reason the sellers are able to get away with this is by selecting the three-day courier option on their listings but using a two-day service once their parcels have been flown in from China. They can claim the goods are in the UK and indeed they appear to be despatched on a domestic UK service but the reality is that they are cheating consumers and gaining an unfair advantage over genuine sellers with stock in the UK – their costs are less and they’re delivering within the allotted time frame.

Unless there are some genuine three-day courier services available in the UK, is it time for eBay to remove the ‘three-day other courier’ option or at least to rename it as a ‘two-day other courier’ service? Why have a shipping option that simply doesn’t exist… especially when you know that scamming Chinese Sellers are making use of it for location abuse?

  • JohnR
    2 years ago

    I have in the last year received items via Yodel’s 72hr service. Still no reason to have a loophole for Chinese sellers.

  • Basil
    2 years ago

    So if that was the case, who would pay the import duty and vat on arrival to the UK?

  • Peter King
    2 years ago

    so…. they say they will deliver in three days….. and they deliver in three days.

    I’m not sure what your complaint is

    • jim
      2 years ago

      we were thinking the same as peter king if its delivered within a few days whats the problem
      our main complaint with location abuse is if your not careful you can wait weeks or even months for delivery

    • 2 years ago

      Because the rules are two day despatch three day delivery to stamp out location abuse. They are doing three day despatch with pre advice upload to pretend it’s despatched and two day delivery.

      Speed is fine. Returns. Warranties. Consumer rights. Your hover board burns your house down (yes it happened!)….. forget it. A scamming liar that said they were in the UK but aren’t has left you high and dry.

      Fine if they say they are China based and you decide to buy. Not fine if you are tricked into buying when you intended to trade with a UK merchant.

    • Jim
      2 years ago

      Good points we stand corrected

  • 2 years ago

    My Main issue is with Ebay not promoting sellers who send 1st class. over sellers who send 2nd class.

    How can that be?

    In my opinion Buyers should be able to filter on Sellers who send 1st and 2nd class

    • JohnR
      2 years ago

      Totally agree.

  • Derek Duval
    2 years ago

    @Chris Dawson

    How are the Chinese getting around the location abuse, are they not required to upload a valid RM Tracking number that show the item was dispatched from UK location?

    • 2 years ago

      Day 1 ship from China
      Day 2 Despatch due. Label already produced. Upload pre advice.
      Day 3 item arrives in UK although should have been posted yesterday its posted today
      Day 4/5 item delivered

      There are UK mail houses specialising in offering the receipt and despatch service…. there is one in Basildon who I’ve recieved items from China through that were supposed to be in the UK

    • Jay
      2 years ago

      Just how cheap can an “overnight” service cost directly from China to even achieve this?

      Seems unlikely to be viable for low value, low margin or highly competitive products.

    • Beachbum
      2 years ago

      “Just how cheap can an “overnight” service cost directly from China to even achieve this?

      Seems unlikely to be viable for low value, low margin or highly competitive products.”

      It’s Universal Post Union subsidises that make it cheaper to post from China than the U.K. Items are posted on a per kilo rate and not a per item or size rate. And they can sell VAT free from China

      £6 per kilo = 20 iPhone cases = £0.30 per item VAT free 😬

  • 2 years ago

    @Chris Dawson

    Thank you for that.

    Are Ebay aware of this continued abuse?

  • JoeX
    2 years ago

    You are worrying a problem that doesn’t exist, cn sellers need to delivered their orders within 3 working days, they can’t use the royal mail scan to trick eBay any more. Many got their eBay accounts suspended already so no worries.

  • Julius Oliveti
    2 years ago

    I have been notifying eBay of this item location abuse since late last year. All Chinese sellers have pulled in times from 3 day despatch and 5 day delivery to 2 day despatch and 3 day delivery. They perhaps are not getting 97% on time and so therefore have been losing TRS, however, they are actually now more attractive and therefore its more of an issue.

    On the positive side they have no better scam.

    I have been telling eBay to remove economy 3 day courier option as all these sellers are using RM24 and RM48. Make them use the appropriate service and they will then nosedive to below standard. That means better UK sellers are rising up best match.

