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.┬áBut 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.┬áThe 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?

  • I can’t believe she tried to open the door!! That’s crazy, I would be freaked out. Good thing your friend was over.

    I’ve considered selling things on Craigslist before but always got lazy at the thought of having to wait for someone at a coffee shop and having them not show up.

  • That is insane! You must have been selling something really snazzy for her to go through all that trouble!

    I once had a man short me $20 on a sale, but I blame myself because I didn’t count the money in front of him. I thought it was a rude thing to do, so I just never did it. After that experience, I count money right in front of the person before handing over an item.

    I understand your trepidation at not wanting to sell things online again, but you should try not to let one negative experience ruin them all for you. Unless it was furniture, I never told people where my apartment was. Instead, I usually drove to a business right up the street to meet them. That’s one alternative to having them come to your apartment.

    But I have to admit I love the feeling of unloading stuff as quickly as possible so much that I’ve stopped selling things on Craigslist too. Instead, I donate them to Goodwill all in one big batch, and then I don’t have to think about any of the stuff again.

    • I once had someone short me $5 too but, as you said, that’s our mistake.

      I don’t want to let one experience stop me from selling things online but, for what I have left, I think I’m just going to donate it all and call it a day. If I do sell anything online again, I will definitely be doing things differently.

    • Oh! I should’ve added that. It said that she was sorry she’d missed me and hoped she could come by again the next day. YEA. RIGHT.

      • I was about to ask the same question, so I’m glad to see someone else did haha.

        That is super creepy. I’ve sold and bought things online before, and even gone to someone’s house to sell something before – but I’ve never had a bad experience. Usually I meet the person in a public place (out front a Starbucks or something), and after reading this I think I am ALWAYS going to do that!

        Did you hear from her after that?? I have such a big mouth I probably would have sent her a message saying I was home but had company and the business window had passed and “OH MY GOD are you crazy for TRYING TO OPEN my door… next time I call the cops”. ha.

        As a sidebar, I very often used to leave my door unlocked when I was home. I’ve done it in every house I’ve ever lived in (even when I had lock-loving roommates), my parents always have done it (except at night), etc. Then, in my last year of college the little brat kid who lived upstairs and the even MORE bratty kid from down the street knocked on my door and asked me to turn my music down as it was “scaring their sister”. Okay, whatever. They stayed too long, were annoying, and tried to come into my house. After that, I found my door open once – thought I forgot to close it, then one day I caught them IN MY LIVING ROOM. They had OPENED the door and WALKED IN! Like honestly… I was irritated more than anything, but I was also worried – they get hurt, trip, drink my booze, whatever – I’M in trouble, right? So I started locking my door. They would knock on the door, try to open the door, generally be annoying even AFTER I threatened to talk to their parents, and, on one occassion DID. I loved that house, but was glad as heck to leave. Now I keep my door locked when I’m at home, in fear of bratty children. Ugh.

  • Yikes, that is really weird.

    I probably would have answered the buzzer instead of ignoring it and told her either that she was late so I wasn’t going to sell to her or that I’d sold them to someone else. And if she argued I’d threaten to call the cops (and then do it). Confrontation is unpleasant but it would have been a shorter interaction than listening to her trying to break into an apartment! I would have been petrified.

    • Yea, a huge part of me felt stupid after for ignoring her but, then finding out how weird/creepy she was, I know I made the right choice.

  • I can’t believe she just sat there and knocked every once in awhile- any logical person would assume you weren’t home after the buzzer wasn’t answered (especially if they were late for a meetup, what if you had gone somewhere?), but to follow someone into the building and then knock is creeper behaviour. I’m SO glad you’re ok though, and glad that you contacted the police as well. To knock over and over is one thing, but to try the door is quite another!

  • um.. wow. That is so scary. People can be so scary though. I heard a story from a friend about someone that listed a computer on kijiji, and when the guy came to buy it her brought a GUN and ended up robbing the apartment taking the TV, XBox, etc etc — and of course the computer, without paying for it.

    I’ve only sold thing online through ebay, so I’ve always mailed it out. I regularly buy things from kijiji but I’ve always met the person at a local Starbucks or whatever.

    What did the note say?

    I’m surprised you let her sit there so long, I would have called the police!

    • She said sorry she missed me and hoped she could come by again the next day. Later, I sent her an email saying I was inside and heard everything, including her trying to open my door, and if she came back I’d call the police. Never heard from her again.

  • That’s weird beyond words. I know some people that sell stuff online but refuse to give their home address and insist on meeting at a neutral location to prevent just this sort of thing. Of course that reduces the convenience of selling your stuff by quite a bit….

  • Yikes! THIS is why I lock the door compulsively the second I walk in the door. Hubby gets irritated if we’re going to leave again shortly, but…yeah. There are creepy people out there.

    One night in college, we were watching TV at hubby’s place, and someone actually opened the door. He said “oops, sorry! Wrong apartment” and shut it, but I immediately locked the door after that…maybe he really did just have the wrong apartment, maybe not. Several weeks later, we also got notes from the management (I lived in the same complex) saying that several residents had reported stuff being stolen from their apartments, but there was no sign of any break-ins. This happened in a lot of complexes near campus around that time, apparently someone was just checking if doors were unlocked, and walking right in to take stuff. Scary.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’re okay, and that you lock your door!

    • Ok, that would’ve scared the crap out of me! Thank goodness you guys were home, in case he was planning on ransacking your place.

  • AHHH. I’m scared for you! I never lock my door when I’m home, but I will be from now on after reading this. What if she was successful in getting the door open? Who tries that hard for a craigslist item? I’m creeped out.

  • This is awful!
    What did the note say?
    All correspondence with people who I do not know personally goes through my PO box, it is worth the expense.
    I hope you are safe and sound!

  • I’ve sold a few things on Kijiji but I tell people I will deliver to them (as long as its local) that way no creepers know where I live and start oogling my big screen tv. Then I make sure I go with someone to deliver it and only stand on the doorstep -I don’t enter anyones house. might be over-cautious but I’m a fraidy cat so thats what I do!
    All in all – creepy & I’m glad you weren’t alone!

  • That’s just…weird. And scary, of course!! So incredibly glad you weren’t alone and that you ALWAYS lock your door. I would definitely have called the police. Sorry that selling your stuff put a bad taste in your mouth. (I’ve always sold items when my roommates were around, but I’ve never lived alone.)

  • I can’t believe this! I understand that maybe she thought your buzzer was broken or something which is why she went upstairs, but *to try and open the door*?!?! That’s so crazy.

    I always lock my door the second I get in. BF is always like “take your shoes off first, stop worrying so much” but with the crazies that are out there these days… Oh my…

  • How awful! I”ve never sold anything online and this is the main reason why. I agree with Katie/Red that Goodwill donations are so satisfying and relieving! And you’re helping others while decluttering. Can’t beat that. Also, to beingirene–please rethink what you do, as far as delivering your items to others. In my town, two people did that recently, and were attacked and held at gunpoint when they arrived at the supposed buyer’s house. Be careful!

  • Wow that is creepy! I am paranoid so I always lock my doors, and good thing you did too! I have sold stuff on craigslist but always opted to meet up in public places.. I don’t think I’d ever invite buyers over to my house especially after reading your story!

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