How (not) to sell stuff on Craigslist

I recently got an iPad for her Ladyship (no, it was not a trade). I purchased it from a seller on Craigslist. After more than a week of sorting and searching through listings, I finally found the deal I was looking for.

The reason this was so irksome was because so many ads on Craigslist – particularly high-demand items like iPads – are scams, meant to entice you into responding to an e-mail, thereby harvesting your e-mail address for spamming, phishing and other nefarious purposes. So for those of you who are trying to sell an item, I make a few suggestions.

  • Put in the important details, like what the item is (including make and model number), where in town you are and why are you selling it.
  • Link to the manufacturer’s product page – don’t just cut-and-paste it.
  • If you are selling a laptop, don’t call it a “labtop”, a “laptob”, or, God forbid, a “labtob”. You will be lumped in with the I’m-too-stupid-to-spell” crowd, and worse, our searches will miss your ad.
  • Include a picture. I have seen so many ads from people who have a $400 iPad to sell… but apparently don’t have access to a camera or camera-phone. That’s screams “SCAMMER” or “IDIOT”.
  • Don’t use stock pictures. I have seen dozens of iPad ads, all with the same pictures — all shot down in minutes by enthusiastic flaggers like me.
  • If you are selling a big-ticket item, put in a phone number. Most of us initially reply by e-mail anyway, but if I am about to buy an  expensive item, a lack of a phone number looks like the seller does not want to be found. It just smells wrong.
  • Don’t say “I don’t accept e-mails”. This is annoying as those corporate emails that end with “this message was sent from an unmonitored mailbox”. You just posted the ad on the Web, for Heaven’s sake – use it!
  • Don’t advertise your business, pawnshop, computer repair store, flea market or eBay auction on CL. There are a thousand hustlers like you, all trying to Freeload off Craigslist – and no, you are not the exception. Pay for a proper ad on eBay.
  • Don’t put up a whole bunch of ads at once. One a day is fine. Any more and you will get flagged.
  • Don’t put up “Wanted” or “Begging” posts in a “For Sale” area – there is an “Items Wanted” area for that.
  • And finally, Take the ad down when the item is sold. Unless you want to be bothered by folks weeks or months later…
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  • JRT Studio (@JRTStudio)  On December 14, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    Really good stuff to remember. All of these principles could also be applied to eBay, webstore, or eBid. Never buy anything without a picture. If the seller does not spend the time to take a picture (even if it is low quality) look elsewhere – plenty of fish. Don’t get ripped of by the one used car dealer in a small town.

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