My Craigslist mistake

By Stew

Last month, I wrote a couple of posts on the subject of shopping on Craigslist. I wrote on on the subject of selling on the site and one on the subject buying on Craigslist. I listed several suggestions and helpful tips. Also, several readers chimed in with still more advice on finding a good deal through the site. On a related note, I also ran across this story about a teenager who started with a used mobile phone and over the course of two years, traded his way up to a 2000 Porsche Boxster S.

I am thinking that teenager knows a whole lot more about Craigslist than I do – especially after yesterday.

Some of you will remember that I drive a scooter most of the time and that last year, my scooter was stolen. I spent most of the spring shopping for a scooter – dealerships, pawn shops, online stores and mostly Craigslist. By late April, I thought I had done my research and I was ready to buy. I contacted several sellers on Craigslist and finally got an answer from a person downtown. We set up a time and place to meet and I looked over the scooter, it looked like it was in great shape. There was no rust, it was clean and looked like it had not been stored inside.

The seller had all the papers – title, original manual, a few spare parts and even a couple of tools that are unique to that bike. She told me a little of the history, the mileage was low and after taking it for a spin, I offered her $800, a hundred less than her asking price, she countered with $850 and I accepted thinking that I was unlikely to find a scooter that had been this well kept.

After driving the scooter for a month, I noticed a funny sound coming from the front wheel. I stopped to look and the front fender was wiggling a little. I put it back where it needed to be and when I got home, I looked more closely and the fender assembly fell apart in my hands. When I test drove it, I never thought to reach down and shake the fender. Over the past few months, I started to notice that the acceleration was poor, the taillight was out, the breaks were squeaking and the odometer did not work . . .

I had been snookered. I took the scooter to a mechanic who specialized in my particular model. After about five minutes of conversation, he started shaking his head and pointed to a brand-new bike in his shop. Same model as mine, never been driven, price: $1,000.

Anyway, it is going to cost me about $250 to get my scooter up to snuff. In the meantime, I caution you to do the following:

  • Check stuff out really, really well. Take your time, even if the seller seems to be in a hurry. Let ’em be annoyed.
  • Be sure that you know the market valued of the product for which you are shopping. I thought I did. Don’t think, know!
  • Be willing to walk, be willing to wait. Once we started talking price, I knew that I might be overpaying slightly, but still got talked into it, only to find out later that I was overpaying by a lot.

Anybody want to buy a well-used scooter with a new taillight? I know where you can get one that is worth about $600, but I’ll sell it to you for $1,200.

Article by Stew

Photo by smaedli

6 Responses (including trackbacks) to “My Craigslist mistake”

  1. prasti Says:

    thanks for the tips. we will be in the market for a new (used) car to accommodate our expanding family, and plan on considering craigslist as a place to shop for one.

  2. Adam Says:

    Stew – If you don’t mind me asking, where do you live?

    I am in the DC area and travel 1 mile to the train station for work each day. I currently have a car but am thinking about selling it for a small scooter. I am just a little nervous about the winter months!

  3. Financial Bondage Says:

    Bummer. Unfortunately there are dishonest people selling things. So you have to know as much as possible about the item you are buying…

  4. Stew Says:

    Hey, Adam – Denver, CO

    email me if you want more info – [email protected]

  5. Teresa the Austin Maid Says:

    Did the same thing with a guitar. It had a Fender name and I didn’t look further. It turned out to be the entry level guitar and I could have gotten it new for not much more. I know now.

  6. Acid_rain Says:

    A lot of precaution is needed when you buy on Craigslist First, one has to be patient, as you’ve mentioned in your post, informing himself about the cost of the item sold to him if it was new, and then he has to look a lot at the product. A little chat with the owner of the product, to see how coherent is his story and, most important, seeing the papers of the product.