Sunday, November 21, 2010

I hate trying to sell stuff online

We're moving in early January, and are using it as an excuse to get rid of some stuff that Penelope has outgrown: to start with, a Fisher-Price barn-door that plays music, an uber-expensive bouncy seat that she never really liked, an outdoor slide and swing-set (the Swing-Along Castle), and - eventually, once we figure out how to replace a surprisingly vital coin-sized piece that fell off - her original stroller, which she outgrew much faster than we had thought she would. (At 22 months, Penelope is taller than many kids who are twice her age.)

This being a poor time of the year to do yard sales in Toronto, I've taken to trying to sell this stuff on the internet. The barn-door went quickly, but it's proven difficult to sell the other things. I thought that it had to do with the pricing - I started posting each item at half its original sticker price - but I'm starting to think that the problem might the people who I'm interacting with.

Near as a I can tell there are at least 5 distinctive types of Kijiji/Craigslist shoppers, and some categories overlap with others:

1) The no-reply
Of the last five people to contact me about the Swing-Along Castle, all of whom ask me where I live and when they can pick it up, (and, sometimes, whether it's even still available) only one has responded after I've politely shared the requested details. One person even emailed me the same inquiry twice, evidently failing to realize that s/he was contacting the same person regarding the same toy. And s/he still never actually followed up.

2) The geographically-illiterate
I would that think a) selecting my location as City of Toronto, and b) even providing my postal code (which produces an arrow on Google Maps that lands maybe a half-dozen houses down the street from my place) would be enough to allow people to figure out whether it's worth the trip to come here and get whatever it is that they're interested in. But no. People will ask me, for instance, whether I'm anywhere near Whitby. If, by "near", you mean within 50km and up to a one-hour drive during off-peak hours, then, yes, I'm "near" Whitby. But you probably should have been able to figure that out, right?

3) The illiterate-illiterate
To be fair, some of the emails read less like the writing of someone who's illiterate and more like someone who is texting. For example: "pls pm the best price you could offer, tkx". But seriously? Just on principle, now, I don't want to respond to you. And some people just violate the basic rules of internet netiquette and grammar: "I'M INTERESTED IN LEARNING FARM.
IS STILL AVAILABLE?" If I say 'yes', will you stop shouting?

4) The negotiator
It's not that I don't expect some negotiating. But I find myself annoyed by the way that people negotiate. One email was just a number: "50?" Like, not even a 'hi!' And the first example in the previous category fits here, too - the person can't even be bothered to make me an offer. (Granted, my reaction probably also has something to do with the fact that I'm selling my baby's toys. It's not that I want them to value my emotional attachments, but I don't want them to feel devalued, either.) But these are relatively minor complaints in comparison to...

5) The perpetual negotiating machine
When I first posted the bouncy seat, I listed it for $90 - half of its original $180 price. And I got a really quick bite, too. Someone offered $80, which was totally reasonable, and asked me to reply "asap" with my details. So I agreed, and I did just that. And then I got a response that amended the offer to $70. Arrrgh.

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