Sunday, June 17, 2007

My Top 10 Tips for Using Craigslist.

The original purpose of this blog was to rant about things that annoy the crap out of me. I have a very long list of such things, where currently summer, Red Sox Fans, MBTA, Boston drivers, people in flip flops, and unnecessary/wasteful product packaging reign supreme. I seem to be quite obsessed with lists as well, so this might be a blog of lists. Today’s installment of rants concerns…


Occasionally – and recently it’s been more frequently than I’d like – I venture on Craigslist to sell something for myself, buy something as a prop for a show, sell something that used to be a prop on a show etc. etc. At those times, my life becomes a living hell. While Craigslist has been of extraordinary help for me since 1999 or so, lending me a hand in renting multiple apartments, selling almost all of our furniture once, finding people to transport large items from point A to point B in their very nice truck, etc. etc., it is those brilliant people who use the service as if no social skills or common graces are required the make my blood boil. It is for those people I compile my Top 10 Tips for Using Craigslist.

10. If you are offering a physical item for sale, it’s helpful to include a picture. Chances are, if you can use Craigslist, you have a digital camera. Or a phone with a camera. Or you can borrow a camera for 5 minutes. “Green couch for sale” becomes a lot more attractive when can be seen below the header. It will also help me a lot if I can show the couch to my designer and ask “should we get this lovely green couch for the set” instead of hoping I can reupholster another Craigslist couch green because I can’t see yours. And, when it’s student moving season in Boston, and 15,000 BU freshmen are ripe to acquire unique “great” couches, yours stands THAT much more of a chance with a picture.

9. Please let me know where your item is located upfront. There’s a little space for that at the top of the posting form. Boston” is a large area. If you are in Danvers, that’s not Boston. That’s the North Shore. I don’t routinely drive 30 miles for a bookcase. I bet someone from Salem would be more than happy to pick up an item in Danvers. Likewise, I already posted in my ad the location of the crap I am getting rid of – it’s “Fenway.” The neighborhood is 12 square blocks. Don’t ask me where I am. It makes me think you can’t read. If you don’t know your Boston locales, you shouldn’t be using Craigslist.

8. On the subject of neighborhoods, why are Craigslisters so damn lazy? I once had a woman waste an hour of my time exchanging e-mails for an item I was selling (and actually MAKING a date to meet) only to write back and tell me I “lived too far.” I was 4 T-stops from her. That’s not even 15 minutes, and I lived ACROSS the STREET from the T-stop. I guess her time was extremely valuable.

7. If you write an e-mail interested in an item for sale, please sign your name. It’s only common courtesy, as I don’t want to refer to you as “Dear”! Phone numbers are helpful too, in case I need to track you down (see items 2 &3). Also, please make sure your e-mail address actually shows a name of some sort – it doesn’t have to be your real name, or even your full name, but something other than “abcdf23” is helpful for identification. Otherwise, if I receive multiple e-mails from you, I am hella confused about who you are, especially if the e-mails are concerning different items I am selling.

6. If I offered to deliver the item I am selling because I felt bad for you and your carless situation, DON’T haggle over the price, and be a dear and actually COME DOWN from the 4th floor (which you forgot to mention) and pick up the item yourself. I would have been ok with lugging it up the stairs if you were a 90-year old lady. You were younger than me. I know I am a sucker, but I wanted my money. I am NEVER delivering anything AGAIN.

5. If I posted a “TV Unit” with a photo, a detailed description with measurements, explanation where the item was purchased, and a link to how much it currently STILL sells retail, all the while asking a quite reasonable $90 for it, don’t tell me “I’ll give you $30 for it.” The words “Or Best Offer” were not part of the ad. If I wanted to sell it for $30, I would have said as much. Also, don’t ask me if it will fit in your car – I gave you the measurements, you presumably took enough math to make it out of primary grades, and can read a measuring tape. I am not clairvoyant, I don’t know if your car trunk is big enough.

4. On occasion I have posted multiple similar items for sale. For instance, last month I was divesting of 3 different typewriters, all posted under their respective brand names. I have received multiple messages inquiring “if the typewriter was still there.” I don’t know. Maybe it is. The Remington definitely is. Did you want the Corona? I am sorry, it’s gone. When you linked to my posting and cleverly deleted the automatic e-mail subject “Re: Corona Typewriter for Sale”, I had no way of knowing what you wanted. However, this would also be a good time to become clairvoyant. I will work on that.

3. If we exchange multiple e-mails about the item, and then you disappear, and I am forced to re-post the item because you disappear, and you have enough free time to find my item AGAIN and write back to me through Craigslist with apologies and then disappear AGAIN, I am sorry, you can’t have my item, you are a moron with the attention span of a gnat. I wish I had that much free time on my hands during my work day.

2. You know where to find me – we’ve exchanged 4 e-mails settling on the date and time, and at the end of EVERY e-mail I have this little thing called a “signature” where you can find my work phone, my cell phone, my e-mail address, and even the name of the organization for which I work, which can provide you with an address through the use of a wonderful internet service called “Google.” Oh wait, I’ve given you my cell number already, when I explained that I am located on a one-way street, have given you the address, and informed you that the only way to gain entry into the building is by calling me. So even if you NEVER read my e-mails all the way through and did not see the signature, you should have a reasonable idea of how to get to my location. So don’t call me at the exact time of our rendez-vous and say “I am in Cambridge, how do I get there?” I am not Mapquest.

1. And finally, if you make a date and time to show up and pick up your crap (be it free crap or $35 crap) – please, please, please ACTUALLY show up. If it became clear to you since the last e-mail we exchanged that you are no longer interested in the free sewing machine, the $10 pair of shoes, the $75 coffee table, be a dear and shoot me an e-mail. You may also pick up the phone and ring me. We’ve already discussed how to reach me and where I am located. If you let me know you don’t want to item in question any longer, I will contact the next person who was interested, and trust me, I will move on with my life. But I suppose it’s a lot more fun to imagine me coming to work at 7 pm on a Saturday because “it’s the only time I’ll be in the area”, waiting for you for a half hour, calling your cell without you picking up, and avoiding my angry e-mails and phone calls forever.

I wish I could say I am done with Craigslist. Unfortunately, just like good crack, it will draw me back in, since nobody can live in a major urban area without using it. The next rant that concerns that service will surely include my real estate travails.


The runnee. said...

So true. Last time I used Craig's List the guy didn't show three times, finally came 'without cash' and I was so happy to get the damn futon out of my kitchen i took his personal check which of course BOUNCED. bastard.

ANI said...

r: the thing is, craigslist is so damn convenient, it's not something i would want to give up on. however, the bonehead factor is so high, it makes me question humanity, really...