Author Topic: Etiquette of purchasing from online classifieds?  (Read 1722 times)

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1981

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Etiquette of purchasing from online classifieds?
« on: November 20, 2012, 09:34:28 PM »
First post, so I hope I do this right...

My fiancé and I have been looking for two bookcases.  The ones available in stores are either not our style or totally out of our price range.  So we started looking at popular online classified sites.  We finally found an ad for two matching bookcases in the right style and price.  The advertisement was already a couple of weeks old when we found it, but my fiancé emailed the seller in the hopes the bookcases might still be available.  The seller responded that there was already another interested buyer (Buyer 1).  Buyer 1 had viewed the bookcases but she had not paid yet or arranged for pick up.  The seller thought that Buyer 1 might be backing out. 

We waited a few days.  Then my fiancé emailed the seller again (this past Saturday) to ask if the bookcases had sold or not.   It turns out that Buyer 1 did back out.  Meanwhile, we’ve only actually seen a photo of one bookcase (not the second one, although it allegedly matches) and we wanted to be sure of their condition before committing to buy.  In addition, we suspected that the seller’s apartment was probably a walk-up (given the neighbourhood) and these bookcases might be a hassle to move (in which case we’d need an extra pair of hands).  We were totally upfront with the seller that we just wanted to see them before making our final decision.  The seller agreed and scheduled a viewing for us on Monday afternoon.  She did write that she had friends coming over on Monday evening (after our viewing) which sounded like it would actually be an inconvenience to her if we wanted to move the bookcases that afternoon.  At this point, it also became clear for the first time that the seller is a woman.

On Monday, we arrived for the viewing on time.  The neighbourhood is a 30 minute drive from our house, so not the most convenient trip.  Meanwhile, the seller insisted on not giving us her building address until we were already in her neighbourhood.  So we parked the car and called her as requested.  She told us the address and we started walking.  About five minutes later, when we were a couple of blocks away, she called to cancel abruptly.  She suddenly claimed that she was very busy because of her friends coming over in two hours.  She also told us that she would only allow us to view the bookcases if we promised that we had the full price on us (in cash) and to take them right away (not possible in our compact hatchback).  When we couldn’t promise her to buy without seeing anything, she finally told us that she wasn’t comfortable having us in her apartment without her boyfriend present.  She told us we could re-schedule for another time.

I suspect that because my fiancé did all the communicating (emails and then mobile call), the seller didn’t realise that it was a MAN and WOMAN coming to view.  I think that she may have been worried that she was about to be alone with two men and she backed out at the last second due to nervousness (it was clear that two people were coming but I guess we didn’t make absolutely clear that one of us was a female).  Honestly, I can understand being hesitant to invite strangers into her home while alone.  However, she had two days to arrange for her boyfriend or friends to be there.  Instead, she waited until the very last minute to cancel.  I feel like our time was wasted. 

Under the circumstances, we have decided that we aren’t interested in buying from this woman.  Besides having to drive out of our way again, her terms were that we have to come ready to move.  That’s just too much inconvenience if we discover that the bookcases are not even in the described condition.  (For one thing, we will definitely need to borrow a larger car from my father and I don’t want that to be a needless inconvenience to him if it turns out we don’t even buy the things.)

I think it would be considerate to inform her that we are no longer interested in purchasing the bookcases (rather then letting her believe that we might still buy).  However, I am wondering if we should tell her that the main reason is her abrupt cancellation and her unreasonable/inconvenient demands?  (I am kind of wondering if this is what happened to Buyer 1?).  Or is it better to just say “not interested” and nothing else?

Also, more generally, is there some rule about not viewing items from online classifieds unless you are prepared to move them immediately?

(For the record, our plan was to give her the full price and offer a 50% deposit immediately. We wanted to give her the rest when we actually moved the bookcases at her convenience --- ASAP.  Is that weird?)

onikenbai

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Re: Etiquette of purchasing from online classifieds?
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2012, 11:21:30 PM »
The seller was rude in that she knew you were right there already to see the stuff before cancelling abruptly.  If she didn't want you there while her boy wasn't home, she could have just said so ahead of time.  Instead she seems to be going out of her way to be a pain and sending you on a wild goose chase.  She could have at the very least given you the option of going to have a coffee and then popping by right when her friends were set to arrive.  Yeah, it's not the most convenient thing for you ever, but at least it saves a second trip, and it's not like taking five minutes to see some bookcases will ruin her evening of mirth with friends.

There is no universal law that if you're interested in something you have to show up prepared to take it right then.  It often happens that way, but the deal is whatever the two parties figure out works best for them in that particular situation.  When it comes to two large bookcases, I am not surprised you would have to make special arrangements to transport them, so it would be incredibly reasonable to make sure you actually want the things before you make those special arrangements.

