This page attempts to outline my side of the story, and thoughts about a recent controversial and popular TradeMe Auction I started.

Click to jump to sections:
Tuesday February 1, 2005
Wednesday February 2, 2005
Thursday February 3, 2005
Friday February 4, 2005
Stats, Facts and Figures
Morality Issue: Was This Fair?
Other Issues/Awesome Ideas

For those of you unfamiliar with McDonald's New Zealand, they periodically (or sporadically) have an advertising campaign/promotion consisting of discount coupons/vouchers (I use these two words interchangeably throughout my story) which arrive in your letter box for free. Being the ingeniously curious youngster that I am I decide to sell mine rather than toss them in the trash. My story goes like this.

Tuesday February 1, 2005:
Sometime during this day I receive my McDonald's vouchers in the mail. At 6:26 PM I create this auction (mirror, no pics), complete with a picture so people will know I'm genuine:

You could get all these!

I think nothing of it, and leave it alone, not really expecting anyone to buy FREE vouchers. At this point I had not pointed out that they were free.

Wednesday February 2, 2005
At 8:03 PM leeso asks me:

are these the freebie coupons we get in the mail?

I reply with:

Yes, however I am trying to cater for: a) People who may not have recieved them in the mail. b) People who have recieved them and i) need more. or ii) want an extra $100 savings for as little as $1.45. or ii) lost them. c) People who want to collect McDonald's™ vouchers and also want cheap McDonald's™ reasonably priced food prodcuts. d) People who will buy anything. Good luck with bidding, hopefully you shall win!

I think that saying I am catering to [p]eople who will buy anything is a pretty big hint that I'm not entirely serious about this auction. I figure this will be the last question, as nothing more really can be said. Everything seems to be going well.

Thursday February 3, 2005
Nothing much happens auction wise. Yawn.

Friday February 4, 2005
At 10:06 AM I get my first "question" of the day, starting a plethora of slanderous comments. Courtesy of tammilbee:

i cant believe that u need money so badly that ur selling these FREEBIES on the net...

I can see where this is heading when I get a second similar comment, from lilnymph, just four minutes later:

that really is as low as u can get

lilnymph seems to think that I am worse than rapists, murderers and child molesters, that's pretty harsh. I check her feedback and find out she's sold a phone that "goes ok", however the person who received it claims that it didn't work. Now there's nothing wrong with selling non-perfect condition telephones, provided you explain its condition. False advertising is bad, mmmkay kids? Hence my comment: question in your "question". In no way is this auction misleading. People know exactly what they are bidding on, where the vouchers came from etc. I am not being misleading and have previously stated my reasons for selling. I'm sure I could get lower, for example selling a non-working phone as "goes ok"...

Three minutes later the first of my "McDonald's are gonna get angry!" comments comes in. The first is from daisygirl:

McDondalds certainly dont take too kindly to people selling their discount coupouns!!!!!!!!!! These are FREE to anyone who wants them from McDs and thru the letterbox.

Now this certainly is a shining light of wisdom to the people viewing this auction, I'm sure they didn't notice that I pointed out TWO DAYS PRIOR TO THIS COMMENT that these are the same coupons you get in the mail. Here's where the problem arises: nowhere on the vouchers does it say they are not to be resold. daisygirl seems to somehow know this though. At 10:24 AM someone with a sense of humour finally shows up. Many thanks to kylie_anna:

Haha Yeah I'd have to agree with everyone elses comment on this auction. Pretty funny though. Yes once again this isn't a "question" - good spotting.

At this point I try to explain that all the "questions" are pretty pointless: I'm not going to have some great revelation and decide I'm a bad seller and to withdraw the auction. Nevertheless they keep coming, and a minute later I find out someone has started a thread at the message board about this very auction! See here. I come up with a great idea:

How about this: if you buy my vouchers I will include a signed printout of this auction page, and the message board page, so everyone knows you took part in The Great McDonald's™ Voucher Auction '05. This deal just keeps getting better!

lilnymph decides to chime back in and try to stop people buying these, but also gives me an awesome idea. Thanks!

if they wanted more, they could go to the mac dopnalds counter and pick one up next thing u know u'll be selling the burgerking ones

Be on the lookout for my Burger King discount coupons soon. Or not.

