Have you been cheated or royally burned by a craigslist seller?
I have. I paid too much for the desk below and bought a scale-covered sink because I forgot to remember simple things. But thanks to many transactions, I now have a checklist of must-do's before I buy. It's not going to be foolproof, but it helps when my mommy-brain is turned on.
I paid $120. I Should have paid $80.
Don't under-cut the price when you go to get it - As a seller, I really hate when buyers do this! If you don't intend to pay the price listed then don't get it. All it does is create immediate tension when a lame excuse is given as to why you don't have the extra $5 or $10. If you want to negotiate the price, do so prior to going or talk with the seller prior to see if the price is negotiable.
Be willing to walk away - When you go to buy a product, it usually is the first time you'll see it even if there were photos in the ad. Many sellers will post a likeness photo meaning it isn't the actual item but a picture of one that them found online. Usually, this is a red flag because their item may look defected. Unfortunately, some photos are difficult to differentiate between a personal photo and a stock photo. You must ask the seller if their photo is of their actual item or not. When you meet the seller, if it's not as it looked or has several defects they didn't mention, walk away.
Brand new door for 1/3 the retail price!
When you see it, act on it - I can't tell you the number of really unique items I've missed out on because I didn't act fast enough. If you think it's unique then chances are someone else does too. I've even lost out when I've been emailing with the seller only to have them write back to say "Sorry, it's now sold. Someone came by today."
Ask about the details - Craigslist is not ebay. There is no negative feedback if item is not as described. You must ask about the details. Are there any scratches, dents, rips, stains? I just went through this with the desk above. I asked if there were any defects. I realize that was too broad a question and should have asked about the specifics. I should have also inquired with the sellers answer "Not to my knowledge, I'm selling it for someone else." I should have asked, "Are you in possession of the desk? If so, can you please look for any blemishes?" If it's not in possession then that's when you can say you may need to adjust the price upon inspection.
Very cool chaise for $75!
Meet In A Public Place - My kids must think the only place to buy things is in a parking lot! If the item fits into the car, I always find a public meeting spot like gas station or a store parking lot. If you must go to the seller's house, always go with your spouse or a friend. I've never had any safety issues and honestly I usually feel like the seller and I could be great friends, but it's better to act on the side of caution.
So can you add any tips I've forgotten?
Please add them in your comments, I'd love to know!