You're under no obligation to tell her why you don't want to buy from her anymore, so I wouldn't bother.

BC12

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Re: Etiquette of purchasing from online classifieds?
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2012, 07:05:04 AM »
She also told us that she would only allow us to view the bookcases if we promised that we had the full price on us (in cash) and to take them right away (not possible in our compact hatchback).

That part really concerns me. I'd walk away from that sale if some stranger was really insistent that I show up to an unknown location with cash. Maybe I'm paranoid, but that strikes me as fishy and I'd worry about being robbed.

(For the record, our plan was to give her the full price and offer a 50% deposit immediately. We wanted to give her the rest when we actually moved the bookcases at her convenience --- ASAP.  Is that weird?)

I would never offer any kind of deposit on a deal like this. With how flaky people who post online classified ads can be, I would not trust that a deposit would guarantee anything. They could just take your money and decide to never answer your calls again. Also, I've not once paid full price for an item off Craigslist. I'm pretty sure everyone prices their items knowing that there will be some haggling.

I don't think you need to go out of your way to inform her that you're no longer interested. If she calls to reschedule (I doubt she will) you don't need to explain why, just say, "Thanks, but not interested."

WillyNilly

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Re: Etiquette of purchasing from online classifieds?
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2012, 10:26:29 AM »
Well I think the seller was off to not provide you photos.  That's where she messed up.

I'm betting she did plan to have her boyfriend there and cancelled on you at the last minute because he cancelled on her (got held up or whatever).

But as a frequent seller on Craigslist I can say I don't give out my exact address until the very last moment (I give out my street address but not my apartment number until you are in my lobby and I can see you on the camera), I only deal in cash and there is no shopping and looking - you come and buy or your don't come at all; its my home not a store and I don't want people coming in and casing the joint.  If you come and see the item and don't want it, that's ok, but you can never ever come back to buy it later.

lowspark

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Re: Etiquette of purchasing from online classifieds?
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2012, 11:58:18 AM »
I've sold multiple items on craigslist and I think that your seller made a lot of bad moves:

1. She should have had pictures of both units and from multiple angles. Craigslist now allows 8 pictures for free so there's no excuse.
2. The best way to make a sale is first come first served. So even if buyer #1 was waiting in the wings, she should have gone ahead and let you come out. I've had too many supposed buyers never show up to blow off a potential sale in case they do. I will let buyer #1 know if another buyer is showing interest so that they have the right of first refusal. But in the end, I want to sell the item and I don't care who buys it as long as I get my money so whoever shows up first with cash & takes it, it's their's.
3. Canceling out on you after making you show up is a huge no-no. If she had concerns about being alone when you came she should have settled all that out before you showed up.

You can let her know why you don't want this anymore if you want, but honestly, I probably wouldn't bother. If she were really anxious to sell, she would have done a better job selling. At this point, you really don't owe her any further communication at all.

Mikayla

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Re: Etiquette of purchasing from online classifieds?
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2012, 03:55:59 PM »
It sounds to me that this seller may have had some legitimate concerns, but she managed the selling process atrociously, including outright rudeness. 

I think the only etiquette involved is that people on both sides of a sale deal openly and honestly with their expectations.  She didn't. 

Anyway, on what to tell her, I say tell her nothing.  You don't owe her an explanation for why you don't want it after *she* was the one who cancelled.  Besides, if I was a seller and someone showed up, but didn't look or buy, I'd find it odd if they decided to announce later they didn't want it. 

The other way to look at it is:  what are you trying to achieve by spelling out exactly what you think she did wrong?

RegionMom

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Re: Etiquette of purchasing from online classifieds?
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2012, 06:32:25 PM »
I have Freecycled and Craigslisted. 

For Freecyle, "you get what you get and you don't pitch a fit."  Photos are a rarity. 

For Craigslist, photos are just a bout a given.  After a couple of back and forth e-mails, I exchange cell phone numbers.  Have not had any problems, but I am pretty direct.  My photos of furniture even have a yardstick in some to show measurements. 

In this case, the seller goofed.  In several ways.  I would not deal with her again.  Wonder if one of her party friends might buy them??

Tomorrow is another day and you just might find more suitable bookshelves, on ground level!

Good luck!
Fear is temporary...Regret is forever.

BarensMom

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Re: Etiquette of purchasing from online classifieds?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2012, 10:28:45 AM »
I agree with PPs, canceling on you when you were practically at her door is rude, never mind the reason.

If you're in the SF Bay Area, I have 2-4 oak bookcases that I'm wanting to be rid of that I would give you outright.