I remember the days of trying to win something on Ebay (EBAY) and waiting until the last few seconds before the item ended in attempt to “snipe” the auction. As time evolved, various software tools (none of which I have ever used) allowed you to time the auction in order to get the final bid which ensures that you were the winner and that no one else would be able to place a bid after you. There are still many good deals on Ebay but I feel that the amount of true deals on Ebay are waning due to the continuous increase in fees (which causes sellers to post less items for auction), increase in amount of Ebayers (odds are that the auction you’re tracking is being tracked by many others), and increase in buy it now auctions.
Now we move onto Craigslist which is the most successful online classified website. Ebay even has a 28% ownership stake in Craigslist. Yesterday, I posted a listing in the SF Bay Area Craiglist section for a free 14″ CRT Compaq monitor with accompanying keyboard. Even though these items were easily 5 years old and barely worth the gas to come pick up, I got a reply from a guy named Manny that said he could put the equipment to use and would be willing to pick up ASAP. After exchanging contact information via e-mail with Manny, he came within 3 hours to pickup the equipment.
After talking to him for a bit, he claimed that with exorbitant gas prices that exist, people need to “reinvent themselves and figure out new ways to get by in life.” And he is doing just that. Turns out, after more questions from my part, that he uses a Craigslist software notifier to e-mail him when searches with certain keywords pop up on Craigslist like “free keyboard, monitor, dvd player, television, or cell phone.” He then e-mails prospective people offering free electronics to see when and where he can pick things up. Manny claims that he is a self employed individual and is licensed in California to recycle electronics and gets .25/pound for recycled electronics. On top of that, he has another business set up to sell the better condition electronics that are too good to just be recycled. I find it quite a tedious job and can’t imagine how difficult it has to be to drive around and haul hundreds of pounds of electronics in the back of your van every day. A 100 pound TV to be recycled, according to his payout, will only yield $25, and then you have to deduct the amount of gas to transport everything around and your time to pickup these items.
Some of the Craigslist notifiers I found quickly through doing a fast Google/CNET search were Craiglist Notifier 1.1.2 and Ad Notifier Professional. Therefore if you’re someone trying to snipe some free items off Craigslist, just be aware that there are people who making a living off their free local Craigslist section and it may be hard to come by valuable free stuff (I can imagine free furniture won’t go as quickly due to not being able to get much secondary market value for them). Craigslist is a great free tool to acquire used items, find subletters and roommates, and even locate a new job, but just be aware that people are using this free tool to make a living or some side cash so search accordingly and hopefully you’ll find a good deal even with these Craigslist posting notifiers floating around out there.