Finally at 10:30 AM, someone "gets it". Thanks to tara34:

If you can get something for nothing then go for it! :-)

At 10:32 AM I am challenged to ring McDonald's and see what they have to say, daisygirl again:

If people want more of these they can go to McDonalds and get them FREE and as many as they want. Yes, I do know McDonalds policy. Ring McDonalds and tell them what you are doing and see what they have to say about it.

andy66 also seems to know about McDonald's, I find out at 10:37:

Beleive me when i say that these cannot be sold as i asked my stepson who is a mackas manager and he said no they definitely cannot be sold,so before you find yourself in a whole lot of strife it may be wise to withdraw these from auction.

So at this point I am a little worried. I don't like legal actions, especially not against me. I decide to get info straight from the horse's mouth. I give McDonald's' head office a ring, and speak with a Customer Service representative (who shall remain nameless, but you *cough* Gaye *cough* know who you are). Conversation goes something like this (my speech is bold, comments are italic in brackets):

"Hi, I want to know McDonald's stance on reselling of their discount vouchers."

"Is this on TradeMe? I'm looking at the auction now. "
(note, this is before I had said anything about TradeMe, I was famous with McDonald's already!)


"Are you the seller or..."

"Yes, I'm the seller."

"You can't do it. They're the property of McDonald's!"

"How? They got put in my letterbox."

"They're McDonald's property!"

"How? They don't say..."
(me attempting to explain that nowhere on the coupons does it state I can't sell them or that they're McDonald's' property. I wonder how McDonald's feels about all the "McDonald's' Property" that people have torn up, thrown out, or left in their letterbox).

"Well no one's going to buy free coupons! No one's bidding!"
(sneering nyah-nyah-nyah childish voice)

"But..." (me again trying to work what will happen if someone bids, again being rudely cut-off)

"NO ONE'S BIDDING! I'm not going to waste my time with this!"

She then hung up.

I phoned her again, but she didn't answer. I'd like to go on a side track here, and just state that this is BAD customer relations, plain and simple. I was trying to find out important information and was basically given the finger. Thanks a lot.

Things start looking up at 11:18 AM when I get my first bid, cheers ub3rdet! He seems to really like this auction:

MEAN, thanks for the great auction, do you have anymore you can sell me?

After a random comment about Weight Watchers I get my second to last insulting "question" of the day, psych0logical seems to think I can function without a brain or a life. Well he seems to do pretty well without either:

whatta bum..why would u bother..selling these...answering all these questions (must get annoying) listing it...etc..listing fees..stamp for the the end ur only going to get a measly 50 cents or something..which u should put towards a new brain or a life...

Then I don't know what happened, but a whole bunch of supportive, smart, humourous people come from nowhere. All these comments are great, and all you guys are awesome!


hahahaha nice, you certainly put a smile on my dial today :oD

cptr (possibly a C programmer with a username like that? if not, nevermind):

Ha ha, provides viewers with a bit of entertainment too. Good on ya!


hey mate...don't listen to these wankers. i wouldn't do it myself, but you're not hurting anyone. i bet they're the sort of people who complained about the "bugger ad". peace.

markl is a bit of a funny guy, and enjoys the antics of Jason as much as I do:

It looks like you have already separated these coupons. Would I still be able to put them back together to read the Jason comic on the front?

Some nice words from stu45:

Hi, sorry, this isn't a question either- just wanted to commend you for your polite responses, patience, and upheld sense of humour!


Good on ya dude- we are forever losing our coupons and if we still ate Mcdonalds, we would buy em happily for $2! Got any Dominoes ones lying around? lol


Hey I just wanna say good on ya! Don't listen to those bunch of wallies, they're just jealous 'cos they aint got a brain to think with - goodluck! Got any other freebee vouchers you wanna auction off?

Then finally, 15 minutes before the auction closes, milky14 wants to question my existence:

are you for real ??? i think if you are low on cash busk and get a job.. something

Now seriously, how can you miss the 21 preceding questions along with the auction text which quite convincingly show that: yes this auction is for real?

The auction closes at 6:26 PM, with the highest bid being $2.00 from nzkiwi44.

Stats, Facts and Figures
Was this auction worth it? Let's do some math:

Cost of vouchers: $0.00
Cost for me to write auction text: $0.00
Cost for me to take picture: $0.00
Cost of making this a "gallery" auction: $0.45
TradeMe's success fee: $0.45
Final bid: $2.00
Total profit: $1.10

So all the people who said I would make "like 50 cents eh" are wrong. I made more than twice that. In fact, an investment of 90 cents give me a $1.10 return, so that's about a 122.22% profit (now I'm no economist, so that figure's probably wrong, let me know if it is, email address is at the bottom of the page). Wow (again I'm not an economist so maybe that's not that amazing, who cares though?). Perhaps this is better summed up in a MasterCard advertisement parody:

Cost of Vouchers: $0.
Cost to run Auction: 90c.
Profit from auction: $1.10.
A few minutes of good, wholesome, family entertainment: Priceless.
There are some things money can't buy, for everything else there's TradeMe.

