There is a trick to getting more money when you sell stuff on Craigslist, but because of it’s ethically questionable nature I have kept it a secret up until now. I have considered whether or not to publish this trick since the very beginning of this website, but up until now have decided against it. Today, I reveal the trick.
How people figure out how much something is worth
Before we get to how the trick works, we must first look at how people decide how much something is worth. Pick anything in your house that you might someday sell on Craigslist and ask yourself how much it is worth without comparing it to something else.
How much is my used desk worth? I’m not really sure. What about the used KitchenAid mixer in the kitchen, how much would somebody give me for that? I don’t really know the answer to that one either. How about a month’s worth of streaming video from Netflix, how much is that worth?
People figure out how much stuff is worth by comparing it to how much other stuff costs. I paid $50 for the desk in my office. I have no idea if it is worth that or not, but it seemed like a good deal when I compared it to $190 for a new desk, or $40 for the other desks that were listed on Craigslist that weren’t as nice as the one I bought.
I paid $75 for the KitchenAid mixer that my wife told me she wanted. Why $75? I don’t really know, except that it seemed like a better investment than $250 for a new KitchenAid Mixer.
And what about the Netflix streaming service. I pay about $8 per month for that which I only think is a good deal because it costs much less than the $50 per month I would otherwise pay for cable.
The point of all this is that things don’t have intrinsic values, but their value is based on comparing how much we want them to the cost of something else.
A practical example
What does this mean? It makes sense, but how do we use this information to our advantage. To answer that question, lets look at Netflix. When you select your plan on Netflix, these are the options you see:
So the 1 screen plan is $7.99, I’m not really sure if that’s a good deal or not. The 2 screen plan is $7.99, wait…. the 2 screen plan is the same price as the 1 screen plan? That’s a great deal! I’ll buy that right now!
Because people base value on comparisons, the 1 screen plan is just a decoy. Netflix doesn’t care if they sell any 1 screen plans or not. They just pretend to offer it to make the 2 screen plan seem like a great deal so that more people will sign up for one of their services.
How to get more money on Craigslist
Now that we see how big companies like Netflix use this trick to make more sales, let’s talk about how we can sell things for more money on Craigslist. Let’s imagine you have listed something for sale on Craigslist, but you haven’t had too much interest in it yet. Your ad looks like this:
Widget for sale, $100. This widget is in great shape and works perfectly, with very little cosmetic wear and tear. The widget is 2 years old and has been carefully used by adults in a non smoking home.
Is $100 a good deal for a used widget? Nobody knows. But if there were another ad that made your widget seem like a good deal in comparison, then you would be able to sell your item much faster and probably could get more money for it. So since Craigslist ads are anonymous, what if you created a second fake ad that looked like this:
Im selling this hear widget and lookin to get $150 for it. I had the thing for 5 years, but it still works purty good. ITs scratched up quite a bit from where my dog gnawed on it but you can stil use it just fine. It smells a little funny and I dont no where thats from but if you wash it off it shouldnt smell or nuthin. If you wants to buy it I only want cash or will trade for a mud flaps with a confederate flag on them for my truck cuz I been wanting some of themm. You can meat me in (insert name of bad part of town here) after I get off work at 10pm.
See, now your widget seems like a hell of a good deal. Not only is your widget less expensive and in better shape, but from the bad grammer and sound of that guys ad, I am pretty sure I don’t want to do business with the fellow that wrote the second ad.
Does this actually work? Yes. I won’t go into further detail, but I can assure you it does indeed help you sell.
So you can make a little extra money and sell your stuff faster on Craigslist if you make up fake listings. Should you?
Is this legal? I’m not sure. Does it violate Craigslist’s terms of service? Yes.
There is very little chance that anyone would catch on to this trick, but maybe it’s not the best idea, anyway. First of all it’s dishonest, and I try to avoid lieing whenever I can.
The other reason it may not be the best idea is because it damages the market. What makes Craigslist so great is that it creates such an efficient market for second hand goods. Having so many different items for sale at fair prices with no transaction fees makes it very easy to find what you need on Craigslist. An efficient market leads everyone to use the market.
This kind of dishonest behavior hurts people’s trust in the market, and leads them to believe it is rigged. People not trusting the market pulls people out of the market and damages it’s efficiency.
So what do you think. Is it worth damaging the market as a whole for you to earn a few extra dollars?
Creating fake Craigslist listings of items similar to yours, but not quite as good and more expensive makes your item more attractive and helps it sell. But, that’s just plain dishonest, so maybe you shouldn’t. I’ll let you decide.
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