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Craig’s List: Flakes, Scammers, and Ho’s

Category : muse, outsourcing

The Decay of a Social Network

Has anyone else had this experience? I am in the midst of remodeling my basement (I’ll have a few posts on that subject, so sorry to bore you all if you don’t care). In the process, I had to get rid of a washer/dryer combo that was not going to fit the new space. More importantly, I just wanted some new equipment. Anyways, I didn’t just want to put the washer/dryer out on the street or give it to charity, since perhaps someone would want a great washer/dryer set for just $100 as well as an old tub for the same amount. I was pretty much willing to part with it for whatever I could get, as long as they would haul it out themselves.

So, I decided to post my washer/dryer item up on the local Craig’s List. I figured if someone in the area would want it, this would be the quickest and easiest way to find out.

Lo and behold, 2 days later I get my first response:

Hi do you still have them thanks when good time to stop by

Disregarding the bad grammar, I replied:

Yes, I still have the washer and dryer (separate units). Are you interested in purchasing them?

He responded fairly quickly:

I want them can you hold them for me thanks – I have Blood donation tuesday and my dad gets home around 6pm what area are you at thanks can you give me number can get in touch [phone number]

Ok, so I understand now that he’s a student or some such. No problem. So, I email him my phone number and await his call. Didn’t get it that evening. Or the following day. Or the day after that. So, I email him asking what the status is. No response. So, I decide to give him a call on the number. I finally get a hold of him, and he says he’s still interested, and he’ll come that weekend. I wait for him that weekend. He never shows up. I call again, this time, no answer. I give up and chalk it up to a flake. Hopefully I’ll get another bite.

Sure enough, just a few days later, I get the following inquiry from someone new:

Is it still available?
I respond:
Yes! But it needs to get out of here this weekend. Can you come and pick it up?
Get a response back fairly quickly:
My husband is in XXX tomorrow dropping my step-daughter at college. We actually are renovating a farmhouse in YYY but I thought possibly he could load in his car & drive back…I’ll need to have him coordinate with you. Is there a # you can be reached at?
So, I respond with my phone # and coordinate a pick up later that weekend. The weekend comes and goes, no pickup, no call. So, I email asking what happened. Here’s the response:
My husband wasn’t able to be in touch–our loss…
Oh well. I guess another flake. Maybe I just hit a bad batch, and I’ll get a real buyer soon. In just a few days, I get this inquiry:
Is the tub still avaliable? i am getting ready to buy a house and a clawfoot tub is a must for me. thank you.
My response:
Yes, but it must go tomorrow! Can you come by tomorrow to pick it up? It’s on the third floor and needs to be taken down (carefully!). It’s quite heavy and I can’t help to carry it down, but I’m sure you can (perhaps along with a small crew and a dolly). Let me know if you can come and get it!
As you can see, I’m getting quite wary already of the Craigslist responders and wondering if these people are for real. I get my reassurance via email:
what time would be good for me to come and get it? im free after 5?
I’m sure the person didn’t mean that to be a question, so I responded that after 5 is fine and come pick it up ASAP. The time comes and goes. Nothing happens. No email, no phone call. I email asking what happened. No response. Geez. Flakes: 3, Me: 0.
At this point, I’ve all but given up. Just as I go to find a charity to donate the appliances to, I get this email:
Hello, Is this still available?  I own an antique and refinishing shop in XXXX and am putting a vintage style kitchen and bathroom on the upper level.  thanks so much for your response.
Ok, so now I’m thinking this has a chance. A real professional. Someone who has a need. Someone who knows better than to yank my chain and waste my time. So, I respond:
Yes it is, but you’ll need to haul it from our third floor. It’s quite heavy – do you have folks who can get it and bring it?
Yes, I do, my husband has a truck as well.  How much are you asking again? and could you send me the link or ad # I am so sorry I have responded to about 15 ads today for clawfoots and am trying to keep them straight..
Hmm, now I am starting to see what might be going on here. I respond with the right information, a time, and my number. Should I be surprised? The buyer never shows up. Doesn’t call, doesn’t email. I’m just stuck waiting for her at the allotted time. I send out a very frustrated email asking what happened. And here’s what I get back:
Hello Again,  I was able to find one with a kitchen sink also, so I won’t be coming by.   Thanks again

Flakes: 4, Me: 0. Ok, I’ve had it. I donate it to a local good will and get $300+ as a tax write-off. I guess I win.

