How Not To Use Craigslist

CraigslistYesterday I snagged a good deal in the Electronics section of Craigslist. Ten minutes after the item was listed, I e-mailed the seller and made clear I could buy it and pick it up within hours.

Yes, I did everything right. It was the seller who did everything wrong.

By “wrong” I really mean “unsafely.” The deal went down without a hitch, but as often happens, the seller sacrificed some prudent precautions for expediency and convenience.

First, the seller replied to my inquiry by immediately providing her address, driving directions to her house, and two phone numbers. A cell phone conversation is sometimes the best way to arrange a transaction, but going to a neutral, public location is far better than inviting an Internet stranger to your home.

When we talked on the phone, she said she’d leave the item on the porch – presumably so I’d know I was at the right house? Sure enough, there it sat when I pulled up at the prearranged time, just waiting for me to skip out on payment and grab it.

But I am a man of honor, so I rang the doorbell and waited until the woman, apparently home alone, answered the door. She wore only one shoe, her left foot encased instead in a cast. Definitely not the state in which anyone should invite a stranger home.

Her one smart move? Leaving her dog outside. Her big, friendly, licky dog. Which she apologized for.

Craigslist has its own list of common sense precautions its users should take, as do many other sites. It’s good advice.

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