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for all my friends · craigslist

craigslist

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received the above e-mail late last night.  50 minutes later, received a second e-mail regarding the pedal situation:

a lot can happen in 50 minutes.  from requesting cleats to tossing out the idea completely.  a situation I’m completely fine with, let’s seal this deal up.

somewhat of a curious question.  clipless cycling pedals required clipless cycling shoes, I thought that might be common knowledge, but I could be wrong.  no worries, though.  maybe he just wants to know.

wait…what?  so after I told him that I ran sidi’s with the pedals, suddenly the pedals are too expensive?  does he know he can get clipless pedals for $49.99 at performance bike…?  I racked my brain about his e-mail for a while, but gave up trying to even understand the reasoning.  clipless pedals require clipless shoes compatible with the cleats.  that’s kind of how it goes.

oh, craigslist…

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here’s his latest response:

now I need definitions of what’s considered a ‘low-ball’ and what’s ‘market’ rate?  geez, people need to stop taking their craigslist offers so seriously.  honestly, I would’ve responded the first time if he didn’t dance around the subject of ebay.  cut to the chase – stop wasting my time.  see below for his first response:

“these go for like”?

buy them on ebay then.  or just cut out the noise about ebay, and offer $50 straight across.  the statement needs justification for who, you or me?  probably not me, since my ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is hinged on the price itself, and not a comparison of prices between craigslist and ebay.

oh, craigslist…

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I recently renewed my 2 craigslist’s postings, and haven’t really had a plethora of responses (which I was anticipating on, anyway).  they’re just look keo 2 max pedals and the cycleops joule 2.0 computer head unit.  and I’m not in a complete rush to sell either of them – if they sell, then they sell.  if not, then no worries.  here’s the latest e-mail I’ve received from a potential buyer, regarding the pedals:

“hi, I’m potentially interested…”?  what kind of an introduction is that?  are you interested in the pedals or not?  and if you’re interested, say what you’re willing to pay: “hi, I’ll give you $__ for your pedals.”  nothing else needed.  craigslist classifieds are for buying and selling – it’s pretty straight forward.  I really didn’t need some business marketing 101 lesson on how comparables “routinely trade for about $50”.  routine, right.  pedals wake up every morning, make themselves a cup of coffee, drive to ebay, and are sold daily for $50 – that kind of routine.  like a 9-5 routine that human beings utilize monday through friday.

“here is an example” – oh cool, I’m expecting to see an example.  wait, you’re still typing: “there are plenty more”.  hmm.  with a utterly fantastic word combination like “here is an example”, I’m expecting to see an example following the words themselves.  “there are plenty more” implies that you’ve already shared the information with me.  then to follow it with, “I would prefer a local transaction (I am in the Castro)” – so what?  you’ve shown me an example of a sold pair of pedals of (apparent) equal quality on ebay which now means your $50 offer is somehow justified, it’s just a day in the life of a used pair of pedals, after all.  a 9-5 routine.  they sold online for $50+6 for shipping, so I should price match my pedals to save myself the hassle of losing a potential buyer.  and to say that there’s a “market rate” for used pedals is a bit of a stretch.  no one’s buying a house here, these are used pedals.  they will sell for what I want them to sell for.  and if they don’t sell, it’s not a big deal.  but to somehow justify a $50 offer with a slew of unnecessary words like “routinely”, “market rate”, “premium”, “comparable”, and “paperwork” make it seem like I’m trying to sell a car from a used car lot.  we’re talking about a pair of pedals.

buy it on ebay then.  because, you know, they routinely trade for about $50.  there’s no cash prize prime at the end of tunnel.  just more used pedals.

