Is Wheedle still going?

October 31st, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New homegrown competitors to Trade Me, which include Wheedle, are “nowhere to be seen”, chief executive Jon Macdonald told several dozen shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in Wellington.

Is Wheedle still going? I don’t know anyone who uses it.

But he warned investors that the company was facing tough competition from overseas e-commerce firms which were selling online to New Zealand consumers.

Without improvements, Trade Me risked “falling behind” when it came to providing the experience people now expected when shopping online, he said.

“To be straight with you, that means spending more,” Macdonald told investors.

“That means we expect our growth to be subdued in the coming year.

“While we will remain a high-margin business, we do need to grow our team and increase our marketing spend.”

Not sure Trade Me needs marketing. I think what they need is to continue to have an excellent easy to use auction site.

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Trade Me bans

October 10th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dominion Post has a story on items banned for sale on Trade Me.

The full list of banned or restricted items is here. It includes:

The ban on flight tickets seems strange, as it applies to even transferable tickets.

The human parts ban is:

You may not list a human body or body parts on the site. This includes such items as sperm, eggs, excrement, and bone. 

People have tried to sell human excrement on Trade Me? :-)

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The fair deal coalition

May 22nd, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Trade Me has joined 31 consumer and lobby groups from New Zealand and overseas in writing to Trade Minister Tim Groser to voice concerns about the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.

The company is a member of the New Zealand-born umbrella group the Fair Deal Coalition, which was set up last year during the Auckland round of the negotiations to lobby against possible provisions in the yet-to-be-completed trade agreement.

The coalition fears the trade agreement could unduly strengthen intellectual property rights, for example by extending copyright by 20 years and introducing new controls on parallel imports. …

In its letter, the coalition asked Groser to reflect on the “variety of sectors” that stood to be adversely affected by such provisions. “As a group we are diverse, but we share one thing in common: we seek appropriately balanced intellectual property laws,” it said.

Trade Me spokesman Paul Ford said the firm backed the coalition because it was concerned the agreement could “result in a crappy deal for both Kiwi consumers and a decent chunk of the Trade Me community”.

“We reckon parallel importing is pretty important to New Zealanders as it means Kiwi sellers can source goods direct from licensed suppliers around the globe, so buyers get more choice and, with any luck, better prices too,” he said.

The Fair Deal Coalition has attracted support from advocates in six of the 12 countries which are party to the trade negotiations, including the United States, Canada and Australia.

The group’s founders include Consumer NZ, InternetNZ, the Royal NZ Foundation for the Blind and the Telecommunications Users Association.

I’m one of those involved in the Fair Deal coalition, and it is great to see it gain supporters in the major countries involved in the TPP.

I’m all for free trade deals, but that doesn’t mean I want a deal at any price, and I think the proposed US chapter on intellectual property is not balanced or a fair deal. I think the current NZ intellectual property laws are relatively well balanced and we should not agree to anything that would force a change to them. If enough countries stand firm on these issues, I am hopeful the US will modify its position. And to be fair to the US, they have already moved a considerable way by agreeing to writing exceptions to copyright restrictions into the text – a first for a free trade deal with them. But the current proposed wording is still not suitable.

Consumer NZ spokesman Hadyn Green said his group believed the trade deal’s documents had provisions “which may remove parallel importing in New Zealand”. That would mean retailers could no longer import copyright goods, from software to branded clothes, without the permission of the manufacturer, which Consumer NZ feared would push up prices for many products.

Bans on parallel importing work against free trade, and should not be in FTA.

A Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry spokeswoman said last week that the parallel importing of copyright works had been raised in negotiations but there was no consensus among the negotiating parties on whether an agreement “should include specific provisions on this issue”.

Which hopefully means it won’t include such a provision.

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Rodney says auction the unemployed on trade Me!

March 24th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide in NBR writes:

We have 50,000 people on the unemployment benefit and plenty of work that needs doing. The 50,000 represent 1000 years of work that doesn’t get done each and every week. The waste is horrific.

