Because selling stuff on Craigslist is never easy.

I sell a lot of stuff on Craigslist.  I don’t make it a career move or anything, but when I need to get rid of something of value, Craigslist is unfortunately the best way to make that happen. When I was in college and working part time, I sold some strange things on Craigslist.  I sold a 5 gallon stainless steel bowl for $7.  I got $200 for a destroyed eggplant-colored sofa once.  I even posted up photos of a bunch of invasive plants in our yard and go someone to come by with his wheelbarrow and shovel and dig up half of it for free.  I haven’t sold food, human organs, 11 foot long Victorian-era wardrobes or anything, but I’ve bought and sold cars, furniture, and espresso machines.  I’d say my craigslist portfolio is pretty well-rounded.

There are certain rules of etiquette that people on craigslist seem to not quite understand though. Like actually showing up, either on time or at all.  The generally accepted craigslist rule of discussing price via email is usually followed, and incredibly annoying when people show up after you’ve rearranged your schedule to meet with them, then offer you considerably less than your asking price.  I always make a point of giving as much information as possible in my ad to avoid tons of questions.  I’ll include measurements and links to product info pages, take tons of detailed photos, and give a basic rundown of my availability so I don’t waste my time or anyone else’s.  When I sold my white jeep, I made a comprehensive list of everything that’s wrong with it.  That gave potential buyers the ability to do some of their own research and determine whether they were willing to buy something with those particular problems.  Saved me the hassle of wasting my and their time meeting with them and going on a test drive with a stranger.   I think that also makes the potential buyer feel like you’re not lying to them about anything (which I wouldn’t), thus more interested in doing a deal with you.  The first person who contacted me about my jeep ended up meeting me that evening (the day I posted the ad), and test driving.  They came by the next day with cash and picked it up.  It was an easy transaction.  Most of them are not quite so simple.


I listed the axle to our old jeep once.  It’s huge and takes up a bunch of room in the garage.  I tried to be as clear as possible, and also made sure my limits were listed so nobody came expecting me to help them move it (not happening).  Occasionally, Craig, whilst bored at work, will troll me. I mentioned to him that I had listed the axle on craigslist and that afternoon I received an email from someone asking about the axle… saying they wanted to know if it would fit a Mustang.  So I cursed under my breath about the total idiots on craigslist, then proceeded to write a nice email saying that I have no idea, but it’s up to him to figure it out.  A few hours later, after Craig and I had eaten dinner and were relaxing on the sofa, a reply comes in saying that they’re not sure if it’s worth it to come get the axle if I’m not sure what it fits, and that he lives about an hour away.  I went on a tirade about the stupidity of craigslisters again to Craig, then once again sent a pleasant email explaining that if it doesn’t work with his mustang, of course he could recycle it for scrap and get some cash money.  The response comes back that he doesn’t have the ability to make it all the way up to my house, but will I please meet him about 45-50 minutes away with it?  I got super angry and ranty and cursey, but by then, Craig was unable to control his laughter, and I finally realized that he had been trolling me like crazy.  This has happened on at least 2 other occasions, and he did it to his best friend when he was selling a car.  It ends up being hilarious once we figure it out, but until then, you feel like stabbing the guy on the other end of the emails in the face.

Related to oversharing, it definitely does not hurt.  If it’s something that someone may need measurements on, just include them.  Invariably, you’ll receive emails asking about dimensions, and if you don’t have them, that could cost you a sale, or invite a slew of additional questions where the person on the other end asks you a number of vague questions regarding the size of the item.  And since people rarely seem to read the text of the ad, I overlay the dimensions on the photos of the item.  It eliminates any questions.  Also, include tons of photos.  They’re free to take, and if it saves you even 30 seconds worth of reading and replying to emails from some functionally illiterate idiot on the internet, it’s well worth it.  Be sure to include close-up photos of any damage to the item, be it dings, dents, scratches, rips, etc.  That will prevent people from taking up your time coming to look at  the item and then deciding that they’re not interested. I avoid buying/replying to ads that describe but do not illustrate damage.  A person’s assessment of the damage to an item they’re trying to sell tends to be pretty far off from your assessment of the damage to an item that you’re thinking of buying.

vent hood with measurements

I had a sale a few weeks ago where I was selling our old media credenza thingy.  I really didn’t care how much I got for it, just that it went away and I didn’t have to keep it in the house anymore.  This is where I ran into the standard craziness/flakiness of Craigslist people.  I made plans with this woman to come get it no later than 6.  When 6:45 rolled around and she still hadn’t shown up, I emailed her (she didn’t give me a phone #).  40 minutes later I received a response stating that she was in urgent care with stomach problems.  Um…. Even if you ARE in urgent care (which I doubt), wouldn’t you have the presence of mind to remember that you were planning to meet someone, and at least show them the courtesy of cancelling?  Perhaps I believe that people should be more considerate than they are, but when I make plans with someone, I stick to them unless something unavoidable comes up, in which case I let them know as soon as possible.  It was after 8 when her boyfriend eventually made it to our house to pick up the damn thing.  Luckily SOMEONE actually showed up.  When I sold our old dresser, I had it posted up.  This lady made an appointment with me, and after cancelling once (ahead of time) waited until I had rearranged plans to be there for her to pick it up, and past the designated pickup time, THEN called to see if she could reschedule, citing already-planned events.  I told her that I had someone else coming to pick it up later that night.  It was a lie, but I didn’t want to deal with her after that.   I sold it a few days later to someone else for more money.

Craigslist ad

Do you have any horror stories?  I’d love to hear them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s