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I only have 2 things for sale on craigslist at the moment: look keo 2 max carbon pedals (steel spindles), and the cycleops joule 2.0 computer head unit.  both are reasonably priced and I took into consideration how much I paid initially, and how much I need them out of my life (the sale isn’t life or death, so the price isn’t $1).  that being said, potential buyers still call the first shots in terms of e-mails and pricing.  if someone is interested, all they have to do is click the anonymous e-mail link at the top of my post, and type a short little blurb to me.  and as I’ve stated previously, if a buyer has a price in mind that they want to buy the item for, put it up for me to see.

in this case, mike came up with the magical ‘1/3’ ratio from new to used pedals.  I’ve actually never read that anywhere, but I guess that amount of depreciation might make sense for some cycling components depending on year, amount used, current condition, and rarity.  in reality, I was just a bit disappointed to not see an actual offer, but a jumbled backdoor justification for a reduction of price for a pair of pedals.  he already came up with the magic ratio, why not just post the price he’s willing to buy it for?  now I’m suppose to rack my brain upon his e-mail, and let it irritate me for several minutes as I type a long sigh e-mail about how I need the money for whatever reason, and that the price negotiable about $5 max?  but for a buyer to post the price, it’s the equivalent of a card player showing their hand.  and with craigslist transaction, especially for bike components, this is apparently a huge no-no (I’m being sarcastic, but it’s hard via typed words on the internet).

anyway, I still don’t know about this magic ratio business.  I sold my previous generation look keo pedals for $70, and I’m pretty sure that was above the magic ratio for used goods.

and I still haven’t replied to mike.

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I’ve been selling various components off of the supersix build on craigslist, and so far, the replies have been a bit slow.  but I guess it’s to be expected, not all bike components move quickly, some things are harder to sell than others.  it’s sometimes hard to tell what items will sell quickly, and what won’t.  either way, here’s a recent e-mail stream that went back and forth for nearly a week.  hopefully you can share in my infinitely love for potential buyers.

3 rapid fire questions, straight off the line.  this guy is serious about the pedals he’s going to buy, maybe…his inquiries are answered promptly.  and what’s this “discount” business?  why would I be the one offering a discount, I’m not a used car salesman.  these are pedals posted on an online classified website, if you want a magical discount, make me an offer.

okay, now he’s starting to number his questions.  I’m growing more concerned that this is turning into some sort of interrogation.  they’re slightly used pedals…on craigslist…for half the price.  this isn’t a mortgage on a house.

ah, another question.  I’m typing a response–wait, he just wrote another e-mail before I could answer his first one.  well, I guess now I should just write him just one e-mail back answering the questions from both his e-mails.  or maybe I should be more like him, sending one e-mail, and then another in rapid succession, which would answer his second e-mail.  I decided against the latter, opting for 1 convenient e-mail, which would answer both of his questions.  I was kind of puzzled by the “knockoffs” line – I posted 2 pictures on the that expanded to over 2000px wide, it’s very obvious that the pedals weren’t fake.  and what does that even mean?  I’ve never even seen fake look keo 2 max pedals before.  sure, there are striking similarities between shimano spd’s and previous generation looks, but really, I assumed that everyone could tell pedals apart.  especially if they were “real”.

sweet, progress.  but I’m still feeling a bit skeptical about his purchase…maybe it’s because he’s still firing off questions like a detective.

wait, what?  thank you for playing 20 questions with me, and the answer is ‘yes!’, I’d love to take you on a cruise to mexico, a retail value package of $10,000, wahoo!  and I’ll really feel offended if you decline.

buying pedals is so hard, I totally understand his inability to comprehend the situation fully, and respect his decision to back out of a purchase.  except not.

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now I’m sure all of us have used (or at least heard of) craigslist.  if you haven’t, it’s basically an internet-based classifieds section for jobs, places for rent, things for sale, and everything in between.  and I mean everything.  you can even find “friends” on craigslist.  analyze that any way you want.

anyway, craigslist has a massive following in san francisco and the rest of the bay area.  who needs ebay when you can sell bike components to someone locally.  I’ve literally sold all my old componentry off of craigslist, it’s really a great resource.  it also helps that the bay area has a lot of cyclists.  I’ve found a lot of great things on craigslist as well, including a hed3 front wheel that I traded for my rear specialized trispoke (after I figured out that I couldn’t convert it to a front wheel…ah, the pista concept days…).  I was able to buy a wrecked 1995 m3 with a european spec engine, the s50b32, but I digress.

my point is that craigslist is king out here in san francisco.  yet somehow, I still manage to get e-mail confirmations like this:

