WASHINGTON – eBay powersellers say the auctioneer fooled the national media into believing it was a victim of a hoax regarding sales of UPS uniforms on its website since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The high-volume sellers insist large quantities of the delivery service’s famous brown uniforms were, in fact, sold on eBay in January. And they provided WorldNetDaily with old archive records to prove that at least several high-dollar transactions took place then. Some of the uniforms auctioned off were brand new.
“It was not a hoax,” said an eBay powerseller from Illinois. “The official eBay line that no sales of that kind ever took place is blatantly false and, I am sure, a cover-up of eBay’s inability to police their own site.”
One powerseller was so alarmed by the purchases she says she brought them to the attention of the FBI, according to comments she made Jan. 10 in an eBay powerseller discussion-board thread. Another e-mailed the FBI details of the transactions.
But in interviews last month with WorldNetDaily and the Washington Post, eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove denied that the UPS uniforms were purchased on eBay earlier this year. An e-mail detailing the sales, and warning of UPS imposters, possibly terrorists, dropping off unknown packages at buildings, has circulated among police, corporate security and even the military.
“There is nothing to that rumor,” Pursglove told WorldNetDaily in an April 3 phone interview. The newssite published his quotes in a story posted six days later.
The UPS story “comes up empty,” he reiterated to the Washington Post, which ran its story, “UPS Rumors Are Uniformly Wrong,” on April 8.
Pursglove suggested to both news outlets that the purchases would have been impossible, because eBay has barred listings of UPS or any other uniforms since the 2001 attacks.
“After the event of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, eBay has prohibited the listing of uniforms of any shipping companies, as well as airlines,” he told WND in the same April 3 interview.
In fact, the ban didn’t go into effect until Jan. 15 of this year – 16 months after the attacks – Pursglove now admits. He made the clarification after WND forwarded him archived links to five UPS uniform purchases made on eBay in early January. Several powersellers e-mailed the links to WND after seeing its story.
“Our ban went into effect Jan. 15,” he explained, “so it is possible that the links were up and running at that time.”
“But the ban went into effect on Jan. 15 for UPS uniforms,” he emphasized, adding that no UPS sales have been allowed since then. In fact, they would be “VeRO’d,” the term for an internal eBay program that automatically ends auctions of banned items.
Pursglove says he still doubts the uniform sales totaled anywhere near the $32,000 figure cited in the e-mail. And he says it is unlikely the uniforms that were sold fell into the hands of terrorists, who might want to pose as UPS drivers to easily gain access to buildings and plant bombs, because law enforcement does not appear worried about the purchases.
“Never in this whole process has any federal agency contacted us or asked for our assistance in an investigation in this regard,” Pursglove said in WND’s follow-up interview, although he says San Jose, Calif.-based eBay has been inundated with media calls since the alarming e-mail first began showing up in in-boxes around the country in February.
Flushing the iLoo snafu
Another high-tech company, Microsoft Corp., yesterday also backpedaled from its earlier claim of being victimized by a hoax – this one regarding its planned launch in Britain of a portable toilet with a built-in Internet terminal.
On Monday, the world’s largest software maker said the “iLoo” was a false rumor and apologized for any “confusion or offense.” Reuters, which along with several other news outlets had recently run stories detailing the project, retracted its story.
Then, yesterday, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft switched its story and admitted the iLoo had been a legitimate project, albeit an embarrassingly ill-conceived one.
Regarding eBay spinning its UPS uniform sales as a hoax, one powerseller said, “They pulled the wool over the media’s eyes.”
“There were truly thousands of dollars being bid in January on UPS uniforms,” he said.
Said another powerseller: “There were numerous listings for authentic UPS browns” early this year, although “eBay seems to have gotten serious about clamping down on listings of UPS uniforms, as there are none listed now.”
Indeed, last month, when WND first investigated the e-mail rumor, only listings of NASCAR shirts with UPS sponsor logos showed up in the eBay archives.
Problem is, eBay programs its archives to drop out old listings after about two weeks.
The powersellers, who have access to archives going back 90 days, retrieved the authentic UPS uniform listings. Here are several links to sold items:
Since WorldNetDaily drew its attention to the items, eBay has removed any record of them from its archives. Clicking on the links calls up the message: “The item you requested is … no longer in our database.”
However, WorldNetDaily printed out the auction notices, with the photos of the items, before they were deleted, and scanned at least one of the items for review. The “Authentic UPS ‘Browns'” item (page 1, page 2, page 3), priced at $999, is described as “full authentic ‘browns’ uniform. This uniform has never been worn. The pants are 30 R, the shirt and jacket are Medium. This uniform was Riverside manufactured.”
It was sold Jan. 13 to a bidder in Mobile, Ala.
‘Never been worn!’
Another bidder bought an extra-large UPS Brown winter “thinsulate” vest, described as “worn twice,” for $77.98 on Jan. 8. The same bidder won the auction of a “new authentic UPS brown sleeveless” vest on Jan. 19 for $306.99; as well as a “very rare official UPS 30 regular pants” that “have never been worn!!” on Jan. 10 for $202.50; and a “very rare, Riverside UPS heavy winter jacket,” that “has never been worn,” on Jan. 10 for $202.50. Sellers were from Mobile, Ala., and Norwich, Conn. Details about the buyer are unavailable.
One powerseller tallied final bids of UPS uniforms sold between Nov. 20 and Jan. 3, and came up with $57,801.94.
“I’m pretty sure the $32,000 figure quoted was an aggregate figure for the numerous auctions that closed early this year, rather than a single listing as apparently misconstrued by Pursglove,” he said.
Another eBay regular, a so-called “Gold” powerseller, said Pursglove “deliberately deceived” the public in claiming the uniforms were banned after Sept. 11.
All the powersellers who contacted WND requested anonymity, explaining that their livelihood depends on maintaining a good working relationship with eBay.
UPS, for its part, has also dismissed as a hoax the e-mail about its uniform sales on eBay. “It’s a major hoax,” UPS spokesman Steve Soltis told WND. A spokeswoman said the same thing to the Washington Post.
Atlanta-based UPS maintains a security policy requiring its drivers to turn in their old uniforms when they leave the company.
How so many uniforms, particularly so many allegedly
brand new ones, managed to be sold on eBay remains a
mystery. UPS, which is changing its UPS shield logo,
insists no uniforms are missing from its inventory.
Snopes.com, a website dedicated to debunking urban legends, has declared the eBay-UPS uniforms rumor “false,” citing the Washington Post story.