eBay Overflowing With Holiday Beggars

As if there weren’t enough ways to spend money on nothing on eBay, the holiday season has brought a wave of dubious make-my-Christmas donation solicitations, MSNBC reports.

Most of the posts, which could just as well be money-making scams as honest please for help, play on your emotions by suggesting kids won’t get presents unless you open up your PayPal account to the needy.

These sorts of posts violate eBay’s terms of service, Bob Sullivan writes:

“EBay does not allow listings that have no item or service for sale,” the company said in a statement to msnbc.com. “Additionally, while we do allow listings that will benefit a charity, sellers must be soliciting on behalf of recognized, tax-deductible charitable organization.”

The firm also recommends that eBay users donate to recognized charities rather than individual eBay listers.

What would it take for you to donate to a virtual panhandler?

Sign of the times: eBay holiday ‘panhandling’ [MSNBC]
(Thanks, NORMLgirl!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    The threatening of an animal. Like when Miley Cyrus killed that cat because she stopped Twittering: http://www.mileysavefuzzy.com/

    I would have donated to save the animal, not that cussing Hannah Montana.

  2. Bhockzer says:

    I rarely give money to pan-handlers IRL. I honestly wouldn’t think twice about clicking to another page. It’s easier because I don’t have to actually look at them. Plus, I don’t find myself resisting the urge to either spell/grammar check or give advice on the best way to layout a sign through the principles of graphic design.

  3. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Sorry… no donations of this sort will happen from my wallet.

    In fact I no longer donate anything to anyone who solicits or begs. The reason for this is illustrated by the guy who was outside the grocery store Saturday afternoon. He positioned himself in front of the door on his pile of cardboard and was soliciting for change. He didn’t seem to be suffering too much as he was wearing $300 running shoes and $200 designer jeans. I can’t buy that stuff for my own kids so why the hell would I help these guys out.

    It would seem too many folks are taking the begging route.

    • ngoandy says:

      Much like the guys begging that have hundreds of dollars worth of tattoos on their necks and arms. If you can afford sleeve tattoos, you shouldn’t be begging.

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I don’t give money to panhandlers or beggars on the street. I feel a little bad when I walk past them and they’re jinging their cups. But then I get to the second phase of “street people” – and they’re selling hats, blankets, and posters, and I wonder why the panhandlers aren’t doing that instead. There’s a really grizzled old guy who sells flowers for $5 a bouquet, which is pretty cheap. I figure he makes more money, even if he’s supplying the flowers himself or he’s splitting the profit with someone who supplies the flowers. The pandhandlers who aren’t doing anything but sitting outside the metro station with their cups don’t get nearly as much.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      I’ll donate if I get a show/act. Props are a plus.

      • Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

        I can put on a musical show for you, GitEmSteveDave. How much is the going rate? Also, does a child count as a prop?

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          No. But once I was in Newark Penn Station on the way to NYC for a Xena and Hercules Convention(Not for me, but for the future Ex. Mrs GitEmSteveDave at the time), this guy came up with an armfull of papers and was going on about medical tests and his family and showing us paperwork, and his commitment and dedication earned him a grant to the arts from the GitEmSteveDave Foundation, a long time supporter of outstanding public broadcasting.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            i did that once with a woman who hit me up outside of big lots about a “prescription for her grandma.” i told her i had to shop first and she actually stuck with me and helped me look for my shopping list and then i had her follow me across the street to the ATM since i didn’t have any cash [the ATM is in front of a bank i know, within view of the bank entrance and the whole parking lot]
            i figure her dedication meant she was serious or a really dedicated con, but it was worth the performance art.
            and no, biglots doesn’s do cash back at the POS terminal

    • blogger X says:

      One day I’m returning to work from lunch and I saw a beggar on the street and I offered the guy my french fries because I didn’t have any change. He was pissed! I found it interesting last month when the transit authority went on strike in my area the beggars weren’t around…

      • treimel says:

        why would they be around if the crowds weren’t around? Just because you’re a beggar doesn’t mean you necessarily have no sense.

      • hoi-polloi says:

        There’s a guy in my city that frequently waits outside Home Depot and asks if you have any work. Once I was running into a fast food joint to grab a couple 99¢ burgers on my way to help my dad with a project. There the guy was, and he asked if I had any work. “No, but I’m getting a couple burgers. If you want, I’ll buy you one.”

        He said, “I prefer the fish.”

        I went in, bought my burgers, and actually bought him the fish sandwich. It was slightly more than my two burgers. What can I say? It was raining really hard, he was polite about it, and I had the money. I told my dad the story, and he said, “I guess sometimes beggars can be choosers.”

