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Craigslist > eBay?
Old 05-29-2009, 08:55 AM   #1
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Craigslist > eBay?

I've been a casual ebay user since the late 90s, mostly using it to sell my previous version of some electronic toy when it was time to upgrade. And I used it to buy cheap computer parts, or gift cards at a 30% discount. Also did some book buying/selling through their half.com subsidiary. I thought it was a great system - the fees were reasonable for the nationwide exposure your item would get, PayPal eliminated the risk of bad checks, and their feedback ratings helped keep deadbeats to a minimum.

My view of the "for sale" section of craigslist over this same time period was that it was mostly unsophiscated locals trying to sell crappy furniture for way more than it was worth, or Nigerian scammers. It was free, so a lot of people put up a listing when they weren't serious about actually selling something at a reasonable price. And no feedback meant you had no idea who you were dealing with.

However, I recently sold two items, and both of them went through CL rather than ebay. The first was a used LCD monitor that I was selling for a friend who upgraded. Because of the shipping weight, I figured a local pickup would be easier. So I put it up on CL, and within 24 hours I got a call from someone in CA wanting to buy it at a slightly higher price than current ebay auctions, and he agreed to pay shipping costs (I live in TX). Plus, I didn't have to pay any ebay fees. Netted an extra $20 (on a $60 item) compared to if I had sold it on ebay.

The second item was a luxury watch that was basically new in box. You can buy this same watch brand new on Amazon for $1150. I listed it at $900 on ebay using a fixed price auction. However, the fees to sell it plus PayPal's cut plus shipping and insurance (I offered free shipping) would've been about 15% of the sales price. Gross $900 turns into net of ~$750. I seriously doubted that someone on CL would be willing to spend that kind of money on that exact model of watch, but I listed it there for $850 anyway. After 48 hours, I have no offers on ebay, but three emails from CL. I meet the first person and he pays the full asking price in cash. That's an extra $100 in my pocket by using CL instead of ebay.

eBay's fees seem to have gotten out of control, and the site is cluttered with professional companies using it as their storefront. Given how cheap it is to setup an online store through Yahoo or Godaddy or whoever, I don't know why it makes sense for them to list thousands of items with uncompetitive prices that rarely sell (based on the completed auction history). Seems like the era of finding a good deal from an individual seller (cutting out the middleman) on eBay is long gone.

These experiences have really changed my opinion of CL. I may start using CL as my primary sales channel, and resort to ebay if CL doesn't work. I am dissappointed by the decline of ebay (it has been a long time in the making) but I guess that's how it goes.
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Old 05-29-2009, 08:57 AM   #2
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When we downsized our home in 2006 and sold our big house in Houston, we used CL to sell a LOT of the excess furniture we didn't have room for in the new house, and it worked rather well.

I used to sell quite a bit on eBay, but they've jacked up fees and added policies which can punitive to sellers.
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Old 05-29-2009, 09:12 AM   #3
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I've never used either for actual transactions.
eBay always left me with the impression that it was "sold" as a cheap way to buy/sell items, but the fees were the opposite reality.
CL seems to be OK. I've visited my local one. Not too much there.
A personal quirk - I've never been comfortable with exchanging personal info (like where I live for shipping) with strangers on the Internet. Using either of these sites to buy/sell would require me to do that unless I pay for a PO Box, so I've always passed.
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Old 05-29-2009, 10:28 AM   #4
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....
A personal quirk - I've never been comfortable with exchanging personal info (like where I live for shipping) with strangers on the Internet. Using either of these sites to buy/sell would require me to do that unless I pay for a PO Box, so I've always passed.
Thanks, I like to be quirky too. Giving out my address is a major downside. While w*rking, I just used the business suite number without company name. I sold a lot of books over the last few months but opted out of that game for at least the summer. One of my buyers sent an e-mail asking me to leave the invoice out because it was a gift. A few days later the recipient called to ask about it. Apparently I'm very easy to look up. Could be an argument for dropping the landline. Another buyer sent me some spam by snail mail with a handwritten note saying the return address was blurry but hoped she read it right. I'm quirky enough to not like giving out my e-mail address which also happens in transactions.
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Old 05-29-2009, 10:45 AM   #5
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As a woman living alone in a city with quite a bit of crime, I too am pretty leery about giving out my address and letting strangers into my home.

