One thing about craigslist and freecycle which can be quite frustrating is that about half the people are (consistently) flaky! Come on! If someone goes through the trouble of listing something for free and putting it in a bag for you to pick up and you say you want it, the least you can do, if you say you want it, is to actually come and pick it up, if not today, then tomorrow. Even worse, those that post under WANTED and get an offer and then flake out.

The problem is not only that but sometimes you have more than one person who wants something. You tell number one that he can come and pick it up, but he does not show. So you write a mail to number one and tell him he lost his chance and you’re giving the item to number two. This has never gone beyond three strikes for flakiness, but it is annoying trying to coordinate.

I have, therefore, adopted a couple of strategies to avoid this.

First, if someone posts something under WANTED, then rather than replying to the person, I post the item under OFFER. This gives others a chance too and it gives me a greater chance of actually getting rid of the item.

Second, if several people respond to me, I send out a mail to the first 3-5 persons giving them my address and telling them that whoever gets here first gets it.

Third, freecycle seems to be a fairly limited group of people. Therefore I tend to give preference to people I have successfully dealt with in the past. I tend to notice if they want something I have and then if they offer something that I am interested in, I will offer to bring them what they just wanted. This saves a car trip and makes everybody happy.

These strategies avoid most of the problems dealing with flakes.

What do you guys think?

Originally posted 2008-09-25 00:51:50.