I don’t understand people

DMZ · August 31, 2004 at 3:06 am · Filed Under Off-topic ranting 

I put a link up for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Lance Armstrong and I both ride bikes and wear those little yellow wristbands, and between the two of us we’ve won six Tour de France races. I think it’s a fine cause, and I encourage everyone to check it out.

But less importantly.. on the wristbands. There are these yellow silicone rubber bracelets you can buy (for $1) and wear to support the foundation. The foundation is selling them as part of their drive to raise $5 million dollars. You may have seen a lot of them during the Olympics (I think swimmer Michael Klim had one out of the water, women’s beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh wears one, among many others).

People are buying these things 2 for $15 and up, plus shipping, on eBay. Not for an item — for a pre-order where the seller’s not even certain about when they expect to get any (“These are Pre sale items. I just contacted the foundation and should expect to receive this shipment the week of September 10th.”).

You could, for the same price, buy two from the foundation for $2 and donate $20, tax deductable, get them at the same time and help people survive cancer instead of giving that $20 to some dude who’s going to spend it on uh… supporting murder in the third world. And as the LAF site points out, there are side issues around reselling.

I don’t expect eBay to crack down on this, though… I feel like it’d be nice if they did. But realistically, they sell all kinds of crazy illegal crap and as long as they get their cut they’ve never seemed particularly interested in shutting down auctions unless they’ve been visited by a plague of well-funded lawyers.

But what I don’t understand — do people want these things so badly that they’ll pay more to not get it? Are they just not reading the fine print? Isn’t the whole point of the exercise to do something worthwhile, and doesn’t craving them for fashion items dodge that? If you could counterfeit a receipt from the Humane Society, what kind of a person would do that and go around to people bragging about how generous they are?


7 Responses to “I don’t understand people”

  1. Aaron C. on August 31st, 2004 7:05 am

    Don’t be so quick to dismiss the eBay gestapo. If someone reports shenanigans (such as the shameless bracelet reselling) on an auction sale, they’re usually quick to respond. They have a link to report such chicanery, so I’d say send ’em a note. In fact, I think I might send ’em one right now. Strength in numbers, and all that rot…

  2. Evan on August 31st, 2004 9:26 am

    eBay has always been quick to shut down auctions when Sony tells them to (Sony doesn’t like the sale of virtual goods). Surely other organisations can stop eBay selling things without a host of lawyers.

  3. DMZ on August 31st, 2004 9:50 am

    For instance, eBay contains a ton of pirated DVDs, particularly for shows not out on DVD. Take “The Tick” for one example (I know someone who accidentally bought a set of these) — you can’t legitimately buy the animated series, but if you search eBay for it, you’ll find many examples , some of which (like the second one) flat out admit they’re not licensed.

    Now, I don’t expect eBay to stop every auction, but… this stuff is aaaalll over the place.

  4. Jordan on August 31st, 2004 10:57 am

    Not to play Devil’s Advocate,

    But couldn’t E-bay just place a disclaimer (“Buy and sell at your own risk.” or “E-Bay does not guarantee the legality of every item it its auctions.”)?

    I don’t mean to sound like I support the people who sell illegal things on E-bay. I agree (especially in the bracelet scenario) that these acts are immoral, but I do not see it as E-bay’s responsibility to police each of their thousands of auctions to ensure that each transaction is legal.

    However, if people bring particular auctions to their attention that are illegal, however, it is in their best interests (business- or other-wise) to shut these auctions down.

  5. Ralph Malph on August 31st, 2004 11:31 am

    They may not have a duty to shut down illegal/deceptive/offensive auctions, but they certainly do so aggressively. Why don’t all of us complain about these and see what they do?

  6. DMZ on August 31st, 2004 11:41 am

    eBay does have a ‘buy at your own risk’ policy, but they also have a huge list of prohibited items you can’t sell… like unauthorized copies of television shows, which are all over the place. So that’s that.

  7. adam on August 31st, 2004 2:37 pm

    I once saw someone buy an XBOX ‘BOX’ for 300+, and it said very very clearly in the description that it was just a box….so nothing surprises me on Ebay.