Online Buying and Selling – bargain hunting or a twisted social experiment?

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We live in an age of unfathomable technology and information. The world is, quite literally, at our fingertips. We can be sitting on the couch watching Seinfeld reruns, pick up our phone and place an order for a George Costanza bobblehead figurine from another country and have it shipped to our doorstep in time for Festivus. At the touch of a button we can live-chat with friends and family from across the globe, or connect with total strangers and build new friendships. It truly is an amazing time to be alive. Unfortunately this technology combined with our love of “stuff” has a dark side. A deep pit of maleficent activity where even the most pure of hearts can be destroyed in seconds. If you ever feel that humanity is doing well and that mankind is progressing forward towards utopia, armed with a level of knowledge and intelligence that has never before been imagined, then simply visit an online Buy and Sell page; you will be brought crashing back to earth as you realize that people can really be senseless imbeciles.

I realize that this is a pretty strong generalization to make about the human species but to be fair, anyone who has spent any amount of time trying to sell something online will be in full agreeance with my assertion. Where else can you put out an ad for a red bicycle and have no fewer than three people (people who somehow manage to function in daily life) promptly proceed to ask what colour the bike is. They walk among us – and they make me want to hit my head on the desk. BONK BONK BONK.

For whatever reason, people seem to stop reading immediately after the item headline. In fact, often they don’t even make it that far; perhaps they just needed a nap. You can put all of the information that anyone could possibly want – Make, model, size, colour, age, price, serial number, history dating back to the day it was made in a third world factory – but regardless of that, someone will skip over every detail and start throwing out questions that you have already answered.

Your ad: “Fits 2003 to 2005 Chevy pickups only”

First response: “Will it fit a 1972 Dodge?” BONK BONK BONK

 

Your ad: “Extra Large – I bought it for my German Shepherd but it’s too big

First response: “Will it fit my Chihuahua?” Well, maybe if little Pedro is crossed with a Woolly Mammoth, but otherwise I’m gonna say “no” – BONK BONK BONK

 

The frustration of trying to answer questions from people who can’t be bothered to read can be offset by the humour of reading other people’s for-sale ads. Being a ‘professional salesperson’ I always get a chuckle out of some individual’s attempts at writing a sales ad for whatever item they have deemed expendable in their life. Some of these ads are intentionally humourous (and kudos to those people) but some of them try far too hard to convince me just what a bargain their item is. Some of the common catch phrases that I enjoy are:

“I just want it gone” – no, no you don’t. If you just wanted that old pee stained mattress gone it would be free. You want it gone plus $50.00.

I just want what I paid for it” – Well isn’t that a special deal. If I wanted one for what you paid for it, I would go to the store and buy one for what you paid for it. Thanks anyway.

Save the taxes” – again, that is not much of a bargain there, Edith. I don’t like taxes any more than the next person but if that’s the only difference between a new one from a store with warranty or scraping the cat hair and your kids Popsicle stains off of your prized possession, I will stick with the new one thanks.

Woman driven / ridden / owned” – these ones always crack me up, and not for the stereotypical (and incorrect) “women can’t drive” discourse. When it comes to things like bikes, snowmobiles, cars or other motorized vehicles, there are many women who have tons of talent and use their recreational products to the absolute limit of its engineered design. If you think that “lady owned” means the item you are shopping for hasn’t done a second gear smokeshow through the parking lot or cleared a 70 foot tabletop jump, you’d be wrong. Also, if you’re using this as a marketing tool, stop it. It’s not 1950.

Trades only, won’t sell” – this one always perplexes me. What if someone offered you a million dollars? Would you sell it then? Of course you would, so we know you’re a liar already. These ads are usually followed by a completely unrealistic trade value request so I suspect they are just hunting for a sucker. Example “1983 widgetmobile, rusty, doesn’t run. Won’t sell, trade only for Ferrari or possibly the Hope Diamond”

There are other fun filled areas that could be noted, such as those annoying people who feel the need to point out that they don’t like the product you are selling or why they think the price is too high. Even worse are those people who say they will buy something and then don’t show up to get it, but those people are not even worth discussing – They are the online equivalent to the black slime inside of an old toilet tank; just leave it covered and pretend it’s not there and you will be much happier. Most of the problems with online Buy and Sell pages could be alleviated if both the buyers and sellers paid even the tiniest bit of attention to what they are actually reading or writing. The concept is easy: Sellers – write down what you are selling with enough information for the buyer to be interested and Buyers – actually read this information and decide if you want to purchase the item. It’s really not rocket science. Now if you will excuse me I’ve got a guy on the line who wants to trade some white wall tires for a bag of used Tupperware lids.

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