As if by magic a follow up appeared. Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post comes a cast-iron example of what I was talking about.

The ebay fiasco today is another example of direct action versus smokescreening. Initially ebay posted a notice claiming that they did not see anything wrong with people selling their Live8 tickets on the site and that the company would be making a contribution of the charges levied on the auctions in question to charity. They did not elaborate on the details of this contribution. Naturally the auctions started going up with all the “I’ll going to be at a wedding so I won’t be abble to go.” So how many weddings do you know where they only send out the invitations 3 fucking weeks before the event eh? It was all so bloody obvious but sadly very unsurprising.

During the day the discussions board was awash with those vehemently opposed to the sale and those who felt there was nothing wrong with it. In the afternoon many people decided to take action into their own hands and bids of £9/10,000,000 and the like were being placed on all the listings of tickets. On the Channel 4 news it was reported that ebay were going to pull the listings and an interview with Bob Geldof showed that Sir Bob was somewhat enraged by the whole thing and was calling on hackers to bring down the site. At 7.34pm ebay issued the following announcement:

Today you have made it very clear to us that our previous decision to allow the sale of LIVE 8 tickets on was not one that the vast majority of you agreed with. As a result of this clear signal from the Community we have decided to prohibit the resale of LIVE 8 tickets on the site.

Although the resale of tickets is not illegal, we think that this is absolutely the right thing to do. We have listened to the views you expressed on the discussion boards and in the many emails you have sent to us. We shall be working over the next few hours to remove all LIVE 8 ticket listings from the site.

Thanks for taking the time to contact us and make your views heard, It was signed by Doug McCallum MD of ebay UK.

What this message neglected to mention was the fact that those responsible for the outlandish bids who were effectively directly responsible for forcing ebay’s hand had been suspended throughout the day. It is as yet not clear where the membership of these users stands. One must also consider that ebay are acting retrospectively in this matter. They have not done anything about those Buy it Now listings or listings closed early and no reference has been made to what is happening to any ebay fees incurred for these. If you were unaware of what had been going on during the day you might be forgiven for thinking that ebay have acted benignly and responded to user requests etc. This of course does not explain the whole story at all and is another example of that selective marketing that companies use to try to put a positive spin on what is in reality an example of them being racketeers.

Ebay had no choice as to their actions today, they were exposed as complicit in the profiteering from a charitable enterprise and due to tthe action of certain progressive and inventive users not to mention the adverse media coverage they sought a damage limitation exercise. By midnight on the 14th all listings had been removed of tickets but there were still plenty of sales of white bands for the Make Poverty History campaign, no information has been forthcoming as to whether ebay will donate any of this money to the charity. Furthermore the profiteers are still there, attempting to sell domain names etc. for Live8, and these practices since they have not attracted the same attention remain in line with the ebay policy.

Do not forget ebay have done this due to the disgust of many users and their subsequent action, not because they care, they are a business and had there not been the uproar there is no question they would have allowed the sales to take place and made a profit on the fees as a result. Capitalism eh, does exactly wat it says on the tin!

Song Of The Day ~ Robert Cray Band – Consequences

Original Comments:

baracuda made this comment,
There was a lad on the radio earlier saying that ebay is the biggest black market in the World, which is true. However, if you stop Ebay selling Live8 tickets, why not stop them selling all concert tickets? If I bought a U2 ticket for £50 and sold it on Ebay for £300, then that’s fine, a nice little earner. But if I spend £1.50 on a text and win a Live8 ticket, it’s wrong to sell that? Live8 got their £1.50. Whether the person who spent that money goes or not makes no difference to Live8 or to Make Poverty History, they won’t be getting anymore money no matter what. I don’t think people should be selling tickets for Live8 on Ebay, but i don’t think tickets should be sold for above face value fullstop. But I get your point, Ebay have accted very poorly, especially as they announced weeks ago that they wouldn’t allow Live8 tickets to be sold.
Redbaron responds – Ah, now you make a very good point here regarding whether or not tickets should be sold at face value at all, I agree with you that they should not. To take the U2 example as a case in point I saw before the actual dates were announced that places were selling U2 tickets for around £150. I then found out face value was around £45 and that members got a 1 day advance sales opportunity. 1 years membership = £15 so I joined up and got my ticket. I could have bought 4 tickets and sold them on ebay for doubtless a large profit which would have eased my bank balance to be sure but then I’d be a hypocrite. The question about the Live8 tickets was that it was clear from the outset that many people only texted to get tickets with the express intention of selling them on at a profit, ebay is not to blame for that simply for providing a market for the immoral money-grabbing bastards!

comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-15 03:22:53’} GMT+01

Mark Ellott made this comment,
Given that there is nothing that I am aware of in eBay’s terms and conditions limiting the resale of tickets, what they were doing was perfectly legal. They are simply a conduit and one uses it with that in mind. If ever there was a need for caveat emptor, this is it.
As I understand it, the tickets are marked as non-transferable. How that would be policed remains a mystery. If anyone is guilty of racketeering it is those who applied for them fully intending to make a profit from resale. If eBay are to be criticised, it is for being tardy in responding to the will of its customers – not having anticipated the phenomenon in advance. Of course, you could criticise them for that; it was foreseeable, after all.

Redbaron responds – It’s true there is no specific legal reason therein lies the problem it’s one of those tricky areas where you know morally it’s pretty suss but companies make lots of money by doing that – that’s the nature of the system we live in. My main beef with ebay was the way they attempted to give the impression that they were all humble etc. when actually they left things going long enough to make a fair amount of both money and publicity out of it.

comment added :: {ts ‘2005-06-16 13:21:53’} GMT+01 ::