I’m in the midst of selling old pedals, bars, stems, seatposts and saddles, in order to buy my speedplay pedals and eventually my bike fit appointments.  I’ve already sold a couple of items, this guy’s response was towards the look keo carbon pedals I took off my cannondale track, pre time atacs.  he could’ve stopped at, “3pm is fine.  see you then.”  he already had my number, and I had his.  adding a physical description regarding the situation seemed a bit unnecessary…my response could’ve easily been, “I’m five foot eight, holding the pedals that you want.  I am also wearing black framed glasses, in jeans.”  he probably wouldn’t have showed up if I wrote that back.  but it’s true, I am that tall, I will be holding pedals, and I’ll be wearing my glasses, in jeans, just like I said.  yet somehow, it’s just not appropriate for selling or buying things.

I’ve made an etiquette list for buyers and sellers for craigslist, to aid in the effort to move bicycle componentry in the internet universe.  this is 50% out of frustration, 50% out of genuine hilariousness, and 50% to see an improvement in how people interact regarding the sale of bike goods from the internet.  that’s a whole 150%.

sellers:

– post a photo, period.  the year is 2011, you no longer live with windows 95 or millennium edition.  if you’ve found yourself on craigslist selling something, I know you’re somewhat tech savvy.  a photo from 27ft away with a 1.3mp kyocera phone camera will not cut it.  invest in a decent digital camera and don’t mess with color settings at all.  keep it on auto and let the camera do its job.  this isn’t a flickr competition, no one cares about your awesome depth of field.  people want to see the item, use the flash if your item is way back in the garage next to that broken water hose you refuse to throw away because, “one day we might need it”.  if the flash is too strong, put a piece of tape or paper in front of it to diffuse.  get creative.  but not too creative, no one wants to see your awesome polaroid affect from your iphone, either.  find a good middle ground, and either host your pictures on a 3rd party site, or if you’re really lazy, use craigslist’s image embed.  photos help sell (unsaid fact).

– have a price listed.  nothing is more annoying than seeing, “e-mail me with offers.”  you’re going to end up getting butt-hurt because everyone low-balled you for your super rare 2007 raleigh rush hour pro, in the yellow “team-edition”.  if you’re willing to take a little less for your listed price, you might want to put, “reasonable offers considered,” but know that most buyers will take that as a welcome mat on the low-ball arena.  “…or best offer” is the same way.  if you’re not willing to take less, then don’t put these deceptive words after the price.  your price is your price, move it up or down when you feel like it.

– don’t cross-post.  if you posted something for sale on a forum, don’t just post a link to the forum in your listing.  use that really complex copy and paste function that all computers have to put actual words on the page.  I’ve looked into this with great effort, coming to the conclusion that all computers have this copy and paste functionality.  no one want to click a craigslist listing, only to have to click another link to go to your forum post.  now if you’re selling a pre-built bike and are using the manufacturers bike model page as a reference to potential buyers, then that’s a different story.  but still, have the componentry listed out, and use the link as a reference point.

– respond in a timely manner and communicate clearly.  you’re posting a great deal on a campagnolo record 10 group, including the limited edition t-shirt they only gave to 40 people in north america?  cool, but don’t post it if you’re leaving on a trip to costa rica in an hour.  that really makes no sense.  have a gauge of how long it takes to sell items within a certain amount of time.  are you trying to sell a unicorn on wheels, or are you trying to make rent?  post and respond to e-mails, that’s how the internet works.  if you’re willing to sell an item to someone, make an effort to sell it by responding within 12-24 hours.  that time frame is hilariously generous considering most people have internet and e-mail access on their phones now.  if you have someone interested ahead of someone else, you are obligated to give the first person 24 hours to buy the item before moving onto the next person.  I’m talking about the final, seal-the-deal, type e-mails, not prospective buyers.

– no life stories.  I cannot stress this point enough.  no one wants to hear how you’ve spent $10,000 on a pinarello, but now you’re wife is pregnant (somehow written in a surprising manner) and now you need to sell the bike to afford some diapers.  no one cares why you are selling an item, they want the item because they want to item, not because they loved your memoir.  exceptions can be made for extra unicorn items, some background would be nice for a yamaguchi pursuit ridden by an olympic track champion.  chances are, you may end up shipping this item away if it’s that rare (if you’re willing to ship) and an awesome, true story would help.

