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The Perilous Space Called Facebook Marketplace
Participate at your own risk.
The hardest part of moving is All. The. Stuff.
I can’t be the only one who’s had that dream of just…piling everything into a heap — furniture, clothing,
books, toys, and basically anything you’ve outgrown or don’t remember owning — and setting everything on fire. Or taking all your outdated electronics and just running them over with your car or going to town on it with a bat, Office Space-style. It’s amazing how much clutter can accumulate in only two years. I’ve already tried Marie Kondo-ing our closets and it still doesn’t seem drastic enough.
Another obstacle is trying to get rid of items that are new enough to spare the garbage can, but big enough that keeping them can’t be justified, considering the length of time we intend to be on the road. These include couches, bookshelves, beds + frames, and any piece of furniture that can easily be re-bought at IKEA. It can also be things you have many of. Not sure how we ended up with four smart TVs, but we sure aren’t keeping all of them while we town-hop over the next few months.
For this, we decided to put whatever we can sell up on the interwebs. My first instinct was to use Craigslist exclusively because we’ve had luck with it in the past, but these days, the place to hit up for good quality second-hand things is reportedly Facebook Marketplace.
Before anything else, my mild OCD brain needed to fire up Google Sheets and list everything we could possibly sell. I looked up how much they are brand-new right now, how much we paid for them whenever we bought them, and how much similar items are selling for second-hand. This helped me decide on a starting price that made the most sense for every item on our get-rid-of list. This process is incredibly laborious but is definitely worth it if you want to get the most bang for your buck.
We’ve sold three items so far for prices that are more than what we expected to get for them: a 4-year-old sleeper sofa we bought while living in Singapore, a pair of 6-year-old side tables we got for the first home we bought in Pittsburgh, and an 11-year-old TV we purchased when the J-Man and I first moved to the US from the Philippines. And it’s such a high! Now I understand why a lot of buy-and-sellers do this as a side gig. It makes me want to sell everything we have, honestly. Anybody interested in an old Wii video game console? A treadmill? A 2019 Hyundai Elantra GT? Let me know.
The thing is, buyers with good manners seem to be few and far between when it comes to Facebook Marketplace. It may have been my mistake for putting “or best offer” in my item descriptions, as opposed to the J-Man’s go-to, “lowballers will be ignored”. The result is often people offering to pay less than half the price I listed items for.
I’ve always sucked at haggling. As in, I feel uncomfortable asking for a lower price for things. If I do, the most I can do is offer half the price and then immediately say yes to the price the seller comes back with. I guess I’m naïve in thinking that whatever price they settle on — as long as it’s lower than the listed price — is a good deal.
Haggling, I feel, is an in-person skill to employ. It feels weird to do it online because I can’t take cues from people’s body language or facial expressions when they are presented with a price cut attempt. There’s also the element of time to consider — I feel like haggling in real life is only effective for a couple of seconds. Having to wait an entire day for an online seller to get back to you with a counter-offer seems a bit lackluster.
Being on the other side of a haggling attempt (especially online) is equally awkward, in my opinion. As a seller of a used item, it’s annoying to me when someone throws out a seemingly arbitrary low amount, hoping I’d say yes to it. I guess I’m offended mostly because of the amount of time and effort I take to make sure I price my items correctly. I also feel kind of shitty when I have to tell a person “no thank you” to an obviously terrible offer.
I recently listed one of our newer TVs (bought in 2016 but still in excellent shape) on Facebook Marketplace and a bunch of people tried to lowball it. I just left them hanging. One person agreed to the listed price (I even threw in a newish Roku stick!) so I felt vindicated for not caving into any of the earlier hagglers. Day of pickup, I messaged him at 5 PM (which is the time we agreed for him to arrive at our home) to ask if he was close and he sent, “What’s your last price on everything? I found another seller of the same exact TV for (a lower price than mine) and I am picking it up right now.” I found it incredibly rude! Before I could think of a response, the J-Man grabbed my phone and responded with “good luck” and proceeded to take the TV back to our room.
That whole thing was bogus, right? As a buyer, sure, he is entitled to go with the best deal he can find. He didn’t have to pressure me to match his price. He could have just said, “Sorry I won’t be able to come for the TV, found another deal” and that would have been the end of it, no harm, no foul. What really got my goat was the last minute-ness of it all. I got zero heads up. He could have told me hours before the pickup so we didn’t have to take 30 minutes to clean the TV, test and make sure it worked disconnected from our WiFi, and prepared it for an in-person demo. It was a complete waste of our time.
What is considered good online second-hand shopping etiquette?
As sellers, our plan is to do a reverse auction of sorts, which the J-Man says is a pretty fair thing to do. We’ll set a price and see if anyone bites. In a week or two, we lower it if we get no nibbles. Rinse and repeat until we hit the jackpot. Everybody comes out ahead — they get a deal, and we get a price commensurate with the time and effort it took me to research how to properly price it. Also, I make it a point to take good and detailed photos of the items, and even more detailed descriptions, especially of any defects. Note to self: Edit “or best offer” to say “Price listed is final, no desire to haggle”. Is that too rude? Any suggestions on better phrasing are welcome.
As a buyer, unless the seller says they are willing to haggle, keep watch on the items you wish to purchase and only make contact when it hits your desired price range. Don’t make commitments you don’t intend to keep. Give ample heads up if you really have to renege on an offer you already made. Don’t be late for item pickup.
TL;DR: Facebook in itself is already a complete shitshow. Be a good netizen and don’t be a dick on Facebook Marketplace.
See ya later! 🤟🏼