Here’s what gets me about this whole thing. I understand that there are lots of choices on Craig’s List and maybe my appliances and tub weren’t the best, but it seems that the ratio of flakes to real buyers is quite high. NONE of the buyers bothered to let me know that they were either not interested or found another option after they set up a specific date and time to come by and pick it up. They had absolutely no consideration for my time. I thought this might be just my bad luck, but apparently, after doing a search on “Craigslist flake” on Google, this is so common, it even has its own Urban Dictionary definition!

It seems that it is the exception that someone is able to find a buyer on Craig’s list rather than the rule. Geez, if there ever was a decay of the value of a social network, here it is.

Craig’s List: Good for Nothing

Digging into Craig’s List deeper, I found that Craig’s list provided very little tangible value to anyone. I saw blog posts and forum comments about people who couldn’t even give away items on Craig’s list. Even more worrisome is the trend that people are using Craig’s List for scams and criminal activity. Craig’s List provides a great anonymous front for the very sort of criminal element you don’t want near the items you have for sale.

Indeed, that very anonymous front might result in probably the only community that gets value from Craig’s List: Pimps and Hos. In the personal’s section called “Casual Encounters“, you will find a deluge of advertisements for thinly-veiled offers of adult services of all sorts. There must be a lot of buyers, because there’s a heck of a lot of sellers. If many legit sellers of goods, like myself, are having such a hard time getting real people to buy goods, and if scammers are pushing out the good sellers in droves, then it must be that the Pimp-n-Ho audience is what Craigs List caters to the most.

But even in this area, Craig’s List is a danger zone. Police the world over now know that Craig’s List is an open market for sex trade, and both buyers and sellers are targeted in Craig’s List oriented raids and stings. Over time, even the Pimp-n-Ho audience is bound to leave Craig’s List when the pressure is too much to bear.

Where does that leave Craig’s List? With no value whatsoever. When a good social network that provides a real value proposition is left to decay without any quality enforcement, it rapidly becomes an abandoned, crime-ridden, and flake-prevalent destination. Just like many of our good urban cities — when the real value generators leave the community, all that’s left is decay.

Am I wrong?

Is it just me? Am I bitter because I had a quadruple-flake experience and over-generalizing? Has anyone had any luck (recently!) with Craig’s List? Have you been burned? Have you had the same experience? Please tell me I’m not alone or off my rocker!

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This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact Rex at info [at] fourhourworkweekdiary [dot] com. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog, including the article written above. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner(s) of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner(s) of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, we often give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog may contain content which might present a conflict of interest. This content may not always be identified.

Comments (9)


We have had amazing good luck with Craigslist. We have never had a flake. We have sold an oak desk ($250, though it took months of reposts), purchased a china cabinet, a large home office desk with rolling file cabinet, some cabinets for the garage, and a cheap kids’ dresser, given away some fencing, purchased lawn equipment, sold lawn equipment, and a whole bunch of other bits and bobs that we needed to get rid of.

We love Craigslist. Of course, we are near a major metropolitan area, so there’s not only a great deal of variety in offerings, there’s a huge number of buyers, too. The buyers don’t mess around because they know there’s a hundred more right behind them. In fact, for decent items cheap, we usually get a call within an hour and a pickup the same day–usually with cash in hand and often no quibbling on price. When we list items for free, they’re often gone within an hour of listing (on a weekend afternoon).

