Wednesday, January 05, 2005

eBay Shuts Down Ultima Online Charity Auctions

Slashdot showed me this FileFront article.

The idea was to collect gold in UO, either by in-game sales or donations, and then resell that gold on eBay. The resulting money would then be donated to the Red Cross for their tsunami relief efforts.
“Crazy” Joe Harden started his eBay auctions with the best of intentions, giving all the proceeds to the Red Cross for the tsunami disaster relief. Unfortunately, his plans went awry because of eBay’s safeguards.

“One-third to half of the auctions had bids on them,” the Stratics forum administrator said. “I was sitting on roughly $1500.”

The auctions were for in-game gold in Ultima Online. What Harden did was set up places within Ultima Online where players could come and either buy “junk,” as he called it, or simply donate gold to be auctioned off on eBay. After setting up 43 auctions, things were running smoothly until eBay pulled every single one of them off of their site.

“What we don't allow is for a regular individual to hold auctions in the name of charities,” Chris Donlay, eBay spokesperson, said. “There's no guarantee then that the individual is going to send them [the proceeds].”
Basically, Harden failed to follow express eBay policy regarding private management of "charitable" auctions. So eBay pulled the auctions.
What this means for Harden is resubmitting all of the auctions over again, but this time deleting any references to the Red Cross, or his own site which mentions the fact that his proceeds are going to go to charitable causes. “I purposely left a few tidbits in the very vague "new" auctions that hopefully will perk some eyebrows and buyers can investigate why this Auction mentions my name, the Tsunami, and Stratics,” he said.

Despite this setback, Harden was surprised and delighted at the success of his efforts. He said when he thought of the idea on New Year’s Eve while finishing up some accounting work, he never thought it would get so big.

“If I received $500, I would be speechless—if $1,000 I would… how to put it eloquently... "Crap Bricks,” he said.
Hey, I give the guy a lot of credit. This is an excellent and novel way to raise money for a wonderful cause. Personally, I like how it integrates MMORPGs with a real world cause, allowing the former to help support the latter. Very nicely done.