Feb 26, 2011

Online-offline Selling and You

In other words: *list. Sure, it's just a step from newspaper classifieds, but the fact that it's free - and easy - attracts a much higher volume. Pick any private classified section (i.e., not "legal notices" or "real estate") in your local litterbox liner. Count the ads.

Flip over to your local *list site. Find the same section and count. I'll bet you a stale donut there's several times if not an order of magnitude more.

Is it a good way to find a buyer for your stuff? Absolutely. I've sold all kinds of crap online. Old optical drives. Movies. Decoys. Cameras. I've bought all kinds of crap online too. Antiques, oddities, a gun, etc.

There's been one common theme about those things, though: they're portable.

The anonymity of *list works both ways. If someone is trying to do you (or anyone, really) harm, a gmail account is free and a pre-paid cell phone is $30. With those two things, I can be anyone I wish.

Remember all the advice you've heard over the years about meeting people from teh innertoobz? Take a friend? Meet in a public place? Just because you're not meeting this person with the intention/hope of swapping bodily fluids doesn't mean you shouldn't take the same precautions - or even more. You're going to be bringing cash to this deal, and in some instances, quite a bit of it. (I sold a camera for a few hundred bucks, I bought a rifle for about as much.)

Regardless of whether you're buying or selling, safety works both ways. Every time I've sold something, I've suggested meeting in a public place. The parking lot of a shopping center, a local coffee shop, whatever. When buying, I've tried the same approach, but some sellers don't want to go to the effort. Their choice - and if things sound hinky, don't be afraid to back out of the deal beforehand.

Going to someone's house to buy something? Take a friend, and preferably two. One should ride on your belt and say something like, "9x19mm," and the other should be flesh-and-blood and wait in the car while you do your transaction. This isn't paranoia, it's preparedness.

Occasionally, however, you're going to have to bring a buyer into your domain. Example: today I sold a washing machine. There's no way I'm going to load it into my truck and take it to the mall parking lot to show to a "maybe" buyer.

So how do you get ready for that? Have whatever you're selling in a "public" area of the house. Don't tromp someone upstairs and into the bedroom to look at a bed frame: have it in the den/dining room/kitchen and ready to go. Put away ANYTHING that could be considered "easy taking". Wallets, keys, cameras, purses, laptop bags, etc. Make a quick look around and try to make some effort to keep people out of sight of the "hard taking but worth it" targets: nice AV equipment, the desktop computer, or the gun safe.

If you can have two people home, then do it. The second person doesn't have to be involved, just around with a phone nearby. Make sure you've got the OTHER friend handy - and if it's practical, a bigger friend is not a bad idea.

Don't leave your buyer unattended inside - not even for a second. It's simply asking for trouble. If they ask to use the bathroom or a glass of water, deflect. "Sorry, we're having problems with the septic and can't run any more water than we absolutely have to." "Our water is terrible - lots of sulfur." Improvise!

Today, selling the washing machine, I had about twenty minutes warning that my buyer would be here. I made sure the washer was in the front room, ready to go, the closer on the door was removed (makes the door too narrow), the electronics were as put-away as possible, and the gun safe would be as much out of sight as possible. I had my normal carry piece on, but also made the 870 "cruiser-ready" - full magazine, hammer DOWN on an empty chamber - and slipped it in the hall closet.

As my buyer left, I made a note of his license plate. Do I expect any problems? No. But if something were to happen here in the next week or two, he would be Name One to give the police.

It's not about distrust, folks: it's about knowing that you are your own keeper.


Old NFO said...

Excellent post Zer! It is once again attention to details (yours and theirs)... Last year there were a LOT of robberies in Oakland, CA using just the set up you mentioned- And since you can't legally carry in CA, lost of folks got robbed by the gang running the car for sale cheap scam.

Jon said...

First time visiting your blog, I believe. Followed a rabbit trail from Lagniappe's Lair. Good safety pointers for buyers and sellers in this post.
Good choice of reading material in the Honor Harrington books. You can find nearly all of them as electronic files on the Baen CD ROMs that come with some of the hardbacks.
And, as a fellow Weber fan, you'd be welcome to come live in Boise. My wife and I migrated here from Oxnard CA 25 years ago, and haven't regretted it...much...the cold weather is getting a little old as my joints and I get older.

The Steel Bookshelf

Well Seasoned Fool said...

First time visitor from Old NFO link. Good tips.

Wilson said...

Well written and very informative post. A lot of good advice in here for anyone that will take it.