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Craigslist haggling etiquette: over e-mail or in person?


MisterTV

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Let's have a conversation on Guitar Buying Ethics 101. I'm trying to understand what the perspectives are from both the buyer and the seller in the following scenario:

 

You, as the potential buyer, see a two-week-old CL posting for a guitar you really like. The asking price is $500.

 

After responding to the ad, you get an e-mail from the seller stating the guitar is still available. You reply in kind and make arrangements to see the guitar in person the following day.

 

Here's the kicker: you're pretty sure the guitar is still available because the asking price is too high. Not by much, but still more than what the used market is bearing right now. You've done some research and concluded that the guitar is worth around $425...maybe $450 if it's really mint.

 

So what's the appropriate next step? As a potential buyer, once you're actually at the seller's house, playing the guitar, the seller is thinking "sale." You think you have the upper hand to get the price down.

 

The seller, however, feels you've been less than honest. If the price was too rich for your blood all along, you should had said something before the seller re-arranged his schedule to show the guitar. He's working off the assumption that if a potential buyer expresses "interest" in a guitar listed at $500, he's willing to pay $500. To say you won't pay that price after showing up at the seller's house is kind of a dick move... or is it?

 

Is there a case to be made on both sides? Obviously on HC, you have to agree to terms before a transaction is made... it's not like the buyer can go back a week later and ask the seller to refund 50 bucks.

 

Thoughts?

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I say haggle over email. Once you meet up it's understood that you agreed on the price and are ready to pay it (cash in hand). One exception is if you get there and see that there are defects that were not disclosed - then you should haggle.

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If this was a newspaper classified ad, which it essentially is, on-site haggling is expected, and almost required. Whether the seller is willing to go down in price is totally his call.

 

Besides, you have no idea of an object's true condition until you get it in your hands.

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You look at the guitar and make your offer -make it a fair offer- and the buyer accepts or doesn't- thats the way the world works. If you know you can come within 50.00, go for it. I don't see a problem with that. If it was listed at 1000 and you offer 450- thats wasting time- .

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haggling should be done over email or phone. also, if a meeting is arranged, the potential buyer should clearly make it known if he's tire kicking or ready to buy assuming the seller adequately described what he's selling.

 

i just wasted an hour the other night because a guy made it sound like he was ready to buy my guitar. instead he just wanted to "have a feel", wasn't ready to buy anything at the moment, and then wouldn't stop chatting. if you're not ready to buy, that's cool...but realize that you could be wasting people's time when you're not upfront and honest with them.

 

this probably varies depending on where in the country you're located. most of us in the Northeast don't care to chit chat with strangers, even when you're buying our stuff. we find social contact with strangers to be an annoyance at best. i've lived in other parts of the country where social behavior is completely different so i'm extrapolating this to craigslist transactions.

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the last couple of times I've sold stuff on CL, everyone who replied wanted to haggle over email.

 

When I bought something, I haggled over email. Worked out fine. As long as you know it's something you want and you're not just window shopping, email haggling is perfectly normal. What's not cool is if the seller misrepresents the item (has happened to me and I wasted 2 hours worth of driving), or if you agree on a price and you're "just looking" and don't really know if you want to buy the item and you flake on the deal when you go look at the item.

 

Basically, if you want to look at the item first and aren't sure if you really want it, don't haggle over email. If you know you want it if it is exactly as advertised, haggling over email is fine.

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If the seller provides an adequate number of pics so that you can see the item from every angle then haggling by e-mail is the method of choice in my book. If the seller's "camera is broken" (it amazes my how many people have "broken cameras") then haggling in person is a must.

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haggling should be done over email or phone. also, if a meeting is arranged, the potential buyer should clearly make it known if he's tire kicking or ready to buy assuming the seller adequately described what he's selling.


i just wasted an hour the other night because a guy made it sound like he was ready to buy my guitar. instead he just wanted to "have a feel", wasn't ready to buy anything at the moment, and then wouldn't stop chatting. if you're not ready to buy, that's cool...but realize that you could be wasting people's time when you're not upfront and honest with them.

 

 

+1

 

It pisses me off when I converse over the phone or email with someone about something I'm selling on Craigslist, they make it sound like they're interested, we agree on a time to meet, then when we meet they offer me less money. I generally just turn down the offer and see what they say. Decide on a price before you meet if it's something you really want and you know what you're willing to pay.

 

The exception, of course, is if the guitar or amp or whatever is in worse shape than you expected based on the conversation and photos. Then it's reasonable to negotiate the price in person.

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Why would you agree on a price before you've even seen the merchandise? Might as well do the whole thing by mail, and not waste gas. If you get there and feel like the agreed-on price was too much, you'll be haggling anyway. Anyone who just assumes that everyone who comes over is going to buy at the asking price is a fool, unless that has actually been stated.

 

The only exception is if the price is listed as firm. Lowballing is a different story all together.

 

This isn't retail folks. And retail shopping a recent development to the way human beings have been conducting business for 1000s of years.

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I'm working off the assumption that the seller is honest and that the description is accurate. They just might not be as well-versed in the used guitar market as the average forumite.

