Controversy Sells – But Is It Worth The Price?

Recently, the Weinstein Company (an independent film studio) dropped the production of a line of action figures based on the controversial Quentin Taratino movie, Django Unchained. They did this because they felt the figures were inappropriate due to the movie’s slave-based theme. After this announcement, scores of sellers raced to their local stores to buy-out the figures and a short while later they began appearing on eBay with hefty price tags ranging from $300 a piece to $2000 to $7000 for an entire set.

Needless to say, it wasn’t too long before eBay stepped in to put a stop to the selling of these figures on their site, stating that the figure are in violation of eBay’s ‘Offensive Materials Policy.’

    Meanwhile, the Lego company has had some fallout of their own to deal with since a Turkish group is claiming that the “Jabba the Hut Palace” is actually a replica of the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul. This particular item, however, is not banned on eBay and is still being sold by Lego. At the time of this article, there were at least 8 of them available on eBay.

What is considered “controversial” is very subjective – things that offend one person or group may not be offensive at all to others. The question is whether it’s worth listing these types of items for a quick buck, knowing your account may be suspended or that the items offend some people. Many sellers seem to think so.

There are two sides to listing controversial items on eBay – money, and ethics. Where does the buck stop? Most people have a line they won’t cross – have you thought about where yours is?

Of course, there are also eBay’s rules to consider, and interestingly, those are not always cut and dry. eBay states that “We don’t allow items that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual, or religious intolerance, or promote organizations with such views.” When you read their policy further, however, you will find that they allow KKK memorabilia pricing guides, but do not allow KKK newsletters, pamphlets, recruiting materials, or flyers. They also allow stamps, letters, and envelopes displaying Nazi postmarks, but not propaganda postcards with images of Nazi leaders or pro-Nazi text.

Although some of these types of items are allowed, is it worth putting out the hateful messages these items send to certain people? You might list something that offends someone so much that they go out of their way to see that you lose business. Controversy certainly sells, but you have to decide for yourself “is it worth it?”

About our Guest Blogger
This guest post was contributed by Kat Simpson. Kat is a trusted eCommerce author, speaker, educator, and entrepreneur. Kat Simpson has been a successful eCommerce merchant for over 10 years; is an eBay Education Specialist and Gold Level PowerSeller, as well as a successful Amazon merchant. Currently Kat is the hosts the popular weekly eCommerce Podcast That Kat Radio. – See more at:

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