    • tbax929 says:

      I once gave my leftovers to a homeless guy who had begged me for money as I entered the restaurant. He promptly threw it in the trash and cursed at me. Maybe he thought it was gross for me to suggest he eat my leftovers, but if I were starving I’d eat someone’s leftovers. Weird.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        I used to pass certain homeless people every day during my walking commute in the city, and you kinda got to know them. There was a blind guy who was always happy to get leftovers (sometimes I’d get him a hot McMeal when it was cold) and a very, very mentally ill woman who lived under a bridge right next to my building and read VORACIOUSLY. Half the building would bring her 25 cent paperbacks from their local libraries and that was the only time she wouldn’t cuss you out if you spoke to her. She would spend basically all day, every day reading and reading and reading.

        I never give to random homeless people, but if I “know” the person I will give them something, typically food (or books) but if I know a little more about their story I might give some money too.

        I know there’s an argument to be made that they should “omg get jobs” but I’m just trying to make someone’s day a little brighter and show a little human kindness to someone with a lot of trouble in their life, and whether it’s self-made or not doesn’t really matter when it comes to showing compassion for someone.

      • El_Red says:

        On a trip, I went once in a small restaurant. It was pretty self-serve, once you purchase your meal at the counter, you choose a table and eat. There was an old man, he wasn’t begging, and the personnel was nice enough not to show him the door. The old man was eating left-overs from trays left by patrons. That was very sad and haunting image. My mom went and bought him a meal, hopefully it made his day a little brighter….
        In his case, he was old, mentally ill and nowhere to go. But he was not begging or panhandling.

        By the way, I see some panhandlers with mp3 in their ears, and expensive clothing.

    • tonberryqueen says:

      To be fair, some of the panhandlers who aren’t selling something may be mentally ill or have serious substance abuse problems.

      I volunteer at a women’s shelter, and there are some women there who are schizophrenic or who I know from conversation with them have serious drug problems, and I recognize some of them from having seen them panhandle around the city in the past.

      Of course, there are also often kids “playing” at being homeless or bohemian. My boyfriend used to catch them shoplifting CDs from the store where he worked all the time.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        The ones that frequent my metro stop often have conversations with each other in fully-formed coherant sentences, so I doubt they’re mentally ill in any way. They know preceisely what they’re doing, and they even say “God bless you” and “have a good evening” to everyone who passes. Honestly, I have no defense for not giving them any money other than despite the evidence that they can be fully functioning and productive members of society, there’s still a part in my brain that tells me they’re probably not using the money toward general improvement.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Busking > panhandling.

      Aside from what’s already been mentioned I’d also guess that it’s harder to start selling on the street if you don’t try it before you it absolute rock bottom. The person selling flowers probably bought some to sell before totally running out of money.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      There were a TON of them in Santa Cruz when I lived there. You couldn’t walk a block downtown without getting hit up three times. I never gave them money because there were about 7 million soup kitchens they could go to for food, and I didn’t want to feed their habits. But once I gave some food to a hippy kid. He was very polite and grateful.

      I would give change to the musicians if I liked them, and once I bought a tape of these Ecuadoran musicians who were performing on the street and selling their tapes from a box. Overall, however, I would walk past without eye contact. You never know why they are begging.

      Now, from what I hear, instead of getting panhandled downtown, you get mugged. They need to unmuzzle their police force.

  5. The Federalist says:

    Jamie Foxx gave the best advice to a homeless man one time. He suggested he use the money he gave him to buy Gatorade and water bottles to sell in front of night clubs late at night. Hot, drunk, thirsty people will gladly pay a redic markup so the guy can make a little profit. Reinvest the profits, and maybe he won’t be homeless anymore.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      And that homeless man who sold Gatorade? Why he went on to pursue golf and then women he met while selling gatorade. But perhaps you know him better as the Wizard of the Green, Tiger Woods. and now you know, the rest….of the story.

  6. FatLynn says:

    I think the saddest part about this is the idea that you can’t have a happy Christmas without consuming tons of junk.

  7. The Cynical Librarian says:

    What would it take? I don’t think it’s going to happen at all.
    I don’t trust any panhandler I find IRL, there’s no way I’m going to trust someone who makes an ebay plea to actually need the money.

  8. Nolarchy says:

    I contribute monthly to Children’s Hospital, Second Harvest Food Bank, and a New Orleans charity that conducts job training. My feeling is that most everyone fits into one of those three categories, so I don’t feel all that guilty if I don’t give out my change.

  9. slappysquirrel says:

    I do give to panhandlers on the street sometimes. Indeed, I’m a pretty soft touch. But it would take a hell of an ebay appeal to get even me to give.

  10. meadandale says:

    This has been happening on Craig’s List for years. Every Christmas the “Please Help…” posts go up a couple hundred percent. Unfortunately, many of them are scammers. I recall one a few years ago where someone posted that they were having trouble getting presents and food for their family. A good samaritan bought a car load of stuff and headed over to her house and found that she lived in a 3000+ sq foot mcmansion full of new furniture and big screen tv’s. The GS promptly turned the car around and left.

    • slappysquirrel says:

      I hope the GD donated the goods to a charity.

