Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What you really need to know about online yard sale sites

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - I really enjoyed The Metro Spirit's article on online yard/garage sale forums. I'm a member of three of them, and I have found them very useful. Better than Craigslist (in that you rarely show up to buy a couch only to find that "couch" was that week's code word for prostitutes), online yard sale forums are usually Facebook groups where you can sell your stuff - or buy other people's stuff - and hardly ever get murdered. Yay!

Emerson and I are clearing out clutter. Clothes and shoes that haven't been worn in forever, books, DVDs, toys, etc. We've been very fortunate to find buyers who are interested, and we're hoping, over time, to turn this into a nice chunk of change to finance a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter next year for her 11th birthday. You don't even know how badly we BOTH want to go.

But despite the fact that I love those stupid sites, and I have had mostly very good experiences with them, I have found some frustrations... mainly, women who engage in a kind of histrionic bait-and-switch that makes me want to tear off their acrylic nails and color in their highlights. Oh, yes, there is a profile, people, and I'm here to tell you it's upper-middle-class housewives who are the number one perpetrators of the following kinds of exchanges.

Poster: "SOLD!! Hi! I really super seriously need to buy everything you're selling immediately!"

Me (having posted four separate, distinct, and unrelated items that day for $25 each (total $100), with the caveat that I would meet buyers in specific areas): "Great! When would you like to meet?"

Poster: "I can meet every other Tuesday. How's tomorrow at 10 a.m.?"

Me: "Um, that won't work. I work full-time, 9-6."

Poster: "Oh, how sad. Well, can you bring them to my house in BFE around 6 p.m.?"

Me: "Um, no, I'll only just be leaving work at 6 p.m. And is there perhaps a more central location in which we can meet?"

Poster: "How about at 6:15 at the grocery store two blocks from my house out here in No Man's Land but still a 30-minute drive for you with traffic?"

Me: "No, that won't work for me. This might not work out. It's okay if you want to pass."

Poster: "No, I really want everything! I might be in Augusta tomorrow at 10 a.m. Will that work?"

Me: "Again, I work 9-6. But if you'll still be in town around noon, I can meet you on my lunch break."

Poster: "Thanks! And will you take $20 for everything?"

Me: "No."

Poster: "Then I'll have to pass."

Me: Bangs head against wall.

That's still better than the ones who show up and try to force their scam down your throat unexpectedly. I don't play that game.

Me: "Hi! Good to meet you!"

Poster: "Yeah, good to meet you, too! Well, everything looks good. Will you take $40 for everything?"

Me: "Um, no, we agreed to $100."

Poster (looking stricken): "But I only have $40. Will you take that?"

Me: "No."

Poster: "Will you take a check?"

Me: "No. But that's okay, I'll just move on to the next person who was interested."

Poster (grumpily): "No, wait, hang on. Let me check my glove box. Oh, look! Here's $60 right here!"

Me: "Imagine that!"

Hmph. I wish I had a magic ATM in my car.

If you want to use these sites, jump in but be smart. It's mostly good fun. I love buying secondhand for cost and conservation efforts, and I love keeping things local. But beware that there are people who prey upon naive site users. Here's my advice:

1. Document - Use Facebook messenger to always verify the purchase items and price. Then you have a written record in case they pitch a fit to the site admins when they don't get their way. The admins do not have time to get into drama, and they will just ban you and not think twice about it unless you have a compelling reason (and proof) for them not to. They are nice volunteers who just want to facilitate a useful service, and they do not have time for a full-on investigation.

2. Safety First - NEVER meet anywhere EXCEPT a well-lit, high-traffic, low-crime area. Some common locations are large retail parking lots (Target, Wal-mart, grocery stores), fast food restaurants, and places like Starbucks and Panera. Some police departments will let you use their parking lots and lobbies, and anywhere there's a sheriff's substation is a good idea.

3. Convenience is Key - Do not travel far from your home. It won't be worth it when the buyer either doesn't show up (not uncommon), or refuses the purchase for whatever reason.

4. Price Fairly - These sites are not fine furniture stores and antiques showrooms. People are looking for good deals, so price your stuff accordingly. Everyone thinks their leather sectional is worth $1,500. But is anyone willing to pay that? (Spoiler: No.)

5. Price Fairly, Part Deux - But don't come down on the price when a buyer is being irresponsible or trying to scam you. A well-mannered woman with a fresh manicure in a nice car can afford to buy your secondhand books for the less-than-one-dollar-apiece price you're asking. She's just being a horrible human being by both wasting your time and trying to pressure you into just taking what you can get in the moment.

6. Admins are Awesome - Report jerks like this to the admins EVERY TIME. They will ban them, and then they can crawl back to Freecycle like the mooches they are.

7. Document, Part Deux - When I remember, especially if the buyer seems even slightly sketchy, I run my phone's video camera or voice recorder while the transaction is going. If there are any conflicts, they are on record. That might be going a tad far, but I don't even care. Some people be crazy.

8. Admins are Mere Flawed MortalsFreecycle has been useful in the past, but again, some people are nuts. I once offered three used bras that didn't fit me after Emerson was born, and the first to respond was a woman who wanted me to ship them to Aiken. No way. She pitched a fit, said I was discriminating against people from Aiken, and reported me to the site admin, who said it was my fault for not specifying the delivery area. Sigh... sometimes, even the admins be crazy.

Happy hunting!


Post a Comment