How to Sell Your Clutter Online

That was going to be the title of this post. In it, I was going to tell you to take pictures of your items in good lighting, say only positive things in your write-ups, and (especially for those who live alone) never let anyone come to your door. I was then going to suggest you to meet people at the front door of your apartment building, or meet them somewhere busy (like a coffee shop or a grocery store) if you’re in a house. But then last night happened. And now I’m never going to sell anything online again.

Yesterday, I was expecting two women to pop-by at 5:30 p.m. and buy separate items. Around 5:35 p.m., the first woman showed up. She ended up not having the correct change, so I went back up to get some, and after we had a short and sweet conversation. It was a great sale and it put another $5 in my pocket. The other woman never showed up. I’ve had that happen a few times so far, so I assumed I had been stood up and lost out on the sale. It didn’t really bother me though, because other people had written about the item, so I planned on replying to the next person later.

Around 6:00 p.m., a girlfriend came over with pizza and beer and we settled in to catch up and watch some crappy old TV. We were laughing over old episodes of the Big Bang Theory when all of a sudden my buzzer started going off. I checked the clock: 6:45 p.m. I ignored it, because that’s another rule for me: if someone shows up much later than expected, I don’t answer. First, because they wasted my time, and second, because it’s always made me feel uncomfortable. If someone can’t show up within 30 minutes of an agreed upon time, I don’t sell to them.

After a few ignored buzzes, and some “who does she think she is, showing up so late?” type remarks, there was a knock at my door. And another knock at my door. And then another knock. When you live on the top floor of an apartment building, it’s almost always unexpected to hear someone knock on your door. But after you’ve just ignored your buzzer a few times, it’s downright scary. My girlfriend eventually got up and looked through the peep-hole, to find that the girl who “looked to be 20-something” had sat down in front of my door. She was waiting. For the next 15 minutes, there were periods of silence and periods of knocks.

And then I heard the scariest noise someone who lives alone can ever hear: the squeak of your door handle turning. She tried to open my door at least half-a-dozen times. At one point, you could even hear that she was putting her weight into it. I stopped breathing. Both of our hearts were pounding. I knew she couldn’t get in, because I always lock my deadbolt, but that didn’t make it any better. She was still trying…

Eventually she stopped, tossed a short note under my door, and left (buzzing once more, on her way out). But I didn’t feel any better after. At first, I felt foolish for ignoring her. Then I was thankful for ignoring someone who was willing to open my door without permission. In the end, I took down all the other listings of items I had for sale online and decided to donate the rest. I’m happy the sales I made put an extra $40 in my pocket (then on my credit card debt) but I don’t think another $40 is worth a possible repeat of that situation.

Have you ever had a bad experience selling something online?

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