EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 234 - March 01, 2009 - ISSN 1528-6703     5 of 8

First Item Sold Online: No Luck of the Irish on this Disney Sale

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Do you remember the first item you ever sold online? Let us know by sending an email to and we may publish your story. Today we hear from Patricia, whose first buyer got cold feet and taught her some invaluable lessons about selling online.

Hello Ina.
I've been an eBay seller since March 1998, but I still remember that first sale. It was a McDonald's 101 Dalmatian, sitting on a "weighted" green turtle, and it sold for $5.00. This was before the days of automated invoices and shipping calculators, so I sent the winning bidder an email to request their shipping address. And (because I was so excited about my first sale) I added "to thank you for being my first eBay buyer I will pay the postage for you." The buyer wrote back and thanked me for my generosity. I was surprised to see she lived in Ireland! When I checked the USPS site, I found that the postage was going to be more than the winning bid. But that was OK . . . I had the package ready to go, along with the customs form, and was just waiting for the payment to arrive. And I waited and waited and waited.

As it turned out, I didn't go "in the hole" on that sale, because the buyer never paid for the item! I learned a lot from that transaction, including getting the buyer's address before providing a shipping quote, checking the email address for non-US internet providers, completing international customs forms, dealing with non-paying bidders and relisting an item!
Patricia (eBay ID hunter-gatherer)

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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