Picking from the Chocolate Tree

Posted on August 11, 2012

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One of the first questions Bitcoin newbies ask is “what can I spend Bitcoins on?” While the answer is gradually increasing, there are already a good selection of retailers dabbling in accepting them.

I’ve had The Chocolate Tree (Bitcoin store here) in my sights for a while because – let’s face it – what’s better than getting chocolate in the post? They’re also UK based, which makes postage hopefully slightly less and delivery time shorter – important for an impatient blogger like me.

The Bitcoin store is currently a different site to the main one, although the range of items seems to be the same. I browsed round the site from my phone last weekend, choosing a white black forest bar for the wife, a coffee bar for myself, and some  absinthe masks out of curiosity. Total price with shipping: 1.73 BTC, although rates vary regularly.

The store then switches to as bit-pay.com interface for payment, which tells you how much you need to send, and to what address. As I was on my phone, I wanted to use the blockchain.info app to pay. There was a handy link for that (or alternatively a handy QR code), which fired up the app with the address and amount filled in – all I had to do was click “Send”.

Then a bit of a scary bit – the bit-pay invoice told me it expired after 15 minutes. I’ve since contacted bit-pay (who have been really responsive – thanks guys) and confirmed this is to minimise problem around a) stock changes on the retail site, and b) exchange rate fluctuations – both interesting issues to grapple with.

My pulse went up here – after sending the coins through …. nothing happened. I waited. I refreshed. I checked the transaction status – “Unconfirmed”. Argh. While it often takes about 10 minutes for the next Bitcoin block to be confirmed, I guess I was a bit unlucky and hit a slow one. But at the same time, the coins had definitely “left” my account.

Unsure what would happen here, I fired off some mails to The Chocolate Tree and Bit-pay. In fact, I needn’t have worried – a few minutes later, I got an e-mail confirming the order had been paid and my chocolates would be sent out after the weekend. Awesome – I’d bought chocolate. With Bitcoins. Looky:

Omnomnoms

Omnomnoms have arrived.

Delivery time was literally 24 hours, and I can totally confirm that pictured chocolates are officially Bloody  Yum. Did I also mention that the Bitcoins were originally for some PHP support in the forums? Yup – end-to-end Bitcoin process, from service to happy belly in under a week.

I’ve also been following up the process with the Bit-pay folk, who will hopefully add a few comforting messages to make it a bit less scary – so long as you’ve sent your coins to the correct address fairly quickly, you should be OK.

And I’ll also be posting a quick Q&A with Ali, the owner of The Chocolate Tree, as I think getting merchants’ perspectives is fundamental to how well Bitcoin takes off over the next year. Watch this space, but in the meantime, go and order some for yourself.

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