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June 16, 2005updated 19 Aug 2016 10:11am

Why Geldof Shouldn’t Blame eBay

Sir Bob Geldof described eBay's actions as "despicable", for allowing people who received the tickets to the forthcoming Live 8 concert in Hyde Park to try and sell them to the highest bidder at the online auction site. EBay has now

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Sir Bob Geldof described eBay’s actions as "despicable", for allowing people who received the tickets to the forthcoming Live 8 concert in Hyde Park to try and sell them to the highest bidder at the online auction site. EBay has now capitulated, and agreed to prevent any more tickets being put up for auction.

But the tickets will be bought and sold one way or another. It is inevitable that some of those who received them in the text lottery, mindful of their potential value, will look to sell them on. And it was Geldof who created the discrepancy between the cost of acquiring them in the text lottery and their actual market value, not eBay.

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Thanks to Geldof’s outrage at their appearance on eBay, people won’t be able to auction them at that particular site any more. Perhaps that’s a good thing: I agree entirely that it would be pretty murky to have been able to watch the bids steadily rise into the stratosphere when the event is supposed to be for charity.

But how will those tickets change hands now? After all, it’s not illegal to sell them, though I agree it’s morally reprehensible if it’s purely with the intention of making a quick buck. Will we not now see tickets being frantically traded outside the stadium on the day, in the full glare of the world’s media? Or might we see tickets changing hands in pubs, or at car boot fairs?

It seems to me the only way to stop people selling the tickets on would have been if they had been sold in an online auction in the first place. Had Live 8 put the tickets into an online auction, with the proceeds from the winning bids going to the charity, then there would not be the discrepancy between the acquisition cost of the ticket and its market value. Live 8 would probably have raised even more money, too.

Admittedly, the drawback is that the concert would then be attended by those with deep pockets. On the other hand, is there anything really wrong with taking huge amounts of money off the richer people in the land, if it more than pays for the concert that everyone else would simply have to watch on telly instead? Perhaps it is the richest who should be giving most money to this cause, instead of even the richest getting a ticket to the concert for the price of a text message, just like everyone else.

Anyway, eBay is an online auction site, not our social conscience, and I would rather know that some tickets were changing hands on eBay than see an even bigger scrum of ticket touts at or near to the park on the day.

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