Craigslist Etiquette (How to Know If You’re Part of the Problem)

There are two types of people in this world: those who innately understand Craigslist etiquette and those who, very sadly, do not. Every person knows the anguish of buying and selling on Craigslist–especially when you are dealing with several interactions over the course of a few days (maybe moving time?) I have met some civilized people on Craigslist, but I have far too frequently had to deal with Craigslisters who besmirch the good name of online hagglers everywhere. Here is my plea: STOP IT!!!

I juat had one such dealing and instead of screaming murderous rage into my pillow decided to write out a code of conduct for people who are confused. Send this to everyone you know who does not understand that buying and selling things online should be governed by some sort of civil code — maybe email it to the person who just backed out on you last minute?

This post is dedicated to you, m2rkk-55992773.

Completely refurbished, antique, vintage garbage- $500!

Rule #1: The Rule of Halves.

This one is pretty simple. Your junk isn’t worth as much as you think it’s worth. This includes things you have just purchased. Once you buy it and it leaves the store and enters your lives, no one wants it anymore. UNLESS they are going to get a great deal on it. If you have something that is between 1 second and 1 year old and in fairly good shape — give it a 50% discount. No one wants to read, “I bought this brand new for $400, so I’m asking for $350. I just got it three months ago and there’s only a few scratches.” If I want a 12.5% discount, I will use a coupon. Especially if it’s a piece of furniture! If I buy a new piece of furniture, I typically can get it delivered for FREE–so if I’m coming to you and taking a piece of furniture off of your hands, it better be at LEAST 50% off. Every year you’ve owned it beyond the first year, take an additional 10-20% off your original price. A good rule of thumb is, take whatever you think it is worth and then HALVE that and there’s a good price for you.

Pro Tip: If you want to get rid of your stuff quickly, set your prices dirt cheap. Remember, they are also doing you a favor by getting rid of stuff for you. Now you don’t have to carry a couch to Goodwill — and you get some cash! Win-win!

Note: This doesn’t apply to *ACTUAL* vintage items that are worth more than they were purchased for originally. But warning, you cannot label some random piece of trash “vintage” and expect it to sell like an actual vintage item. People have the internet on their phones and access to Ebay, so they will be able to figure it out.

Dealing with Craigslist chicanery

Rule #2: Dibs Rule (AKA: don’t be a jerk rule)

If someone responds to your ad and you in turn respond to them and you make a plan for them coming to pick up your item and pay you — they now have dibs. If someone else responds to your ad, it is too late. You have already made a commitment. Now, if someone else offers to pick up an item earlier or pay more, it is fair to want to take advantage of this. However, you must let the first person know that you have been offered a better deal–would they like to match this deal? Now it is up to the person who has dibs to match the deal or decide they don’t want it as badly as person #2. Now you have been honorable in following through with your commitment.

It is not okay to email or text them a day before they are planning on picking something up (and have possibly planned their whole week around!!) and let them know that you already gave it to someone else. This is very, very rude.

You may be tempted to be rude because the people you are interacting with are strangers. Don’t fall prey to this though. If you’re rude to a stranger, it still counts. You are still being a rude person.


Rule #3: No Ghost Rule (AKA: Basic common sense kindness rule)

If you respond to an ad on Craigslist, follow through. You may be tempted to stop responding if you decide you don’t want it. This is not fair to the person you contacted. If you change your mind, send them an email saying you changed your mind. It’s called manners, the Golden Rule, what have you. You may be responding to several ads at once–try your hardest to stay on top of it and resolve all of your conversations.

*HUGE PART OF GHOST RULE: Do not, under any circumstances, set up a time to come look at an item on Craigslist and not show up. This is the ultimate bad manners. The person who put up the ad is a human, just like you, and has his/her own things going on–work, school, other commitments and does not have time to sit around at their house all day waiting for you to show up. If you cannot make it or you change your mind, let that person know. You may have wasted some of their time, but the sooner you tell them — the sooner they can get back to their regularly scheduled program. People who do this are probably part of the reason many people say they want to sell things to whoever can pick it up first, which is understandable, but makes for kind of a crazy Craigslist anarchy with no rules. (I’m basically picturing the movie Rat Race, but the end goal is an old couch.)

Debatable Rule #4: Haggling/No Haggling?

Some people think it is impolite to lowball on Craigslist and get very offended if you offer anything lower than the price they requested because, they assume, their price is reasonable. If you are offended someone is trying to haggle with you, you may be breaking Rule #1 and have overpriced your item. If you haven’t overpriced your item and you think someone is asking a price that is too low, go ahead and say no–no need to be angry. In my opinion, Craigslist is all about haggling. If  you know you will be offended by someone asking for a lower price– say on your listing that your price is firm.

These are the rules folks. Please, for the love, follow them and make Craigslist a better place to be. I’m considering starting an online selling forum with a strict screening process (not really, but that sounds amazing, right?) Let’s stop this tomfoolery. BE NICE.


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