How to Be a Bad Craigslist Seller


Selling used items on Craigslist has its ups and downs. The good typically involve simple transactions while the bad can be nightmares involving people who have no concern for others. If you want to make people happy and use Craigslist effectively, be sure to avoid these behaviors typical of bad Craigslist sellers. (See also: Craigslist vs. eBay: Where to Sell 10 Common Items)

Lying About the Condition of the Item

Nobody wants to list a "used, stained, and slightly torn chair," but be careful before you list it as "great condition, only used a few times." Just because they won't notice that you flipped the cushion over and used a staple gun to keep the fabric in place until the cash is securely in your hands doesn't make it right!

Keeping the Listing Up After the Item Has Been Sold

Bad sellers get rid of an item but think that the work of finding that email that lets you edit or delete your listing is too much to handle, so they leave the item up. Avoid this bad behavior by keeping that email, or at least responding to any inquiries noting that the item has already been sold.

Being Difficult to Reach

You posted it on Craigslist and gave a general description. When people want more details about an item, they want quick responses, not someone who doesn't check their email. The icing on the cake is when your phone is on silent right around the time of the exchange. After all, it's the buyer's responsibility to find the guy who looks like he's trying to sell something, right?

Offering to Meet in a Private Location at Night

What would make someone feel less comfortable than meeting in a dark alley with few people around? Meeting someone you don't know and exchanging cash can be nerve-wracking, so recognize that even if you feel comfortable inviting a stranger to your house at night, that person might not.

Backing Out of Agreements

Even after arranging a deal, if the item is still in your hands, you may have the urge to continue bargaining when other emails come in. After all, your job is to get the best price you can for your item, not build lasting customers. It's hard to blame you for wanting the best price you can get, but you should still be courteous and keep communication flowing. You'd be upset if you showed up to a meeting place and the seller wasn't there, so if you do back out, let the buyer know before they start traveling to you!

If You Can't Sell It, Throwing It Out

Your trash may be someone else's gold. Nobody is willing to pay your price, so your next thought may be to trash it. Instead of throwing it in the dumpster out back, spend a few minutes letting people know it's available to the first person who wants it.

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Meg Favreau's picture

I recently went to buy a couch off of Craigslist. When I arrived at the seller's apartment, I discovered that, yes, it was a beautiful black microsuede as promised...but the back had candle wax on it. Not only that, but there were a couple of spots on the cushions where the owner -- a painter -- had splattered white paint, and then painted over it with black paint! I still ended up buying the couch (it's super comfortable, and I was able to talk the price down), but man oh man, there was a lot of information about the couch's condition missing from that Craigslist post!

Kentin Waits's picture

Great article -- lots of folks out there who need a dose of CL etiquette. Thanks for the post.

Guest's picture

Thank you for this. My friend is a horrible Craigslist and Ebay seller and I will be showing this article to her.

Guest's picture

I am trying to buy just a simple wooden black couch off someone. for a week now
first she says she will be home tomorrow to give me the measurement by email. when she does get around to it the next day 11pm she sends an email saying only the 1 side measurement and how 4 other people want this and how it is underpriced plus when i ask if she can show me picture of the frame alone with out the coushions she sents me a black photo you can not even see anything. Then she acts like in her email that she is selling gold antique. so I try to contact her and still her ad is up she is psyched thinking she is selling a gold couch for $70. and she won't even respond to one request , I live far from her if the sizes of the couch is good to go and comes apart I will take it. She has some mental issues.,sitting on her add just corresponding after 2 days to a question. You can not even spam her. She does not even know what she is selling when you ask her she does not know where it came from.

Guest's picture

There are some flaky people out there on the buying and selling ends, that's for sure.