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Houston online auction house selling marked-up protective gear responds to criticism

HOUSTON – A southeast Houston online auction house that normally sells everything from pillows to chainsaws to baseballs to shower heads has a few new items available.

Auctions Unlimited is selling sanitizer, wipes and masks, as the coronavirus crisis swipes across the city and nation. Only one problem, KPRC 2 viewers said they’re marking up the prices for emergency items.

“I’m just a bidding platform for people that want to liquidate their surplus assets," owner Tim Worstell said.

Worstell said his family have been in the auction business for several generations. He said he does not own the highly coveted, safety masks that are going for roughly $100 more than their usual cost. He also doesn’t own the hundreds of thousands of ear loop masks he is auctioning.

Worstell is the middle man. Even if he didn’t load the supplies on his site, the owners would sell on another platform, he said.

He admits that in order to take opening bids at $1 with no reserves, the corporations had to agree to his terms.

“In order for me to take the consignment, they had to agree to donate 10% of their profits and I agreed to match that to the church of their choice," he said.

When KPRC 2 Investigates pointed out that donating money to a church is not the same as saving a life, Worstell said: “Oh absolutely and if it belongs to me it would be a whole different story but unfortunately they don’t.”

Worstell also said he reached out to the Texas Attorney General’s Office for guidance to ensure he was in the clear.