EBay Ends ‘Auction for America’ Well Short of Goal

EBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) has stopped taking listings for its Auction for America, an ambitious plan to raise US$100 million to aid victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks, and is likely to fall well short of its goal.

EBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove told the E-Commerce Times that as of Thursday, approximately $7 million has been raised through the benefit auction. That includes a $1 million donation that EBay made to launch the charity effort in mid-September.

Pursglove said items are no longer being accepted for listing on the charity auction, but noted that many sellers listed items for sale just before the December 25th deadline, meaning it will be early next year before a final tally is available.

“Items listed before that date will be allowed to run their normal course,” Pursglove said.

Quick Action

The original plan, announced by EBay CEO Meg Whitman a few days after the terrorist attacks, called for EBay to raise $100 million in 100 days for six different charities set up to aid September 11th victims.

The effort was launched with the blessings of the governor and mayor of New York, and several corporate partners, including VISA, MasterCard and Discover, agreed to waive all fees connected with sales through the auction. In addition to its own donation, EBay waived all listing fees for the effort.

“This is something we have to do,” Whitman said at the time.

Help from Friends

Corporations and celebrities pitched in to help as well, with George Lucas donating Star Wars items and AOL Time Warner (NYSE: AOL), Burger King, Starbucks and the U.S. Postal Service all contributing items or services.

In setting up the auction, EBay was one of several e-commerce firms to mobilize its user base to help raise funds.

But from the start, the auction had its share of critics, including some EBay sellers who likened the effort to a publicity stunt and feared the charity sale would detract from their own earnings during the crucial holiday season.

Still Going

As of Friday morning, dozens of items were still on sale on the auction page, though most were small-ticket products. The Auction for America logo has been removed from the EBay front page, where it had been a fixture for several weeks, however.

As the charity auction lapses, EBay has also lifted its ban on items related to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. That ban went into effect just hours after the planes hit the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagonin Washington, D.C.

Later, EBay modified its ban and allowed some items related to those two sites into the benefit auction. EBay said it will continue to monitor items and remove those it deems offensive.

3 Comments

  • I sell on eBay (a “Powerseller,” no less) and observed this “auction for eBay” (NOT America, or anyone else) firsthand. Bottom line – it was purely a greedy move to add new users of their spectacularly unsuccessful auction payment business, Billpoint (renamed something else now, it has such a horrid reputation). They required that sellers of donated merchandise accept Billpoint ONLY, in full light of the fact that around 70 percent of credit card sales on eBay are through PayPal. Had they allowed Paypal payments, they would have done some victims some real good. But since they were not doing it for the victims, but for themselves ONLY, they embarrassed themselves. They have only themselves to blame. Greedy, short-sighted monopolists shooting themselves in their collective feet.

    • Any tax placed on a corporation will be paid by the consumer. Raise taxes on the corporation and You will really be raising taxes on the public. The real solution is getting rid of nonsensical and wasteful government offices that are merely in existence to collect money to pay their workers. Shuffling papers from one desk to another in an endless circle and calling that work is a crime to the taxpaying public.

      However, this story is not about taxes. It is about a corporation attempting to gather funds to help people.

      The question I have had concerning the Auction for America is where will the money end up?

      The Red Cross and United Way are already “NOT” sending the money to the intended recipients. People donated funds in good faith hoping to help their fellow Americans. The corporate combine may find ways to thwart the will of the people if they are not carefully watched and have their feet held to the fire.

  • Corporation are not chariable organizations and cannot function as such. It is more efficient and effective to TAX corporation for society to obtain the money it needs to function.

    Since the 1950’s corporate share of taxes has dropped from 25% of receipts to a mere 10%. Clearly tax breaks has not been translated to the benefit for most people in the society but for the benefit of corporate executives and wealthy shareholders.

    “Charitable contribution” are a tax break for corporations and is used as rhetorical “giving” while billons of tax expenditures are giving to them. If you want corporation to really contribute to society TAX them.

    WB

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