I saw an item on eBay today with the restriction:

No shipping to Italy

I was a bit surprised: Italy’s a major developed nation, and an old EU member. Are there a lot of fraudsters there? What bad experience had prompted the vendor to impose such a restriction? But the very next item I came across had a similar notice:

We do not ship to ITALY, South Africa, South America, Russia and Middle East unless buyers from the above country CHOOSE AND PAY the optional insurance.

Now I was intrigued. Searching ebay.co.uk for ‘we do not ship to Italy’ yields over 16,000 pages! Here are a few samples:

We do not ship to Italy UNLESS all buyers from Italy agree to receive their ordered items LATE. As far as we are selling, it takes over one month to Italy.

Sorry, we do NOT ship to Italy & Guam.

We do not ship to Italy, Brazil


we do not ship to Italy and Germany


Sorry. We do not ship to Italy. Spiacente. Non spediamo in Italia.

So then I searched for the Italian expression, which led me to an article on la Repubblica’s website from over a year ago, entitled (roughly) ‘Your postal system does not work’: eBay vendors won’t sell to Italians. I’ve translated some passages:

In summary, we’re considered the black sheep of the world of e-commerce. And it’s all the fault—according to the sellers—of our postal system. On eBay the clause ‘do not ship to italy’ is present in over 37,000 listings: for France, there are 3,000 listings with the same words, for Spain a little over 700, and almost none for England. There are 10,000 ebayers who won’t send to Germany, but in this case it’s due to stringent import regulations, whilst in Italy the reported problem is always the inefficiency of shipment.

‘I’ve been sending to 89 countries for eight years,’ writes one user with over 22,000 sales. ‘In 88 countries I’ve had a good outcome in 100% of shipments, and only in one, Italy, is the success rate 47%.’ Every vendor I’ve contacted has confirmed this: in Italy, packets arrive late or not at all, and buyers demand refunds or report sellers as unreliable. ‘Italians are forever telling me that they haven’t received the packages I’ve sent. I’ve lost hundreds of dollars dealing with customers in Italy; I can’t continue like this …’ says a vendor in Delaware. Ben also repeated the cliché of the Italian crook: ‘Many packages of value that I’ve sent to Italy never arrived. I don’t know if it’s true, but asking on an internet forum I was told that your postal service is corrupt and that the employees open parcels and steal them.’

And to think that I complain about Royal Mail!