I’ve sold dozens and dozens of items on Craigslist, from small items like electronics to larger items like couches, and, of course, quite a few guitars, pedals, and amps. Dealing with people on Craigslist can be a little stressful, and I’ve amassed a few tips that I employ to make doing Craigslist deals a little easier.
1) Meet in public whenever possible – This is probably the most important tip I can provide. If you’re selling a large piece of furniture, it may be necessary to have people come to your house (and I would only recommend doing this after you’ve had a chance to speak with the person on the phone). However, in almost every other instance, I would recommend finding a public, well-lit, well-traveled place where you can meet to do the deal. I’ve done deals at my office, at local restaurants, and at the local Guitar Center. Basically, I try to find a place that I feel comfortable at and that has a good amount of foot traffic.
2) Take good pictures – If you’re selling something on Craigslist, it’s worth the time to take a few good pictures of the item. They don’t have to be professional quality, but you should be able to get a good feel for the item from the pictures. Make sure there’s enough lighting, and you should try to get a few angles of the item. For guitars, I try to take a picture of different angles of the guitar and include any accessories, such as cases, etc.
3) Do your research before you meet – Whether you are buying or selling, make sure you know the value of the item before you meet someone. If you’re selling an item, you should obviously do this research before listing the item. I tend to price an item just slightly higher than I want to sell it at, because 90 percent of the time the buyer will want to negotiate with you. If I’m buying something, I do my research and offer a fair price for the item based on what it’s selling for on other Craigslist listings and on eBay. This way, we both know the price before we meet so there’s no confusion.
4) Negotiate before meeting – If I’m buying an item, as a matter of courtesy, I always negotiate the price prior to meeting. I’ve had some people who have come to see an item and try to negotiate price at that time. Usually, these people are low-ballers, and I’ve generally found this to be a waste of both of our times. I find it best to get the money situation out of the way up front, which makes the meeting a little less stressful.
5) Bring a counterfeit-detection pen – This is a slightly less obvious tip that I’ve found to be a great way to ensure that I’m not being ripped off. You can get counterfeit-detection pens at most office supply stores, and they are fairly cheap and easy to use. So far, no one has been offended at me using it, and one guy indicated that he’ll be doing it in his deals in the future.
6) Never ship or accept PayPal* – Craigslist is getting better at stopping spam and scams, but there are inevitably a few that will get through. It’s often easy to tell, because the email will never actually mention the item that you’ll selling. If someone emails you and asks you to ship the item, be very cautious. It could be a legitimate offer, but it adds an extra level of complexity that I’d rather not deal with.
* I’ve heard of some people accepting PayPal and not having any issues. However, I stick to a cash-only Craigslist philosophy.
7) If a deal feels fishy, don’t do it – This one is perhaps an obvious one, but if at any point you get a weird feeling about a deal, don’t go through with it.
By following these tips, you can help make doing Craigslist deals a little safer for both sides.
Let me know if you have any other tips to add to this list.
Original Fuzz says
This is a really useful post. A bunch of things that you don’t think about, but it’s a good checklist for the next time you do a craigslist deal. I had never thought about the counterfeit pen either, but that’s a great idea.
Scott Stevens says
This advice is great! Most people usually overlook simple yet important things. It is also common to feel obligated to buy things from people you meet on craigslist, but it is important to remember that the buyer is not obligated to give money. As you said, If the deal feels fishy, don’t do it.