Craigslist Buying and Selling Etiquette

published Aug 27, 2008
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One of this week’s Good Questions made us think about our own experiences with buying and selling furniture (and other items) on Craigslist. Having been on both sides of the coin, we think that Craigslist users should abide by common sense etiquette. We’ve experienced a few too many instances of no-shows and low ballers in our time, and we’re sure we’re not alone in dealing with these buyers and sellers with bad Craigslist manners. Jump below for our list of Craigslist buying and selling dos and don’ts.

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• Show up. We’ve experienced a few instances where we’ve agreed with a buyer or seller on a location for a sale and the other person was a no-show. There’s nothing more infuriating than someone who isn’t polite enough to call or e-mail to cancel a meeting, especially when you’ve gone out of your way or made time in your busy schedule to show up.

• Be prompt. Another pet peeve of ours is people who think being 30 minutes late is perfectly okay. Be respectful and keep to the scheduled time. That also goes for showing up too early. We’ve had a few garage sales where we’ve stated in our Craigslist posting that no early birds would be tolerated, but sure enough, the garage sale vultures were out and ready before we’d even had time to set up.

• Be upfront in your Craigslist posting about defects and imperfections on the item you are selling. We always mention — and include photos, if possible — of the dents, nicks, and other imperfections on the items we’re selling, and we hope others will do the same.

• Don’t lowball after a price has been agreed upon. Bargaining down a price is par for the course on Craigslist, but after you’ve agreed upon a price, or if the buyer has specifically stated in their post that they will not take any lower price, don’t try to low ball at the point of sale.

• If you’re a seller, don’t be afraid to count out the money once it’s been handed to you. Or, if you’re a buyer, count out the money when handing it over. We didn’t always follow this rule, until we were almost ripped off by a sneaky Craigslist buyer who took advantage of our foolish naivete. When he handed us a wad of cash, we thought it would be rude to count it out in front of him to make sure he gave us the correct amount. It wasn’t until he left our apartment that we realized that he gave us almost $100 less than the agreed upon price. We ran after him (barefoot) and were able to get the rest of our money. He apologized for his (failed) scheme, but we were in too much shock to do more than get our money and give him a dirty look.

• If you’re buying a big or heavy piece of furniture, don’t assume the seller will help you carry it to your car or help you transport it. Bring a strong friend or two, and make sure your vehicle is large enough to fit your purchase. We’ve had a few instances where buyers are in denial about how small their cars are. No, our love seat will not fit into your Honda Civic hatchback! We’ve also had to help a few too many buyers with hauling huge pieces of furniture down our apartment’s front stairs. We’re glad to do it when it’s within our ability, but we’d appreciate it if you brought your hefty friend(s) to help you.

• Don’t call a seller or buyer at inappropriate times. If the Craigslist buyer or seller lists good times to call in his/her posting or response e-mail, use that as your guide as to when it’s appropriate. Otherwise, generally assume that early morning and late night hours are bad times to call. We’ve been woken up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday by a woman who wanted to take a free down comforter off our hands. We were not amused.

• If a buyer specifies that he/she will only arrange a sale over the telephone, don’t e-mail a query and expect to hear back. We usually specify in our postings that an interested party should e-mail us his/her phone number and the best times for us to call. We believe it’s less likely a person will flake on you once you have his/her number, or once you’ve spoken, person-to-person, on the phone. The more personal you can get, the better. Although we admit, we’ve had a few instances where this theory didn’t work to our advantage. Flakes will be flakes!

Do you have any other Craigslist buying/selling dos and don’ts to add to this list?