Tired of Craigslist flakes? Me too.
Craigslist.org is a site that has been around for a few years now. I first heard about it around 2-3 years ago, however, I didn’t get around to using it until this past summer. For those of you who may not be familiar, it is an online classifieds site.
My experience has been quite frustrating, both as a buyer and a seller. In this article, I want to vent a little, and also discuss why craigslist.org isn’t as great as people make it out to be.
Using Craigslist.org to Buy Used Stuff
Craigslist.org can be a place to find reasonably priced merchandise for sure (sometimes even great deals), but you better plan on becoming a licensed private detective! 80% of the items listed are pure JUNK that are way OVERPRICED! You can find deals, but expect to put so much time and research into it, that you would be better off walking in a store, buying it new, and then using the time you saved for researching this site to work and earn more money at your job.
I’ve tried to use it to buy nursing supplies such as books or scrubs in the past, but in my experience, it was never good for this.
Craigslist.org Has Too Many Overpriced Items: Don’t Overcharge You Idiot Sellers!
It absolutely shocks me that people expect to sell their used items for only slightly below retail price for a BRAND NEW one. Example: fitness equipment that is used is priced at or only about $10-20 below store price. I would pay $20 more just to not have to clean your sweat residue, call you, and meet you! In fact, I would probably pay $50 more.
Old furniture with scratches, scrapes, and wear are listed for more than what you can buy it brand new (or barely below), and so forth. Okay, I get it that people want the top dollar that they can get (who doesn’t), but seriously, get real.
Anytime you buy anything (except for a house), the value immediately drops. Buy a brand new car, and the second you drive it off the lot you have lost probably $1,000 or more.
If I bought a brand new item at Walmart today, I couldn’t list it for the same price with the tag on it and expect to sell it. I would probably have to knock off at least 10-15%, and this is brand new and never used! So why do people think they can get away with this over pricing their items? They need to price at least 50% of CURRENT market value at a minimal for most things. Even less for other items.
And they also seem to forget that just because they originally paid a lot for an item, it doesn’t mean it is still worth that today. Did you pay $2,500 for that computer back in 1995? Guess what, you can buy a brand spanking new one anywhere for less than $700. So sorry that you wasted your money, but you can’t expect to get back what you paid, especially when technology has improved and your item is obsolete. The same goes for any items (furniture, clothes, tools, etc.).
I wish people would get a realistic grasp on the invisible hand of the market. Perhaps someone should offer a free economics class to the craigslist sellers. Don’t price your stuff too high, or you can expect to look at it in your house for the next 100 years (or perhaps a bit sooner if you can find a complete idiot to buy it).
And guess what, most buyers DO NOT want to haggle the price. The newer generations are not hagglers. The older generations are the hagglers. Sellers would do well to simply list it for the price they expect to get, not $20 or $30 over to leave haggle room. You will attract buyers that way, get what you expected to get anyway, and sell it much faster. So list cheap but firm, not over priced but willing to lower a bit.
Sellers Can’t Describe Their Item Either: Hint: Use Words and a Picture!
The second thing that annoys me with Craigslist.org is that most sellers can’t figure out how to actually “sell” an item. They just post 1 measly sentence that tells you nothing, no pictures, no dimensions, no details. I don’t even look at an ad if it doesn’t contain a picture anymore.
They will list something like:
New desk, good condition, must sell, $45. Phone: XXX-XXX-XXXX
Gee thanks seller, that really helps! Like I want to call some random person who may be crazy and talk on the phone and do research as to what this item may be like. I think I’ll pass.
The way they SHOULD list the item is this:
- Take a picture or 2 at least (they are worth about 1,000 words), and isn’t this the technological age? Get with the times.
- Dimensions, sizes, and so forth work miracles to let potential buyers know whether or not they want it, without going through the hassle of contacting you.
- How about disclosing any flaws, telling the year it was made (if applicable), the condition, colors, etc. The more details the better. You can’t be too detailed on craigslist.
- Give an idea of the times you will be available, or may be able to meet so people can have that in mind before they even contact you.
- Why not go ahead and remove the listing after someone buys it? That will save you and the buyer time since you no longer have it for sale!
Those things alone would work wonders to not only help a seller sell an item, but it would cut out a lot of pain for the buyers who are searching.
So in a nutshell, if you are going to buy, try to find sellers who seem like they have a brain. You know, the ones who take the time to actually list pictures, write coherent sentences (and I mean more than 1), and give information a buyer would want to have.
It is worth buying on craigslist for certain items, and IF they items are a good deal, but it is really difficult to find those deals, find listing that are even worth looking at, etc.
So good luck buying, because I don’t even use it much anymore for this. If I need something, I either buy it new, or look at craigslist for 2 minutes. If I don’t see a deal, I go and buy it new. Period.
