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eBay UK is five

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Online auctioneer eBay, celebrates its fifth UK birthday today, and what an interesting five years it has been.

While in the US, happy bidders can get their mitts on the highly prized letters from LINDOWS, (now Linspire, of course) we in the UK have access to the manure from an Olympic champion horse, a couple of housewives, or the entire financial history of one of Europe's larger financial services groups.

We also heard how a UK technology journalist inadvertently bought three seven-ton horse boxes by dint of over enthusiastic clicking.

The biggest ever sale in the UK was Maggie Thatcher's handbag, which went for a tasty £103,000, while the ball that betrayed a nation's hopes in the European cup fetched £18,700.

The company reports around 7.5m visitors to its site every month, and estimates that 10,000 people actually make a living selling through the site.

From sales of illegal stun guns, to accusations of gun smuggling, the site has seen the seedier side of life as well.

eBay has taken steps to deal with the issue of fraud - it offers customers up to £250 of protection from non-delivery or for goods that are not as described on the auction site, so long as the vendor is PayPal-approved.

However, the Consumer Association says that despite this, up to 200 sales per day are fraudulent. eBay claims dodgy sales account for just 0.01 per cent of its total. ®

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