Somehow I doubt that this is only a problem local to the Detroit or other Michigan CL communities. Granted, Michigan has the distinction of having the highest rate of unemployment in the nation - my husband and I are, in fact, both currently unemployed as well. That's probably why we've decided to move to Wisconsin and to sell as much of our "stuff" on CL as possible.
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Doing so has, however, turned into quite the adventure. In the course of trying to sell our items, and keep track of the "Wanted" sections for people seeking items we may be willing to part with, I've learned a few things. Perhaps those lessons will be of value to others.
1) If a for sale ad specifies a price, and does not include abbreviations such as OBO or phrases like price negotiable,or free to good home, then please don't send an email saying, "I really need that $1200 real maple wood desk you're selling, but... *insert sob story containing keywords such as 'single mom,' 'no child support,' 'god bless you' and the like*... so, can I have it for free?" You are wasting your time, and the seller's.
2) If you see an ad offering $60 or so for your broken laptop, and you figure that the broken laptop you have is little more than a doorstop at this point, resist the impulse to respond and sell your laptop. These individuals are banking on the hope that you are an idiot who does not know how to use Google to learn how to replace the LCD screen on your laptop - which, inevitably, is the biggest reason people think their laptops are broken! Stop giving away hundreds of dollars worth of property to people who are going to spend $50 to buy a new LCD screen and then sell your laptop BACK TO YOU as "refurbished" for $300+ dollars. Fuck, email me - I'll replace the damn thing for cost of the part plus $20 for my time. Good lord.
3) #2 also applies to your broken iPhones, Palm Pilots, XBoxes and the like. These people are making oodles of money off of you - spend a little cash, get the thing fixed, and then sell it for what it's actually worth if you need money that bad. Don't sell it to these yahoos, they are ROBBING YOU BLIND.
4) Ok, so you're getting married, and you're broke, and you want a nice wedding. Most brides and grooms are broke because we humans tend to get married at around the same time the rest of our adult life is truly beginning - fresh out of school, still being paid little more than an intern, paying off student loans, buying a first house, etc. Perfectly understandable, and there's nothing wrong with looking for a good deal on wedding items. But there is a reason weddings are so expensive - because the shit involved IS ACTUALLY EXPENSIVE. Yeah, you know what? I'm probably not going to use those 50 miniature mirrors left over from my wedding centerpieces again for anything but maybe target practice - but I still had to lay out a whole bucket load of cash to buy them to begin with, and your greedy little "I want everything free for my wedding because it has to be perfect even though I expect to get it all for free" posts made, day in and day out, are NOT inspiring me to part with my targets so as to benefit you. I am more likely to break those mirrors and use them to gouge up all the other free wedding paraphernalia I might have to offer just to spite your greed and stupidity.
5) No, you don't need a washer and dryer. Would it be nice? Certainly. More convenient? Definitely. But a need? No - and especially not if you expect someone else to give you their expensive household appliances for free. Get off your ass, load up the laundry bags, and get over to the laundromat. I mean, hell, do you want us to wash the damn clothes for you as well?
6) Which applies to #5 and, well, pretty much every thing else... if you are expecting someone to give you something for free, if you are here begging for free stuff, at least have the intelligence and wherewithal to find a way to pick the damn thing up. It's bad enough you want expensive shit given to you for free, but you want it hand delivered on a silver fucking platter as well. Seriously? WTF?
7) As per the title of my post... Beggers, stop being choosers. If you are seeking free shit, you don't get to add conditions like, "must be from smoke-free home," or "cannot have any tears or stains," or "must still have box," or "must be pink with purple swirly dots, not purple with pink swirly dots," or "send me pictures and I'll see if it's good enough," or "must be real leather not pleather," or "no plastic wine glasses, it has to be real crystal" or whatever other ridiculous demands you're intending to make. It's FREE SHIT. Be grateful someone is willing to help your sorry ass out instead of expecting them to customize their shit to fit your greedy demands.
8) If you are going to respond to a "Wanted" ad, particularly if the item being asked for seems...oh, I don't know, potentially rare, expensive or otherwise raises the question "why are they looking for it on CL?" - GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND. Find out, before you sell, EXACTLY what that $500 bill the guy is offering you $600 is worth. Look up things like, "laptop screen stays dark," or "Xbox red light." Don't let your own greed overwhelm your common sense. If someone is willing to pay you for your item, maybe you'd better find out if someone else is willing to PAY MORE for it.