For clothes, I donate to Goodwill. I might take my books there too if I can’t sell them on Craigslist or if I don’t need credits on paperbackswap. But everything else has a market on Craigslist and we love it to pieces.

Sorry you haven’t had the same good fortune–I do see posts on Craigslist that warn buyers about this or that bad behavior that won’t be acceptable, but I haven’t had to do that for any of our listings.


Great post! I sold a minivan on Craigslist. The first response I got was someone wanting to trade me their souped-up dune buggy for my $5,000 Town & Country. But I did sell the van very quickly to a nice couple.

My carpenter husband often looks for power tools on Craigslist and comes across ones that are dirt cheap and can only suppose that they are stolen.

It’s just hit or miss I guess.

I’ve had decent luck with Craigslist as both a buyer and a seller. One key to screening flakes is a “no holds” policy. Tell them “first person to show up at my house with money in their hand gets it – NO EXCEPTIONS”. This accomplishes a couple of things: it lets you stop worrying about whether someone’s going to show up on time or not, and it motivates the buyer to get to you as quickly as possible so they don’t miss out.

Great post! I agree with Kelley that Craig’s List is a hit or miss endeavor. I guess you just had more than your fair share of bad luck. I listed several items when my family was preparing to move, and we were able to sell 90% of them within 2-3 days. We did have a few semi-flakes who called about my husband’s motorcycle; they wanted us to drop the already low price, or deliver it to them, etc. But we also got 10-12 serious callers. Within 4 hours of listing, the bike was carted off to a new home for our asking price.

Sorry your experience was such a negative one. If you ever want to see humanity at its lowest common denominator, take a look at their ‘Rants’ section. *shiver*

Consult the FlakeList to help you avoid flakes! Or you can submit your own and help others from getting flaked too.

Just had the whole “craigslist flake” happen to me tonight. I was trying to give away a free couch rather than putting it by the curb for the scavengers. I received 6 emails in a little over a day.


1)Hello, saw the ad , please let me know if this is still avaliable …. i can pick it up after work about 5pm? Please let me know thanks

2)Still available? Where at in —?

3)int in sofa call —- thank u

Is your couch still available?? If so, I am interested and willing to pick it up asap.

5)WHere Are you loCated? call ——
Thanks in advance

This is the first time I have used craigslist, so I responded to each of these by listing my cell number telling them to call to arrange a time.

Out of the five above, I received 3 no calls, 1 hang up in my face, and one waiting game that ruined my evening. I call the guy, he says he’s interested, sets up a time, asks directions to the area and will call for specific directions when he gets close. He no shows, I call, he calls back and says he is still coming. An hour and a half goes by…nothing. What I don’t understand is why he called back if he wasn’t coming – he could have flaked after my first call.

I don’t get why people do this. Are they for real or are they playing some kind of game. “I’ll come get it ASAP” only to no-show. I guess I’ll go back to the Recycler from now on. You can’t even give away free stuff!!

I’m glad it’s not just me. I can’t believe how disrespectful and rude people are. I’ve held things for people despite other buyers inquiring about my items, and then they don’t bother to show. I think I’ll just say first come, first serve. No appointments. If you can pick it up first, it’s yours. I’ve had 2 flakes today and 2 more during the week. It’s so annoying! I made the mistake of telling them how to get to my house. I guess it wasn’t the safest idea. I didn’t tell them which apartment though. From now on, I’m just going to have them call when they’re on their way, and then I’ll give directions. Maybe that will reduce the number of flakes? It’s so tempting to send them a nastygram, but they all have my address! Ha.

For me, I think the 80/20 rule applies: 80% of the people who contact me are flakes, the rest actually show up and usually buy. Sites like http://www.dontevenreply.com go to show this is just a sick game for people.

Hah! That website is such a laugh riot. Ok, I just wasted an hour reading the stuff on that site – curses!

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