Thursday, January 28, 2010

eBay Charity Fail

I'm a huge fan of Adam "Ape Lad" Koford's Laugh Out Loud Cats series, as presented on his Hobotopia blog and on Flickr. I've bought several comic panels for myself, joined the "Pip Fan Club" and purchased the available books.

Yesterday, I saw that Adam is auctioning off a Laugh Out Loud Cats panel (#1300) and donating all the proceeds to Haiti earthquake relief. Very Cool.

I checked on the eBay auction and saw that it's already too rich for my blood. The funneling of the proceeds to charity is handled automatically by "eBay Giving Works", which is administered by a third-party called MissionFish. And here is where I see a huge problem. Let me be very clear at the outset - this is NOT a knock at Adam in any way. The eBay page quite prominently says "100% of the final sale price will support Clinton Bush Haiti Fund" But the devil is in the metaphorical asterisk, and we also see "(Small deduction may apply. Learn more)". Seems that MissionFish thinks 20% (or more, in some cases) is "small". OK, that exorbitant percentage does drop off as the selling price goes up, but it's got no business starting where it does. Somebody is getting fat and happy off of people's charitable instincts, and I think this stinks like like a (Mission)fish that's been left on the dock for a few days.

Anyway, I've contacted Adam and I will be making up the difference between the comic panel's selling price and the actual donation made after eBay/MissionFish skims its outrageous fee. If you want to bid, go here. You can also link through from there to the "eBay Giving Works" information.

Of course this brings up an important point - anytime when making a donation, make sure you're aware of how much of the donation actually gets to the intended recipient. This includes not only knowing what percentage of your donation is taken for "administrative costs" but also being that the rest goes to where you intend. The Red Cross got spanked hard on this after 9/11 and cleaned up their act. Seems like eBay/MissionFish should also.

2/11/10 - OK, so I misread the fine print. But in my defense, they sure made it confusing as heck. Because Adam's auction was a private sale, no cut seems to have been taken by eBay/MissionFish. Nevertheless, I tried to compute what I had thought would have been taken, based on their hard to follow formula, and made the donation to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund anyway. It's a win all around, and I'd encourage eBay/MissionFish to make their system about a jillion times clearer, for everybody's sake.


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