The United States Embassy in London is having a yard sale, so to speak. And they aren’t alone.
Online auctions for surplus property are either ongoing or pending at nine embassies and one consulate in eight countries. The U.S. State Department runs an online auction site to handle all the sales.
But why not use ebay or Craigslist? Or just take the items to the local version of Goodwill?
Technically, all property of the United States government belongs to the purchaser; namely, U.S. taxpayers. This is why you can’t pull up to your local military base and buy surplus items. Disposal of surplus property is tightly regulated in each area of the government.
The US Foreign Affairs Manual covers the regulations for embassies and consulates. It states that if U.S. property based abroad is not returned to the U.S., it “may be sold if in the best interest of the US government” with proceeds going to the U.S. Treasury.
The Guardian, a British based paper, reported on the London auction in their Monday edition, highlighting items such as toilet paper —which the London Embassy has many rolls to sell. And toilet paper is just the tip of the iceberg.
But before you decide to bid, there’s a few facts you should know.
Items must be bid upon and paid for in the local currency…
…and picked up on site.
Unless you fancy a trip to Yerevan, Armenia, or Tirana, Albania, or Lisbon, Portugal and exchanging your U.S. dollars for Serbian Dinar or Turkish Lira or Ukrainian гривня, best not bid. Any property not picked up in a timely manner will be disposed of and no refunds granted.
And the items? Many can only be generously described as junk, as the following examples show.