  • 2 years ago

    You don’t break postage options to solve item location abuse. You solve item location abuse to solve item location abuse. All you end up with is a more broken ecosystem if you withdraw legitimate options.

    The three-day courier option is extremely useful for many legitimate reasons (and there are several 3-day options), in fact the crime of the postage options is there’s not a “other three-day tracked” courier option since that is the default for the fast/free/premium service on non-cheap items.

    You might also offer a 3-day service as you have a two-day service but know that ebay will punish you if they fail to meet their promises (we could talk about whether the culture of underpromising is what is expected / desirable). You might like the “other” rather than the named service as you might not know which courier will be used until the package is packed (how many items in the order? UK but is it NI / Highlands? Does it contain any hazardous items?)

    The courier market evolves faster than ebay shipping options and the associated listing tools and legacy inventory. Offers made to customers should be clear, and eBay’s job is to allow sellers to present every legitimate offer on the planet to buyers. That means increasing options while maintaining simplicity for the buyer. Delivery date is the thing that matters — whether the item is coming from China or Chipping Norton.

  • Julius Oliveti
    2 years ago

    I understand what you are saying but I was referring to accounts where the seller is based overseas i.e China. For those accounts other courier 3 day should be prohibited

  • Andy
    2 years ago

    A package I received recently from a Chinese seller claiming to have UK stock, had a Royal Mail 48 label. But there was a tiny “Sinotrans” logo printed on it also (the largest logistics company in China) and a customs label still stuck on the other side.

    The return address was just a unit number and postcode, put it led to Ecommerce Transhipment Solution Ltd in Manchester. A UK company whose website is in Chinese only. . Clearly they specialize in this kind of mail forwarding for Chinese companies.

    If a seller says their item is in the UK when it is not, then it’s false advertising and dishonesty. I don’t want to buy from businesses who lie.

  • Mark
    2 years ago

    You would be better off highlighting the change to Amazons Seller Fulfilled prime.

    Now you have to buy all labels as next day at crazy prices even when a buyer chooses 2 day shipping option.
    We have removed loads of items from the SFP system after their response was.

    Increase your prices to take this into account.
    I said is that why you keep telling me to lower my prices in weekly emails to sell more of the items that are slow sellers.

    But the best one was a customer was refunded because they did not get their item as it was attempted and then not collected by them so after the holding time returned to us. Amazon just refunded automatically.
    When i rang them and said its not our fault they said yes it is you shipped it next day 24 and the customer had selected 2 day so maybe were not expecting it.

    So what is that all about surely 1 day means 1 day and 2 day means 2 day so why remove the option to buy the labels.

    Oh i get it more money for Amazon.

  • Julius Oliveti
    2 years ago

    The only way to check if an item is based in the UK on eBay is to filter by click and collect.

    • 2 years ago

      Gets rid of some, but not all.

      I tried this method and searched for something I’d bought previously, which came from a chinese location abuser. This filtered them out of the results along with many others, but this just changed the top listing in so-called “best match” to a seller stating Manchester as the item location, with a 3 day economy shipping other courier service and a 1 week delivery time.

      They only have a few hundred feedback but already have negatives warning they ship from China. Selecting UK only and click and collect simply means it’s straight to the top of the listings for this bad boy and no need to sponsor.

      It’s sad to see ebay harming the platform by failing to take adequate steps.

  • 2 years ago

    I purchased a phone cover from Funky Accessories on eBay, they claim to be in Watford Business Park, Watford but my delivery will not arrive until next Monday. They use “Economy Delivery (Other Courier 5 days)”.

    My item has been updated to been dispatched today.

    Not in a hurry could not care less how long it takes but I am guessing not all is what it seems.

    • ifellow
      2 years ago

      If you look at the first name registered on the account, says it all.

      PS Sounds like cheaten !


    • 2 years ago

      Using google maps, I found their address and can see that they’re listed on the information board which shows the companies in the building. That alone says they’re genuine, and while they’ve a lot of neg feedback, I didn’t see any mentioning shipping from China, which you always get with location abusers.

