Craigslist- It’s like a trainwreck…I can’t help but look!

I admit I have a mild addiction to Craigslist. I’m on it EVERYDAY and I look at the free, bicycles, motorcycles, tools and even the RV section. Why? I feel that if I don’t look, I might miss out on a great deal or some sort of opportunity to get something super rare or unique.

Now that I’ve justified my addiction, I wanted to share a few stories and perhaps suggest some ideas that has worked for me in either selling or buying.

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My first story, I had a woman who wanted to look at a bicycle I had for sale. She agreed to meet me at my home at 4:30pm. After making those arrangements with her, I received another inquiry for the bike and went ahead to schedule another buyer at 6pm. I figured, if I didn’t sell it at 4:30pm, that would give me enough time to call and cancel the appointment, right? Well buyer #1 decided to show up at 5:15pm…I’m a bit ticked but I still show her the bike.

She said she’ll take it and wants to pay with a check. I told her that I won’t take her check. Then she goes into this long explanation why I should and that she works for the Veterans Administration, so her check is good. I tell her no and after a few minutes of it, she huffed and asked where the nearest Wells Fargo was. I said that I didn’t know, but there’s a Union Bank across the street. She then got stern with me and says, “I SAID I NEED A WELLS FARGO!” I responded in the same tone and repeated my first answer. She begrudgingly gets in her car to try and find a bank.

She’s gone for at least 40 minutes and at 45 minutes, the second buyer shows up. She gets out of her van, looks at the bike, and hands me the money! She didn’t even bother riding it. She loaded it up and at the same time, buyer #1 shows up! Mind you, I did try to call buyer #1 as buyer #2 loaded up the bike. But buyer #1 didn’t give me a valid cell #, she gave me her office #…

Buyer #1 sees what’s going on, I tell her I tried to call her and then she starts to cuss me out…using all sorts of F-bombs left and right. Then she peels out in her car as she’s waiving me the middle finger…Ugh.

Second Story:
After that fiasco, I learned that I should never meet people at my home. So when I was selling another item, I met the guy at a fast food joint down the street. Before the sale, he agreed to pay me my asking price for the item, $90. He looks at the item, then says, I only brought $40, will you take that? I said no, and walked away. Then he says, “Wait wait wait! I was just kidding, I just wanted to see if you’d give me a deal.” I explain to him that my item is the lowest price that he’d find and that new it was over $350…” He still asked for a discount. Again, I said no and walked away. Then he asked me to stop and agreed to pay my full asking price.

Third Story:
I was selling my wife’s old mountain bike frame. In the ad I explained that the suspension pivot needs to be rebuilt. I even provided the part #, cost and explained that it could be ordered from any KHS dealer. The buyer calls me and asked if I’d take $180 since it needs a the suspension pivot rebuilt. I say no. Then he says, “Ok, let me ask my wife if she will let me buy it at your price.” Shaking my head…he said he’ll call me back. A few hours later he calls me and explains that he spoke to his wife, but he was too embarrassed to say what she wanted him to ask me…he finally did. She told him to ask me if I’d take $150. I’m starting to get annoyed and I simply said no. He mulls it over and says that he’s going to see if he can look for the money and get the bike at my asking price. He calls me a few hours later and asked if I’d be willing to take $200, I agreed.

We meet the next day and he takes his sweet time looking at the frame, and keeps bringing up the pivot issue. He asked me if I’d be willing to take $180. Annoyed with him, I say, “No, besides I’ve already explained to you about the pivot and it’s not like I didn’t mention it on the ad. I agreed to $200.” He still mulls it over. I ask him, “So what is it you’re so hesitant about?” He said he’s not sure if he can fix the pivot. By this time I realized he’s trying to wear me down and that the pivot concern he has was his tactic to get me to lower the price. I stick to my price and I finally said, that I had to go to my daughter’s soccer game. That’s when he said he’ll take it.

But here’s the best part of the story. A few days later he sends me a text that read, “Hey bro, I know you have connections with KHS, do you think you could get them to rebuild the pivot for me?” OMG! I was soooo annoyed. This guy saw some articles that I had published on MtnBikeRiders.com about me taking that frame to KHS and having it serviced. He even asked “How tall was that white guy who was riding this bike in the pictures?” He saw an article where Jack was riding it…he brought it up because the bike was going to be his son’s and he wanted to make sure the bike would fit.
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Ok now that I’ve shared some of my stories, let’s get down to some things that I’ve learned from and have been putting into my current Craigslist dealings.

1.Meet in a public location. I typically will meet someone in a bank parking lot. That way if they say they’re short on the cash, they can just walk over to the ATM and get the extra. Plus banks have cameras pointed to the parking lot. So if I were to be murdered for the item I was selling, they’d at least get a glimpse on who it is, right? Besides you don’t want a buyer coming back to your home asking for his money back.

2.As a seller, you should be flexible on the price, but never go down to half of what your asking price. For example, if you have an item for $100, don’t even entertain a $50 offer. I usually respond to those requests with a witty comment, “sure I’ll take your $50, but throw in another on top of that, then we have a deal!”