This auction eventually had 2,445 views in a three day period (and they weren't all me).

That's 815.00 views per day, or 33.96 views per hour, or 0.57 views per minute! Wow, these numbers are indeed staggering.

If any other three day auction has had more views I'd be interested in knowing.

Update 5/2/05: this auction has had 20202 views, and it looks like it lasted for at least 13 days. That's 1554 views per day, or 64.75 views per hour, or 1.08 views per minute. Wow, these numbers are indeed even more staggering, being almost double mine.

Morality Issue: Was This Fair?
The question I am trying to address here is: Is the selling of free coupons/vouchers wrong? I think from this auction my view on the matter is clear, but how have I decided that this was right?

Let's look at it from the point of view of the four parties involved: the seller, the buyer, TradeMe and McDonald's.

The seller:
The seller receives in his letter-box vouchers for discounted food from his local McDonald's restaurant. Not being a (regular) McDonald's patron, and curious as to the buying habits of TradeMe users he decides to make a buck or two rather than binning them. He carefully reads the fine print of the vouchers and decides that nothing on them says they cannot be sold: McDonald's likely assumes that no one would do this as no one would buy free vouchers. The vouchers also do not state that they belong to McDonald's. A check of TradeMe's banned/restricted items is also done, and discount vouchers are not found. An auction is created and all conditions of the vouchers are listed. Although it is not explicitly stated that these vouchers were free in the mail, upon questioning it is revealed that they are. In the end the seller makes a profit.

The buyer:
The buyer perhaps does not receive the vouchers in the mail, or does not have enough to satisfy his needs. Whatever the reason, the buyer decides to buy. He carefully reads the auction and has all the pertinent information at hand. After deciding that he is not being misled the buyer bids and wins the auction. The buyer receives the vouchers that he wanted.

To TradeMe this should look like any other auction. TradeMe gets its success fees, and makes money. Being a somewhat controversial auction, this turns out to be popular, so TradeMe, who earn money from advertisers, get more money from the page and therefore advertisers' ads being viewed more.

A person who would not have previously shopped at McDonald's now has discount vouchers, and an incentive to go there (more often). The patron visits more, and McDonald's gets more business.

So of the four parties involved:
The seller makes a profit – WIN
The buyer gets the vouchers they wanted – WIN
TradeMe makes money – WIN
McDonald's gets more business – WIN

This is a win-win-win-win situation for everyone involved.

Other Issues/Awesome Ideas
A few points I would like to raise:

  1. McDonald's puts their vouchers in your letter-box, yet they remain McDonald's' property. How does this work? I think New Zealanders are a bunch of thieves, taking McDonald's' property. Of course, some of you may return them to McDonald's, piece by piece, but the majority of you will probably throw them away (destroying McDonald's' property!). I suggest the kind thing to do is return McDonald's' missing property to them, in tact. Mail it to:

    McDonald's New Zealand
    P O Box 6644
    Wellesley Street

    Of course then you can't use the discounts for delicious McDonald's food products, but do you really care?
  2. What kind of customer service representative hangs up on you then refuses to answer the phone when you call back. I could understand this if I was insulting or harassing, but when asking a serious question, why? If you don't want to address queries from callers, don't work in customer service. Because of this confusion I was unsure of McDonald's' view on my auction. Was it bad, or were they "not going to waste [their] time on it"? I have taken it to be the latter, as it was the last thing I was told before being hung up on.
  3. Why would you bother to tell someone that they are a loser on an online auction site? If you don't like the auction, don't bid. Report it to TradeMe if you think it violates their rules. If you think I am withholding information and want a question answered, fine, ask questions. In the end the transaction really only concerns the buyer and the seller, and if the buyer isn't being misled at all, what is the problem? Insulting people doesn't really achieve anything.
  4. How I choose to spend my time is up to me, if writing up auctions, pages like this and answering questions is my thing what is it to you? (Although I understand the irony in this statement, me telling you not to tell me how to do things.)

Thoughts on this page, my auction, whatever, email (remove N0SPAMPLZ from the address first, this is to stop email harvesting bots).

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