    • 2 years ago

      @Gav Using Google My Business I could be listed anywhere in the world. There is no mention of shipping from China but not sure there would be if they are pretending to be in the UK.

      But as it was marked as despatched today what courier takes a 5 days
      to deliver? Ad if you were based in the UK why would you be using such a slow service?

      My guess is that it will arrive by Royal Mail as things from china usually do.

      Like I said, not a problem as I am not in a hurry for a new phone cover despite what my friends keep telling me….

    • 2 years ago


      While spoofing an address is easy enough online, going to the length of having the company name placed on a sign outside the actual premises, is a length a chinese location abuser is unlikely to go to. Seriously, go on google maps, find the address, zoom in to street level and you’ll see the sign I’m talking about. Everything points to the address and details as being a legit UK based business.

      Why would they put 5 days for delivery? Well, some UK sellers add on more time than is needed but then use a faster service, trying to avoid negatives and late delivery defects. It’d be my guess that they’re not using a 5 day service at all, but if they’re smart, RM48. It would be the best option by far for things like mobile phone accessories, which could be sent large letter, under 100g, with delivery confirmation. Is anybody else doing that for less than 70p?

    • 2 years ago

      @Gav Thanks for the detective work, not sure I would bother going to those lengths over a £6 phone cover.

      I am sure you are right, they are a bona fide UK business, but I just noticed on their listings that they sell a – Permanent Ultra Violet S?curit? Propri?t? Marqueur Stylo Invisible UV Encre for EUR 2.34.

      The Item location:Watford Business Park, Watford, United Kingdom, but they also say “Doesn’t post to United Kingdom”

      So something does not seem right.

      What it does show though is that despite eBay saying how quick people want stuff they seem to be doing very well on a slow delivery service.

  • Rick
    2 years ago

    Don’t forget they use Chinese students who study in the UK to fulfil their orders

  • 2 years ago


    As a Buyer does it not bother you that the seller is lying about item location.

    I know for me I wanted to return an item but found out later it needed to be returned to China not Manchester as per item location.
    I very wary about buying on Ebay

    • 2 years ago

      @Derek Duval Not really, not sure what the rules are over returning items outside of a location that a seller claims to be in, would have thought there was an argument there if they have misrepresented their location.

      This is a £6.00 phone cover that I was not in a hurry for and unlikely would need to return. If it had been for a more expensive item I may not have chosen this seller..

  • JB
    2 years ago

    We use DX Freight and their service is classed as 3 day.

  • Will
    2 years ago

    I have items shipped from China which arrived within 8-10 days to UK then resell on Ebay. Some Chinese sellers are super fast at shipping.

  • james
    2 years ago

    Sorry, what’s the problem again?

    Pretty sure i’ve seen articles on this very website lauding the modern “just-in-time” worldwide delivery ethos. sounds like the Chinese have just bloody well nailed that.

    Are we even sure this is location abuse? Overnighting parcels from China doesn’t sound practical or feasible. if they are doing so succesfully en masse, well, congratulations! it’s not really location abuse it’s a fast supply chain.

    I bought from someone in the UK on ebay, it was shipped from the UK by Royal Mail in the times stated. i really don’t care how or when they imported their stock to the UK, even if it was yesterday it’s utterly irrelevent. if i need to return an item bought on ebay then i’ll return it through ebay to a UK address and get a refund.

    There may be a tax concern, that’s not going to be solving by removing useful postage options, and it’s not really ebay’s concern either.

    So what’s the problem?

    • Julius
      2 years ago

      There is a tax concern as the items are stating in the UK. They are not.
      If you claim back the VAT as a business you are breaking the law

    • 2 years ago

      Maybe you don’t care, but a lot buyers do.

      They don’t like being lied to, just as a matter of principle.

      They don’t like it when items turn up late, which happens much more often when buying from a Chinese location abuser. (“just-in-time” delivery has certainly not been nailed)

      They don’t like it when they need to make a return, are given an address in China, get the runaround from the seller and have to get ebay CS involved before they can get their money back.

