Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Guide to Craigslist Etiquette

In a world where the amount of trash we generate and the cost of living keep going up, while wages and employment opportunities don't, Craigslist is a God send. 

One of the perks of living in Vermont is that we have a healthy Craigslist market, with a relatively low scam rate.  Sure, I get stood up occasionally, but almost all of the time, if I can actually meet up with someone to make a deal, everything is on the up-and-up.  I think this comes from a long tradition of bartering in a state where the climate is rough, and most of it is remote.

In the interest of keeping this market healthy, I thought I would provide a few of my rules and expectations when it comes to buying and selling on Craigslist.


  • Deals are cash, and in person
  • At an agreed upon meeting location. Must be in a public place unless both parties are comfortable with a house meeting.

As a buyer

  • Only talk to local sellers. 
  • Expect to pay with cash, unless the deal is a barter/trade.
  • Expect to do most of the driving, if not all of it.  If the seller offers to meet you somewhere closer, they are doing you a favor.
  • Be honest about how serious you are, and when you can make an appearance.  Don't call at the last minute and cancel/try to reschedule.
  • Call/text the seller again when you are leaving to meet them.
  • Don't ever assume items will be held for you (but you can ask)
  • If the item is sold before you can schedule a meeting, fair's fair.
  • Know the market value of what you are trying to buy.  If the asking price is significantly below this value, it is at least unbecoming, and at worst, rude, to attempt to negotiate the price even lower.

As a seller

  • Only talk to local buyers.
  • Be honest about the condition of an item.  If you don't know something, say that.
  • Ask a fair price.  Set an appointment with a potential buyer, and don't sell it to someone else before the meeting.
  • Answer contacts in the order they came - first come, first serve. 
  • Clearly communicate your expectations about how a deal will commence.
  • Stay open and transparent with all buyers. Lying or hiding something will only lead to a sour deal.
It is okay to tell someone "well, someone's coming to look at it tonight at 7pm... if it's still available after that, I'll let you know."  If you do, keep track, and follow up.  It's NOT okay to do this: "someone is coming to look at it tonight at 7pm, but if you get here first, I'll sell it to you."

If in doubt, always stay true to your word.  
If you get into a jam, contact all the involved parties and tell them what is happening.

The bottom line is, don't piss off your buyer or seller.  There are of course situations where people are crazy and it's unavoidable, but... do unto others.  If we all work to keep the market fair, it will stay healthy.  

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