Everything You Need To Know About Online Shopping

Everything You Need To Know About Online Shopping

Hi! Welcome to Mental Floss. I’m Erin McCarthy, and did you know a woman once sold her allegedly haunted cane online
for $65,000? That’s one of many interesting facts about online shopping we’ll be discussing
today, in this episode presented by Discover. Let’s get started. We’re kicking this episode off with a list
of some weird things that people have bought on the internet. In 2006, a 27-year-old Canadian man wanted
to see what he could get for a paperclip. So, he started trading with strangers on the
internet. And he made some great deals. He started with a single red paperclip and eventually
he was offered a farmhouse by an entire town in exchange for his previous trade: a role
in a movie. Some of the other traded items along the way were a camp stove, a generator,
a snowglobe, a snowmobile, and a moving van. It took a total of fourteen trades to end
up with the house. A man in Australia auctioned off way more
than a red paperclip in 2008. He got rid of everything in his life for $305,000 including
his car, house, and all of his belongings. The idea for the dramatic auction was prompted
by a bad divorce, but the story has a happy ending. He went on to check about 100 items
off his bucket list, visiting thirty-one countries and meeting a new wife along the way. Apparently the aughts were the perfect time
for weird internet purchases because in 2004, an online casino bought a woman’s haunted
cane for $65,000. The cane had previously belonged to her father. And her six-year-old son believed
that having it around meant his grandfather’s ghost would haunt their house. There were
132 bids before it went to the casino, which purchased many other strange things in internet
auctions, including food that looked like religious figures, a celebrity’s kidney
stone, and name changes for a woman and a monkey. The original Hollywood sign was auctioned
off for $450,400. The sign looked over Los Angeles from 1923 to 1978. And in 2005, it
was sold to a new owner thanks to the magic of the internet. The letters were 50-feet-tall
and 30-feet-wide. And finally maybe you’re feeling left out,
wishing you could buy some weird item on the internet, too. So for one that you can purchase
online today, we have the message on a potato. For $9.99 plus $5 shipping, you can get
whatever you want written on a potato in black ink. You can even get pictures drawn on it.
That’s way cheaper, and easier to store, than a bunch of humongous old letters anyway. Online shopping isn’t just about ease; it’s
about getting the best deals. When you save money, you feel smart. Every day on mentalfloss.com,
we round up that day’s best online shopping bargains. But some days are bigger than others.
In the 2018 holiday season, Americans spent almost $124 billion shopping online, with
$6.2 billion on Black Friday and $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday.
In general, electronics and other tech gadgets are typically a great deal during the Holiday season. But that is just the beginning of online holiday bargains. If you are shopping with your Discover card, they will match all all the cash back new card members earn at the end of the first year, automatically. To inspire your holiday shopping, here are a few less-expected deals you can score during the holidays, presented by Discover. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great days
to shop for Fluffy and Fido, because pet stores offer deals on toys, treats, and apparel. You can score big discounts on both
print and electronic books during the Holiday season. Enrich your brain over the holidays by signing
up for some online classes, which are super discounted on Black Friday and Cyber
Monday. You can get an education for as little as $10 a course. While you’re shopping this Holiday season,
why not treat yourself or your loved ones to a trip? You can find excellent holiday deals on everything from airfare to hotels. Black Friday and Cyber monday are great days to stock up on high-end beauty brands, which cut their prices by a significant amount
both in stores and online. If you’re interested in online purchases,
it’s important to have good financial backing, ideally through a credit card that works for
you. With Discover, they automatically match the cash back you earn, dollar for dollar,
at the end of your first year. Visit Discover.com backslash Match to learn more. Let’s rewind the clock a bit and go through
some firsts in internet shopping history. As for the first time a physical object was
purchased over the internet, some people claim it happened during the early 1970s. It was
an online interaction between university students. The problem was: the item being exchanged
was an illicit drug. So, this definitely wasn’t a legal online purchase, plus no actual money
was involved. By the 1980s, online auctions started to emerge. Before there were websites devoted to online auctions, people were using
sites with forums or chat rooms to auction off their belongings online. In 1984, an “Electronic Mall” opened,
but it never became popular. It didn’t help that dial-up was expensive and just 8% of
American households even had a computer. The mall sold items from various companies,
including bookstores and department stores. A decade later, in 1994, the first secure
online shopping experience happened. A CD was sold for $12.48 plus shipping. It went
to a person in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from the website’s headquarters in Nashua,
New Hampshire. This was able to happen thanks to a web browser, released that year, that
could encrypt information on both sides of the transaction. In 1998, electronic stamps became a thing
in the United States. Finally, people could buy stamps over the internet, print them out,
and place them on their outgoing mail. One early idea for what to call this process was
“mouse-mail.” Two years after that, in 2000, the United
States Census Bureau started tracking e-commerce sales. They had data from the fourth quarter
of 1999 that put sales at $5.3 billion. And finally, apps got in the internet shopping
game in 2008. Before we had convenient shopping apps, people had to use regular internet browsing
on their phones or computers. We’re going to finish today’s episode
with a story about one of the first online purchases. One of the less illegal ones. All
the way back in 1984, a 72-year-old woman with a broken hip bought groceries online.
That’s five years before the world wide web was even invented. A man in the UK had implemented the system
in her home, with the hopes that it would take off and help other people with mobility
problems. The system connected her television set to the internet. In his words, “What
we effectively did was to take a domestic TV in a home and turn it into a computer terminal.” So, he switched out the TV remote with one
that looked pretty much exactly the same. There was just one small difference: a single
button labeled “phone.” When the phone button was pressed, three options were given.
She could press 1, 2, or 3, depending on whether she wanted to order from her supermarket,
pharmacy, or bakery. After choosing supermarket, she was able to
scroll through 1,000 products. So, on the day that she had the first online grocery
shopping experience, she ordered margarine, cereal, and eggs. Her phone line was used
to give the order to the grocery store. Then, employees at the store gathered the food and
delivered it. When they did, she paid in cash (which to some people, means this doesn’t
count as online shopping because the money wasn’t exchanged over the internet). The inventor called it “teleshopping.”
It was so simple because it was all done with telephone numbers and technology that she
was already familiar with. It only took her fifteen minutes to learn how to do everything. Thanks for watching Mental Floss Video, which
is made with the help of all these nice people. Subscribe to our channel if you’d like
to see more Scatterbrained videos. Bye!


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