eBay bans sale of Live8 tickets after 'electronic pimp' accusation

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The Independent Online

The internet auction service eBay has banned the sale of tickets for the Live8 concert in London after being accused by Bob Geldof of acting as an "electronic pimp" by allowing transactions.

The internet auction service eBay has banned the sale of tickets for the Live8 concert in London after being accused by Bob Geldof of acting as an "electronic pimp" by allowing transactions.

The Government had also stepped into the row by writing to the California-based company, which last year made a profit of £430m, asking for the removal of listings of tickets for the concert to highlight poverty in Africa. James Purnell, a Culture minister, said: "I wholeheartedly share the concert organisers' deep annoyance that some of these tickets appear to be changing hands for many thousands of pounds."

EBay said: "We have listened to eBay's community of users and the message has been clear. They do not want the tickets to be resold on the site. Once we are made aware of any Live8 tickets being resold, they will be taken down."

Geldof, the organiser of Live8, urged opponents of the auctions to make "impossible" bids of £300m to stop the tickets being sold and at 7pm last night, with tickets still on the site, bids in excess of £1bn were seen, despite a warning from eBay that hoax bidders would be banned indefinitely from the site. Geldof had led a furious response to the California-based company's refusal to stop winners of a ticket lottery profiteering by selling them for an estimated price of up to £1,000 a pair. More than 120 pairs of tickets, whose owners received them in return for a £1.50 text message, were being offered.

Geldof admitted it was legal to sell the tickets, but accused eBay of being disingenuous by offering to donate the equivalent of the fees it collects from the sales to Live8. On a sale of £1,000, this amounts to £29.10. The musician said: "There is nothing illegal about what [eBay] are doing unfortunately but there is something wrong with it. It is not acceptable that a giant electronic company that makes millions upon millions then morally says we will just hand over our take to a charity.

"It is filthy money made on the back of the poorest people on the planet. Stick it where it belongs."

More than two million text messages were sent by people hoping to attend the concert in London's Hyde Park, which will feature Madonna, Coldplay and Pink Floyd. The winners of the 150,000 tickets were randomly selected by computer.

Geldof said: "The people who are selling these tickets on websites are miserable wretches who are capitalising on people's misery."

EBay, which has an annual turnover of £1.8 bn, had said earlier yesterday that it was allowing the sales to proceed on a point of principle. "We are allowing the tickets because we live in a free market where people can make up their own minds about what they would like to buy and sell.

"A ticket to Live8 is no different from a prize won in a raffle run by another charity and what the winner chooses to do with it is up to them. EBay believes it is a fundamental right for someone to be able to sell something that is theirs."

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