An eBay auction for a room at the Statler Hotel for the 2002 commencement weekend ended yesterday.
From April 20 through April 30, a room at the Statler, normally reserved only for trustees, was listed on eBay with a starting price of $1,500.
The room was posted on eBay by student Deena Arthur Varshavskaya, who, according to Statler Hotel manager Rebecca Kiristis and the eBay item description, came to possess the reservation through a lottery that occurred two years ago.
Rooms at the Statler are typically reserved for members of the Board of Trustees, speakers at commencement services and distinguished guests of the University, according to Hotel officials. It is almost impossible for anyone else to make a reservation.
Varshavskaya’s auction description was viewed at least 570 times by yesterday, according to a counter placed in the description at the website.
The eBay auction, number 1347650527, was abruptly ended yesterday, however, for an unknown reason. The auction heading states, “the seller ended this listing early because of an error in the listing.”
According to Kiristis, after learning of the ongoing eBay auction, the hotel informed Varshavskaya that the reservation was not transferable and suggested that it be removed from eBay.
At the time that the auction was canceled, the winning bid was held by an unidentifiable person with the user name “Ronnisi.” This eBay user bid the starting price, $1,500.
According to Karen Jones at the reception desk at the Statler, an available room for commencement weekend this May would be offered for $199 per night or a total of $597 for the three nights offered in the auction.
At a price of $1,500, this would indicate a profit for Varshavskaya of more than $900.
Kirisits claimed that the room was not offered to Varshavskaya for the purpose of selling it at a profit but rather for her parents’ use. “It would be ridiculous,” Kirisits said, “for us to offer rooms to our students with the intent that they would sell them.”
Kirisits explained that the prior manager of the hotel offered the room as an incentive to a team of employees. This was done through a lottery, in which Varshavskaya, a student employee, won the room.
“She was offered a room for graduation as an incentive program,” Kirisits commented. “It was for her family to stay in, not to sell on eBay.”
Rooms in the Statler, according to Kirisits, are not transferable. Kirisits explained that when hotel management explained this to Varashavskaya, she removed it from eBay because she would not be able to sell it.
Varshavskaya vehemently denied that she had removed the item from eBay as a response to actions of the Statler’s management. She explained that she removed the item from eBay for no particular reason, claiming, “I like doing things for no reason. I don’t care about my image.”
Archived article by Chris Mitchell