Thursday, August 06, 2009

5 Hints for Craigslist Free Stuff Success

I don't like dickering with people. It offends my sense of dignity to argue with someone over a few dollars, so I avoid the circumstance as much as I can. So, when we recently had a few items of some small value to get rid of at the Gone Mild household, we listed them on Craigslist as free stuff. The karmic good of giving something decent away would outweigh the financial benefit of gaining the hundred bucks or so we might have received through commerce, we reasoned.

We posted the items at around 5:30 one afternoon. The next day, we had a couple hundred responses to choose from. Out of those responses, each of which I read and considered, before forwarding to my lovely spouse, I gleaned a few basic lessons to guide those who want to succeed in scoring free stuff on Craigslist.

1. Be Quick. Even though we opted not to go with the "first come, first served" approach, I'm sure that many listers do use that method, and even those who don't will quickly be inundated with responses. My first response came within seconds of my posting - the one who succeeded came within a couple hours. Believe me, the pool fills up quickly.

2. Think about your email name. Look, I'm an open-minded person, but I'm not going to invite someone who goes by the name "sickandsadistic" to my home. Same thing for PimpMasterJane. I'll admit that Gr8rack and Smooch Smooch got my attention, but not an invitation.

3. Read the Ad. We wanted our stuff picked up on a certain day in the future. Those who responded, "Give me your address, I'll be there immediately" either failed to read, or allowed their sense of urgency to trump their better judgment.

4. Think about the seller's motivation. All we wanted were some warm feelings and the convenience of having our stuff taken away. The people who asked if I would help load the truck didn't do well. The people who wanted to pick and choose did worse. I may go to hell for this, but the person who described her disabilities in graphic detail really should have mentioned how she was going to get the stuff without asking me to deliver it. The ones who did succeed coupled a solid reason for needing the stuff (fire, divorce, unemployment, etc.) with a quick explanation of how they were going to meet my needs ("I have a truck and trailer and can bring a friend at your convenience").

5. Be nice, but don't go overboard. I like to think that giving stuff away is a kind gesture, but "the Hand of God" played less of a role in my decision than a strong desire to avoid arguing about price and condition, at least in my non-theological opinion. Similarly, the people who promised to pay something kind of missed the point. Fortunately, Gr8rack and Smooch Smooch didn't play that game . . .



Blogger Sophia said...

I didn't realize there was a Free Stuff page on craigslist. Yah, America! Making dumpster diving more efficient.

8/07/2009 8:47 AM  
Blogger Sophia said...

Damn you, Dan, for introducing me to a whole new way to waste time! Someone is giving away some classic issues of National Geographic with the following explanation:

There is a very small spot on the bottom right of the holographic image.
One of the Koko's Kitten issues is in good shape and the other has a scratch on it.
That's why I'm just letting them go, rather than trying to make my fortune on them.
(I also don't believe in the theory of evolution that the holographic one talks about)


8/07/2009 8:54 AM  
Blogger les said...

Making dumpster diving more efficient.

Classic American--eliminate the middle man...uh, container...receptacle? Display box? Anyway, Sophia hit it.

8/07/2009 9:28 AM  

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