Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Craigslist Etiquette (Or the Lack Thereof)

I’d like to start by saying I’m a HUGE fan of Craigslist. I’ve bought and sold things using this free service quite a few times. Each Friday night or early Saturday morning, I peruse the garage sale listings (big surprise there). It’s a fantastic service, truly.

Something about it that really gets to me however is how people feel like they can be outright rude or dismissive to you during an email exchange or a purchase. When inquiring about an item from the owner, I’d almost prefer no response from them than the “Sold” response I have received a couple of times. It would be one thing if during my inquiry of the item I was short and without some semblance of personality (cyber or otherwise), but that just isn’t the case. I always start my email with a greeting, write my question(s) about the item using full sentences and correct grammar.  I always end it with a kind farewell and my name. When people inquire about an item that has multiple inquiries from different people, I thank them and tell them where they are in the list of people interested. Maybe this is my problem. Maybe I shouldn’t be considerate in my emails. But I was brought up to be kind and polite, so being gruff in an email to a complete stranger is not something I really consider doing.

It’s not just the emails either. What’s up with people listing a garage sale and then not actually having one? What’s up with people saying they are going to meet you at the library to buy that $2 CD from you and never show, only to give up on them after sitting there for an hour? Or the people who email you five minutes before they are supposed to meet you somewhere that they aren’t going to make it, only you're already on your way and don’t get the message? You’d be surprised how often that happens!

What takes the cake in Craigslist abuse is what happened to us over the last two days. A random thought struck me yesterday, and I did a search for “compost” on Craigslist and found a guy selling a $350 compost bin for $95. We now need a second compost bin because we have filled up the first, and of course once it is full, it needs a good 6 to 8 weeks without adding anything else to it to turn into that black, magical gold. So, I sent this listing to Greg, who instantly emailed the owner and asked if it was still available. Greg emailed me to let me know it was still available and to suggest that we get it because of how much we’d be saving from not buying a new one. Being the perpetual bargainer, I told Greg to ask him if he’d take $80, knowing full well that we’d take it even if they said no. After all, it already was a really good deal. He said he wouldn’t take our $80 offer.  Greg wrote back, “Ok. Sold. When is a good time to pick it up?” He gave the details, saying anytime this week would work except Wednesday. Fair enough. We were happy.

Now Greg has been excruciatingly busy at work lately. I’m talking going in early, trying not to stay too late, and working hard to decompress in his actual “free” time. Greg didn’t respond to the guy right away. In fact, I was amazed he actually had time to do as much as he had done. We talked about which night would work best for us that night. This morning, the very next morning after this exchange, Greg emails him and says we’d like to come pick up the compost bin on Thursday night. He knew we wanted it. He knew we’d pay his asking price. His response? “Sorry - bin sold this evening...”

OK, I’ll give him an inkling of credit for even using the word “sorry” in his response. However, this man should be in Dante’s second circle of hell with the lustful. He lusted after a quick sale. Who cares if he already promised it to someone else? No wait. He belongs in Dante’s FOURTH circle of hell for avarice; he was so damn greedy! Nope. Even better. The EIGHTH circle of hell is where this bugger belongs for his fraudulent representation as an honest man.

What is it about the anonymity of Craigslist that makes people think they have the right to blow people off willy-nilly? What happened to human decency and kindness? Don’t people feel responsible for their actions anymore?


  1. Oh, I love you for posting my rants for me. It was much funnier than if I had done it. :)

  2. Couldn't agree more. Craigslist users = 90% flakes. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villiany...