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Charity touts targeted by eBay

Auction giant eBay is rolling out a new system to prevent charity event tickets from being used for unfair profiteering.

The company says it will begin a scheme allowing any charity organisation in Britain to recoup a slice of profit from resold tickets – handing a percentage of the money back to the charity concerned, rather than seeing it fill the pockets of touts.

The idea is to prevent those who get hold of tickets to charity events from selling them for vastly inflated prices on the web without giving back to charity. That practice, widely criticised by event organisers, has become commonplace as increasing numbers seek to profit from selling access to exclusive, star-studded charity events.

In the past eBay has come in for criticism for allowing such deals to take place, most notably in the run-up to events such as 2005's Live 8 concert, where free tickets to the London gig featuring Madonna and Pink Floyd were trading hands online for as much as £500 each. Those sales were eventually banned after Sir Bob Geldof labelled them "sick profiteering".

The new scheme lets people resell similar tickets, but forces them to return at least 20% of the auction price back to the original organisation - and deletes listings by sellers who do not donate. In recent weeks the company has started manually removing all such listings from its website, but has promised that its system will begin automatically deleting offending adverts "within a few weeks".

The new scheme will also mean any event where more than 50% of profits go to charity can be registered in order to ensure that cash from ticket reselling goes to the appropriate parties.

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