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City of Seattle Selling Its Automated Public Toliets on eBay. And eBay Stock Drops 15%

July 17th, 2008 by Skip McGrath

Bargain Alert: You can now buy a $500,000 automated public toliet on eBay for $89,000

I am working on a post about eBay’s earnings reports and Wall Street hammering the stock –off 15% as this is being written. I will have more on that later today.

In the meantime, hear is an interesting story about a government fiasco that cost the taxpayers of Seattle millions of dollars and how they are using eBay to recover some of their money.

Two years ago the City of Seattle spent millions of dollars on coin-operated public toilets that became magnets for drug dealers and prostitutes.  The toilets, similar to those that have operated successfully in Europe were designed to provide a place for tourists in popular areas of Seattle to relieve themselves.

The toilets are fully automated. After each use, the door locks and the interior becomes essentially a mini car wash. Electronically controlled nozzles spray water and disinfectant all over the unit and then dryers dry it off before the next person uses it. This process takes about a minute.

But unlike the toilets in Europe which cost 1 Euro ($1.50) to use, Seattle made the toilets free. Although the toilets were sold to the citizenry as a service for tourists –most tourists would not go near them because they became neighborhood centers for male prostitutes, drug deals and homeless people using them for baths and clothes changing.  On some days the dozen or so toilets were responsible for over 50 responses by police.

Citizens, tourists and local businesses have been complaining about the units for years. So, the City of Seattle finally gave up and removed them.  They have decided to try and recover some of their investment by selling the units on eBay.  The city has engaged the services of eBay trading assistant Bidadoo to offer the units.  You can view the auction listing by typing the item number 170240609824 into the Search box on eBay.

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