"Pedantic, draconian jobsworths"

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A Cambridge student who put a year’s work up for auction in return for his tuition fees, has had his listing cancelled by eBay. Dean Robinson won a postgraduate place at the University, but did not have the £12,600 they insisted he have in his bank account as proof he could support himself throughout the course. So he turned to eBay, with a listing which read:

‘Yes, you could be the proud benefactor to, and employer of, a Cambridge University graduate for an entire year (negotiable) and all that is asked for in return is the aforementioned financial backing. I would even work for a cut-down rate during the employment phase. It’s a win-win situation.’

Unfortunately eBay then pulled this auction for breaching their no item policy. Mr Robinson said that the decision was “‘completely pedantic and draconian and presumably sent by some jobsworth. You only need a dash of common sense and discretion to see that it’s fun and very real. It’s publicity for them as much as anyone.”

He’s right. It’s also a misapplication of the no item policy, when there was in fact a completely tangible employee available for the winning bidder. Vanessa Canzini, eBay’s head of PR, blamed Robinson’s non-specific language: “In the listing he talks about ‘sponsorship’ and ’employ’ which would have hit our keywords for spamming. He also uses words like ‘negotiable’ and ‘rates’ […] He needs to be clearer what the buyer could expect.”

Let’s hope the extra publicity generated by the cancellation now finds him some decent sponsorship.



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