Those of you who read my Facebook posts probably know my wife retired from public education this month. She stepped away with a plan – she has been a hobbyist antique dealer for several decades and now wishes to try to do it full-time; to see if it can be a viable business rather than simply a massive timesuck, not to mention a money pit.
You know how these things work. I have suddenly found myself to be an unwitting partner in the early days of this new chapter. One of our first ventures was putting an antique oak table and chairs up for sale on Craigslist. My wife acquired the set for almost nothing and we priced it to move, and it has…sort of.
I’ve sold a number of things on Craigslist over the years, mostly event tickets and bicycles. The transactions have been easy – you meet-up with the buyer and they trade you cash for the item. So we anticipated that our listing might result in someone driving to our house, looking the table over, and then asking us to knock $50 off the price, which we might well have done.
Well, let’s just say it hasn’t been that simple. We received texts from 11 people in less than 24 hours. They all said they want the table. But only one of them has an area code I recognize, and that’s in Southern California. That tells us two things:
1) We priced the table and chairs too low.
2) We’re dealing with a bunch of pros, some of whom apparently wish to try to steal the set.
We promptly agreed to do business with the first person to respond to our ad, on Saturday, January 13. He asked if the table was sturdy. We said yes and invited him to come over to examine it. He said he regretted that he couldn’t do that as he was currently out of town “conducting training.” He then promised to have his ‘personal assistant’ mail a check and agreed to wait several days for the check to clear our bank before arranging for shipment. Ok, we said. We then asked about timing – what did he foresee? He said the check would arrive Tuesday and movers would be here Wednesday. Wait, movers? And the day after we received the check?
Would it be a cashier’s check? No response.
Could the assistant bring cash? No response.
Would he consider PayPal? Crickets.
How could the check arrive Tuesday when Monday was a federal holiday (MLK Day)? Nothing.
We then pressed for what we called a clear path for the transaction and when he continued to ignore us we told him we were moving in another direction.
We then looked to responder number two. He also wanted to send us a personal check. We declined.
On to number three. We contacted him Sunday the 14th and he told us up front he was a shut-in with throat cancer and would therefore be unable to come view the table. We offered to deliver it and he replied that he is “currently in Chicago.” He promised to use PayPal and then send a mover, and he said he would include the price of shipping with the payment if we would be willing to pay it in cash to the movers. We agreed, which apparently was a signal that we’re hayseeds. Why? Well, after a number of exchanges about the status of payment, the money arrived early Tuesday morning (the 16th) along with a message that the funds are on hold until we wire $300 (the stated cost of shipping) to the buyer via Western Union. So now we’re apparently dealing with a Nigerian prince.
Wow. It seems we were being set-up to pay for the shipping AND reimburse the buyer for the cost of it. We tersely informed him that the transaction was canceled.
In the meantime responder#1 has notified us that “payment has been sent,” apparently choosing to continue to ignore our questions as well as our statement of termination.
As for the table, it’s still here. The other eight out-of-towners will not be considered. We have pulled the Craigslist ad and may re-list it in a week or so at a significantly higher price.
Looks like it was back to school on this one for a couple of old crows. What have we learned? For starters, local buyers only. Cash only. No bullshit.