Tech Industry

Taco Bell, Starbucks join eBay's cause

The company has struggled to raise funds in its Auction for America for victims of the terrorist attacks. It's hoping donations from some of the U.S.'s biggest brand names will help.

eBay is recruiting big businesses to re-energize its flagging Auction for America effort, which has raised only $5.6 million of its goal of $100 million in 100 days.

Wells Fargo, Starbucks, Federated Stores and Taco Bell have donated items to the charity auction, which will benefit the victims of the September terrorist attacks, company spokesman Kevin Pursglove said Friday.

Pepsico donated a replica of NASCAR star Jeff Gordan's race car. With eight days remaining in the auction, the car has already drawn more than 30 bids, and the bidding has reached more than $20,000.

Taco Bell is donating an Xbox game console and $250 in gift certificates, and Wells Fargo donated a canceled 1870 stock certificate to the charity auction. The certificate, the first of its kind to be sold as a collectors' item, has already received one bid for $5,000. Wells Fargo representatives said that in the weeks ahead the company plans to donate similarly unique items in the hopes of raising "serious funds" for the charity effort.

With Auction for America more than halfway over, eBay's struggle to raise funds stands in stark contrast to record fund raising by other organizations. The United Way's Sept. 11 Fund raised about $337 million and has stopped soliciting donations. Amazon.com has raised nearly $7 million for the American Red Cross from a link on its Web site.

eBay, which donated $1 million of its own money to its fund-raising effort, launched Auction for America on Sept. 17 at the request of New York Gov. George Pataki and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The first major corporate donor was Palm, which donated $5 million worth of inventory.

In mid-October, eBay said it had raised about $5 million, a sign that the auction had significantly slowed.

Currently, about 12,000 to 13,000 items are listed in Auction for America, a small fraction of the 6 million or so listings that can be found on eBay on any given day.

Although the company is behind in reaching its goal, eBay is "very pleased" with the donations so far, Pursglove said.

"We're taking this day by day," Pursglove said. "We're putting together a number of special packages and will have more of those in the days ahead."

The charity auction has also drawn criticism from some eBay members, who complain that the company has taken credit for their donations and used the charity effort to promote Billpoint, its proprietary payment service, which is required for all Auction for America transactions.