How To Sell A Car On Craigslist
I have a car to sell, two cars actually, that we’ve outgrown. One is the beater my kids drove. Killed two deer. Took out a road sign. Was the victim of a hit and run in the school parking lot. It took a licking but keeps on ticking. The other is a van capable of moving children into dorm rooms.
Because we are so smart, we decided to sell them ourselves. After all, how hard could it be now that we have craigslist? (You know, the free online marketplace for scam artists around the world.)
So I created two ads. Complete with killer photos and tantalizing text. Because we wanted a quick sale, even priced them significantly below book value. Like 50% less: $1000 for the kid’s car, $2000 for the van. Made it clear this was a cash sale by a private owner, requiring payment in full. Posted them on craigslist and waited for the enthusiastic masses to flood my inbox.
And they did.
[Disclaimer: these are real quotes. Do not blame them on me.]
1. The ones with no names:
email@example.com wrote to say “Hi I’m interested I’n the Corsica for sale when is a good time to see it & also your phone # thanks i have cash”
firstname.lastname@example.org offered “1200 cash today??” (for the van priced at $2000).
email@example.com (who, at 6:30 in the evening told me): “I am willing to make a quick buy. Can we make a deal today?”
firstname.lastname@example.org (who, at 7:30 in the evening told me): “do you have the car yet if yes call I will buy to day if I like “
2. The ones who don’t believe in salutations or complete sentences:
“1995 Chevrolet Corsica VIN: 1G1LD55M3SY106434″
“Whats lowest cash price on corsica”
“Whhats all wrong with the car”
3. The ones who believe I should give them the car for next to nothing:
“I am thinking it is pretty high, If you can come down to more reasonable,let me know.”
4. The ones who confuse me with a bank:
“Hi i just wanted to know how fast are you trying to get rid of your car because i really need one. im 5 months pregnant and i am looking for a cheap car b4 i have it. i just recently got a job working at Red Robin and if your willing to do a payment plan, whateva would would for you, that would be great.”
And the people who combined all four:
“Interested in your car”
Great! If you can send me a phone number and name we can talk.
“Adrian text me at 608555****”
Adrian, my land line doesn’t text. Can I call sometime today?
“Okay I wanted to also know of we be able to do a monthly payment since I am in high school and can’t get a loan yet”
(Adrian who couldn’t afford to pay for the car was contacting me using his personal $80 a month smartphone.)
I also heard from five different people who, in an amazing and unprecedented coincidence, somehow managed to write almost identical emails:
Hey, would you come down a little on the price? Also please confirm mileage. Thank you.
Hello, would you come down some on the price? Can you confirm the exact mileage? Are there any mechanical problems? Look forward to hearing back!
Hi, would you come down some on the price? Can you confirm the exact mileage? Are there any mechanical problems? Look forward to hearing back!
Hi there, are you willing to come down some on the price? Can you confirm the exact mileage? Are there any mechanical problems?
Hello, would you come down some on the asking price? Do you know the exact mileage? Are there any engine-related problems? Look forward to hearing back!
And many trusting people were willing to buy my cars without ever seeing them – or having any prior communication with me.
From: Michael Gonzalez (email@example.com)
Thanks you for the response according to the description,am okay with the price and the condition pasted on cl. I am ready to make instant purchase.My mode of payment would be in CERTIFIED CHECK and i will arrange for a local pick up as soon as you get the check, because that is the only inconvenient means for me and due to my work frame i can not be able to get there and i promise everything will go smoothly.I really wish to be there to check out the item but i don’t have chance cause am very busy person (US MARINE). Concerning the pick up, i will arrange for it after you receive the payment and it clears… Pls get back to me with below info so that i can proceed with the payment immediately if you are selling to me.
Address: Not P.O.BOX
Total amount for the item
Phone Number: That i can send text
And as soon as this is provided, the payment will be overnight to you and i will let you know when its mailed out. Thanks and i hope we handle this in good faith while waiting to hear from you. i will add an additional $50 so that you can hold it for me till the check reach you.
And Michelle who, based just on the compelling description in my ads, wanted to buy my cars three different times!
From: Michelle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Okay, I think that’s going to work for me. My husband Stephen is the one who will be buying it. We worked it out so that he’s buying the car, if I pay for the cost of the policy. I make good money; I know I can afford it, but he wants me to show him at least a general idea of the cost before he buys it for me.
I’m at my work, and they allow internet use to corporate sites only. Could you do me a big favor, and go to Auto Quotes [dangerous link that kills computers and sucks out all financial info inserted here] and grab a quote for me, so I have something to tell him? I’m local, with no tickets or accidents. If you could just let me know how much the monthly rate is and we’ll stop by once I leave work today, if that’s OK with you.
Thanks so much!
From: Michelle (email@example.com)
Alright, so far everything looks good. My fiancé Paul is going to be paying for it. We worked it out so that he’ll pay for the car, if I pay for the policy premiums. I can definitely afford it, but he wants me to give him a basic estimate of the cost before he goes ahead and buys it.
I’m at work, and they limit internet usage to corporate sites only. Would you do a big favor for me, and go to Auto Quotes [dangerous link that kills computers and sucks out all financial info inserted here] and run a quick quote for me, so I have at least something to tell him? We’re local, without any tickets or accidents. Just let me know how much the rate is and we’ll come over after work today, if that’s OK with you.
From: Michelle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sweet, I think that’s going to work for me. My fiancé Don is (very generously) buying it for me. We worked it out so that he’s buying the car, if I pay for the monthly policy premiums. I make good money; I know I can afford it, but he just wants to see at least a general idea of the cost before he goes ahead and buys it.
I’m at work right now, and they restrict internet use to corporate web sites only. Would you do a big favor for me, and go to Auto Quotes [dangerous link that kills computers and sucks out all financial info inserted here] and just run a quote for me, so I have at least something to tell him? We’re local, without any tickets or accidents. If you could just tell me what the monthly premium is and we’ll come by after work today, if that works for you.
My first thought was – wow! That Michelle sure is lucky! She not only has a husband, she has two fiancés – and they all want to buy her a car! I guess some gals have all the luck.
And that must be why she has a different email for each of them, to help keep her relationships organized!
I envy that. And I wish I could sell her my car three different times. Each of them. Because I get the feeling she deserves it.