Finding the perfect holiday gift for your loved ones and picturing their smiling faces when they finally unwrap it is a wonderful feeling, but it’s even better when you get a great deal on the present.
Currently, there are plenty of smoking deals to be found as people are trying to move merchandise in a less than stellar economy, but one Ahwatukee Foothills resident has already found out the hard way that buyers need to be careful. In order to tell her story and ensure the safety of her family, the assumed name Noel will be used.
Noel had already planned a trip to Disneyland for her family over the holidays, but she wanted to get a second present so that her children would have something to unwrap from under the Christmas tree. Her oldest child really wanted a Wii, so she decided to start shopping around Craigslist to find a good price on a used Wii.
“I use Craigslist all the time, and I’m really big on recycling toys as long as they’re clean and working,” Noel said. “I started looking for a used Wii in the Ahwatukee Foothills area because I trust our neighbors.”
After finding a good price Noel arranged to meet with the seller, Susan (also an assumed name), at a local park where Susan’s child would be playing in a baseball game. Noel met Susan to make the exchange, but noticed that the Wii was scratched and didn’t look like it was in mint condition like Susan had claimed on Craigslist.
Despite her reservations, Noel handed the $125 over to Susan and took her Wii game home. Unfortunately, Noel’s worst fears were confirmed when she set up the Wii.
“My husband and I were able to get a blurry display menu, but it’s supposed to be crisp and clear,” Noel said. “I e-mailed Susan and called her two times asking her to meet up and exchange the game and money again, but she didn’t respond.”
Noel has come to the conclusion that despite her highest hopes, she has been had by a neighbor.
“She knew this was a Christmas gift, and you can’t really fight it because it was a cash transaction and we were alone,” Noel said. “Her lack of response tells us that she knew what she was selling.”
Although Noel’s experience with Susan has been bad, she plans to continue using Craigslist.
“I’m a huge recycler, and before I buy retail I’ll always shop Craigslist,” Noel said. “We originally sold all of my children’s old toys on Craigslist to pay for the Wii, and 99 percent of my transactions as a buyer and seller have been great.”
Noel is still on the hunt for a Wii for her children this Christmas, and she has already sold more of their old toys on Craigslist and made up half of the money she lost to Susan.
“I might be able to get the damaged Wii fixed, but it’s the principle of the matter,” Noel said. “I chose a fellow neighbor and mother because I trusted her, and it didn’t work out.”
While Noel will continue shopping on Craigslist, she will do so with much more caution. She hopes to spread the word to the rest of her neighbors to be mindful when they are shopping on Craigslist.
“At this point I don’t even want my money back, I just want others to know what to watch out for,” Noel said.
Following are Noel’s tips for shopping safely on Craigslist:
Be specific about what you are selling. State the facts and don’t sugar coat what you have. Also, make sure your item works! Meet in a high-traffic, public place. For large item pick-ups, meet at your house when your spouse or another person can be present. To avoid no shows, have the buyer call you when they are leaving to meet you. Then you leave when they leave. Make sure what you are selling is clean and presentable. Had I noticed it in the daylight or proper lighting the crusted food on the on/off button of the Wii, I surely would have had second thoughts. Don’t be embarrassed to count the money you receive. I’ve had friends that were shorted cash by accepting a hand full of cash without counting it first.
Offer to meet sellers in a public place vs. their private home. Bring someone with you to the transaction. Know what you are buying. Do your research first to make sure you are not over paying for a new, but opened or used item. If the item you’re buying has to work somehow, definitely test it before you buy. Make sure all documented pieces to the item are intact. Do your price negotiations before the sale/transaction, not when you meet. If the seller is firm on their price, then don’t waste their time. Have the exact amount of money at the time of purchase; don’t expect the seller to provide you with change. If you are not fully satisfied with the item or are uncomfortable with the sale, don’t be afraid to back out. After quickly looking over the Wii console red flags started to pop up in my head and my gut instincts were telling me to not buy. It’s OK to trust no one because it’s your money.