EBay has been helping the public and small businesses sell their wares since 1995. One of the most notable success stories of the dot com boom, it has grown into a multi-million dollar business, present in over 30 countries.
But the majority of its founding principles remain the same and people can buy and sell almost anything they want – something some have taken a little too literally.
You may recall last September’s plebgate – in which former chief whip Andrew Mitchell allegedly swore at police officers and called them plebs. The bicycle at the centre of the row – an 18-speed Reflex Westminster – has just raised £10,600 for charity after it was sold on eBay.
The money will go to Nyumbani UK, which helps HIV and Aids-affected children in Kenya. The charity said the auction attracted more than 31,600 views over five days, with 60 bids in total.
But that is far from the strangest thing someone has attempted to sell on eBay. Here are some items that pip the plebcycle:
In 2008 a German couple put their seven month old child up for auction with a starting price of one Euro. No offers were made for the child in the two hours the advert was showing.
The unnamed child was advertised as a: “Nearly new baby for sale, as it has become too loud. It is a male baby, nearly 28 inches long and can be used either in a baby carrier or a pram.”
The mother told a German newspaper: “It was only a joke. I just wanted to see if someone would make an offer.”
Pick and mix
The “last ever” bag of Woolworth’s pick and mix was auctioned for £14,500 making them the most expensive bag of sweets ever sold in the UK. It contained fizzy cola bottles, rhubarb and custards, strawberry bon-bons, Turkish delight, white mice, pineapple cubes, and many other favourite sweets.
Ed Adams, a store manager, snapped up the collector’s item just before his shop closed for the last time. The sweets raised funds for Retail Trust, a charity for retail industry workers.
A used tissue (complete with celebrity germs)
Scarlett Johansson told US talk show host Jay Leno that she had caught a cold from Samuel L Jackson – and that her illness had more ‘”value” and it contained double celebrity germs. The actress put one of her used tissues up on eBay and raised £3,600 for charity.
Johansson also raised £20,000 for Oxfam by listing a 20 minute date on the site.
Following last year’s Stone Roses reunion gigs, one entrepreneurial fan ’bottled’ the electric atmosphere for Heaton Park, Manchester, in what appeared to be a urine sample container.
The seller stated: “Here is your chance to own your very own piece of Mancunian history… approx 10cc of awesome atmosphere.”
After 26 years of marriage, Paul Osborn discovered his wife was cheating, so he got his revenge by selling her on eBay, listing her telephone number, work details and her lover’s home address.
Paul said: “In a fit of rage I put the advert on eBay. I later took it off because I realised it wasn’t the right thing to do. I was just so angry.”
Dan Baines, a 31-year-old illusion designer from London, posted on his website images of the “corpse” of an unknown eight-inch creation in 2007 – which he claimed to be the mummified remains of a fairy which was discovered by a dog walker at Firestone Hill in Duffield, Derbyshire.
Enthusiastic believers in the supernatural failed to note the upcoming date – April 1. On Fool’s Day Baines posted a not on the item, explaining the hoax.
After a tough break up from his wife, Ian Usher sold “his entire life” for £192,000 in 2008. It included his three-bedroom home in Perth with contents, his Mazda car, motorcycle, Jet Ski and parachuting gear. He also sold an introduction to his friends and a trial run at his job at a rug shop.
An Australian man tried to auction New Zealand off over the internet, starting at just one Australian cent. Six thousand hits and 22 bids later, New Zealand was still a real estate bargain at $3,000.
The posting said the country’s highlights include “the dodgiest America’s Cup win ever…and very ordinary weather.” Before the country could be sold off the auction was pulled.
Daniel Feiler of eBay Australia said: “We have over 1,000 trust and safety people looking at the site and key areas – and clearly New Zealand isn’t for sale.”