Kijiji: What’s the Etiquette Here?

Over the past six months, I’ve been using eBay less and using Kijiji more. I’ve found that eBay is increasingly a home for professional sellers, with jacked up shipping prices, fixed “Buy It Now” selling prices instead of bidding, and it’s hard to search for anything without finding endless listings of knock-off accessories and bundles instead of the product you’re really searching for. Then there’s the whole feedback thing, where I’ve been hit with negative feedback from sellers when I’ve complained to them about their shoddy selling practices. The feedback issue has been largely fixed, but somehow when I browse eBay now I feel like something has gone horribly wrong with it.

Kijiji on the other hand, which interestingly enough is an eBay company, is a completely difference experience. It was created to compete with Craigslist. I’ve never actually used Craiglist for anything, largely because I didn’t realize until last year that it was available for use outside the USA. I personally find it extremely ugly, like a DOS BBS from 15 years ago. At any rate, Kijiji looks great, is a fast site, and works really well. I’ve sold a few things on it, but I’m still pretty new at it.

And so we come to the question: what’s the ettiquette for selling things via classified ads when it comes to fielding multiple inquiries? Last month I was selling a Samsung CDMA mobile phone – it was a few years old, and I just wated to get rid of it, so it was at a fire-sale price of $10. I had six inquiries, one person even wanted me to ship it across Canada to them. One woman said she’d show up to look at it, but never did, and I ended up selling it to another person. The point is, I considered it un-sold until I had the money in my hands. I think of Kijiji like a one-item garage sale – the first person to pay for it, gets it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was selling a motherboard + CPU, and it went much like the sale of the phone: several inquiries, and on Thursday afternoon one guy wanted to come see it on a Friday morning, with the intention of purchasing it. As I was exchaning email messages with him, another guy called and said he’d come and buy it on Thursday night. I didn’t tell the Friday morning guy it was sold, because it wasn’t yet, and for all I knew the Thursday night guy wasn’t going to show up. He did show up, and after I sold him the motherboard + CPU, I immediately emailed the Friday morning guy and told him the products were sold. Friday morning guy got quite irate with me, claming that I wasn’t being fair to him; that he had already re-arranged his schedule to come and pick up the motherboard + CPU, and I shouldn’t have sold it to someone else.

So what’s the proper etiquette when selling items via classified ads – do you stop selling it and pull the ad when someone says they’re going to come buy it? Or is it first come, first serve – the first person to show up with the money gets it? Did I wrong Friday morning guy by not selling it to him?

  • Cold Flame

    Hey Jason,

    Interesting problem, and coincidentally enough, one I was pondering over the weekend. I’ve used Kijiji a few times since it came out to both buy/sell. Thusfar my experience has been mostly great with it, with the exception of a few no-shows for appointments to view items (which really jerks my chain)!

    My neighbour is moving out of the country so I suggested he post some of his items on there (ie: TV, mini-van, etc…) and he was having similar dilemmas. People saying they were going to buy it, but then others made offers that were higher or earlier in terms of time.

    I am of the opinion that with the age of e-mail money transfers, Paypal, etc… there is no reason someone can’t leave a small deposit as good will to say that they do intend to buy it.

    On the flip side, that will just open up more scams from the sellers side (which are already rampant on Kijiji). I guess, ultimately, these things have to be discussed during the intial offer/acceptance period. When we were selling our vacation trailer, we had it “conditionally sold” because someone was coming from Saskatoon to pick it up and wasn’t able to make it for a few days due to the length of the trip. Fortunately he had someone local who dropped off $300 to ease our minds. In the meantime, we had a ton of interest on the trailer, but replied to all that inquired that it was conditionally sold, and we would notify them if the deal fell through. I guess that’s a politically correct way of doing things, but is a potential huge pain in the arse too!

    I can see why Mr. Friday Morning was mad, though I don’t blame you for selling it to Mr. Thursday night guy either. I’m not sure either of you were right, or wrong for that matter! =) Clear as mud?

  • I have sold a few things on Craigslist and what I do is put people in the queue based on when they contact me (phone or email). I then tell those below the first person that someone else is looking at it/may buy it on xxx morning and if it falls through then I will let them know and they are next on the list and so on. I would have told the guy that called on Thursday that someone else already made arrangements and I would call him back if it fell through. If I lost that for sure sell, oh well, there would be others.

    People are quite busy today and fitting appointments into calendars is often a challenge so I actually sympathize with Friday morning guy and have to agree with him.

  • The deposit idea is a good one. I think in my situation, that I probably would put the Thursday guy on the ‘waiting list” in case the Friday guy didn’t pan out since the Friday guy was first in line, so to speak. Of course, it’s like the Friday guy wouldn’t pan out and the Thursday guy would have passed on too. Sigh. It’s kind of hard, like you said.

  • Cold Flame,
    Thanks for the feedback. You’re right about the deposit factor – people could do that if they wanted to, although I think that’s more common on larger, more expensive items than smaller, cheaper items. I’m selling a video camera and the seller wanted to pay me in installments – so I asked him for a $50 deposit, and once he paid that, I pulled the ad off Kijiji and considered it sold…but of course I won’t ship it to him until he pays the full amount. 😉

  • I can’t see anything wrong with what you did, I mean it’s like selling something in the paper, first in best dressed!

  • Chris

    I think you could have notified the Friday morning guy that someone else was considering the purchase that night. It would have given him the option of cancelling, or finding a way of getting there sooner if he was truly interested. I think the first-come first-serve system works really well. It’s god to keep track of the “next in line” people just in case someone is a no-show.

  • Sanscommercials

    PPU – pending pick up.