Before our move north I want to sell all of my furniture (mostly 1970's low-middle quality that came with my house, probably worth no more than $1500-$2000 total - - plus a few other items that are useless and need repair etc but are heavy). I have thought of Craig's List but it is just too scary. So right now, I am thinking of either:

(1) packing up everything I am going to keep, putting it in a locked room and all furniture for sale in other rooms, and saying on the Craig's List ad that buyers must come with a truck on a specified date. Then I would ask Frank to be there with firearms if necessary on that date, and I would camp out at his house for a few weeks afterwards.

(2) calling Goodwill and Salvation Army, and if they won't pick it up, then see if the trash collection folks could pick it up, and if not then renting a truck to take it all to the dump.

It's stupid to have to PAY for a rental truck to get rid of perfectly good furniture! When I was 18 I would have thought I had died and gone to heaven if I had been given this type of furniture. OH well. There don't seem to be any local furniture stores that will pick up used furniture, any more, and even charities won't often pick up.
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Old 05-29-2009, 10:51 AM   #6
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It's stupid to have to PAY for a rental truck to get rid of perfectly good furniture! When I was 18 I would have thought I had died and gone to heaven if I had been given this type of furniture. OH well. There don't seem to be any local furniture stores that will pick up used furniture, any more, and even charities won't often pick up.
1-800 got-junk is a national franchsise that comes and picks up your junk for a fee........
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Old 05-29-2009, 11:30 AM   #7
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I sell on ebay and occasionally Craig's List . You are right about ebay fees . They have gotten out of hand and ebay is losing a lot of sellers . They recently sent out surveys to sellers to see what people are unhappy about . I think ebay realizes they need to change their fees and their feedback problems or they will not survive . I occasionally sell large items on ebay . I usually take the pictures and write the listing and I have my SO handle the transaction. Craig's list is great for large items . We sold a row boat ,a camper , car tow thing and several other large items .
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Old 05-29-2009, 11:41 AM   #8
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We have sold stuff on ebay and craigslist. I guess I prefer "free" craigslist to ebay, however ebay has larger potential pool of customers. Ebay does provide a pretty good value to some people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to buy/sell particular items.

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Old 05-29-2009, 12:00 PM   #9
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@W2R

When I left Florida and had a house full of stuff to get rid of, I called up a local auction company that holds regularly scheduled weekly auctions. They came and picked up everything for free (and inventoried it) and then auctioned the stuff off the next week. Everything sells at each auction even if it goes for $1. Afterward, they provided me with all their auction receipts showing the selling price of each item along with a cashiers check for the total, minus their fee.

It was a good way to get rid of everything with no hassle but still make some $$$. It was also interesting to see what sold for how much. A few items that I though to be virtually worthless turned out to be quite valuable and sold at a high price, while some of the more expensive furniture for example went very cheap.

Something you might want to look into when the time comes.
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Old 05-29-2009, 12:11 PM   #10
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When I left Florida and had a house full of stuff to get rid of, I called up a local auction company that holds regularly scheduled weekly auctions. They came and picked up everything for free (and inventoried it) and then auctioned the stuff off the next week. Everything sells at each auction even if it goes for $1. Afterward, they provided me with all their auction receipts showing the selling price of each item along with a cashiers check for the total, minus their fee.

It was a good way to get rid of everything with no hassle but still make some $$$. It was also interesting to see what sold for how much. A few items that I though to be virtually worthless turned out to be quite valuable and sold at a high price, while some of the more expensive furniture for example went very cheap.