The waste follows from the failure to match the unemployed to the jobs that need doing at a price potential employers are willing to pay.

The matching part of the problem is a perfect job for the internet. And, sure enough, US techno whizz Morgan Warstler has the fix: match the jobs and the unemployed on eBay and pay them through Paypal.

In New Zealand our equivalent, Trade Me, is the perfect set-up linking Kiwis wanting to sell with those wanting to buy. It’s similarly perfect for matching those looking for work with those with jobs that need doing. Trade Me should be used to match jobseekers to jobs.

Under the Warstler scheme the unemployed would register on Trade Me to receive their benefit payment each Friday night.  At present, an unemployed 20-year-old receives a benefit payment of $190.84 gross a week.  Let’s make that $200.

Once an unemployed person is registered on Trade Me anyone wanting work done can bid for them to do it.  It’s the perfect way to match the jobs that need doing to those who can do them. 

So how would it work?

The unit of work on offer is a 40-hour week. And the bids start at $40 a week. That appears impossibly low but the government still pays the $200, so the least anyone gets paid for a week’s work is $240. 

The low starting bid ensures the market clears every week. Local retirement villages and community groups would be actively bidding to help the unemployed into work and to get work done.  Specialist contractors would move in to bid for the unemployed and to offer their work to the marketplace.

It’s hard to see the price staying at $40 a week. Especially for good workers.

The bids increase in $20 increments, with the government getting back $10 of each $20 hike. The worker gets to keep the other $10. For example, if the bid goes to $200 the worker keeps $320 and the government contributes $120 of his or her pay.

So basically the benefit abates.

Trade Me enables feedback possible both ways. Anyone familiar with the site knows how that works.

The good workers and the good employers would soon be identified. There would be no better CV than a string of positive comments on Trade Me. Those workers would get their wages bid up and would soon have a permanent job.

The impossibly lazy would also be identified. They could be followed up by government agents.

Likewise, the bad employers would be weeded out. They would be dealt to just as bad dealers are dealt to on Trade Me. The Warstler scheme provides total transparency.

You could trial this with the long-term unemployed – those who have been on the unemployment benefit for over six months.

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Fairfax sells remainder of Trade Me

December 16th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Fairfax Media is reportedly selling its remaining stake in Trade Me for about A$650 million (NZ$810m).

If the sale were to proceed, it would considerably pay down the company’s debts.

The stake is reportedly being sold to a range of New Zealand and Australian institutions in a placement through UBS, according to market sources.

The quoted sale figure would exceed what Fairfax paid for Trade Me in its initial investment five years ago.

Fairfax bought the online auction company from founder Sam Morgan and his fellow private investors for NZ$700m in 2006 and previously recouped NZ$364m by selling a 34 per cent stake through Trade Me’s initial public offering in December 2011.

Morgan went on to be made a board member at Fairfax.

In June, Fairfax further sold down its holding by 15 per cent at a discounted price of $2.70 a share, retaining 51 per cent of the company.

The sale is surprising because it is regarded as the best asset in the digital arm of Fairfax, said Lance Wiggs, a former Trade Me insider who worked on the initial sale to Fairfax.

‘‘It does make sense for investors that you want to separate your assets, one old media, one new media. If I was Fairfax I would want to own Trade Me, not old media,’’ Wiggs said.

The purchase and sale has been a net gain for Fairfax. However I do wonder at the wisdom of selling the only part of your business that actually made money!

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Wheedle

October 2nd, 2012 at 3:57 pm by David Farrar

Well Sam Morgan was right when he called Wheedle a joke. The Trade Me guys and gals must have been laughing.

Stuff reports:

Wheedle is offline again and, in a double whammy, a blogger has posted instructions that he said let people change the reserve price of other members’ auctions.

NBR said it had tested and confirmed the fault, reported by a logger by changing and then resetting the price of one “random” auction.

Wheedle have announced they have gone offline to do an audit. They needn’t bother reopening. You only get one chance to make a good first impression.