3.Learn to say NO to low ballers. If you’ve had an item for sale for a long time, don’t get desperate. Eventually you will sell your item. I listed my old car once and I had 3 people come to see it. After a month of not selling it, one of the people offered me near $1500 less than what I was asking for. I almost caved in, but my good wife reminded me not to take it. Sure enough a week later a guy wanted to see it. Offered me my full asking price! So be patient, you’ll sell it.

4. Cash only. Don’t take Paypal, checks or goats. Cash is king, don’t let them offer to pay you through Paypal or a check. If you use Paypal, you can get charged fees for that transaction. Checks from strangers…you might as well kiss your item good bye without getting paid. Checks are more likely to bounce. Bottom line, cold hard cash.

5. Try and have your transactions done during the day. If you’re a buyer, you want to make sure you see everything in good lighting…the sun so you won’t have buyer’s remorse the following morning. If you’re a seller, it’s just safer to sell during the day.

6. Buddy system. I once sold my scooter to two guys, but I had my buddy Officer Ben with me during the transaction. It helps to prep your buddy to be your hype-man to help sell your item. For example, Officer Ben would say, “This scooter runs so well, we’ve done 80 mile rides with it!” Comments like that help instill confidence with the buyer.
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7. Put all the info on your ads. Don’t leave out any details. For example if you’re selling a bike, list the size, year, components and color. This will avoid multiple emails from the potential buyer. Besides if you have small frame, but a buyer wants an XL frame, then you’ve wasted his and your time.

8. List your item in multiple cities. Search for items in multiple cities. This broadens your reach and elevates your potential in finding the item you want to buy.

I know I may have missed some things, feel free to give you suggestions. I’m sure our readership would appreciate it. I’m not claiming you should absolutely follow my suggestions, but they have worked for me and I’ve been buying and selling things through Craigslist for years and I’m still alive! haha.

10 Comments

  1. BluesCat May 10, 2013 7:30 am 

    Bicycles, and their major components, are one of those things I need to touch, feel, maybe even caress before I dig around in my pockets for the money to buy them.

    So Craigslist and EBay are definitely out when it comes to buying a full bike. Heck, you wouldn’t visit a brothel to purchase some of THEIR merchandise sight unseen, would ya?

  2. ridonrides May 10, 2013 10:28 am 

    Bought my first bike off CL. We met in a gas station with adjoining convenience store parking lot. He had a small wrench available to adjust the seat. I can’t remember if he had me give ID to test out the bike around the lot. I believe he just trusted me to not tear out of there. Anyways, it was a decent first bike.

  3. JaimeRoberto May 10, 2013 1:37 pm 

    Good advice, but other than the fees, do you have any objections to PayPal? It seems to me that the couple dollars in fees are worth the time you save just getting the deal done. Cash is king, but PayPal can be a prince.

  4. Ghost Rider May 11, 2013 4:43 am 

    Oh, crap…I saw my picture and thought “RL’s gonna try to blame ME for blowing out that pivot!”

  5. Ghost Rider May 11, 2013 4:44 am 

    Btw, I made my first successful Craigslist transaction last night — no sketchiness and a pocketful of cash for Jacky!

  6. RL May 11, 2013 7:47 am 

    CL is awesome for making extra cash. One of the things I like to do is go to thrift stores and find stuff, the sell it on CL. One time I found a Manfrotto tripod for $19, looked on my phone and called my photog cousin to confirm that this was an expensive tripod. That same day I listed on CL sold it for $125. I do the same for old bikes. I have a thing for older 80’s road bikes and I’ve come across some and flipped them.

  7. Dan May 11, 2013 10:24 am 

    I can’t get behind your last suggestion of posting the same item in multiple cities. That just adds noise, and will often get your item flagged. Only post it on the CL where it’s actually located.

    Searching multiple cities, if you’re willing to travel to the next closest one to pick up your item, is a great idea though.

  8. listenermark May 11, 2013 7:41 pm 

    My last CL find was a Swedish made Monark bike. Reynolds 531, sweet lugs, Campy Record, and other nice bits. Covered in grease and grime, road hard and put up dirty. I gave the 120 buck asking price.

  9. Raiyn May 12, 2013 11:22 pm 

    My resto-mod project Schwinn Varsity was a $40 CL deal. Went out to a 55+ mobile home park and tested it while my better half hung out with the guy.

  10. Andy August 10, 2014 12:12 pm 

    Not listing the frame size is my biggest pet peeve on CL. Unless it’s a screaming good deal, I won’t bother contacting the seller to ask, I’ll just move on. It’s a buyer’s market for sure.

    My second big complaint is people seems to have an inflated sense of what their bike is worth – at least here in western Colorado. 1999 dual-suspension bikes with an asking price of $900 because “it cost $1600 when I bought it”. That may be true, IF you paid full MSRP, but that was fifteen years ago and your bike is too obsolete to compete with comparable contemporary bikes and too new to be considered a collector’s item.

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