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eBay changes fee policy for charity auction

The auctioneer says sellers who donate goods to its Auction for America campaign will no longer have to pay shipping costs for goods sold.

eBay has changed the way it operates the online charity auction it launched to raise $100 million for the victims, families and communities affected by last month's terrorist attacks.

When it launched its Auction for America campaign Sept. 17, the online auctioneer asked sellers to donate goods and asked them to pay the shipping costs for any goods sold, something normally paid by eBay buyers.

But eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said Wednesday that the company is now giving sellers the option of making the buyers pick up the shipping costs of the goods. Pursglove said sellers told the company that they would be more willing to participate in the charity auction if they were not held responsible for the shipping charges.

"eBay is always successful when it listens to the auction community," Pursglove said.

The Auction for America campaign was set up after last month's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The company said the proceeds would go to the United Way's September 11th Fund and to other charities benefiting the victims and families affected by the attacks.

But as eBay's latest decision seeks to get more sellers involved in the charity program, other sellers may not be happy about it, especially the ones who complained last month that the program posed competition against their for-profit sales. Several sellers have even voiced their opposition on the message boards of eBay and AuctionWatch.

The decision by eBay to make the shipping fees optional to sellers may have also been prompted by the amount of money eBay has raised so far. The company needs to make up some ground if it is to meet its goal of raising $100 million in 100 days. Since the auction's launch, eBay has taken in $4 million.

"We still have a ways to go and we remain confident," Pursglove said.