One slip and you’re…
You can’t be too careful these days. One false move and somebody might sue you. They might win too! Of course, there needs to be a remedy for harm done through negligence or intent. But do we need protection from charity?
As you may know, I started a telescope business a couple of months ago to demonstrate to the major manufacturers that interest in astronomy is alive and well. The business has done very well to everyone’s surprise but my mine. I wanted to do something positive with the earnings from the new business, so I decided to auction a really nice telescope package on EBay and give the proceeds to a worthy cause.
EBay has rules about mentioning charities in listings. You must either enter an agreement with EBay’s charity agent, Mission Fish, or you must comply with a very specific set of charitable listing rules.
I started to register with Mission Fish but they wanted my credit card number to “secure” my donation and a fee to process my donation. I’m sick of fees. And I’m sick of people and organizations that want a piece of everything I do. Damn them. I’m making a voluntary, generous donation and I’m not “securing” it with a credit card and I’m not paying a processing fee.
I called EBay and explained my frustration. I just wanted to list the telescope and make clear that 100% of the proceeds will go to a very reputable charity for veterans:
I chose this charity because I like to do more than sport a yellow sticker on my car saying that I support our troops. I actually support our troops. The Fallen Heroes Fund pays out 100% of the money they receive in direct benefits to veterans. All the operating expenses of the organization are paid by the board of trustees. This is a well-respected organization and I encourage you to visit their website.
EBay told me that I might be using the name of the charity to get people to bid and then I might keep the money. Some idiot might sue EBay for letting me list it. So they can’t allow me to list this telescope and say that I am giving 100% of the proceeds to The Fallen Heroes Fund unless I go through Mission Fishy [oooops] or obtain a letter from the Fallen Heroes Fund authorizing me to auction this telescope on their behalf. I must post a scanned copy of the letter on my EBay listing.
The Fallen Heroes Fund can’t give me the required letter because of liability. Should some idiot poke an eye out with the telescope that I sold on their behalf, they might be sued.
If I just post the telescope and say that I’ll give the money to The Fallen Heroes Fund, EBay might sue me. They will suspend my account.
Everyone’s point of view is reasonable except the idiots who sue for profit. Some crank probably would complain to EBay if I listed the telescope. My chosen charity is protecting their fund because some idiot probably would poke an eye out and sue them. And I can’t list it now because I don’t want some idiot to sue me. The reason I don’t just list it and donate the money is that I’d hoped mentioning the charity would bring a higher price for the telescope. I also planned to publish a thank you note on my website giving the buyer credit for helping a worthy cause.
So until I figure out how to pull this off, the idiots are the only winners. And the idiots are winning way too often these days.
Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog