The Three Worst Kind of Craigslist Buyers (And How to Avoid Them)

And you, sir, are worse than Hitler.

– DMV Manager

We’ve been very active on Craigslist recently. We just picked up a Kohler sink for the bathroom-to-be, but mostly we’ve been selling. We do sell stuff on CL pretty often, but the process of clearing out the loft made us very active merchants.

I wish these guys would come buy some of our junk.

I wish these guys would come buy some of our junk.

When you sell stuff on CL, it’s usually a good experience with friendly people. Sometimes, it’s a funny experience with slightly off-kilter people. More occasionally, though, you have an irritating experience with a clueless or actively rude person.


These folks fall into three main categories, sometimes overlapping. To combat them, I developed some coping techniques. Take a look and chime in if you have other ideas (or other Craigslister bad behavior categories).

1. Mr./Ms. No-Impulse-Control

This person emails, “Oh, I have to have it, can I pick it up tomorrow at noon? I will totally be there!!! Thank you!!!!!” and then they never show up. At least have the weenie-tiny cajones to text me and say, “Sorry, I can’t do it after all.” I mean, what’s the worst that happens? I text back, “Ok, thanks for letting me know”? I really hate sitting around waiting for Craigslist fantasists.

They should be forced to wear one of these (via).

They should be forced to wear one of these (via).

How to Identify and Deal: These folks are the MOST EXCITED PEOPLE EVER. Make sure you get their phone number and always contact them using it. Otherwise, they may disappear behind the email relay. Be very specific (you need to be here by 7:00 because I have a back-up offer; you should bring help because it’s 87 pounds; there is a scratch on the back, would you like a picture?). Specifics cause fictional interest to evaporate. If not, at least you have a drop-dead time.

2. The Cheapskate

This person demands a price concession before seeing the item without any niceties. At least see the thing before negotiating! We price things cheaply to begin with, but are open to offers…once you are standing here with money.


I’m not including the people who say, “I only have $20 to spend on this item, and I’m wondering if that would work for you? Thanks for considering it.” It’s all in the approach!

How to Identify and Deal: If they don’t just blurt the lower price during the first communication, they may start pointing out problems with the item to set up a later lowball. If you aren’t flexible, say that you are firm on the price in the post and repeat as necessary. If someone lowballs us, I counter and add something like “and we’ll help you load it.” If their email or text is outright rude, though, I just delete it.

3. The Time Lord

This person exists outside space and time and doesn’t understand your terrestrial “clocks.” Arranged to stop by at six, then annoyed your porch light is off at nine? That’s reasonable.


How to Identify and Deal: This person generally gives a wide time span rather than a specific time: “I’ll be there between 7 and 8:30” for instance. As with the make-believe buyers, I try to drown them in specifics. “We have limited availability this evening, so it would need to be no later than 7:30; otherwise, we have a back-up buyer.” Ask for a status report: “We need this thing gone tonight, so call me if you are going to be later than 7.” They won’t call, and you can move on.

While these techniques help weed out the jerks, they really work as general guidelines. In short:

  • delete rude responses.
  • always get a phone number.
  • be extremely specific.
  • set a drop-dead time.

Happy Craigslisting!

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