5 Common Concerns with Selling on Craigslist

One of the biggest differences between Craigslist and other selling websites like eBay and Amazon is that you’re not shipping to a customer. This means you will meet the customer face-to-face (and it’s free of course). There are several things you should watch out for when dealing with customers off the street who come to your home. Here are the most common questions I get from sellers who are concerned:

  • How can I protect myself from criminals targeting me through Craigslist? How can I be safe?
  • What can I do about deadbeat customers that don’t show up? (And how can I avoid spending all day taking their calls?)
  • What if a customer wants their money back?
  • What if my neighborhood is a dump, what should I do?

How To Be Safe On Craigslist:

There will always be criminals out there in the public. Some people don’t want those criminals coming to their house to pick up an item, so they choose an external location to meet them, like a McDonalds. This works out great if the person shows up. Otherwise you could be wasting your time driving back and forth with the item just to have the customer stand you up. This can be very difficult if you have many items listed at the same time because you will constantly worry about meeting someone all the time.

The fact is that criminals can come to your door at any time and target your house since the public has a right to come to your door at any time of the day or night.

How to stay safe when a customer comes to your house:

I wouldn’t be afraid of having a Craigslist customer come to my house, but I would treat him/her like any stranger. You could do the following to keep them at a safe distance:

  • Meet them at the door and step outside to do your business. You should bring your item to the door when they arrive and then quickly step outside.
  • Store your items in the garage and conduct your business there with the door to the house closed and locked.
  • Keep items in an outdoor shed that you can walk to in a visible area.
  • If you are a married or have a roommate, only allow people over when you’re not alone at home.

How to protect your identity & prevent annoying phone calls:

As a strict rule, I don’t give out any information on Craigslist. I don’t give out my real name, phone number or personal email account. Would you give out this information to a stranger who asked you for it off the street? That’s essentially what you’re doing to a Craigslist customer.  Here are my rules for protecting my personal info on Craigslist:

  • I create a impersonal selling email address which I just use for selling and call myself Joe or someone else. I never use my real/personal email address, especially if it includes my name.
  • I never give out my phone number. Because I’m very concise and exact in my item descriptions and email responses , I don’t need to give out my phone number. This saves me a lot of time which means I don’t spend all day speaking to customers.

How to prevent “no-shows” and worrying about appointments to meet people:

  • Since I use my garage for the transactions, I never worry about customers who don’t show up. I simply let the customer know that they can stop by at certain times say, 6:30am-8:00am and 6pm-10:00pm then I forget about the customer.
  • I also let the customer know that items are sold on a first-come-first-serve basis. I don’t hold items for customers unless they put down a substantial deposit, and then I only hold it for a limited time with the dates clearing laid out ahead of time. If the customer doesn’t show up then I’m not affected at all because I don’t think about the customer beyond the email that I sent out.

How do I handle people who ask for refunds?

Sometimes a customer will request a refund. Here’s an example of how I handled one such request:

I remember selling a huge couch to a customer once. I helped him carry it out of my house as he dropped it on my wooden floor. Then when he got home he said it didn’t fit in his apartment. I simply told him that I don’t give refunds. End of story.

There is no need to give a refund. The person is welcome to turn on the item at the point of purchase and try it out. If the customer refuses to do this, then it is too bad for the customer. Buyers should always beware and know exactly what they are buying. I don’t waste my time with buyers who want their money back. That is one of the reasons they got a huge discount when they purchased the item in the first place. They need to go to Walmart if they want a return policy.

When someone emails you from Craigslist interested in an item, how do you respond?

Here is an example of a typical response I use if someone is interested in the item:

Yes, the item is still available. I delete the ad right after I sell it so you’re in luck!

You’re welcome to stop by today or tomorrow from 6am-8am or 6pm-10pm but just let me know the exact time and date that you’re coming so that I will make sure that I’m at home at the time. Remember that I only take cash for the item and I don’t make deliveries. I also don’t make phone calls. My address is at: 3707 Red Rock Road RV #41, Island Park, Idaho 83425

The email communication will make it a lot easier for you in the long run. Some people will ask for your phone number and just let them know that you don’t give out personal information. If the person can’t respect that, then he/she can buy from someone else. It’s no sweat off your back since you’re just sending out emails and not committing much time or energy to potential customers.

Is it a problem that I live in a run-down neighborhood?

The fact is, the nicer your neighborhood is, the more sales you will make. If you don’t have a nice looking neighborhood then you may want to meet the customer at an external location. Most people won’t get out of their car if they see drugs being sold on the corner of your street or your yard is trashed.

Ultimately, you don’t need to be afraid of Craigslist customers if you set some ground rules about how you will interact with them. They are no different than the average person you would see at your local grocery store.

