Woe Is Me and The Ethics of Online Selling

Guess who flaked?

That table that I was gushing about yesterday, the one I planned to stain Pecan and add brass ferrules to, is no longer an option. The OfferUp seller who had committed to selling me said table at their asking price, and going so far as to confirm the date and time of pick up and give me their home address, decided last minute to sell to someone else who offered them more money for it. I would have been perfectly willing to go up in price. I would have held out for a bidding war, but this sorry excuse for a seller decided to go ahead without even coming back to me for a counter. Thanks Jupe for reminding us all of how unethical and petty online sellers can be.

In all honestly, I’ve been put in a similar situation as Jupe when I acquired a lovely mid-century modern desk at auction that I really didn’t have room for. I needed to get rid of it fast, so I put it on Craigslist for $100 and the offers poured in. I had committed to a buyer who had offered me $150 for the desk right off the bat. But almost immediately after I emailed them that I would sell, I received another email offering me $150 as well. I emailed them back telling them that I had already committed to a buyer for the same price, and they whipped back an email offering me $200. I was in a moral dilemma, but since I hadn’t set up a pick up yet, I decided to email the first buyer back and explain why I was now going to sell to someone else. It actually didn’t stop there. It became a bit of a bidding war and the final sale price ended up being $250 – though I don’t even remember now which buyer it ended up going to.

I was surprised it went that far and it was nice to have the extra $100 in my pocket, but there are a few things I can say with certainty. I would not have replied back to that second buyer if I had already set up a date and time and given my address to the first buyer. I also would not have switched buyers for a mere $10 more. I got $150 over my asking price of $100. The seller of this table got about $10 and never countered.

Am I bitter about it? Yeah, can you tell? But I also don’t feel like I’m over-reacting by being angry about it. I think that there is a fine line when it comes to ethical selling on these sites and I think that the seller of that table is on the shit end of the spectrum. If you get anything out of reading this, I hope that it’s to be cautious and courteous when selling your things, even if it’s just for pocket change. When you commit to sell and take the final steps of setting up the pick up, that’s it. You made the deal. If you get other enticing offers after that point, you tell them that you have someone coming to pick it up and that if that buyer flakes they will be the next in line to set something up, because buyers flake too and it’s nice to have a back up. Otherwise, if you are getting multiple offers/emails, tell people that you have multiple offers without committing and I guarantee at least one of those potential buyers will up their price. When you’re not a dick, you always win.

So, now I’m back to square one and considering just forking up the money for the matchy-match West Elm table.


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