Being a good Craigslist buyer

Recently, I’ve been helping a friend get rid of some stuff on Craigslist.  I’ve always been pretty good at selling things on Craigslist and for the most part, it’s easy.  Listing is free, browsing is free, and Craigslist takes care of anonymizing your email for you.  I like it better than eBay because it’s local and you don’t have to bother with shipping.  But at some point, you do have to talk to a real person and that’s when it can get annoying.


My posts generally follow the same pattern.  I provide (1) a description of the item, (2) specs and sizes where applicable, (3) the price, (4) and contact information.  I usually ask people to email with their availability if they are interested.  So here’s where it gets annoying.  Out of all the emails I’ve been responding to, at least half (I’m pretty sure) did not read the ad closely at all.  I’ve had questions about the size of furniture (it’s listed in the ad!), the veracity of its construction (what does “solid pine” mean to you?), and my all time favourite – “Hi, is this still available?”

So here are some of my suggestions for being a good Craigslist buyer:

1.     Be informative: Don’t just send an email asking if something is available.  Provide a contact number or give some indication of when you would be able to pick it up!  When I’m managing an ad, it’s very frustrating to try to keep track of 10 or 15 different email threads and have to chase down contact info for everyone.  Make it easy for the seller to choose you as the buyer by being informative.  For example, when I reply to an ad, I’ll say something like, “Hi there, I’m interested in X.  Is it still available?  If so, I am available Mon, Wed and Fri after 6pm.  You can contact me by this email.  Thanks, CF”

2.  Double check the ad: Nothing is more annoying than having to answer questions that I’ve already provided the answer to.  So please please please… read the ad, twice, three times.  If sizes are provided, don’t ask again.  If a link to product specs is provided, check it out before asking.  For example, I put a TV up for sale with the model number listed in the title.  What did people want to know when they emailed?  The model number.  *face palm* Of course, if I’ve neglected to provide some information, definitely ask!

3.  If you’re not going to show up… Then shoot a quick text or email!  It’s so frustrating to play phone tag or email tag with a potential buyer, only to have the person not show up.  As a seller, I’m not offended at all if someone changes their mind.  Usually, I have 3-5 people interested in any one item.  The faster someone lets me know when they change their mind, the faster I can find a new buyer and move an item out.

Has anyone else had any frustrating Craigslist experiences lately?  Any other tips to share?

Posted in: Home, Life Hacks

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  1. I do a ton of business (mostly buying) on Craigslist…including my house! Love the post.

  2. Mr. OPE says:

    I agree a lot with your tips. For those that sell on CL I would always recommend adding the phrase “I will remove posting when the item is no longer available” somewhere in your ad. This will potentially save you a lot of frustration from the “is this still available” questions. If everyone would do this it would help potential buyers browse the CL market faster and would cut down on wasted time responding to ads that have already sold (just a pet-peeve of mine).

    • CF says:

      That’s a good idea! I try to remove ads promptly, but I agree, not everyone does, and I have responded to stale ads before myself.

    • Eric says:

      I totally agree about adding the line about item availability. I see no reason why a seller should be annoyed at anyone asking if the item is still available. It might be frustrating. But, I often buy on CL and ads get left on there for months sometimes. Often, the item has already sold. So asking about availability is not unreasonable.

      I also am amazed at the restrictions that sellers put in their ads…”no low ball offers.” or “I don’t want your junk.” or “text only” or ” no emails ” etc.

      When I sell on CL, I try not to say anything that my be off putting to a potential buyer. So what if I have to put up with a few scammers and stupid questions? As far as the low ball offers go…bring ‘em on. It’s no trouble for me to say “no” if I don’t like the offer. If I don’t want trades, I simply put that in the ad as “interested in possible trade of ____ only.”

      Projecting any hostile feelings or frustrations in my ad is not going to sell my stuff.

      • Eric says:

        To be fair, I don’t have texting on my phone (yeah, I know…dinosaur..LOL). So, I put in my ads, “I don’t have texting on my phone, so please call or email.”

        I think that is better than just saying “No Texts.”

  3. Dear Debt says:

    I love Craigslist! I want to set thing up in 3 emails or less so I include as much detail as possible and ask any questions up front.

  4. Liquid says:

    I’m really glad Craigslist doesn’t charge anything to list an item or service. I’ve only bought small things from people on there before like DVDs and computer parts :) I also use Craigslist sometimes to help my parents list their rental apartment. I find that uploading quality pictures will lead to more people contacting us.

    • CF says:

      I’m always surprised at how many people do not include at least one photo with a rental ad. Why would I go to see a place that might be a dump? :p

    • Eric says:

      Here, here!

      Why people sell anything (other than services, possibly) on CL, I just don’t get. That’s the fastest way to get your ad ignored or lowballed. It screams to the potential buyer that you’re just trying to get rid of some junk and not anything of value that you’ve taken the effort to display.

  5. Can’t stress enough how important it is to tell people if you aren’t going to show up. It’s only fair to the seller! It takes time and effort to be available at the predetermined time/place to make the transaction, so please tell them if you aren’t going to make it or are going to back out.

  6. Although I haven’t sold anything through the classifieds lately, I definitely relate to all of these pet peeves. The worst one in my opinion though is people who can’t type a simple sentence, so you end up having to guess what they’re really asking you. I mean come on, spend a little time to proof read before you hit send!

  7. I don’t generally respond to “is it still available?” unless there’s something useful like follow-up contact information. My favourite is when people ask me to “hold” it until some future date without seeing it or a deposit.

    • Eric says:

      I’m with you on this one…the idea that I might hold something for someone is nuts. I always tell people that ask, that the item will likely be available in X number of days, but that I won’t guarantee it…and to please check back with me when they are ready to come out.

      I mean, sure I’ll hold onto an item for an hour or two if someone is driving over to see it. But, I’ve had people ask me to hold items over a weekend (prime selling time).

  8. I recently tried to sell a juicer and it took me months to sell. One thing that’s annoying is when you are giving a good price on something and people ask you to drive it to their house, which may be an hour away. Uh, no! :) Ugh!

    • CF says:

      Sometimes it pays to wait for a good price though. I always get at least a few low ball offers from people who are hoping I need to sell quickly. If you can wait and get a better price, might as well.

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