Good luck Craigslisting!

- The King

P.S. Selling on Craigslist is becoming a booming business — not just for selling your old junk, but for carving out a lucrative business. John Carroll is a well-known “Craigslist Converter” and after years of selling full-time — just on Craigslist — he is now selling his secrets in a well-thought out ebook. If you think you want to start turning some real profits on Craigslist, check out his step-by-step guide here.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam Sousley August 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Where should I take my buisness. A website that you don’t have to pay unless you sell. Any items. From couches to gaming accessories, motorized vehicals dirtbikes and exc.


LEILANI February 20, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Thank you very much Mr. King…that was very helpful…


Sell on Craigslist March 21, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Good, honest info here. The email response info is great. I have never run into a person that wants a refund… yet.


King Frank March 22, 2012 at 8:24 am

Thanks, Nicholas. I’ll have to check out your book. Any free tips you can share with us here?


rick May 29, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I simpley want to list some items for sale, how do I go about it.

Thank you


King Frank May 31, 2012 at 6:47 pm

I give some tips on how to do this. Just browse around. The main thing is to just do it! Go to Craigslist and open an account and off you go!


craiger May 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm

i get so pissed off when it seems everyone wants to talk on the phone
like it makes them safer.it doesn’t you have to give out more of your private info
your phone number.
if you use email you give out your email and your address if they want to pick it up.
giving out your phone number is stupid.
makes about as much sense as me calling you on the phone and saying
i will talk to you by email.
the whole transaction can be done by email.
i can tell you about the item and send pic’s and then give you the address.
no need to give out the phone number that may be just a scam to get phone numbers for telemarketers.


King Frank May 31, 2012 at 6:45 pm

That’s so true. If there is not a need to know then there is no need to hand out more personal info than you need to. What bother’s me is that a lot of online places like Craigslist, Facebook, eBay and Amazon are starting to ask for your cell phone number and even your social security number. Be very careful about giving out your personal info online because you could expose your info to the world! Facebook is especially scary because they basically say that they plan to use your information for their own benefit.


craiger May 31, 2012 at 6:55 pm

yes the reason facebook is worth so much is they have so much valuable information.
Just like the CIA has admitted to doing themselves ,i use facebook to research people i talk to on craigslist.
sometimes i say i knew what kid of car you had when they show up and they seem shocked i have their info.i love doing that cause years ago i told people what facebook is gonna do with their info and they called me paranoid they aren’t allowed to do that lol.
and yes never fall for the security of linking your cellphone to stuff i will tell you why.
i think the cellphone info is gonna be sold so people can do a usually untraceable search for cellphones which is valuable info !!!!
who would have thought that ????
me the guy that has been called paranoid haha !!!!


King Frank May 31, 2012 at 7:05 pm

It should be common sense. If someone is collecting personal data from you then they will use it. I was actually messing around ftping before the internet came into existence in the 80′s. Chat groups aren’t new. In the 90′s I was on yahoo groups, then myspace and now we have facebook and everything else. I learned 15 years ago what a search for my real name could potentially do if the wrong person was doing a search so I never use my real anything online. I don’t give out my real phone number (I use a fake one), I don’t use my real name (I have an internet name), and I definitely don’t give out my SS# or credit card number unless I have to. You should ALWAYS try to give out fake info. Why not? It can’t hurt you. The worst thing that will happen is the site will say that you need to give real info. At that point you will need to decide if it’s worth it or get more creative with your fake info. It’s good to see that there are people like you out there with common sense protecting their identity. I even have a junk email address that I give out to those that don’t need to know.


craiger May 31, 2012 at 7:22 pm

and those kroger cards ect that stores want u to have to get discounts ,i seen that coming in 1992 when they wanted me to fill out my personal info.
i asked myself what will they do with this info …
i figured they would fill my mailbox with ads and offers or just plain sell it
all that info i gave them was fake lol
to use facebook you need an account to search anyone and they tried real hard to make me give the right info, but i didn’t, i opened an account for my dog ,
and i have also never put an actual picture of me on the internet.
say they want to make a drivers license with your pic on it ,there it is.
also always freeze your credit so no one can open up any credit in your name
then do the opt out on credit offers so no one can steal your credit card offers out of your mailbox.
and i don’t feel bad about making all these comments this is useful info people can really use !!!!


King Frank May 31, 2012 at 9:08 pm

I wouldn’t call it paranoia, not now-a-days. I would simply call it protecting your personal identity. Unless you have a name like John Smith, a criminal can easily get your information online if you make it available to him or her. Once you have someone rob you by stealing your identity, you will realize why it’s important to protect it. I rather not learn the hard way so I think you’re smart since you can’t be too careful.


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