If you want to know how I upgraded from this:
To this. Then read on.
I like Craigslist.
The brilliantly simple classifieds are a wealth of information. It is so effective in fact, that it may be responsible for putting print newspapers out of business. But then again – dinosaurs don’t live forever.
One intriguing section is the ‘Free’ section where people list things they want to unload in a hurry. There may be several reasons for this:
1. These are things that they can’t bear to throw away, but they don’t want to keep them.
2. They are too lazy to bring them to the charity donation center.
3. The items are so junky that they cannot be donated.
4. A move out date is rapidly approaching and their place needs to be cleared out.
5. It is time to flee the country and live a non-materialistic life.
Generally, the things that are listed do not have much value: old planters, used tires, construction debris, obsolete appliances, animal food leftover from a deceased pet. You get the picture.
On rare occasions, valuable items may be listed by someone just wanting to get rid of something. When this happens, it is like the internet version of a mad gold rush. Emails fly in and phones ring non-stop (if you are crazy enough to leave a number). Being first to the punch is often the deciding factor when this happens. Just be the lucky one who sees the ad seconds after it is posted and slam out an email saying, “Pick ME!”.
When I spotted an ad in the Craigslist Free section listing a perfectly functional Sony Wega 35 inch flat screen CRT television complete with purpose built stand, my interest was piqued. This TV retailed for about $2000 when new and has stellar picture capabilities. The ad was near the top of the page, which meant that it was a recent post – probably less than 15 minutes old.
That being said, the ad had been once edited already. It said, “over 50 people have already contacted me about this offer”. I smelled a challenge; and it would be exceedingly nice to replace the tiny old-school TV in our bedroom (whose remote control disappeared long ago). Our community had just upgraded to digital cable and we couldn’t really take advantage of this with the old TV. Boy that big beautiful set would be nice in the corner….
Considering there were already 50 people who had replied to the ad, what were my chances of actually getting the listing person to choose me as the person to give his valuable television to? Pretty damn good, as it turns out.
Craft Relationships With Care and You’ll Get the Deal
I put myself in the shoes of the guy who made the listing. Having to sort through that many replies can be burdensome; I wanted to make it easy for him to say yes to my offer.
This is the actual text from the email that I sent:
My family would LOVE to have a television like this.
I would love to be able to come and get this from you. In an effort to make it as easy as possible for you, I would be willing to come at exactly noon with a couple strong backs to remove it quickly and smoothly from your place.
I know how heavy those units are, so you don't have to worry about me showing up underprepared. I'll have all the muscle I need to get it out and I'm a very good mover of heavy large items, so it should be simple to do.
My goal is to make this as painless as possible for you if you'll let me collect it. I'll even bring over a nice bottle of wine for you as a thank you.
If another time ends up working better for you, just let me know and I'll accommodate you. I can even come by tonight if that works. Feel free to reply by phone or email.
I know you've gotten a huge response from this, so you might want to eliminate your ad, or you'll continue to get more. The way to do that is to click on the publishing link that craigslist sent you to post the ad.
Kerry Ward (phone number)
Notice that I made it clear that I would be very easy to deal with. I knew the TV weighed around 200 pounds. In his listing he said he wanted it picked up at noon the next day and that he had a bad back, which would prevent him from helping in the process.
The total amount of time I took to write this email was just a few minutes. I pressed the ‘send’ button and promptly put it out of my mind. I was not attached to the outcome, but it would be nice to have an upgraded TV like that.
20 minutes later my phone rang. The conversation went something like this:
“Hi I’m calling because you replied to my ad about the TV.”
(Surprised) “Oh yes, the Sony. That is a nice TV.”
“Do you still want it?”
“Yes, of course.” (Somewhat suspicious. Too good to be true?)
“Can you still come and get it tomorrow?”
“Yes. Is noon still good?” (Who can I call to assist me?)
“Okay then, you can come and get it tomorrow.”
“Will it be just me coming? Or will there be bunch of people coming and whoever collect it first gets it?”
“No just you. I’m letting you take it.”
“Oh, I see. I know you had a huge number of people contacting you.”
“Yes, I’ve gotten more than 75 emails now. Yours was the ONLY one that anyone actually put any time into. It showed me that you cared enough to do that, which I liked. The others were mostly one line, ‘I’ll take it.’”
The lesson here for me was that even that simple email I put together is MORE than what most people will do. I took the time to create a little mini-relationship in the email and that made my email stand out among the 75 others he got.
I was easy to deal with. He knew that I would be sensitive to HIS needs and that I appreciated what he was doing. I thought about him – rather than myself. And it paid off. It can for you, too.
When I picked up our new Sony Wega TV the following day, I followed through and gave him his bottle of wine.
The TV worked perfectly and has a beautiful picture, thank you very much.