Initial Ramblings – Spring 2017: Craigslist is the People of WalMart of the Internet
by JT Burkard
As an automotive broker, consignor and dealer, I find myself spending a good portion of the day on the internet placing ads on various paid sites as well as on free ones like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Letgo, etc. There is a certain element I find on these sites that you don’t see anywhere else. I am talking about rude, inconsiderate, combative, confusing, and disrespectful “buyers” who have no boundaries. It’s an interesting segment of society that only comes out under the cover of darkness of the internet. Now, not everyone is like this, but I would say a good 83.68% are virtual tire kickers with attitudes to match. This is, of course, according to my independent scientific survey. This doesn’t include the scammer segment of the buying populous, but we won’t get into them in this article. This is just a small look into my world as an internet vehicle marketer.
Just last night, at 11:00pm I received a phone call from an unknown number. I thought to myself “Who the [expletive] is this at this hour?” I let it go into voicemail, which they did not leave a message. But right after I received two text messages: “Wheel still sale” and “Call mi at 732-xxx-0000”. This morning I responded with “Yes, the wheels are for sale and it’s extremely rude to call someone at 11pm”. Their response was “ok, thank you”.
Those of you who follow me on Facebook have seen me post about a few of these interactions and I have actually started to put them on my blog as well for all to see with screen shots from my phone so you can see that yes, these actually happened. The most notable I will share with you with spelling and punctuation as sent by the consumer to retain its authenticity: “Hi I could u Chrysler. I hewed 900 ok for you” I responded with “I don’t understand”. They followed up with “U have four sale Chrysler. How much pirays” – I laughed so hard, I couldn’t even respond. Are pirays the new Bitcoin? This one goes down in the JT Text Message Hall of Fame.
Another popular one from my JTTMHoF: “Do u got anything better then that I take a truck 3rall that works good I give 1000 for” – I’m sorry, but I’m all out of 3rall’s at the moment.
A third for your entertainment: “hello, i want to ask the lowest price of your car on craigslist”. I ask “Which car? I have several advertised.” They state “the first one posted”. I ask “I don’t know which one was posted first. Can you please let me know which car you are interested in? Thank you.” They never responded back.
But wait, it’s not just text messages or phone calls. I had a glorious interaction with a man who showed up at my place to buy a car I was selling for one of our fellow club members. It was a Metallic Blue 2007 Pontiac G6 with 30k original miles. This car was perfect. I did my research on what the realistic price for this car would be comparing to real world comps. This is the best way to gauge a true value. I listed it at what I thought was a very reasonable price, especially since it was the lowest mileage one on the market.
I listed the car and several hours later I get a phone call from a very interested party. He said “this sounds like the exact car I’m looking for and I’ll come around tomorrow lunch time to see it”. I had high hopes. Noon arrives, as well as my buyer. The first thing out of his mouth is “What are all of these cars? Are you a flipper?” I said, these are my personal cars, they are not for sale (admittedly, it does look like a car lot with all the cars Sandy and I have collected). He says “Is that a Mercedes under that cover? What are you asking for that” Yes it’s a Mercedes; no it’s not for sale. That my wife’s car. Then he’s pointing to the other cars and asked what was under the other car cover. I said that’s our Alfa Romeo. He then goes on how those were horrible cars and other Italian car comments. This is starting out smashingly, with insults.
I direct him to the G6 in the other driveway. Immediately he tells me all the problems these GM products have and how he guarantees this car is ripe with issues because he has had a few. I said if you owned so many of these cars and they are so problematic, why do you still want to buy one? I basically called his bluff. I know his game. Shoot down the car so you can come in at a low-ball offer. This guy doesn’t realize I am a professional in this game.
I open the door, fire the car up, and he checks under the hood. First thing out of his mouth “This isn’t a garage kept car like you said, I can see it stayed outside. What else aren’t you telling me right?” The engine compartment was super clean and had ZERO signs of being left outside. He was basically calling me a liar. That doesn’t sit well with me at all. He proceeds to tell me the tires are worn (they weren’t) and all these other mythological issues the car had. I thought to myself: Wow, you must be some kind of savant mechanic because you didn’t even sit in the car or drive it yet and you are telling me it’s going to need thousands of dollars of work, on a mint condition car with 30,100 miles. All with an attitude that he seemed to have the moment he stepped out to see the car. My patience was quickly running thin.
Next, he asks me how I got the car. I tell him I am selling the car for one of my fellow BMW club members, because he is tired of dealing with people from Craigslist, like you. He just ignored my little dig at him. He then says “well whose name is it in?” I said the owner’s name, I am selling it for him as a favor and he just explodes with all kinds of gibberish like I’m jumping title, what if the DMV questions who he bought it from, I’m illegally selling the car, etc. I ignore him.
Then he said “what I think is going on is you bought this car for very cheap and you are trying to sell the car for a big profit and that’s wrong” I quickly cut him off and reiterate the truth, and to not call me a liar because this conversation is going to end quickly. He then asks me “Who came up with this price?” I say the seller and I came up with a fair price for the car in comparison to similar cars currently on the market. He says “Well KBB private party says it’s worth much less and needing tires, I want a $500 deduction, and that’s before I drive it, and find more issues the car has.” I inform him that guides are not realistic with cars like this. I am going by real world cars for sale at the moment. His response was “Yeah, but they are dealers and do financing and offer warranties. I don’t buy from dealers; I buy from private parties so I avoid all the bull”. I encouraged him to find a car in the price range he wanted to be in because those cars have triple the mileage. I knew he wouldn’t find another one equal within a 1,500 mile radius. I already looked.
He continues on his almost-tirade when I said I had enough. I closed the hood, shut the car off, locked the door, I reached out and shook his hand that he wasn’t even offering to me, and said thank you for coming to see the car, I am sorry we can’t make a deal. You are going to have to leave. I started walking away and he responds with “that’s it, you’re not going to even negotiate with me?” and then starts spewing I’m a flipper, illegally selling, not following the law, I’m flagging you on Craigslist, etc.
I never turned around, I didn’t even respond. I just walked away and let him ramble on until he left. What a nutcase. This guy needed some Prozac or something. I feel real sorry for the next person he meets when car shopping. “I only buy from individuals.” That’s because you want to wear them down with your anger so YOU can steal the car at a bargain basement price. I’ve been in this business for 17 years and I don’t think I ever had to deal with someone like this before.
Yes, these people do exist and I seem to find them all. It’s my gift, like seeing the Matrix. Maybe I’ll have my own TV series “Tire Kicker Hunters” where you watch me deal with the bottom of the barrel each week. There won’t be a need for a script, these interactions come naturally. Until then, I’ll just keep posting these stories on my blog for all to enjoy. And please don’t forget when car shopping to always bring your pirays and 3ralls.
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