The Perils of Craigslist: Dealing with the Crazies

Don’t worry, I didn’t get solicited by any creepy predators or anything – just ripped off. A little. It’s one of the hazards of buying any used product, but you always hope that the seller is of the honest variety.

In anticipation of baby numero dos, I’ve been compiling all of the necessary double-capacity items that I think I’ll need in a few months: a double BOB stroller (purchased from a friend by my friends and family), a double bike trailer in case I ever figure out how to leave the house with two littles, and a sit-n-stand stroller for high-occupancy places (because that BOB is not exactly space-efficient).

When I found an ad for a newer Schwinn bike trailer on Craigslist, I jumped on it and made an appointment to see it. The lady seemed nice enough, and even though it was an older model than in the picture (a Craigslist faux-pas if you ask me), it was still in pretty good shape and not a bad price – $60. Not to mention it was about 95 degrees, I had driven 20 minutes to see it, and I didn’t really want to leave empty-handed.

A nice trailer. They go for anywhere from $65 - $100 (usually with the stroller wheel, which this one doesn't have) online.

A nice trailer. They go for anywhere from $65 – $100 (usually with the stroller wheel, which this one doesn’t have) online.

Here’s the conversation we had, since I’ve never bought a bike trailer before:

Me: “And it has all the parts to attach it?”

Her: “Yeah. You attach it with the strap. It just hooks onto the bar of your bike. You can buy a plastic piece…”

Me: “Okay.”

So I bought it.

Notice that she said I “could” buy a plastic piece – denoting ‘optional’. Then I took it home and tried to attach it. No dice. The thing was obviously missing something. So I downloaded the instruction manual off the internet (ahh, internet, I love you). Yep, missing the ‘coupling attachment’ (not made of plastic, mind you) that is necessary. It’s not that you “can” buy it, you “have to” buy it if you want your bike to attach safely to the trailer and not with just the strap – which is only a safety precaution so you don’t leave your kids in an intersection if the coupler ever fails.

Missing something...unless you don't mind using duct-tape and a prayer to secure your kids to your bike.

Missing something…unless you don’t mind using duct-tape and a prayer to secure your kids to your bike.

I called her to politely ask if she had the piece so I wouldn’t have to spend an additional $20 getting it online and / or refund me $20 because I hadn’t anticipated spending that much on the trailer. I explained that the strap is just for safety and I can’t very well put two small children in a trailer that isn’t properly attached. I love them – even the unborn one. And when I reminded her that she had told me all the pieces were there, she said, “Yeah, you can attach it with the strap. I said you could buy the plastic piece. Don’t call me telling me you got ripped off.”

And then she hung up on me. A grown woman hung up on me. I am proud of myself for at least trying to explain myself to a woman who clearly didn’t know what she was talking about. (Don’t you hate it when people are so adamant, even when they’re wrong?) And it’s not worth the fight or the stress for a $20 piece of metal. Plus, she cra-zy, and crazy people scare me.

Thrifting / garage sailing isn’t always bad. Just check out this adorable trike that I bought for Buddy (currently $40 in stores) for only $8 the other day. Why pay five times as much when kids don’t care a bit if it’s missing a streamer?

He'll love it (and break it) as much as the last kid.

He’ll love it (and break it) as much as the last kid.

After losing a little sleep over the matter (getting yelled at always makes me upset, no matter when the situation), friends told me about other used-goods debaucles. One friend bought a nearly-new couch, only to bring it home and discover that it had been in a flooded home and the bottom was almost completely rotted out. Her handy husband rebuilt the frame and it was as good as new – and she loves the couch because it reminds her of how understanding and hard-working her husband is. And I will love my trailer because it will safely carry my children and remind me of the day I stood up for myself.

Lessons learned:

  1. Always carefully research an item before buying it on Craigslist – including the specific make and model.
  2. Print out the ad and bring it with you to the sale.
  3. If you show up and the item is already different than the add / picture – abort mission.
  4. Don’t stress over a few extra bucks if you do lose out – you’ll make it up in the next sale anyhow. (Like that sweet antique mason jar collection that you get for only $5 because Granny didn’t know it was awe-some!)
  5. Meet in a public place so that the crazies never find out where you live. (Glad I did this.)
  6. Pay in cash so that they don’t have any record of your existence should you complain / have a problem.
Advertisements

5 thoughts on “The Perils of Craigslist: Dealing with the Crazies

  1. Oh no! I hate when people post marketing images of their product. Why not just take a picture of the real deal? I am sorry you got ripped off. Not cool. I am glad to hear you tried to call and resolve the issue. Like you, I hate being yelled at. But, I am glad you put it all into perspective and have a new view on what happened. Thanks for sharing your tips. I’ll definitely remember them.

    • I just heard on the news that it’s recommended that you meet at a police station, even! I don’t know about that, but it is definitely a good idea to meet in a very public place – and not in the back corner of a remote parking lot, either. When in doubt, bring a friend or your husband along! (Blaine talks big, but I doubt he’d be much help…being one and all.)

  2. I occasionally look over Craigslist when we have something in mind, but I have not been brave enough to actually call about anything yet! Thanks for the tips!

Care to comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s