 

Example: I've seen lots of MIM Strats on CL with asking prices north of $300. The reality is you can get these used for $250 all day long. Is that the kind of disclosure you make beforehand or after you show up?

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Why are you making this so difficult? Have you never bought anything used before? Just ask one simple question the very first time you contact the seller. "Are you flexible on the price?" That's all you need...yes and you can go see it and not worry about haggling (as long as your not insulting someone by offering hundreds lower than what they want) or no and you don't waste either persons time.

 

I sold a guitar recently and the guy who bought it kind of dicked me around by coming later than he said he would and generally being very inconvenient. Before any of this I would have given him a little less on the price. But by the time he got to my place to try it I was so irritated by his lack of common courtesy and respect for not showing up when he said he would, that I basically decided {censored} him. Told him the price was firm....he whined a little bit as he had come a fair distance but in the end he bought it.

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For example if a guitar or amp is listed at $500 and is in the ball park for a fair price. I would offer down on the price through email saying something like would you consider $425. If they say okay on my low ball price, I say its deal as long as everything checks out okay.

 

If he will not take the offer and goes down to something like $475, I'll say let me take a look then offer $450 with cash in hand, and more then likely you'll get it at that price. If they guy is firm at $500 only buy if you really want it.

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I'm working off the assumption that the seller is honest and that the description is accurate. They just might not be as well-versed in the used guitar market as the average forumite.


Example: I've seen lots of MIM Strats on CL with asking prices north of $300. The reality is you can get these used for $250 all day long. Is that the kind of disclosure you make beforehand or after you show up?

 

 

It is not hard to figure out the market on run of the mill production guitars- if you have a computer you can do it- Those people listing mim's and squires for way more than they are worth know exactly what they are doing I suspect most of the time, except for the ones that appear to have been stoned when they wrote the ad. As long as you are a real buyer who intends to pay up if a fair price is agreed upon then you are not doing anything inappropriate by making what you think is a fair offer- just do it and see what they say.

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Let's have a conversation on Guitar Buying Ethics 101. I'm trying to understand what the perspectives are from both the buyer and the seller in the following scenario:


You, as the potential buyer, see a two-week-old CL posting for a guitar you really like. The asking price is
$500.


After responding to the ad, you get an e-mail from the seller stating the guitar is still available. You reply in kind and make arrangements to see the guitar in person the following day.


Here's the kicker: you're pretty sure the guitar is still available because the asking price is too high. Not by much, but still more than what the used market is bearing right now. You've done some research and concluded that the guitar is worth around
$425
...
maybe
$450
if it's really mint.


So what's the appropriate next step? As a potential buyer, once you're actually at the seller's house, playing the guitar, the seller is thinking "sale." You think you have the upper hand to get the price down.


The seller, however, feels you've been less than honest. If the price was too rich for your blood all along, you should had said something before the seller re-arranged his schedule to show the guitar. He's working off the assumption that if a potential buyer expresses "interest" in a guitar listed at $500, he's willing to pay $500. To say you won't pay that price after showing up at the seller's house is kind of a dick move... or is it?


Is there a case to be made on both sides? Obviously on HC, you have to agree to terms before a transaction is made... it's not like the buyer can go back a week later and ask the seller to refund 50 bucks.


Thoughts?

 

 

 

Right off the bat'.... I know what the relative used value of a pc of gear I am buying is. So....being "pretty sure" it's still for sale because of a to high asking price really is not an issue for me. I know if the price is to high or not. That's part of it really when buying use gear.... knowing what a good deal, a fair deal or a bad deal is.

 

When selling, I always expect the buyer to offer a lower price, even if they say they are coming down to buy it for the price listed. It's the nature of the deal really, almost a gimme.

 

 

 

As a buyer and in the situation you presented...I prol' would play it out something like this....

 

I would let the seller know that I have cash and am interested in the item but not at the price listed , that if they would like to come to a dif' price parameter to work in then let me know.

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For example if a guitar or amp is listed at $500 and is in the ball park for a fair price. I would offer down on the price through email saying something like would you consider $425. If they say okay on my low ball price, I say its deal as long as everything checks out okay.


If he will not take the offer and goes down to something like $475, I'll say let me take a look then offer $450 with cash in hand, and more then likely you'll get it at that price. If they guy is firm at $500 only buy if you really want it.

 

 

 

 

This post is a good example (imo) of how a friendly transaction usually goes down.

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Rule of thumb is to shoot for at least 10% off asking price. Pick a round number just a little higher than that, and see what the seller says. If he bitches around a little and comes back with a counter offer, he knows the game. If he flat out denies you, he doesn't deserve your monies. If he takes you up, well {censored}, you're a winner.

 

As for haggling over email, it's always annoyed me. In my early CL days, people would consistently haggle with me via email, then flake on showing up. Seriously, at least make the effort to {censored} me out of 10%. As far as I'm concerned, your theoretical internet monies are no good here.

 

Then again, if you shoot for 40% of what's already a good price, I'll show you the door.

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I have sold a lot of gear in the past year.... there have been people who tried to pull that stuff in person... I asked them to kindly leave.... I will not deal with tire kickers and lowballers....