You can save time using the “buy it now” on eBay or Amazon online. Or, just walk into a retail store and buy the thing new (as it is probably over priced and nearly the new price anyway on craigslist).
Craigslist Flakes When Selling Stuff
Craigslist.org is also a potential place to sell stuff, but this too can be an enormous hassle. In fact, it is the motivation for me writing this very post. First, let me backup and say what I think is best to sell on craigslist.org:
The only items I sell on Craigslist:
- Furniture or very large items that would be a pain to ship
- Items that I prefer to take cash for
- Only if I cannot or do not want to have a yard sale
If it doesn’t fit that bill, I would rather list it on Amazon or eBay, or yard sale it. You can get way more for your electronics and things like that on eBay or Amazon.com, and you won’t have the annoyances of craigslist.org. So I would only use craigslist anyway to sell items that were bulky or not selling for a lot online.
What is annoying about selling on Craigslist.org? Glad you asked!
Buyers Back Out of Buying Stuff, and Never Reply/Respond Back
By far this is the most annoying thing about selling an item on craigslist. In fact this happened to me yet again TODAY. So this is really the motivation for me to write this article.
First, you go to all of the trouble to make a great listing and price your items at a low price. Then, you will get a bunch of emails that say things like:
- Hey, do you still have this available? I am interested.
- Can I get this item tomorrow, I really want this
- I saw your craigslist ad, and I would like this item, can I buy it?
So you see those replies, and you get excited thinking, “Yes, finally I have sold this item and can move on.” So you eagerly reply to the email, give details and your phone number, and ask when they want to meet. Now here comes the exciting part….what happens next. This: chirp chrip…cricket in the background…you may even hear a pin drop….
Why do I say that? Because they never reply. They want it so badly, that they won’t even bother to ever email back or call to arrange a time. It is so annoying!
Occasionally you may get a person who at least has the decency to email you back and say they have decided to wait, but even that is a pain in the butt. If you wanted it so badly, why did you email me in the first place? It is like they email you before they even read it or think about it. How ridiculous.
Why not make a decision to buy before emailing me? That is so annoying. They email you like they are so ready to buy. You reply within a few hours, then they never respond, or back out of it? Buyers are so flaky and wishy-washy on craigslist.
I finally sold a glass vanity I listed, but I had to go through about 5 “I want it” emails before I got a real buyer. I have had other items that never sold because I got so annoyed in people standing me up that I deleted the listing and saved it for a yard sale or kept it.
This by far will be your biggest frustration selling on Craigslist: People wanting to back out of the sale, or emailing you and they are “so interested,” only to never reply again. Again, some items were steal deals I listed too. I am the type of person who would rather list it cheap right up front for my bottom dollar (firm), and just get rid of the thing quick.
Another Selling Annoyance: Email Spam
Craigslist is notorious for being littered with internet spam. You can also expect (on top of the back-out buyer emails), to get loads of spam. They will email things like:
- I see you listed a lot of items and need money, I may be able to help you…
- Make $100,000 a day from your pajamas (I guess by spamming craigslist apparently)
- Find that perfect soul-mate (I’m happily married…sorry)
So be prepared to get annoying spam, even if you anonymize or hide your email address (which I always do that). PS, never reply to the spam, and NEVER reply to anyone offering you a way to make money. Unless you love to lose money and get scammed that is…
People Will Haggle With You If You Let Them
People will put on a big front or act like they can’t afford it, or that they can only pay XX amount, or “will you take XX less?” This too gets annoying for me, because I list at a very cheap price (I am usually the cheapest one on there by far in my city), and I stress in my listings FIRM price.
I hate haggling and dealing with people in person, so I would rather list the thing for a cheap (AND FIRM) price, and let you take it. So if I say firm, don’t try to haggle me lower, or you just come off as annoying and cheap. I have already priced it at a very low and reasonable price far below current retail (and probably far below all other items on craigslist), so give me a break.
Selling Conclusion: Craigslist is Okay, Not Awesome
Craigslist is good to sell because it is quick and free to make a listing. However, it is far from perfect. You will get a lot of buyers backing out, spam, and other annoyances. You can buy too, but it is equally as annoying and hard to find a real deal.
I have sold a few items successfully, and probably will in the future. But I will ONLY sell an item if I have no other convenient alternative (such as eBay or Amazon or yard sale). Things like fitness equipment, furniture, etc. are good for Craigslist. Electronics, small items, clothes, etc. are better for eBay.
A Yard sell is actually even preferred over craigslist for the bulky stuff, but some people may not have enough items for a yard sale, or may not be able to have one where they live. In that case, use craigslist.
But if you can use eBay, Amazon, or a yard sale, go with that! It will save you some grief, money, and time.