    • El_Red says:

      There are reputable local shelters/help organizations in every town. Often these will help directly families in trouble, collect items for gift baskets, etc. The difference is that they work with these families during the year, so they know exactly where everyone stands, and what help they need. Oh, and no scammers. Better make a donation directly to such organization, not some random ad.

  11. Starfury says:

    I don’t donate to panhandlers and definitely would not donate online to anyone.

    A friend of mine was going to school in Berkely, CA. He would offer food to the panhandlers and they’d refuse it most of the time because then wanted the $$ for alcohol/drugs.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      if they’d just tell me they want booze, i’d be more likely to give. i figure if your life is that crappy, i’ll buy you a drink to help you forget the pain.
      it’s not my job to tell people how they need to live and how to spend money i give them, i just don’t like being lied to

  12. morganlh85 says:

    You know those toy drives that run every year? Well people RECEIVE those toys. All these e-beggars should contact those organizations, their church, etc. if they need toys for their kids for Christmas. Oh but I’m sure most of these people are holding out for the GOOD stuff — Wiis, TVs, iPods, and other stuff you won’t find at a toy drive, because all those REGULAR toys are good enough for THEIR kids…

    • Outrun1986 says:

      I donate to toys for tots every year. I have no doubt that people are stealing out of the bins here, especially since most are placed in department and grocery stores and are right near a door (some are actually at the door in rather secluded areas), but I make sure I don’t give the hottest toy so it doesn’t get stolen out of the bin by a reseller or a grinch. Besides if its the hottest toy, I most likely would not be able to find it on store shelves anyways.

  13. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    First of all I question the idea that this is new. I’m betting that people have posted “Give me money” ads on eBay before.

    I would not respond to any online ad asking for people to donate toys for Christmas. That’s what Toys for Tots is for. We do collections each year at work (employee donations). Is an eBay ad really easier than just sending an e-mail requesting a toy?

    As for virtual panhandling in general…still no. A donation page for an individual would have to be for someone I know (co-worker has cancer and the family set up a page for donations to cover medical bills) or they’d have to have something backing up their claims (a news station setting up a donation page for a family who’s house burned down a week before the holidays though I suppose it stops being an individual thing at that point).

  14. HogwartsProfessor says:

    “What would it take for you to donate to a virtual panhandler?”

    Um, NOTHING.

  15. vastrightwing says:

    I read a fascinating ad once where the person was selling a box of junk. It had basically no value, but the story was great. This would essentially get around the eBay restrictions. Simply sell something of little or no value, attach a fun story to it.. voila!

  16. Yentaleh says:

    I do the same thing. I knew a wonderful man who was homeless, (he was schitzophrenic) and his dog “Baby Blue” I would bring him a meal every day on my way coming into work, (hot breakfast, oatmeal, egg sandwch w/ hot tea and milk) I also brought food for Blue too. I never gave him money, but on the holidays I would bring him warm clothes, and new blanket, and books or a used walkman with a couple of tapes. (This was back in the 1990) One day I saw Blue sitting on the sidewalk where his master should be but John was gone. I later learned that John got into a fight with some punk kids and was rushed to hospital. He later died, as for Blue he was picked up by animal control and I tried to adopt him, Sadly because Blue had “other issues” he was put to sleep and all I can think of now is that John and Blue are happier up there then down here where 99% of the population ignored him.

    Not all homeless are bad people. If you take the time to get to know them, or if they want to let you know them, you find out that they can be wonderful sweet human beings.

    Btw here in Seattle they have a wonderful thing for the homeless, its called “REAL CHANGE” and if those that are homeless have the drive to want to get the help that they need, this newspaper helps them do that. I now only give money to REAL CHANGE sellers because I know that they aren’t using the money to buy drugs or anything bad. (REAL CHANGE doesn’t allow it and if you are caught doing so, you lose your chance.)

  17. TheGreySpectre says:

    the only time I will ever donate anything to panhandelers is if they have a really really clever hilarious sign then I will contribgute a dollar to due to my amusement. But it has to be a sign on the order of “ninjas killed my family, need money for kungfu lessons” good. Hence I have only given money once or twice.

  18. t0ph says:

    I am surprised at some of the commenters saying they have never given to a panhandler or homeless person. I am no bleeding heart and have told many a person no, but sometimes if you look at the big picture, the few bucks you spare is literally nothing to you and a meal for someone else.

  19. trujunglist says:

    I’ve pretty much had my fill of those looking for a handout ever since living in Chicago and being insulted or even attacked for not giving change. Some guy recently came VERY close to me and was about to put his hands on me, so now my response is GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME instead of just no. I honestly find it insulting that they would ask considering the location. Go to a rich neighborhood and ask fools. Go to the beach, plenty of rich tourists there. Don’t hang out in my ghetto liquor store parking lot.

  20. Moosenogger says:

    I rarely give out money nowadays. I’ve been duped too many times by liars, so it takes a lot to get me to part with even a dollar of my hard earned money.

    Actually, this is part of the reason that I love not carrying around cash. It’s a completely guilt-free way of turning them down.