Item not as described!


For my first post I thought I would share a common story for those of you who buy/sell much on craigslist, the item not as described. I’ll mix in tips and helpful hints for common situations that you may find yourself in. Enjoy—Ryan

I called up a guy about a month ago about his washer and dryer he had listed for $75 for the pair.  I asked him how old they were and he said about 4-5 years old.  I then asked him if they were all white, like all the new ones are and again he said yes.  Sweet!  I had found another great deal!

Thirty minutes of driving later I arrived at his townhouse only to discover that the washer and dryer were all white except for the control panels, which were brown and black.  These colors are consistent with the washers and dryers made 15-20 years ago.  He was correct in saying they were Kenmore 80 series however.  What I did next is a result of my experience in how to handle these situations over the past months.

First, communicate your disappointment in finding out that the appliances were not 5 years old, but more likely 15 years old.  At this point, you have to test the washer and dryer out and make sure they work fine with no problems and figure out how much you can pay for them and still make some money.  I wanted to make $50 on the pair for my effort.  He saw that I was was going to walk away without getting them the way things were going so he said he would let me have them for $40 for the pair.  That was a big drop in price so I went ahead and shot for $30, with still a hint of irritation in my voice at having drove 30 minutes only to be deceived.  He agreed on $30 for the pair so I loaded them up and went home.

Once I got home, I put them up for $100 for the pair and said that I could possibly deliver.  30 minutes later a lady called and wanted the pair delivered.  She only lived 18 blocks away so I said I would deliver them for an extra $10.  I ended up setting them up for her which took about 15 minutes extra.  You have to be careful about delivering, because delivery in most customer’s minds means setting them up as well.  Make up your mind beforehand what you’re willing to do.  I tend to go the extra mile and help people out, especially single mothers with kids.  If there’s a man around, let him hook the appliances up.  It will be good for him.  Answer questions and maybe give some instructions, but let them do the work.


I used get so worked up about not being able to make much money on a mis-advertised appliance or item, that I would just leave.  Now, I calm down and relax. How much is this old set worth?  Do the math in your head.  You know the market.  Offer them an amount that will make you a decent profit, and at the same time figure out your maximum amount you are willing to pay and don’t go over it. Part of it is out of principal, but there is also risk involved in every transaction. Always be prepared for situations where the item was not described accurately.


  1. This had happened to me twice – I was looking at an office chair and a display card rack. I saw a photo of the chair, which looked decent, but drove across town to see it. When I arrived the woman’s son was using it as a ride down the driveway. Great. What made me mad is the chair was dirty and covered on what looked like paint. I angrily told her this information was not included in th ad, she made some story how she is cleaning out her garage and didn’t see it, she right away knocked down the price from $25 to $15, which I took because the chair, which was faux leather, seemed to be cleanable and most of the paint came off.

    The display rack had been left out in the ran in appeared and was so covered in rust, which I again angrily told the seller was not mentioned when I grilled him over the phone on it’s condition (there was no photo in the ad). Again I had driven across town to see it. This time I walked away because it wasn’t even usable and not worth my time fixing up. It’s people like this that frustrate me about using Craigslist, but I keep on trying. Overall, most of my experiences have been good.

    My friend recently bought a van on Craigslist, when I went with him to look at it, he was told the back bumper had a “scratch”. It turned out it was completely mangled and half hanging off the van. I told my friend in my opinion to walk away, if he lied about the bumper who knows what else is wrong with it? He bought it since in his estimation it was in good condition and otherwise a good deal. Ended up the guy had the bumper fixed for free – if he would take the asking price of the van, which they agreed to. Another happy customer on CL 🙂

  2. Last year I paid for Christmas for my kids (2) and family and friends with money I had made selling on Craigslist. I live in Omaha, NE and I don’t that much competition for items, but I do see lots and lots of no shows for selling items. It is frustrating. perhaps you can talk about how you get people to actually pick up the items. I sell a lot of kid stuff and I think people must think they will have time and then find out they don’t.


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