Saturday, June 22, 2013

Buying Second Hand and the Craigslist Crazies

Craigslist provides an excellent platform for acquiring things second hand.  My cars, roommates, and some furniture come from the site.

I am a firm believer in buying second hand.  First and foremost, it is significantly cheaper than retail.  My couch and love seat cost $90 at a garage sale, and I've had them for 4 years.  I bought a pair of glass end tables for $20.  A skill saw for $10  And I just wrote about all the insanely cheap stuff I got at the Woodburn Auction.

As for cars, I would never buy from a dealer.  You probably pay 20-50% more when you shop at a dealership than just buying straight from the owner.  Check out your own car's private party versus retail value on to see what I'm talking about.

I've developed a habit of immediately trying to resell things I bought cheap on Craigslist things.  You must always list them high, because people will always offer less.  Those end tables?  Listed them for $40, sold them for $30.  And an old cedar bench I sanded and stained went for $40 (full price).  Its not really about the money, I just like the wheeling and dealing.

While Craigslist provides a wide open market to buy and sell your things, its also home to scammers and weirdos.  The Craigslist Crazies.  Scammers are a humorous nuisance.  Their just-not-quite-right English, followed by an offer to buy via PayPal telltale signs of impending fraud.  Take this text, received last night:

"Hi, How are you;

Just I am asking you about a car in craglist website; is it still available or not!!


When listing a car, you'll get a few emails and texts from people who say they will pay full price for the "item", sight unseen, and then ask for my PayPal account number.  Sometimes I text them ridiculous things for fun, but usually just ignore them.  For the experts on messing with scammers, check out the people at 

Then there are the people who make you feel slightly uncomfortable.  Like the fellow who called, speaking in an Indian accent from a Pennsylvania area code (I'm in Oregon).  He offered me $1500 less than I was asking on my car.  When I refused, he kept saying "Please sir, help me out.  Please sir, help me."  He then offered to trade cars with me.  He would not get off the line.  The whole thing felt odd and I eventually hung up on him.  Dealing with strangers it's important to trust your intuition.

If you're willing to look, and willing to own something slightly less than perfect, second hand can't be beat.  It's even worth putting up with the crazies.

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