Allowing others to change the reserve price!!!

NBR quotes Ben Gracewood:

The TVNZ and RNZ commentator doesn’t hold back.

“Wheedle is an abomination,” he says.

“Its very genesis is offensive to the web development community.

“The original claims of “forty servers” and “millions of dollars” are quite literally equivalent to me winning Lotto, buying 50 trucks, then yelling from the rooftops “hooray I’m taking on Mainfreight”. I have no knowledge of logistics, I don’t know about road user charges, and I wouldn’t have the foggiest clue how to manage local distribution.

Likewise, the coders behind Wheedle don’t have any idea how to build a website, Mr Gracewood says.

“On day zero (during the weekend) the site was returning random user profiles each time you refreshed. Any decent web developer would recognise this as an issue with incorrect sessions being served across multiple (of their forty) servers. That should have sent alarm bells ringing.

“But no, they forged ahead with the launch. The next faux-pas was to send password reset emails in the clear. I personally have had 20 odd emails with my own password in them (because someone has been spamming the password reset function). The fact that Wheedle can send my my own password is a huge problem. It means the passwords are stored with (at the very least) reversible encryption, and probably in the clear. The stories of websites being hacked to divulge passwords are many, and it’s only a matter of time before Wheedle is hacked. They should be salting and hashing passwords such that they are unreadable in the database.

I like his Mainfreight comparison.

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Wheedle

September 27th, 2012 at 7:22 am by David Farrar

NBR reported:

Mainfreight co-founder and Rich-Lister Neil Graham is taking on Trade Me with a new online auction and classified site, Wheedle.co.nz, that officially opens for business on Monday.

New Zealand cyberspace is littered with the train wrecks of online adventures that tried to take on Trade Me but which failed to crack the “chicken and egg” problem of attracting a critical mass of buyers and sellers.

It is very hard to gain sellers unless you have a critical mass of buyers, as sellers know the more buyers, the higher the likely price. However as Trade Me increases fees, it opens up the probability that sellers will judge that probability of a lower auction price is exceeded by the certainty of lower fees. But I don’t think they are there yet. The other factor is that some people may go elsewhere just so there is competition to keep fees down.

But Graham said Wheedle had the management experience, technical expertise and “firepower” to become a long term success. His personal wealth was put at $65 million in NBR’s 2011 Rich List.

Wheedle will launch a television, radio and online advertising campaign on Sunday to promote the site. Chief executive Carl Rees, one of three other shareholders in the business, would not disclose how much it would sink into the campaign, but said it had a multimillion dollar war-chest.

The venture had been two years in the making and will run off 40 servers in IBM’s Auckland data centre, he said. “We are not doing anything by halves. Our infrastructure is huge to run this.”

Rees said Wheedle had 10 staff in Christchurch and another 12 in India who had been developing software for the site and who would be involved in another undisclosed venture. …

Wheedle aims to undercut Trade Me, charging a flat-rate $1 fee on items that sell through the site for more than $20. The fees will be waived and the site will be free to use until November 29.

It is not clear what fee if any will apply for under $20. Sellers won’t like a fee if it does not sell at all. But the fees are a lot cheaper than Trade Me. However the major factor is price. Say your item sells for $50. Then it is $1 on Wheedle and $3.95 on Trade Me making it a net $49 vs $46.25.

But if you get $50 on Trade Me and $45 on Wheedle, then Trade Me is a net $46.25 and Wheedle $44.

But they sound well financed, so may be able to take the initial losses to build up enough critical mass. Free fees initially is a very good idea, but the problem is if people are selling one item, they can not auction it on both sites to see which site gets better results.

Another competitor, List Sell Trade has also been launched. Their model is a $10 a month subscription for all site listing services. Can’t see it flying.  Sella continues to exist. They have no listing or success fees, just enhancement option fees.

Sella has 654 listings for historical fiction books which is a lot. However I note almost none have bids on them – they are basically all listed with buy now prices equal to reserves, so it more like a 2nd hand service than an auction. Trade Me has 4,214 historical fiction listings and a mixture of buy nows and proper auctions.

