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Friday, June 20, 2014

Not all Craigslist buyers are jerks

I'm not kidding, its true. Let me explain, no let me sum up, it's quicker.

About 2 years ago, my brother in law bought a Yamaha Virago 250 with 5700 miles on it for a few of our family members to practice on when they finished their MSF courses. Well, 2 years and 500 miles later the little Virago that could, wasn't. Wasn't being ridden. Wasn't getting any love. Wasn't doing anything but gumming up it's carburetor and taking up garage space. It went to a local dealer for a complete carb rebuild and new battery and the decision to sell it was formulated. I have some time right now, so I volunteered to take it on.

The bike started out pretty clean, only 6200 miles on the clock total, so I rolled it into Kelly Garage Inc. and did a quickie clean up and then took some pictures. I shot the bike from both sides, plenty of details and even took shots of the two flaws the bike had figuring it would be easier to disclose everything up front.


Then I carefully crafted an ad for both Craigslist and eBay. I talked about low mileage. I talked about great condition and runs perfectly. I talked about freshly rebuilt carb and new battery. I disclosed the scuffs on the rear fender from the first owner's use of leather saddlebags and the scuff on the rear muffler from a driveway tip over. No detail hidden. And I put a price of $2595 on it. On the high side, but not terrible for such a great bike with a residual value next year similar to what anyone was going to pay for it this year as their beginner bike.

So the Craigslist comments started. Emails at first:
Does it run?-- Yes, like it says in the ad, runs perfectly
Is it in good condition?-- Yes, like it says in the ad
Is there anything wrong with it?-- Yes, like it says in the ad, a scuff and scratch
Will you take $1200 cash?-- How else would you pay and n0

Then the Craigslist text messages started coming in:
Is it still for sale? Yes, that's why the ad is still posted
Is it in good condition? Yes, just like the ad says
Does it run? Yes, perfectly just like the ad says
Does it leak oil? No, its a Yamaha
Will you trade it for my electric guitar? No way dude
Will you take $1200 cash for it right now? No. And seriously how else do you think you are paying for this?

EBay was not as prolific on responses. But the questions were of a more serious nature, mostly revolving around would I pay for shipping to the east coast. Nope. Sorry.

Then the I want to see it texts started coming in. Most were challenged to create full sentences. More often than not I thought about meeting them in a parking lot rather than my house, but time was an issue. So I had two people scheduled to come see the bike yesterday prompting me to prepare


One potential buyer had me thinking this way, the other seemed cooler. Crappy potential customer backed out and cooler customer showed up, girlfriend in tow. Nice kid, plenty of questions that were relevant to the bike and learning to ride. Turns out he was a recent MSF grad and was doing it the right way, versus the cool guy way, and buying a small bike to really learn on. We settled on a much lower price, $2150, because he seemed a good guy and impressed me with solid thinking. We talked about maintenance. We talked about gear--he needed all of it and wasn't going to ride until  he had it. We talked about how a year from now this bike could be for the girlfriend to learn on when he steps up. He asked if I could ride it to his house so it would get home safely--rather than him risk the freeways.
I went into my gear locker in the garage and pulled out a helmet and had him try it on. It fit so I gave it to him to help him get started on the proper gear deal. We talked about buying in local stores versus internet for the rear of the gear. I explained how the pricing may well be cheaper on line, but building a relationship at a small, independent shop might be helpful as a beginner with a bike he may need service on in the future. The best part about him? He listened. He actually wanted the advice and took it in.
I rode the bike to his house and in the car on the way back I told him how impressed I was with his desire to get started riding the right way and offered to serve as a mentor to him. He had my number, he seemed a good kid, it seems the right thing to do. I'll let you know how it goes.