Something you might want to look into when the time comes.
Trek, thanks for the idea! I suppose if I try, maybe I could find an auctioneer that would handle this type of furniture.
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Old 05-30-2009, 01:57 AM   #11
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My 2 cents: ebay is great to get exposure and to test the market. If you want to make money out of e-commerce, you need to establish your own web site, and as mentioned here using ebay just as one storefront. As a hobby it's still great, I think.
The other side of privacy break risk is identity theft which kind of happened to me - some UK scoundrel sold cars using my username, took deposits and didn't deliver. All cleared very quickly by ebay staff.
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Old 05-30-2009, 06:27 PM   #12
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eBay's fees seem to have gotten out of control, and the site is cluttered with professional companies using it as their storefront. Given how cheap it is to setup an online store through Yahoo or Godaddy or whoever, I don't know why it makes sense for them to list thousands of items with uncompetitive prices that rarely sell (based on the completed auction history). Seems like the era of finding a good deal from an individual seller (cutting out the middleman) on eBay is long gone.
These experiences have really changed my opinion of CL. I may start using CL as my primary sales channel, and resort to ebay if CL doesn't work. I am dissappointed by the decline of ebay (it has been a long time in the making) but I guess that's how it goes.
The guys who really cared about eBay have all left the company, and most of them have retired to Hawaii estates. The incumbent eBay execs have lost their way like TMF and no longer care about the "little sellers". We use eBay to research products and estimate prices, but we actually do our buying & selling through Craigslist.

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As a woman living alone in a city with quite a bit of crime, I too am pretty leery about giving out my address and letting strangers into my home.
Think of it this way. A burglar could save far more money buying your stuff than he could by robbing you of it. (He certainly couldn't post it on Craigslist, let alone fence it.) And he'd have to schlep it away without getting caught by the other eager Craigslist buyers who are dropping by any minute.

Besides, to their logic, burglars don't shop Craigslist for merchandise because the sellers don't have any money.

If I show up as a Craigslist buyer and catch even a whiff of gun oil, let alone see a shoulder holster, I'm outta there. I'm carrying cash and I don't want you to rip me off. Plenty of other Craigslist sellers who don't bring firearms to negotiations.

But as much fun as that approach might be for the authorities, the solution is to put it in a rental-storage facility and meet there, or to sell it out of the back of a trailer at a Wal-Mart or Home Depot parking lot. We see a lot of that. We've bought dozens of items of furniture from those storage facilities, and the nice thing about them is that they usually have easy access-- big freight elevators and no steps. If I'm buying furniture from someone whose home has three narrow staircases and a hill up to the street then I'm not paying top dollar. Spouse is a serial upgrader and I know that a better bargain will come along in a few months.

We're getting to the point where we check Craigslist before we even shop retail stores. We were looking for 10 cu ft of gravel to fill in a trench around our house, and both Lowes & Home Depot were out of the "right" gravel. We finally found some coral at Wal-Mart, but only two bags. The pallet was still on the ship from the Mainland (this on an island surrounded by coral) and would be 4-6 weeks.

We don't usually check Craigslist for gravel, but lo & behold a guy does small lots from the wholesalers (via personal relationships & damaged goods) and delivers a dozen different types by the pickup load. We had to take 14 cu ft instead of 10 cu ft, but the price was less half of retail and he offered free delivery to our driveway. He says he runs his entire business off Craigslist-- zero advertising expenses.

I'm typing this from our latest computer desk. Spouse has been stalking an OfficeMax matched set of Sauder "Office Port" furniture-- higher-end modular ready-to-assemble MDF that could be arrayed along the wall of our room. We first saw it last fall and figured it'd go on sale Memorial Day or 4th of July.

Much to our surprise, we found a Craigslist seller in our neighborhood who not only helped us take it apart but also delivered it for free. (Unlike our local OfficeMax.) We got the six pieces we wanted and a seventh that we'll find a use for. It would've been over $1400 at OfficeMax but the seller ditched it for $450. I'm selling the old desk (bought for $150 two years ago) for $50. It'll go in less than 24 hours.

There's a certain class of Craigslist sellers who are too rich to care in a hurry and have no appreciation for the price of their merchandise, let alone its value. One of our best Craigslist sellers was the "desperate" lady in Hawaii Kai who was moving to Shanghai and couldn't find anyone to take her Herman Miller Aeron chairs off her hands. (I don't think I'll ever need another computer chair.) We even bought a 25 cu ft GE Profile Arctica fridge from a Damon family's Diamond Head estate renovation. They'd spent $2800 special order but it didn't fit with the koa cabinets, so we got it for $750. "Fridgezilla" will be overkill in our empty-nester kitchen, so in a year or two we'll buy a newer/smaller EnergyStar fridge and get $400-$500 resale for the GE.

