Saturday, May 9, 2009

eBay Ethics Question - Using FreeCycle for eBay Inventory

I was on an eBay forum yesterday and there was a discussion about using FreeCycle to get free eBay inventory. FreeCycle is "A grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free." On my local FreeCycle group, and on many others, this statement is posted:

"When requesting an item with a WANTED post, or when responding to another member's OFFERED post, please state whether you will be selling the item. In general, it is NOT all right to take an item for free just to sell it on eBay, at a flea market, or elsewhere. There are people who may truly and personally benefit from the item, and if it were going to be sold, the person offering it might have done so. When it's offered out of kindness, please do not abuse it. However, there are some circumstances in which it might be acceptable for you to resell an item (i.e. you repair broken appliances and might be able to fix it up and resell it). If your situation might be something like this, please just state it in your request or when you email an offerr. If you are found to be reselling freecycled items without appropriately disclosing your intentions, you may be banned from the list."

The general consensus, as I understand it, is that FreeCycle is a community organization set up to help those in need, and it isn't appropriate to resell these items. In fact, many people won't use the site now because of the greedy eBay sellers snatching up the items - they aren't going to people in need. Some comments by other eBay sellers:

"Freecycle is a Non-Profit Organization and the "spirit" of it promotes charitable giving in order to promote less landfill usage. Most of us who list on FC use it in order to help those in need - charitable giving. If you truly advise those you receive items from that you are getting the item for resale and they are OK with that - good for you. However, there are people like me that are eBay sellers that would never utilize FC because we feel it is going against why FC was started in the first place."


"I could have sold the items on Craigslist too if I wanted to. I wanted to give it to someone who needed it. That is the drive behind Freecycle. It is to help your local community."

So, I am curious about how other eBay sellers feel about this issue. Please post your comments, and take the poll on the sidebar. This will be an interesting discussion!

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