Selling items on eBay to make a profit. Is it ever wrong?



Paul Cummins’ installation of  888,246 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London to mark the centenary of Britain’s involvement in the First World War has been a runaway success.

Each poppy represents a British or colonial military fatality during the Great War. The poppies sold for £25 each, plus £5.95 for postage, and 10 per cent from each plus all net profits will be divided between six service charities; The Royal British Legion, SSAFA, Combat Stress, Help for Heroes, Coming Home and Cobseo. The poppies first appeared in August and were sold out by October 17.

Then last week, after ads like the one above, selling these poppies for £65 + £9.99 postage and February delivery, eBay announced that they would prevent the sale of these poppies on eBay, stating:

‘We are not permitting resale of the limited edition Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red ceramic poppies on eBay. 

‘Any listings attempting to sell these items will be cancelled before any sale takes place.

‘Our marketplace is not an appropriate venue for the limited edition ceramic poppies in view of the significance of each individual poppy as a memorial to an individual British military fatality.’

He also said ‘pre-sale’ listings are not permitted on the site so the listings would have been removed in due course anyway.

I watch this happening every time there is an H and M/Target/Topshop collaboration. Or when celebrities sell their clothes at Oxfam, as the Beckhams did recently. People buy just to sell at highly inflated prices. For me it is mildly irritating when it happens at chain stores because the items sell our really quickly as so many people buy shedloads to sell. Even when a shop restrict purchases to one item in each size only, people just go from branch to branch to buy as much as possible. And the prices they resell at are ridiculous. A designer suit worn by David Beckham was bought for about £250 at Oxfam and put straight up on eBay for about five times the price.

But for me it is so much more annoying when people do it with charity items. Some people argue that charities should charge more to begin with, but they probably want it to be affordable for everyone. Or people argue that charities should sell their items on eBay or other auction sites so that they can make more money. But that would exclude people who don’t have internet or the money to pay premium prices. And in the case of the poppies, I have a feeling that many of the people who wish to buy and who feel the significance of the event are older and maybe do not have much money to spare. Or an internet connection.

On the plus side though, I guess resales on eBay would allow people who missed out to buy the poppies. But at a hugely inflated price, sadly. The seller above had several of these items for sale, ranging from £49 to £65 (probably trying to see at which price range they would sell fastest) and all at £9.99 postage so I am guessing that there was no limit to the number of poppies one person could buy, which is also a bit of a pity, unless you wanted to buy one for members of friends and family or have a whole bunch of them in a vase.


Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

6 thoughts

  1. My mother ordered two in the summer, one for my sister and I for Christmas. Whilst we haven’t received them yet, I would never dream of selling it – far too special and significant. Hopefully people who choose to sell them are in the minority, and well done Ebay for banning the sale of them.

    1. They were sold online for £25 each and all sold out by mid-October. As they are being removed now they are being cleaned and shipped to their owners. The money from the poppies went to charity.

  2. I don’t know about *wrong*… for something like this it is certainly distasteful. I think eBay did the right thing in banning the sale of these commemorative poppies but I also think it quite likely that people who have bought multiples with speculative reselling in mind will probably find a way to resell them anyway. Ultimately, in modern society, everything seems to have a price… and there are far too many who know the price of everything but understand the value of nothing.

  3. I agree Janet. We would have liked to buy one of the poppies as my partner’s great uncle was killed in WW1 but they were sold out. It’s the same as concert ticket sales being touted for huge mark-ups.

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