Updated to add: Since this article was published eBay have issued a statement reading “We do not permit the resale of The Royal British Legion’s ‘Somme 100 Collection’ poppies on eBay. Any listings will be removed.”
Remember the Tower of London poppies that ended up causing almost as much bad publicity as they did good? Some were broken during the delivery process but the biggest outcry of all was when they appeared on eBay.
eBay put a ban in place prohibiting sales of the ceramic poppies (which has never been repealed so is technically still in place). Now the whole argument is about to kick off again with the 19,240 Golden Poppies to remember the fallen at the Battle of Somme 100 years ago.
As you’d expect, the 19,240 poppies sold out with hours with the proceeds going to that great charity, the Royal British Legion. What happens to them now though?
You may think that anyone who purchased one did so to honour our war dead – each poppy honours a named hero who fell in battle on the 1st of July 1916. Some may simply have wanted to support the Royal British Legion. Others wanted a poppy and missed out.
Those who missed out may understandably look to the resale market to purchase a poppy and be willing to pay any price to obtain a poppy and where there’s a free market there’s always someone willing to sell if the price is right. It’s really not surprising that a number of Golden Poppy’s are already appearing on eBay at massively inflated prices and the tabloids are shrieking their horror that a free market exists.
Who is right? Should you be allowed to freely sell a possession? People sell medals all the time, so why not poppies (ceramic, golden or otherwise). The Royal British Legion have received all the profits they were due (perhaps they should have produced more poppies to meet demand?). Does selling a poppy do anyone any harm?
Or do you think that some things are sacrosanct and (as I suspect may well happen) eBay will be forced by the outcry of public horror to ban the sales of the Somme commemorative poppies.
If there’s going to be a ban (again), really it should have been foreseen and in place before the Royal British Legion opened up sales – I’m sure someone there knows someone at eBay.
Why not just compromise and impose a blanket rule that if any charity item (such as a poppy) is resold on eBay that a percentage must go to the original charity. Keep everyone happy – allow owners to profit, those who missed out to purchase and charities to get a second influx of cash?
So what should we allow? Those who bought a poppy the freedom to sell it or have a marketplace forced to ban sales of high profile charity items, but happily allow the sale of other commemorative products when there’s not a public outcry?