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Trade Me fees

September 26th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Trade Me will raise the “success fees” members pay to sell most items through its online marketplace by more than 5 per cent on Monday.

The announcement of the pending hike was met with a mixture of indignation and resignation on the company’s community bulletin board.

Last month Trade Me reported an 8.4 per cent jump in its annual profit to $75.6 million. One member described the price rise as “greedy”, placing the company in the same category as “councils, power companies, water companies, supermarkets, petrol companies and so many more”.

Others said rival free auction sites were no real alternative because they lacked a critical mass of buyers. Some said they were having success selling items through Facebook, but one poster forecast nothing would change.

“People will moan for a while and will suggest the sky is falling in. Others will suggest going to ‘X site’ or ‘Y site’ instead and a few will try. Ultimately, all will find that selling through here is still the easiest way to go because the buyers are here.”

Trade Me said the fee for selling an item valued at $50 – about its average trade – would rise from $3.75 to $3.95, an increase of 5.3 per cent.

The highest rise would be for items priced at $1500, for which success fees will increase by 8.1 per cent to $79.50. There will be lower increases on higher-priced items and no change to the maximum $149 success fee.

The current fees are:

  • 7.5% up to $200, going to 7.9%
  • 4.5% from $200 to $1,500, going to 4.9%
  • 1.9% from $1,500 to $5,500, no change

At $5,500 you reach the maximum fee of $149. After the increase you’ll reach it at $5,150.

So the fee for various price levels is

  • $50 – $3.75, 7.5%, changing to $3.95, 7.9%
  • $100 – $7.50, 7.5%, changing to $7.90, 7.9%
  • $250 – $17.25, 6.9%, changing to $18.25, 7.3%
  • $1,000 – $51.00, 5.1%, changing to $55.00, 5.5%
  • $2,500 – $92.50, 3.7%, changing to $98.50, 3.9%

They’re pretty significant increases, as in my opinion the business model should be based on increasing volume of trades, not the percentage fee per trade.

What I’d be interested in is what have the fee changes over time been? Does anyone have data on what the fees were before it was sold in 2006?

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Cool

August 8th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Ever fancied having a slide in your home or office instead of those tiresome stairs?

Well, the Trade Me team in Wellington has decided that it would be the perfect way to spice up the daily grind.

They have installed a slide between the two floors of their new Wellington office, which staff began to move into on Monday.

Now that is cool. What a great idea.

It reminds me of my response when I worked in the PM’s Office to some survey about building improvements. I submitted that they should place a huge waterslide around the beehive stretching from the top floor all the way to the bottom, into the swimming pool. There would be entrances in from every level. I thought that would be a great boost for staff morale if you could waterslide from your office into the pool!

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Who do you think this is an advert for?

February 18th, 2012 at 5:45 pm by David Farrar

An ad at Trade Me for senior and junior communications advisors says the roles are:

To support all aspects of corporate communications through innovative strategies and to facilitate the flow of internal information and communications.

The jobs are in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.

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Trevor’s credibility for sale on Trade Me

February 16th, 2012 at 12:22 pm by David Farrar

Heh, someone has set up an auction of Trevor Mallard’s credibility. The proceeds will go to Christchurch Earthquake recovery.

The Q+A, as always, is amusing:

Q: Is there any actual evidence you can provide to show that this item has ever existed

Q; Doesn’t Trademe rules state that the item must be in your possession? I don’t think anyone anywhere has Trevor Mallard’s credibility in their possession. In fact, research is ongoing to find proof it ever existed, as far as I am informed.

Q: While at face value this looks like a bargain, do you have any way of verifying that the product actually exists? I am somewhat dubious, as I have not seen any recent evidence of the existence of “Trevor Mallard’s credibility.”

Q: How damaged is this item? Will there be a refund available if it doesn’t pass muster?

Q: Is there a buy now? or will you let the auction take it’s course?

