Did the title of this column grab you attention? There are few titles so full of intrigue and potential as the one that announces something to be sold. For several years, I have bought and sold via newspaper, radio and internet classifieds, therefore I probably have no more expertise in the matter than you. However, this week I want to talk about the classified advertisement, both the good and the bad.
Let’s deal first with the bad, there’s a lot of it. The worst offense is the negative assumption. This is when someone includes the phrases “no tires kickers” or “only serious buyers” that are almost designed to scare-off potential buyers. My thoughts are that a everyone “kicks the tires” metaphorically as a way to see what condition the item is that is for sale. Also, how does anyone know if they are a “serious buyer” until they know if the item for sale is in good shape and therefore saleable. I liken these phrases to those uttered by a scorned lover who has been hurt before and therefore wants to hurt someone else. “Best offer” is another phrase that puts me off; do a little work and find out what is the value of what you have for sale; this isn‘t an auction. No price at all seems even worse as it just guarantees the buyer a wasted phone call to a seller who has no idea what the item is worth or just wants to give a long sales pitch prior to breaking the bad news. Also, make sure the items works or else advertise the fact it doesn’t.
One seller’s game I dislike is when you arrive to pick something up and part of what’s for sale is missing. I have seen this in the past when I purchase a farm implement and the hydraulic cylinder is missing. You can’t operate machinery without the hydraulic cylinder so it is not a working piece of machinery, it is only parts. Recently, I picked up a snow blower for my tractor and my salesman said that the power take-off shaft was not included. I mean, what did he think he was going to do with a disembodied, greasy p.t.o. shaft that was more important than what I and the manufacturer of the snow blower had planned for it. I did get the shaft (pto shaft, that is,) after a little haggling.
The good of classifieds is that almost everyone is honest and decent. If you trust people and take them at their handshake you will almost always be happy. I don’t know who quoted “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but this evidence of real intelligence tells me they should have written classified ads. A picture, when possible, shows; honestly, transfers responsibility to the buyer for judging condition of the item and shows the seller is open to answer the questions a picture creates. Don’t put anything in a classified ad that you wouldn’t want your parents to see and you should be okay.
I have more to say about classified advertising but we just got the paper and my wife is done reading it, that means it’s my turn. Might be something good under the section marked, “for sale.”.