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Dear Jay Leno: Embrace eBay auctions, don't kill them

eBay is being used to sell free Jay Leno tickets, and the comedian doesn't like it. Don Reisinger thinks he needs to rethink his position.

Times are tough in Detroit. Many citizens of the city are struggling to find ways to keep their homes and find steady work. It couldn't get much worse.

But thanks to Jay Leno and eBay joining forces, it actually has gotten worse.

Jay Leno is planning a free stand-up comedy show for struggling Detroit residents. The tickets were made available Monday morning. By Monday night, Leno noticed that some of the tickets he gave away were on sale on eBay for "eight hundred something dollars," he said.

During his television monologue Monday night, Leno told viewers about the situation and explained that "you're out of your mind to pay $800 to see me." And then he asked eBay to cease all ticket sales for his live show. "I would like to ask the people at eBay to take the tickets down," he said. "There's nothing for sale here. It's just totally free."

By Tuesday, all instances of the sale were down from eBay. According to the company, Leno's request to have the tickets removed falls under its "Authorized Resellers Only" policy, so all would-be sellers were banned from selling tickets to the events.

Jay, what did you expect? Many of the people who would be in your Detroit audience are down on their luck and need cash to pay bills and feed the family. Doesn't it make sense that they would try to make a few dollars off the free tickets if they could?

If Jay Leno really wants to do what's best for these people, he should allow them to use eBay to sell the tickets. Maybe they need the money more than they need to listen to Jay's jokes. Just a guess.

This isn't the only example of people using eBay to resell special access to events. As a New York Yankees season ticket holder, I received an e-mail earlier this week with information on the team's "pre-on sale ticket sale." I have a password that I can input Thursday or Friday that will let me buy individual game tickets to Yankee Stadium before the public has access to those tickets. It's a perk for people who were season ticket holders last year.

After those passwords were made available, I noticed some of them up for sale. Some people were selling their passwords on eBay because they knew they were valuable and they needed the money. Those are the same people that declined seats this year due to financial hardship.

Unlike Leno, the Yankees didn't respond by taking the passwords down from eBay. Instead, those auctions were allowed to continue and people made hundreds of dollars from them.

I'm all for it. Those who have been hurt by this recession shouldn't be held back when they see an opportunity to get some extra cash. I realize Leno thinks he's being altruistic by hosting a free show, but if he really wanted to do what's right, why would he stop people that need the money from reselling tickets to it?

eBay is the place where people can turn found junk into money. I would like to see Leno less surprised or galled when so-called "fans'" sell his tickets. Comedy pays his bills. Let it pay some other peoples', too.

Check out Don's Digital Home podcast, Twitter stream, and FriendFeed.