We finally did it! We sold that old desk that’s been taking up way too much space in our kitchen. We decided to sell it on Craiglist.com because we knew it would be quick and easy. Luckily everything went well, and we added money to our budget. I will admit that I do have mixed feelings about using Craigslist to sell items (especially when they are big). The family that bought our desk was really nice. They even brought their two little girls with them to pick it up, but while we were waiting for them to come I couldn’t help but feel like doing business through Craigslist can be dangerous. I was wondering if we were inviting criminals into our home. I’ve heard stories of people getting robbed, even killed, by Craigslist bandits. While I was sitting there worrying about the people coming to buy our desk I developed a list of things I wish I had done to protect my family from a potentially bad Craigslist experience (better late than never!). If I could re-do it, these would be the precautions I would have taken:
1) Don’t give the potential buyers information on when you WON’T be home. While talking to the potential buyers on the phone I said, “I won’t be home until 5.” At this point I had already given them my address. If they wanted to rob me they would have known I wasn’t there. I should have said, “I’ll be working on a project at home until 5 so feel free to stop by any time after that.”
2) Never hand over your product without being paid first. I was surprised because the family that bought our desk wanted to pay for it that day and pick it up the next day. They were worried about us selling the desk to someone else (apparently they thought it was a very sought after desk!), but I would never recommend trusting someone with things like that. Make it easy and do the trade all at once.
3) Put the item for sale in front of your house and lock the door behind you. Sometimes the product being sold will be too big to do this, but I don’t like strangers in my home.
4) Do the sale in a public place if possible. I wasn’t going to haul the desk to Starbucks, but if it was something like selling a movie I would have preferred to meet somewhere public.
5) Have someone keep any eye out. This way they can call the cops if something goes wrong. Also, they can take down the license plate number of the vehicle the buyers arrived in. The more information they get the better.
6) Let the buyer know the precautions you’re taking. An honest person will understand the situation, and a thief will probably decide they don’t want to mess with you.
7) Talk to them on the phone instead of just text messaging. I feel a lot better after hearing someone’s voice rather than just getting a text message. After talking to someone on the phone it will be easier to follow your instincts. If things don’t feel right don’t be afraid to cancel the transaction.
We all like making a little extra cash by selling things we don’t need anymore. All we need to do is take a second to think about our situation to make it safer. I know from now on I’ll be dealing with people through Craigslist a lot differently. Do any of you have more advice for people selling things on Craigslist?