Craigslist: It's... Useful?

We all love Craigslist.  Well, we all really enjoy it.  Kinda like it?  Use it?  Does anyone even care about Craigslist?

I suppose everyone does, even if we don't want to admit it.  Craigslist, like Ebay, is one of the internet's magical, infinite and terrifying flea markets.  You never know what you'll find, which means you can find anything, but it also means performing the debilitating task of sifting through the pages of unwanted garbage.

Craigslist crept into our lives so long ago, I don't even remeber when I first became aware of it.  We went from not having it, to "Well, have you looked for it on Craigslist?" almost instantaneously.

For some of you, the gears in your mind might be churning, trying to determine what about Craigslist is so important.  Okay, I'll play along and take gander at all the best sides of the website, but I'll also be pointing out all of their shortcomings.

First one...

"You can find things they don't sell in stores anymore."

Yes, but you can do that on many other, more reputable sites.  On sites like Ebay and Amazon you can at least see a seller's rating, and you will actually know if the thing you want is actually what you want.  You'll also actually know if they still have it.  Try defending Craigslist after you've driven forty minutes to an hour to look at something, only for the seller to say, "Oh, the other guy who wanted it was already here.  It's gone."  And no, he won't bother remebering to call and tell you before drive all the way out there.


"You can get things much cheaper on Craigslist."

 That depends on what you're buying.  While Ebay and Amazon can be expensive to shop from, so can Craigslist.  This is especially true when people go to Ebay to determine what the price of whatever it is they are selling.

First you spend hours sorting through all the irrelevant listings to find the one thing you're searching for.  We'll pretend this thing is a Playstation 3, because that's all I can think to use at the moment.  You finally find one that actually appears to be functional, but it's much too expensive for being in used condition.  Then you spend a few more hours trying to contact the seller.  And finally, after it takes him half a day to check his e-mail, his reply to is, "Well, I know it's going for this much on Ebay, so I don't think I do it for that price."

What do I care about the Ebay price?  I'm trying to get it a deal here.  If I wanted to buy from a stranger for Ebay prices, I would use Ebay.  At least then I can know the seller's rating and if I can trust them.  No, on Craigslist you deal with people without knowing anything about them, and hope it pays off in the form of a low price.  Craigslist would enter the Myspace-levels of internet irrelevance if we had to pay full price for everything.

And finally...

"I found my car on Craigslist, and it was a great deal."

Okay, you got me there, but only slightly.  Yes, it's not impossible to find a good used vehicle on Craigslist, but the hassle will probably leave emotional scars that last longer than the vehicle itself.

You can get lost in that site for months, just trying to find the vehicle you want.  You have to ignore repeat listings of overpriced junkers, any title that isn't clean, and all the obvious scams (Seriously though, the scammers don't even try to sound legit.  At least put some effort into it.).  Once you've spent a couple of weeks doing that, you'll finally be ready to waste three hours driving to the middle of nowhere to see the vehicle, haggle with a complete stranger, and spend another hour of uncomfortable silence in a notary.  Congratulations! You've just spent at least a large chunk of your savings on a used car, truck or boat!  Better start saving back up for when it inevitably breaks down.

There we go, I've said my piece on Craigslist.  The site is an option, but you and I both know it should be our last one.  


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