 

if we agree to meet, and we agree on a price, that is it, you can either take the gear or not, but I will not negotiate in person..... I guess that may work with people who are in desperate need of money and you flashing some cash will make them forget their asking price, but I never sell because I need money.... so I guess I have always had the luxury to stand firm...

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I buy a LOT, on CL and other venues.

 

My favorite kind of ad is one where the seller put a low price on it. I hit like a whore on a sailor. It WILL be mine! The only thing to do here is be the first to email him. These sellers get this email from me.

 

subj: the thing

Hi,

 

I'll take it. When can we meet? Cash waiting. my name and phone number.

 

I don't ask for anything more than they've already given, and I make it clear I'm serious.

 

Those are most of my transactions. Simple and fast. I'll drive a pretty good distance for those. Gas isn't ALL that expensive, and it's already causing other buyers to fall away, so I win.

 

Then there are the ones where I'm interested, but the price isn't a "jump" price, like the situation you asked about. I wait them a week to see if anyone else bit. If not, I email after a few days, or a week, and say I'm interested, and might buy, but I want to see it, and discuss the price.

 

Now when I'm selling, I usually won't even entertain a discount unless you are standing in front of me with cash. Some sellers will, some won't.

 

The most important thing at this point is to let the seller know you are serious. He's already had it with the rest of the CL flakes.

 

Basically I'm saying that I make it clear, in initial contact that I will pay less. So there's the answer. Wastes no one's time.

 

Here's a little story.

 

I was selling an amp.

First reply: Will you take (some lesser amount, I forget).

My answer: not the first day I won't, maybe after a week.

His answer: Ok, I'll take it.

 

:D

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The best is when I was selling some small piece of gear on CL for $25... I forget what it was... maybe a gig bag... in any event, the buyer takes out two $20 bills and then asks me if I had change!

 

I laughed in a way that said "nice move," and yes, let him take it for $20. It did cross my mind to give him directions to the nearest bank, though! :)

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most times it's pretty clear- if a price is listed and you say you are interested and want to check it out with no other stipulations then essentially you have agreed on that price PROVIDED THE ITEM IS AS DESCRIBED (hence why you have to look at it first before you commit).

 

It's usu not convenient for people to try to make arrangements and waste a day if you just want to go to haggle because what if you can't agree on a price?- you both could have discovered that via email and then not wasted your time. I know personally if someone is coming to buy something from me and shows up with $1 less than the agreed price I show them the door- people tried this every time I cut a deal- the last was on an item I sold for $1625- the guy called me when he was 5 min from my house and said he could only get $1600 out of the bank this morning- I told him the agreed price was $1625 and honestly would not have sold it to him if he showed up with $1600- it's not that i could not afford to knock off 1.5% of the price - it's the principle that an agreement was made- miraculously he showed up with $1625 :rolleyes:

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most times it's pretty clear- if a price is listed and you say you are interested and want to check it out with no other stipulations then essentially you have agreed on that price PROVIDED THE ITEM IS AS DESCRIBED (hence why you have to look at it first before you commit).


It's usu not convenient for people to try to make arrangements and waste a day if you just want to go to haggle because what if you can't agree on a price?- you both could have discovered that via email and then not wasted your time. I know personally if someone is coming to buy something from me and shows up with $1 less than the agreed price I show them the door- people tried this every time I cut a deal- the last was on an item I sold for $1625- the guy called me when he was 5 min from my house and said he could only get $1600 out of the bank this morning- I told him the agreed price was $1625 and honestly would not have sold it to him if he showed up with $1600- it's not that i could not afford to knock off 1.5% of the price - it's the principle that an agreement was made- miraculously he showed up with $1625
:rolleyes:

 

See, to me that's just an ignorant attitude. You're not doing me any favors by deigning to sell something to me, even if you think you are. An agreement is only an agreement if both parties have explicitly agreed to it. If a guy calls you and says he wants to come look at your item, he hasn't agreed to anything but to show up.

 

To 99% of human beings, a price in a classified ad is anything but final. That's why I always ask for more than my final price.

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If you're not ever going to pay the seller's asking price, then that should be clear before you set-up a personal inspection. (Don't show up to look at a $500 guitar if you don't intend on ever paying more than $425)

 

OTOH, if the seller is completely inflexible on price, that should be clear as well.

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If this was a newspaper classified ad, which it essentially is, on-site haggling is expected, and almost required. Whether the seller is willing to go down in price is totally his call.


Besides, you have no idea of an object's true condition until you get it in your hands.

 

 

This is how I see it, though many CL sellers seem to think otherwise, as if you agreed to buy on e-bay. So, I try to haggle ahead of time, or at least include something in our e-mail conversations that indicate the potential for haggling...like, I'd like to check out the condition of the instrument and see if it needs any work. However, I should state that I'm planning to pay a different price if I don't plan on paying his asking price and the instrument is in the condition the seller described.

 

I've actually only had one (of many) craigslist buyers try to haggle with me. Most of them come armed with the amount of cash that I stated in my ad.

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