The Craigslist Buyer's Guide by Lance J.

I sell a lot of things on Craigslist, and so I have gained some experience on what makes a good buyer versus a bad buyer.

I have never had a problem with Craigslist, but I am sometimes concerned that some buyers trust me too much. I am a great and honest seller, but I am unsure how some buyers know that.

So here are my tips:

The Basics
  • Always deal locally.  Never deal with home addresses, shipping or traveling significant distances.
  • Never deal with shipping or the mail in any way.
  • Never deal with anything other then US cash currency.
  • Never deal with very high value items. 
  • Never deal with trades.  In a trade situation, you need to be able to properly validate what you're trading for.  This can be very difficult.
  • An extremely good bargain is very likely a scam.  Don't bother.
  • Never respond to an ad with weird phone numbers or weird email addresses.  These are only used by people that have been kicked off of Craigslist.  In short, they are scammers.
  • Any seller (or buyer) who tells you that they are located out of state, deployed overseas, have a sick child, need a donation, own a shipping company, is a veteran or pastor, or who simply loves Jesus... is, without exception, a lying scammer.
The Item
  • Know the financial value of the thing you're buying.  Buying a MacBook Air?  Great, understand what they go for new, and see what a used one sells for via eBay Sold Items.
  • Always verify what you're buying.  If you're not an expert, get a friend who is an expert involved. Buying a guitar?  Great, get an expert friend to go along.  Buying a smartphone or computer?  Also get an expert friend to join you.
  • Inexpensive items carry less risk.
The Seller
  • Sellers who don't know what they are selling are bad sellers.  Avoid them.
  • Never blindly trust the seller.  Most sellers are great, but good con artists will appear great too.
  • Ask lots of questions, and look for any signs of an inconsistent story.
  • Never expect a refund, but ask the seller if he/she would support a refund if it isn't what it appears to be.
  • Always get telephone contact information from the seller.  Yes, there are disposable phones and phone numbers out there, but with some legal work they can potentially be traced back. 
The Location
  • Only meet in someplace safe.  If you have any doubt, do not meet.  If something doesn't feel right, don't meet and/or walk away.
  • Show up on time or slightly early.  A seller isn't going to want to wait around for someone who may never show up.
  • As a seller, I usually will meet a buyer in a place that I know, and where I think they should feel comfortable, such as the local coffee shop. And as a seller, I dictate where we meet, but will often give the buyer a bit of flexibility.

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