– travel, or do not travel to sell an item.  if a buyer is another city away, are you willing to meet them halfway to sell the item?  or do you want buyers to only meet you in the city?  have this already sorted in your head, and say it in your listing if it’s relevant: pickup only, local sales only, willing to travel, not willing to travel.  easy button.

– take down listings after the item sells.  this seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many times sellers leave their postings up after the items are sold.  leaving items posted with bold text that says, “sold!” is pointless.  it wastes the buyer’s time, and it wastes your time and your e-mail space.

– specify specifics.  is the item damaged, or is it in brand new condition?  you know how much information it takes to sell a specific item because you’ve bought specific items before.  so then be specific with details if it’s relevant.

– do not write in all caps.  no one actually believes that your keyboard is broken and now writes in all caps, and even if that is the case, are you that cheap not to buy another keyboard that actually works?

– limit your keywords to relevant things or don’t have them at all.  why am I pulling your nitto noodle handlebars and pearl stem while looking for clipless pedals?  in theory, you’re getting more views, but chances are, you’re listing is going to get flagged and you’ll have to end up re-posting it saying, “don’t flag my listing!  wahh!”.  it happens all too often.  no one wants to land on a listing to see more keywords than actual words written by the seller.  I’ve also seen sellers that pull keywords from all the listings in the known universe, placing them at the bottom of the page in a microscopic font size, thinking that it looks more hidden that way.  the only way it’s going to look more hidden is if you don’t include all 258 of them.  be considerate of people browsing.

buyers:

– do not write checks.  if you have a check book, chances are, you have access to some sort of bank, which means you have access to cash.  atm machines are all over the place, find an atm and get some cash out.  granted, there are times where you need to get a lot of cash out for those unicorn items, in which case, going into the actual bank would be better.  if there’s some sort of time constraint like picking up your nephew from the zoo past the time that banks are open, then explain the situation briefly to the seller, seeing if you can pick up the item the next day.  there’s a fine line between explaining the situation, and telling a life story.  do not tell a life story.  on the topic of financial transactions, the seller may want to do a wire transfer, or paypal.  they are the one’s selling the unicorn item you want, you will do what is needed to get said unicorn item.

– do not write, “is this item still available?” and proceed to never write a response back if/when the seller responds.  if you’re interested and want to buy the item, say so: “I’m interested in the item, cash in hand, willing to pick up as soon as you’re available”.  that’s much more enticing than an open ended question.

– the time for price negotiations are done prior to meeting, on the phone or via e-mail.  if price isn’t mentioned in previous communications, the seller assumes the price that is posted is the price you are going to pay for the item.  if you have not mentioned anything previously regarding the price, why shouldn’t they?  unless there’s some unsaid damage or more than “normal wear and tear” on a used item, the price is the price.  do your price negotiations before actually spending time to meet with the person, it saves everyone time.  there’s nothing more annoying than scheduling time to meet with a person only to find out they’re about to low-ball you.  find out as much information as you can about the item from the seller if you’re still on the edge about the price.

– buy the item if you want the item.  do not buy the item if you do not want the item.  this is a very important point.  if you are willing to travel to get the item, then do it.  but don’t try to make some invisible middle-ground for the seller to abide towards.

– no life stories.  this applies to buyers as well.  nothing is more boring than hearing that the buyer of your anodized blue cane creek 1 1/8″ cupped headset is going to put it on his son’s pinarello that he also bought from craigslist, but that unfortunately needs a new headset because the guy had it next to an old water hose in his garage for 10 years (full circle, whoa!).  the only time a brief life story may be told is if the seller asks what you’re planning on using the item for.  and even then, you shouldn’t feel the need to tell them anything.  darth vader doesn’t need to tell you what he’s going to do with your reynolds carbon wheels.  he just wants to buy them off you.

I think that pretty much sums it up.  I’ll probably add to this as time goes on.  if you have any frustrations to add to either side of the fence (buying/selling), feel free to comment.

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