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This past weekend I listed a couple of things for sale on craigslist — a refrigerator and a couch. Never having bought or sold anything on craigslist, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. But so far I’ve been pleased. The signup process is quick and easy, and creating an ad is totally straightforward — just choose your locale, create and account, and start creating/posting ads. The biggest upside of craiglist is that it’s free, meaning that you can clear out your stuff and keep all the cash for yourself. That being said, we still haven’t sold the items in question — one of our ads in particular has generated some interest, but nobody seems too serious at this point. And since we’re not running newspaper ads in parallel, it’s really hard to tell how well craigslist stacks up against traditional classified ads.
Perhaps the biggest surprise thus far has been the number of scammers that seem to be targeting craigslist sellers. I’m not sure why I didn’t anticipate this, as a relatively unregulated online commerce site seems like a perfect venue for mischief-making. Anyway, it seems that soon after your ad goes live, you’ll wind up with a couple of robot-generated spam messages making inquiries about the item(s) that you are selling, and asking about shipping to far off places. As with most spam, the grammar and spelling in these messages is usually suspect, so the warning signs are pretty obvious. But still, it’s something to be on the lookout for…
In short, the scammer will tell you that he/she is inquiring on behalf of a friend/relative/whatever who wants to buy your item and have it shipped to them. The scam here is that the buyer will end up ‘accidentally’ overpaying. But since you’re so trustworthy, they’ll just ask you to wire the difference back to them. Being the generous guys that they are, they may even offer to let you keep part of the excess for your trouble. But guess what? Sometime down the road (after you’ve forked over the cash for the overage) your bank will call notifying you that the certified/cashier’s check that you received was a fake.
The most recent come on that I received was from a guy in Florida who was interested in buying our couch for his sister-in-law in Belgium (yeah, right). He offered to pay by certified check, and said that he would dispatch a shipping company (NAHANCO SHIPPING AGENCY — apparently listing it in all caps is supposed to make it more believable) to fetch the couch. That’s as far as it got, because I kicked his query straight to the trash. Needless to say, you should probably focus on local cash transactions.
Anyway, we’re still holding out hope that our stuff will sell. If not, we’ll have to re-think our asking prices — since we’re not paying for an ad, we can actually afford to price things a bit lower than we might have otherwise…
With that said, I’d love to hear about your craigslist experiences. Any major successes? What about horror stories?
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