Buyer and Seller Beware!

Shopping on Craigslist should come with a “Buyer and Seller Beware!” warning.  Or does it, already?  Maybe now that I’m writing this I should go back to make sure I didn’t miss something.  I sometimes do that…

In any case, a consumer looking for a decent deal on a used futon, funky vintage chair with green velvet, an old table to refinish, or whatever else her bargain-hunting heart fancies, can easily find it at a steal of a price on Craig’s good ol’ list.

I think he (Craig, or at least I hope that’s his name, because if his name is Frank, then why isn’t he calling his site Frankslist, or whatever?) truly had the best of intentions with the creation of his online classifieds, but in all honesty how good of a deal is a buyer really getting?

Say there’s this seller who has a STEAL of a recliner for $50.  It’s “barely used, comes from a smoke and pet-free home” and the seller, Steve, “just doesn’t have room for it anymore.”

Well, my guess is that chair has more than one dirty little secret lurking around.

Like maybe an angry pet left her mark on the armrest.  Or maybe Steve, AKA Two-Pack-a-Day-Steve, used to sit there munching away on potato chips with one greasy hand, wiping his salty fingers on the seat like it was a built-in napkin, all the while never putting down his smokes.  Maybe it’s just plain-old broken.  There could be a hundred, no a thousand, different things wrong with this steal of a recliner.

But anyway, say Steve finds himself a buyer.  We’ll call our bargain-hunting Diva, Steve’s buyer, Rhonda.

Woo-hoo!  Now he can unload his crap onto some unsuspecting stranger.  And maybe Rhonda won’t give a sh*t that this chair has more tales to tell than Hugh Hefner.

Or maybe, just maybe, she will.

So with the sale, comes the face-to-face meeting.  Dear God, the meeting.  Whether it’s a pick-up from the seller, a drop-off to the buyer, or a meet-up at a public place, these money/product Craigslist exchanges are the most uncomfortable thing since shoulder-pads in blazers.

They’re just all wrong.

If the meeting is held in a public place, (the preferred meet-up method for most Listers and Buyers) then all parties feel like they might just get robbed and because of that they rush through the transaction missing things like that awful stain or making sure they received the correct amount of funds.  Drop-offs and pick-ups are even worse, because no-one likes inviting strangers that they just met on the Internet into their driveways, much less their living rooms.

So, to continue on, Two-Pack-a-Day-Steve decides to meet Rhonda at the local Walmart parking lot.  Rhonda likes a good bargain and when she meets Steve she tells him how she must have miscounted her money and only has $35 instead of the agreed upon $50.

How convenient of her.

Steve agrees to take less because the old, greasy, smoky recliner is already loaded into her SUV and he’s so close to closing the deal.

A look of proud accomplishment spreads across her face as he shakes her hand.  Both parties win, sort of, and both parties lose.

In my personal and (not so professional) opinion, I think that there are a lot of dishonest weirdos out there and sometimes it’s best to have a third party to help negotiate transactions.  Sometimes it’s best to just buy it new.

Photo courtesy of Ryan McGuire on

Categories nonfiction, UncategorizedTags , , , , , ,

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