9) Be realistic. You are not going to get a 2000 or newer running car in good shape with no dents, scratches or mechanical problems for $400. Stop fucking asking. Yes, you're a single parent, life has shit on you, you're going to school, you have no money... the same is true for pretty much most of the rest of the world. If your transportation needs are that great, lower your damn expectations. "$400 for any half-way decent running car" is a good place to start. It's still not likely to get you a lot of responses, but at least it's more realistic.
10) FFS... if you are offering a service, stop posting it as a "Wanted" ad. What you want are customers, not ITEMS, so stop wasting our time with your "Wanted: Wedding Related" bullshit where you actually are looking for people to rent your stupid chair covers for more money than they're even worth.
11) If you are looking for someone to do web design or programming for you, post it in the Gigs section, and be prepared for those of us who do this for a living to laugh our fucking asses off at you when you say you're offering an "internship" or that you can't pay/can't pay much, but are "willing" to let us use your site in our portfolio. First of all, most of us write it into our contracts that we absolutely will be using any site design we do for you as part of our portfolios. You aren't doing us any favors... you're asking US to do YOU a favor because you're too lazy to take any of the multitude of online courses that teach HTML, CSS and php at such an easy level even my 98 year old grandmother could learn it. Secondly, we know damn well that if you're posting an ad on CL, you aren't in any position to make good on promises of "future payment when product takes off." We've been at this a long time, most of us make a good portion of our money off of freelance work, and we're not nearly as stupid as you think we are. Do you ask your surgeon to take out your appendix for free, too?
12) So you're going to be a mommy. Hooray! Let me offer my congratulations! It's completely understandable that new parents may not have the money for extras like a baby swing, a high-end stroller, pretty room decor, etc. Nothing wrong with asking for people to sell you their gently used items - when my kids grew out of their stuff, I sold it cheaply to other new moms, everyone was happy. If, however, you are sitting down to write an ad about how destitute you are, how you can't afford diapers, how you need a free crib and swing and port-a-crib, and stroller, and bouncy seat, and bassinet, and christening outfit, and clothes, and car seat, and they should all match and have pink bunnies with little green froggies...and...and...and... then really, the ad you SHOULD be writing is "seeking responsible family to adopt..." And that, my dears, comes from an adult adoptee who is typically pretty anti-fucking-adoption "in general." Namely, me.
13) Stop signing your begs with "god bless." Why? Because in so doing, you're screwing yourself. Those who would react positively to such a comment are the types who would offer you help even without the added "god bless." But you make some major huge assumptions about your audience when you add that little line, mainly, that they are all/mostly Christians. This is the internet - and on top of it, this is Michigan. It's a good bet "god bless" isn't viewed as positively as you might hope, and that a whole lot of people who might otherwise have responded with offers are going to click right back out of your post. Not because they are anti-god, or anti-Christian, or whatever - but because they see through your bullshit. They know damn well you've tacked that on hoping to play on the sympathies of "good Christians everywhere." They know you don't mean a word of it, that you're using it as a way to manipulate others. Knock...it...the...fuck...off. The people you ARE fooling can't help you. The people who are NOT fooled, can help, but won't. They may not be Christians, but they don't like seeing Christians manipulated any more than they like seeing it happen to anyone else.
14) If you need help to not get evicted, not get your lights shut off, etc. - sure, you can post an ad asking for help. Who knows, someone might actually respond. But you have a better shot if you take matters into your own hands and start looking for other ways to get those bills paid. Put up a request on http://www.modestneeds.org - be prepared to PROVE your need. Go through your house and sell every damn thing you don't need - all those DVDs, your TV, your stereo, your MP3 player, your cell phone, your laptop - whatever it takes. None of those things will do you a damn bit of good without a roof or electricity, and you can live without all of them and so much more. Sell your shit! Stop expecting someone else to come rescue you. Oh, and here's a tip - when someone emails you and questions why you haven't sold your computer and shut off your cable/internet, don't lie and tell them you're posting from the library. When you email them back, they're going to check the headers on your email and run the IP address - they're going to know you're a Comcast customer, not posting from a library ISP. People don't help liars, particularly those who don't help themselves.
I'm sure there are other points I've forgotten, and I reserve the right to edit this as needed to include them.
If my laptop wasn't our only source of income via my programming and web design, it would be gone like most of our other shit is. My husband has been out of work for months, we don't qualify for any sort of state aid, my medications alone are costing us $300+ and I've actually taken a couple of those stupid "I've got $25 and I need a website today" jobs just so I could buy fucking ramen, bread and peanut butter to feed us. So I GET IT...I understand just how bad it is.
But fuck, have a little dignity people.
P.S. I think I hurt the feelings of a few of the beggars... keep flagging, kids... I know the truth hurts.
- Location: Everywhere
- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests