The Tech-pert: Three Tips for Craigslist Success

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Except for single-handedly destroying newspapers, Craigslist is the greatest thing ever.

With it you can sell your stuff for free and find garage-sale pricing on everything from appliances to videogames.

Using Craigslist is pretty easy – the site remains admirably free of clutter, even after all these years – but there are tricks of the used-goods trade that can help you have a better overall experience. Here are three ways to improve your Craigslist life.

Practice Safe Craigslist

You’ve seen the headlines: Craigslist can be a dangerous place. That’s why it’s essential to take some precautions whenever you’re meeting with a stranger to conduct business.

For starters, keep a “paper trail” by preserving all your e-mails and/or text messages. You never know when you might need them to resolve a court case or even file a criminal one.

When the time comes to meet with someone, always choose a public place. (Gizmodo recommends a bank lobby, but I think any spot where people congregate should be pretty safe: a coffee shop, a library, etc.)

This won’t always be possible, like if you’re buying or selling a piece of furniture, but you should probably avoid giving out your address if you can. And if you have to visit someone else’s address, bring a friend whenever possible.

Use an App for That

So you’re cleaning out the garage and decide it’s time for these old bikes to find a new home. Do you really have to take a photo, go to the computer, head to Craigslist, and jump through all the rest of the deal-posting hoops?

Nope. Just use one of the many available Craigslist apps for Android and iOS. For example, the aptly named (and unofficial) Craigslist for iOS lets you create and post ads right from your device. Snap a photo, fill in the details, and presto: instant ad. Your item might get sold before you’re done sweeping the garage. Android users can check out the similar Craigslist Mobile Pro. Both apps cost a mere 99 cents.

Both apps also let you search and browse all of Craigslist, which is great for finding deals on the run.

Watch for Deals While You Sleep

Suppose you’re in the market for a trombone. Craigslist offers no notification system, no way of letting you know when new trombone offers have been posted. Your only option is to keep checking the site, a time-consuming and often-unproductive hassle.

Enter CL Genie, a free service that sends you an e-mail whenever a new Craigslist listing matches your search term(s).

You simply specify your location, then pick a Craigslist category. (CL Genie lets you search across any category, not just for-sale stuff.) Next, enter your search parameters (e.g. “trombone”). You can also specify a minimum and/or maximum price, which is great for weeding out stuff that’s too pricey.

Finally, enter your e-mail address. When that’s done, CL Genie will send you a confirmation e-mail with a link to enable your search. (That same link also cancels your search, so hang onto the e-mail.)

The service posts only matching deals that appear from that point forward, so you won’t get deluged with older stuff. What’s more, CL Genie searches automatically end after six months. If you haven’t found what you’re after by then, you can always create a new search.

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  1. ChuckG

    2 years ago

    Craigslist really works well when you live in populated areas. My son sold his tires and asked me to ride along (I pretended to be the muscle, lol) and made sure we picked a public transaction, behind a tire store. Met the buyers, liked the tires, done deal. The buyer brought someone as well. Always good to not go alone on any deal, just in case.

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