The oven looked like an aquarium. The picture in the ad showed the oven in the kitchen, but at some point it had been moved outside so that it could get some rain. When I arrived, it was outside under a tarp from the late 70’s. It was more fishnet than tarp. When we pulled the tarp off, the oven was filled with water. The seller and I stared at the oven. There was no apology. And really, what should I expect for $50? I should have been grateful that the lady hadn’t run the oven over with her car first.
The seller, in an effort to make things better, removed the drip pans to pour out the water, which only revealed the standing water below the drip pans. Frustrated, she went and got some towels to wipe the water up. I then opened the oven which revealed a small lake inside. There was a half an inch of standing water inside the oven somehow. I then noticed that the water had started to rust out the parts of the metal, screws and even the drip pans. It was at that point I told her I was going to pass on the oven.
The lady said nothing, but did give me a crazy smirk as if to say “what did you expect from a cheap oven?” I smiled as I picked up on my perceived audacity. I was to be grateful to the opportunity that this kind woman had bestowed upon me to purchase her waterlogged, rusted out oven that may or may not have even worked.
Many sellers think that the only thing that matters is price. The reasoning goes something like this. “I need to sell my oven, but it has glaring defects and looks like a bird bath at the moment. I will lower the price to compensate for the defects, and I won’t say anything because the low price justifies hiding the defects from potential buyers.”
The problem with this approach is that it’s up to the buyer to decide which defects are acceptable, not the seller. A low price doesn’t justify hiding major defects that will usually cause most people to not want the item.
Common sense. If you were giving the item to your mother, what would you tell her about it? Share that same information with prospective buyers. If you don’t, and a potential buyer comes and notices that there are fish swimming in the oven, apologize for not mentioning it, and possibly wasting a little bit of their life. Telling someone your oven was used as a rain catcher for the past week might save them a trip.
If you are inquiring about the condition of an item for sale on Craigslist, and the buyer starts giving you some attitude, or short, terse answers to your questions, it’s usually best to pass. They are obviously annoyed that you would actually care about the condition, and that’s not the person you want to be buying from.
The classic moment in the whole ordeal was when the lady went in to get the towels, my son Elijah turned to me and said “Dad, I don’t think we should buy it.” I didn’t think so either. So Elijah and I left and went and got coffee and a hot chocolate, inside where it was nice and dry.
Have you gone to buy an item only to discover it was hit by a car? Any other funny surprises? I’m sure you all have some great stories!
Have short questions for me? Send them to me via twitter @ryanfinlay