Heh, now that last one is very funny.

 

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Helping Trevor out

February 16th, 2012 at 10:13 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Labour MP Trevor Mallard says he didn’t know how to set a “buy now” option on Trade Me – despite being a member since 2005 and on-selling tickets to Homegrown and the Wellington Sevens in the past.

Under fire for ticket scalping after selling four tickets to the sold-out Homegrown festival at a $276 profit, Mr Mallard told Radio Live this morning that he hadn’t been aware he could put a “buy now” price on the auction.

However, his TradeMe account shows he has been a member of the online auction site since 2005, and has sold plenty of tickets in the past.

Did not know how to set a buy now option? Really? Well in case Trevor needs a hand in future, I’m happy to assist.

If you are selling tickets to a concert on Trade Me, this is the screen you will see.

As is obvious, setting a buy now price is incredibly simple. You just enter the price you want in.

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Trade Me to be floated

August 26th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Fairfax has announced that it is selling 30% to 35% of Trade Me, and will be listing it on the stock exchange through an initial public offering.

This is great news, and should result in a lot of keen investors.

I await Labour and The Greens insisting that as Trade Me is vital infrastructure due to its near monopoly status, that the Government buy it and turn it into an SOE.

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Labour on Trade Me

May 28th, 2011 at 1:42 pm by David Farrar

An interesting new initiative from Labour. To have one of their MPs go onto the Trade Me message boards and diss your own social media campaign.

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Wellington free wifi

February 2nd, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Wellington waterfront visitors will be able to connect to the internet for free from this morning with the launch of Trade Me’s wi-fi network.

Initially expected to cover the area south from Frank Kitts Lagoon to the waterfront side of Te Papa, it is likely to extend to areas including the Sunday markets.

Weather’s not great today, but hope to try it out at the weekend with an iPad at one of the fine bars on the waterfront.

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Going going going going going going going going going going …

November 12th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Carmel Sepuloni on Red Alert blogged yesterday:

John Chapman is a staunch Labour supporter and is one of our good friends in Waitakere:)

Given his support for Labour and generous nature, he’s kindly put up one of his prints for sale on trademe – proceeds raised will go towards the Mana campaign.
The print is entitled ‘It’s only going to get worse’ – how appropriate given the state of our country under the current National Government.  We may have to persevere another year (or slightly less) of a National Government but that gentle reminder of how much worse it could get if we have to endure any longer than that – is a great motivator for getting Labour people and the generally ‘disillusioned with National’ ordinary kiwi, enthused about the next election!
What a great idea to raise money for Labour. And hell, if John Key’s plaster cast can go for $18,000 on Trade Me and receive hundreds of bids, this nice artwork should raise thousands.
So how did the auction go.

Whale has this graphic:

Not a single person bid. No not one. How incredibly embarrassing.

I guess Carmel was right – it was only going to get worse – for Labour.

UPDATE: A reader commented to me  that they are surprised a certain Board of Trustees Chair didn’t bid for the artwork so it could then be burnt – or does that only happen when it is part of a Police investigation involving the PM?

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Sir Rob’s Chair

June 8th, 2010 at 3:52 pm by David Farrar

An interesting auction on Trade Me. A chair made in the 19th century in Japan that was gifted to Sir Robert Muldoon by the Japanese Government.

Bidding is at $12,000.

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Trade Me auction of an XT phone

February 23rd, 2010 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

Someone has listed this phone on Trade Me as a Telecom XT mobile phone :-)

As always, the Q+A are quite hilarious.

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Flag Doodle almost at $20,000

February 12th, 2010 at 7:15 am by David Farrar

Incredible. The bidding for the John Key flag doodle has reached $19,238. Now I suspect the bidding is more for the morning tea with John (and Pippa) than the artwork itself – I certainly hope so!

As at 6 am:

  • Top Bid $19,238
  • 188 bids
  • Approx 250 questions and answers – many of these are hilarious. Well done to the TVNZ staffer answering them.
  • 73,622 page views

The Cure Kids charity will be pleased, especially with five days left in the auction.

