TIME TO TRY SOMETHING ELSE
I have been a Craigslist user for a long time. I use it for both buying and selling things. I’ve had some success in the past, but its effectiveness has clearly been diminished over time.
Recently, I was looking for a car for my 86 year old mom. My sister wrecked my mom’s dependable 2002 Chevy Impala. You know the story, little old lady only drove it a few times a week, to the gym and back. (really) Unfortunately, the car isn’t worth nearly as much to the insurance company as to my mom and they had no interest in fixing the modifications caused by the close encounter with local wildlife.
I found a bunch of seemingly incredible deals in my area on Craigslist and couldn’t believe the prices. I found 10 vehicles that would be perfect, under 5000 each, and I thought all were significantly below market price. I confirmed that by doing a price check using kbb.com. So, I sent each of the sellers a reply either through a text message or email. Almost all had provided a gmail account in the body of the ad.. (which is hard to do)
In every case, I got an email back with an incredible story about how either someone had died, or in one case how both husband and son were killed, and it was necessary to sell the car quickly at a loss. The seller was willing to use eBay as the third party to protect me. Oh yeah, the car was in some military depot waiting to be shipped to me at no cost. Of course each car was actually located in scam city and none were available for me to see. One car was in Great Falls, Montana, and so I told the seller, David Wilson, that it was an amazing coincidence, but I was actually in Great Falls on business and would be happy to meet him at Bert and Ernie’s Tavern so I could see the car. I haven’t heard from David since… 🙂
On another front, I have recently been posting ads in the financial services section for a client. This is a very competitive arena, but I have been amazed at how difficult it is to get an ad posted there. There are software programs running just to flag ads repeatedly so dirty players can have their ads show up.
So.. in a short period of time, I’ve found that the car sellers area is mostly filled with fakes and the financial services section is filled with software posting services and flaggers. It’s nearly impossible to compete using methods that are above board. Or at least, it’s fair to say that if you post an ad in the normal intended manner, you’re probably wasting your time. It shouldn’t be so difficult. Nobody wants to spend their entire day posting ads on Craigslist… though I have found that there are numerous folks who get paid to do just that.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
That’s a tough one.. Because it’s free, there are lots of people who use Craigslist still, but I suspect that less and less legitimate folks use it now. I know that after this experience I won’t use it to look for a car again. I wasted way too much time making contact with obvious scammers.
I think there should be a site where only verified members can participate. Each member pays an annual membership fee that covers the cost of running the site and anyone who violates the terms of service will be penalized and can be banned for blatant offenses I would like to know everyone doing business has been verified. It might not be perfect, but a good place to start.