      Ebay is concerned, as they’ll be losing out when buyers buy less, or completely switch to other platforms as a result of these poor shopping experiences. They’ve tried to stamp down on the practice, but they didn’t go far enough and aren’t policing their site properly. If they want to stop the rot, they need to do more.

  • Trumpton
    2 years ago

    Why is everyone moaning about whether the Chinese are trying to abuse the delivery system!?!?

    They get around TRS, Delivery times, or any other way us UK sellers are supposed to have an advantage over foreign Sellers, by whacking up the “Promoted Listing” percentage. They don’t care if they pay a lot extra on fees. The percentage extra they pay in fees to Ebay is probably still less than if they were selling wholesale to a UK Buyer.

    Ebay don’t care because they are now earning an extra 15 to 30 percent in fees from the Chinese Sellers.

    That’s the problem

  • 2 years ago

    Being a seller my suspicious nature of a long delivery date implied that the item was not located in the UK as advertised.

    The item being a £6.00 phone cover with absolutely no urgency meant I did not care that it was going to take a week to be delivered.

    The item was posted on Monday and arrived today by Royal Mail post.

    Bottom line is that we only read / hear about “supposed” problems with Chinese sellers on this forum, had I have been your average “Joe Punter” I would not have given it a second thought. It was the right price for what I wanted, delivery time not being important.

    The only downside was it was Black and not Red, but then they only did it in Black or Brown, so just goes to show,m you can’t please everybody.

    • 2 years ago


      The issue is if you need to return it you will be forced to pay for return postage to China which is not cheap.
      If you dont believe me try it. I have been burned by this situation 3 times

    • 2 years ago

      @ DEREK duval Why would I?

      What experience have you had with doing that?

      What did eBay say about the situation?

      What did Paypal say about that?

      What is the law regarding that situation?

  • Truth hurts
    2 years ago

    There is no overnight shipping from China to uk in bulk. Dhl and ups do it best in 48 hours. Most of these companies are not based in Shenzhen or close to airports that connect goods quickly. There are many factories and middle men that face waiting 2 days for their goods to arrive in Shenzhen/ Hong Kong before being ready to ship. Rumour has it Royal Mail just like usps are buying these contracts to offer such delivery. I’ve had tracked 48 from China come in about 5 days no tax no duty it’s royal Mail and parcelforce who assist them with this. It’s time we are told the truth and given some recourse to make the playing field even again

  • Julius Oliveti
    2 years ago

    I have just received this curious message from my supplier in china:

    By the way ,as my news,seems many Chinese sellers have ebay and Amazon store on UK and Europe site,as i known,looks like a lot of profit
    and sales is good,the parcles sent from China directly,these sales have not stock actually,in China have a website for supply many kind of items to
    these sales,also this website provide a software to help the sales post these items to Ebay and Amazon,this websit support different language,if the sales have a ebay store on UK site,they can choose English and then post,it is very easy,also the sales no need send the goods by themself,
    this website can synchronizes your ebay and amazon orders,then this website will send the goods to this customer,so the sales have not stocks and shipping company,the only need post the items to Ebay and Amazon,but i dont know this website name,as your news,do you know it?

    It appears that there is some kind of dropshipping service and website in China, which uses centralised stock in HK and they create eBay listings (this is why there are so many virtually identical ones) and when someone orders they press a button and the stock is sent. I have been thinking the only way they can get the stock to the UK is collate their daily orders, send them on a plane, then get it into RM’s system this end. What I couldn’t fathom is how it could be economically viable.

    Basically there are vast warehouses and many thousands of sellers get orders, they are all collated by the system, postage is bought from RM (pre-advice), but not manifested until a couple of days later. The orders from the central warehouse are sent via plane to the UK and arrive on day 3, then sent via RM to arrive on day 5. This is how they are managing to still get items to UK customers in 5 working days. If eBay found these sellers using economy 3 day service when actually its RM48 and they can see the postage has been bought but then the item doesn’t move for several days this is what’s happening. I am at the forefront as my products are fast selling low value items, but as this service grows then it will severely hamper all UK sellers to the detriment of eBay (see this eBay discussion)

    The last 2 pages are the most relevant. eBay buyers are starting to leave due to this issue.

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