Classified Ad Buyer & Seller Etiquette


I’m a little frustrated at the moment with the users of Craigslist, and by that I mean the entire population of this country. Its bad enough that when placing an ad we all have to worry about the flood of spam we know is going to come, and don’t want to list our phone number lest we get robocalls. Then when the shoes on the other foot we have to call and call or email again and again and get no response. So I figured I’d set out a few guidelines, and also vent my frustrations. All of these have to do with my car shopping experiences, but they apply to everything else as well, for the most part.

Proper selling manners:

1) Respond to emails or phone calls within 24 hours – Even if the response is, “sorry it’s sold”, or “I’ll have to get back to you on Monday”.

2) When it sells, delete the ad – Seriously it only takes a minute and saves everyone’s sanity.

3) Ask a reasonable price – It seems some people list prices hoping to hook a sucker who just won the lottery. Just add 10-25% to your minimum and go.

4) Don’t game the pricing system – List the price as $150 and then put $15,000 in the text? Do you think someone searching for $150 junk cars is gonna see you ad, be blown away, and call cause they have to have it?

5) Don’t game the keyword search – If you’re selling a 95 Honda Civic, don’t put a bunch of junk keywords like: Mustang, Camaro, BMW in the description. No one is going to get fooled and fall in love with your hooptie.

6) Use honest descriptions & pictures- If it’s got a salvage title, won’t pass smog, back DMV fees, say so. If there’s a scratch, don’t go out of your way to not show it. Have to wait for a nice sunny day to get quality photos? Do it. Wasting money is one thing, but we only get a limited amount of time on this planet, don’t waste it.

Proper buying manners:

1) Call or text at an appropriate time – I would suggest between 8am and 8pm, unless there are hours listed in the ad. And don’t send a bunch of questions via text; one voice conversation will answer a lot of questions.

2) Be polite, use a proper subject line and seem human in emails – Start with hello, and sign your full name with your phone number to show you aren’t a scam bot, or a Nigerian prince. Make the subject clear so people know exactly why you are emailing them, in case they have multiple items for sale.

3) Make sure you have a good phone connection — Use a land line, or find a spot with good reception. Nothing is more annoying then trying to do questions and answers with a phone that is breaking up.

4) Try not to ask stupid questions – The school systems aren’t what they used to be, but read the whole ad first, then read it again, then ask questions. Also, do a little research on before pestering the seller with a ton of general questions like, “What kind of mileage does it get”.

5) Don’t negotiate right away – Its okay to ask how firm the price is once you’ve broken the ice or gotten more information. But it’s rude to call or email and ask “Will you take $500?” for something listed at $1000 without seeing it in person.

6) Be prepared to buy – Have the cash handy, or another agreed upon way to pay for it. Don’t waste an hour of time kicking tires, and then ask “Can I bring you cash Monday when my bank opens?” My answer is always, sure, but if someone comes along before then you’re out of luck.

7) Be there when you say you will — Don’t arrange to meet someone at 10am then show up at 11.

There you have it, now return my emails you jerk, so I can ask a bunch of dumb questions then try to lowball you!

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