I could go on for six more paragraphs...
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Old 05-30-2009, 07:03 PM   #13
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I prefer Craigslist, less expensive, less hassles, quicker sale/buy. Though I did sell a 74 Mercedes after the 3d reposting (the previous ones had hit their time limit) in Craigslist. It was not the collectors type.
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Old 05-30-2009, 08:50 PM   #14
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(2) calling Goodwill and Salvation Army, and if they won't pick it up, then see if the trash collection folks could pick it up, and if not then renting a truck to take it all to the dump.
W2R,
- Sometimes the lesser-known charities will do pickups of furniture (and give you a receipt). "St Francis" still does pickups in my town.
- Or, consider Freecycle (here's the link to the New Orleans site). You'll still have strangers coming to your house, but there's no money involved--they'll just be coming by to pick up the free thing you're offering. No tax deduction, but somebody hauls it away for free, and maybe it's even someone who'll get good use out of it. Be aware that sometimes people say they'll come by and then fail to show.
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Old 05-30-2009, 09:13 PM   #15
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the solution is to put it in a rental-storage facility and meet there, or to sell it out of the back of a trailer at a Wal-Mart or Home Depot parking lot. We see a lot of that.
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W2R,
- Sometimes the lesser-known charities will do pickups of furniture (and give you a receipt). "St Francis" still does pickups in my town.
- Or, consider Freecycle (here's the link to the New Orleans site). You'll still have strangers coming to your house, but there's no money involved--they'll just be coming by to pick up the free thing you're offering. No tax deduction, but somebody hauls it away for free, and maybe it's even someone who'll get good use out of it. Be aware that sometimes people say they'll come by and then fail to show.
Thanks for the ideas, guys! I will think about them while I finish out my last few months at work. It's nice to have some alternatives from which to choose, that I hadn't thought of before.
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Old 05-31-2009, 04:01 PM   #16
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Get a good reference on the auction house. My BIL did it here in OH and they ripped him off. Sloppy accounting regarding what sold and for how much. When he called to complain, the auction house said "too bad if you don't like it" and hung up on him. There's not really anything he can do given he was not at the auction auditing what was being sold and for how much.
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Old 05-31-2009, 05:48 PM   #17
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W2R, also call local churches - there is often someone who can tell you what groups will pick up.

In my case, I had had several pieces of furniture in decent condition, but I was under the amount the local Salvation Army would pick up.

I was referred to a Black church in Brooklyn; two nice guys came with a truck, the stuff floated out the door, and they gave me a receipt for the donation.

If you donate, be sure to get the paper! Might as well help your taxes a bit.

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Old 05-31-2009, 06:02 PM   #18
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Good idea.

After Katrina, local charities such as Goodwill and Salvation Army were not picking up anything whatsoever. I have no idea whether or not that has changed. But, I do have a friend at work who used to be active in Catholic Charities, and maybe he would have some ideas as to who might be able to pick it up.

It would be such a shame to just haul it to the dump. For the most part the furniture is perfectly good, though 1970's vintage. There is an entire truckload, I think - - 11-piece dining room set, 7-piece king bedroom set, 6-piece living room set, and odds and ends.

Buckeye, I will be cautious but at this point I think anything that I got for it would be welcome, especially if they hauled it off. I really don't want to have to (1) hire two strong men who might or might not show up when needed, and (2) rent a truck, if I can get someone trustworthy to just come with a truck and take these things off my hands.
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Old 05-31-2009, 06:38 PM   #19
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Interesting discussion. I rarely use either service and have never sold anything on ebay (just Craigslist).

I am however a shareholder of Ebay (in an IRA) and have been pondering its sale. The original justification for buying the company last spring was that it was a wide moat company that had finally gotten affordable. Since that time it has dropped by 40%, having rallied recently.

The management change I was aware of it but does seem that EBay moat is rapidly disappearing. My question to you former Ebay sellers, what would it take for you to switch back. Ebay to cut listing fees by X%, Craigslist to start charging for ads?
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Old 05-31-2009, 06:45 PM   #20
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W2R - BIL had to take his stuff to the auction house so not only did he get cheated, he had to transport the stuff to the thief!
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