A few months ago, I wrote a post about Craigslist and how much it sucks. My opinion of Craigslist hasn’t changed much. It’s still a great place to go to get stuff for cheap, and it’s still the definition of caveat emptor. This story proves that Craigslist can only get you so far.
This story is about a dresser. It’s not a particularly nice dresser. It’s not a particularly expensive dresser. It’s basically just a dresser.
Perhaps some background would be helpful.
When I was five, my parents got me a new dresser. It actually wasn’t new; it was my dad’s dresser when he was a kid, and he shared it with his brother. Regardless, it was new to me and it was in great shape. Twenty years later, I moved out and took it with me. We’ll call this Dresser 1.
A year later, I moved in with the woman who I now am lucky to call my wife, and Dresser 1 didn’t make the cut. The problem wasn’t that it isn’t a good dresser. The problem was that it was a wide dresser, not a tall one, and the width was way too much for our bedroom. So, Dresser 1 now adorns the guest room.
This story is not about that dresser. It’s about the dresser that replaced it.
This dresser, Dresser 2, was my brother in law’s. It had been in his storage unit for a few years and he had no need for it, so he told me to go ahead and take it.
Dresser 2 met every requirement that I had at the moment: it was cheap (free!), it was vertical, and it held my clothes.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t much of a dresser, and the big drawer wasn’t in great shape. It really just needed some wood glue, but it was never a real priority, so the wood glue never came.
The dresser was very good at being a dresser, but it wasn’t much else.
Maybe I was annoyed at myself for never fixing the drawer. Maybe I was just annoyed that it was light wood, while the rest of the room was really dark wood, but I was ready for a new dresser.
When my grandfather passed away, I inherited his dresser. This dresser, Dresser 3, was bought when my grandparents married soon after he returned from World War II, and it was built to last. This is also not the dresser we’re focusing on here, but it very quickly replaced my busted drawer dresser.
Dresser 2 is still the dresser of record in this story.
My wife wanted to just throw it away, but I don’t like pitching something that’s perfectly good. So, I put it on Craigslist.
I didn’t lie. I didn’t try to take an extra flattering picture. The picture was in my garage, and the description mentioned that the drawer needed glue. I asked for $40 or best offer. In fact, here’s the ad:
Almost immediately, the offers barely came trickling in. Will I take $10? Can I deliver? Will I take a check?
Finally, I set up a time for a woman who wanted the dresser, and we agreed to $30. She never showed.
Same thing happened with two others. Other people asked if it was still available, and even when I answered in less than ten minutes, I never heard back.
I know it’s not a valuable antique, but it’s a solid dresser at a great price.
So, why the story of the second-hand, slightly damaged, Dresser 2?
Because I’ve learned a few lessons over the years about buyer etiquette when it comes to Craigslist.
- If you’re not interested, don’t email. You’re wasting your time and the seller’s.
- Negotiate before showing up. If you agree to pay $40, plan to pay $40. Unless you get there and find that you were deceived by the ad, intentionally or otherwise, you made a deal already, so keep your end.
- If you feel like you were deceived unintentionally, apologize and explain the problem. If you tell the seller that you thought the wood was darker from the picture, but now that you’ve seen it, it won’t match, they should understand. But don’t use this as a negotiating ploy. Then you’re just wasting time.
- If you feel that you were intentionally deceived, tell the seller that this is not the item that you thought it was, and that you’re no longer interested. Thank them and leave. When you get home, flag the ad.
- If you agree to meet the seller somewhere, be there. I once drove forty minutes to buy something. When I got there, the seller wasn’t there. I was royally pissed off. He called me five minutes later, explained that he has gotten stuck at work an extra couple of minutes, but would be there soon. He showed up five minutes later, apologized again, offered me five bucks off, and we were good. I paid him the previously agreed upon price, anyway. If he hadn’t called, I might not have been so forgiving.
So, right now I’m sitting in my living room. It’s 2:00, and another buyer told me that she would be here with her husband and a truck at 2:00. They were going to call or text before they left, but I haven’t heard anything yet. I texted them to see if they were planning to come, but I haven’t heard a thing.
As it stands, I’ve got a perfectly good dresser in my garage, and I’m looking for a good home for it. Only $40, or best offer. The big drawer just needs a little glue…