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.