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Why you should be careful in you Trade Me photos

January 30th, 2010 at 9:33 pm by David Farrar

A friend e-mailed this to me. I have excised the name of the poor seller!

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A manure sculpture of Nick Smith

October 28th, 2009 at 9:29 pm by David Farrar

109390713_full

Oh this is very very funny.

Artist Sam Mahon has created this sculpture of Nick Smith. He has made it from cow manure and it is up for auction on Trade Me. It is called “Nick Smith in the shit” and is currently going for $560.

Mahon explains:

The sculpture is light and hollow and highly polished. It sits on a steel stand slightly right of centre.

I wonder how much it will go for. Will Nick bid? Will any of his colleagues bid? Is it made of organic manure only?

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Councillors and staff bail Mayor out

July 25th, 2009 at 9:43 am by David Farrar

I previously blogged on how North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams black-listed Whale Oil from bidding in a charity auction, removing his bids. This meant the auction went for $150 (and to the Mayor’s daughter) instead of the $1,000 or so Whale was willing to bid.

They obviously realised what a bad and indefensible look this was, so today the Herald reports:

Mr Williams said council members and staff had boosted the top bid by $1030 and three teenage cancer patients would accompany him today in the jet plane simulator.

The poor Councillors and staff – having to do a whip around to save face for the Mayor.

A more sensible approach would have been to raise the money beforehand, and simply outbid Whale Oil.

Mr Slater said he would pay the $1000, which included money sent in by readers of his blog, “in the spirit of the auction”.

Great for the charity.

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Cowards

July 23rd, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged on Monday about how Whale Oil was seeking donations so he could win a charity auction (for Westpac Rescue Helicopter) for the prize of 90 minutes in a flight simulator with North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams. Cameron is a relentless critic of Williams, for those who don’t know.

Now this was great for the charity. It pushes up the value of the auction. Cameron was willing to go up to US$1,000 or NZ$1,500 – all of which would go to charity. He said if he was outbid he would donate the money regardless which meant if someone outbid him, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter could end up with more than NZ$3,000.

But in a fit of cowardice, Andrew Williams conspired with Trade Me to disallow bids from Cameron (and it seems from several other bidders), and the auction closed for just $150.

I’m disgusted at Trade Me that they remove valid bids, just because Andrew Williams did not like the bidder. That undermines their integrity greatly. And they helped rip the charity off also.

Williams looks ridiculous also. If Slater had won, Williams could have turned it into great PR – look at what I’m prepared to do for charity. Or if he really could not face the possibility, he should have got somone to outbid Cameron.

Now as it happens the Mayor’s daughter won the auction it seems at $150. And this was after several bids for higher than that were removed. So it looks even worse that they appear to have fixed who would win.

Aaron Bhatnagar blogs:

Slater would be a legitimate bidder, though clearly not one Williams would have appreciated. However, it was for a charity, so there ought to have been an element of goodwill about this. It’s not at all uncommon charity auctions have elements of prank or comical outcomes, but because it’s for charity, you tend to take it all in good humour. After all, Rodney Hide allowed himself to get his head shaved by Williams for charity not long ago.

Which makes the actions hypocritical also.

UPDATE: A reader has commented that the person listing an auction can blacklist or remove bids themselves, without any input from Trade Me. If this is correct, then Trade Me are not to blame. The villain then is Worldflight who acted with Williams to lower the amount donated to charity. There goes the brand.

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Bid on the grapefruit

April 19th, 2009 at 2:36 pm by David Farrar

grapefruit

A four year old son found this in the garden. Thanks to Trade Me, you can now bid to own this grapefruit, which looks remarkably like a turnip from Blackadder!

The Q&A is already off to a good start with questions over size!

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Another cast auction

February 14th, 2009 at 4:29 pm by David Farrar

This arm cast won’t go for $18,000, but it is also for a good cause – Rotorua Hospice, and signed by the local MP.

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