bad, bad cl experiences

lynn_r_ctApril 22, 2014

Last year I decided to purchase a used CL sectional for our "family room". No one ever uses the FR ever, but... Scouring the CL I found a somewhat generic sectional (read won't clash with anything) for $250. Went that day and it appeared in great shape. Old-er woman said she had it in her formal living room, only used it on holidays and was down sizing and that she didn't smoke. Said she washed them in the washing machine once a year and they came out great. She insisted I pay cash - of course.

Once home I ran some of the cushions through the W/D, Don't you know there was enough "lint" to clog my filter in my dryer. When you held the cushion covers up you could see through them. I immediately called the lady up and she blamed me for the "way" I must have washed them. Said I felt lied to and said I wanted my money back - I would give her back her disgusting sectional. Her comment was simply "what money? You didn't give me any money?''

Screwed.... Can't be the only one out there that has been mislead - could I be???

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Annie Deighnaugh

The assumption on buying anything used be it a car or a shoe, is, it is sold as is. Doesn't matter how much puffing the seller puts in his words, it's on you to check and verify that it is what it is and is worth the money you pay. If the seller warrants the product, then get that warranty in writing with a signature and a date.

Your only recourse in the future is to insist that you get a receipt for the transaction, keep documentation of any written words in the ad, video tape the transaction and be prepared to go to small claims court if you are unhappy, and even then, you may not get satisfaction.

But a sectional for $250 ain't bad...if you like it enough and the frame is sturdy, get it slipcovered or reupholstered and you can get your money's worth out of it.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 4:55PM
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You washed the sectional cushions or the cushion covers?

When I buy on cl, I examine the item carefully first. I would never expect to return anything I have bought on craigslist, even if it fell apart when I got it home.

We buy and sell on craigslist. No bad experiences so far.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 5:02PM
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In any case unless they are a specific type of slipcover, most cushion covers are Not supposed to be washed in a machine, whether they have a zipper on them or not. (That is generally the tidiest way to finish off a manufactured sofa cushion, not meant as a means of removing them). You are lucky they didn't fall apart completely or come out so distorted you couldn't get them back on. I don't care if the previous owner washed them or not.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 5:20PM
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Let the buyer beware. Lesson learned. Glad it didn't cost you any more than $250, not that $250 is chump change.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 5:25PM
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used couches are a bad bet from any source, imo

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 5:26PM
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with CL, expect the worst and be thrilled when you're pleasantly surprised.

I learned to never, ever buy anything mechanical from CL. Too many scoundrels there and no accountability or recourse.

Furniture should be okay, but you definitely have to check it over thoroughly, sit in it, etc. I drove a long way to look at a sofa for the porch. I told the guy I didn't want to drive all that way to find it was cracked or anything so could he assure me there was no damage to the sofa. Yes, he could.

HUGE crack in the frame once I took the cushions off. I don't doubt for one second that he knew about it.

Trust but verify. Or better yet, with CL, don't trust AND verify.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 5:26PM
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If that happened to me I'd be so disappointed!!!

My "worst" CL experience was that I bought a small sideboard type of furniture and probably overpaid for it. The ad said the piece was "rosewood" (IDK what that actually is) but when we saw it IRL it was actually some type of streaky-stained dark reddish wood -- possibly faux wood -- with corroded/stained hardware and hinges. The inside appears to have reclaimed wood with flaking paint, some plywood, and the doors feel plasticky on the inner side. It's so weird, like frankenfurniture or who knows what.

I think they were asking $80 and I offered $60 or maybe $100/$80. Despite how ugly the finish and the inside looked, I liked the style and I liked the dimensions and I thought we could just use it until I had a chance to fix it up.

I still like the style etc, but haven't fixed it up. We store all kinds of stuff in it and I love it, but I think I overpaid (and overestimated my ability to fix it up in a timely manner).

This post was edited by melle_sacto on Tue, Apr 22, 14 at 17:35

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 5:32PM
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My worst experiences have been as a seller.

I sold a refrigerator to a woman who said her previous one had mysteriously stopped holding the temperature cold enough. Ours was working just fine when we unplugged it two days before the sale so I could clean it out thoroughly and move it to the dining room for the kitchen remodel. After her mover picked it up she called me and claimed mine had exactly the same problem as her old one. I figured either she had an electrical problem in her house or she was nuts or lying, but I also figured she had my address. So I told her she could have her money back if she came to pick it up but I wasn't taking the refrigerator back. She never contacted me again.

I also had someone say they would buy an item, not show and then when I switched my ad to free because I just wanted the item gone, email me and ask me to hold the item for him for free. Whoa, there's nerve!

And I had someone who missed the pick up window and then sent me two really demanding emails about rescheduling it with no apology for missing the first appointment.

My purchase experiences have all been fine. But I have low expectations, inspect closely and never pay much for anything off Craigslist.

My favorite use of Craigslist is to post stuff for free as a curb alert with no way to contact me. Love it when my junk disappears with very little effort on my part and hopefully is getting reused somewhere instead of in a dump!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 6:27PM
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My dryer filter clogs with lint from lots of things so I don't know if that really tells you anything. Chances are those covers were not supposed to be washed and even so what is the problem? You can see through the fabric? Well, I would guess that is true for a lot of things if anyone actually looked.

I have purchased furniture including a sofa and chairs on CL. No issues and they were great deals. $250 for a sectional is a great deal in my area.

You should not feel cheated. Put the covers back on the couch and think about the great deal you got. Your sofa is clean so, no worries. : )

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 6:30PM
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I won't do it anymore unless the alternative is throwing it away.

The last thing we tried to sell was a piece of Renaissance Revival furniture. The potential buyer asked for multiple pictures, made and cancelled more than one visit to come see it, and ultimately decided not to get it because in the photos the finish did not look like "an exact match" to the other piece she had. Even though she verified the decorative carving on the front was thematically identical. I mean how close of a piece of antique furniture did she expect to find for practically nothing?

My experience has been that most people who want to buy something from me on Craigslist want me to give it to them for nothing, communicate with them endlessly about it, and be there whenever they may or may not feel like showing up to get it. I would actually almost rather throw it away,

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 7:26PM
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I feel very fortunate with my CL experiences. After getting an insulting offer from a car dealer for my late husband's very nice truck, I listed it on CL for slightly over the Blue Book price. Within minutes a man called who lived just a few miles away. We met in a neutral location and his wife was with him. I sized them up, and moved over to the passenger's side and let him drive the nearby roads. When we returned, he offered me a little less than I was asking, I countered, he accepted. I ended up getting exactly what I wanted and he was thrilled to get the truck. I was sad to see him drive away in that truck, but I know it found a good home, and I was $10K in the plus column.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 7:50PM
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Wow, the originator of this thread scares me because I was planning to list a number of things on CraigsList prior to our upcoming move. If that's typical buyer behavior, maybe I should forget it. Buying a used piece of furniture for a cheap price and then calling up the seller and complaining that it was used and that it produced lint??? Um... What exactly is her complaint? The seller didn't manufacture the fabric, so if it's thin that's not her fault. And if it was so used it was literally threadbare, the buyer should have inspected it carefully enough before buying to see that.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 8:09PM
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Maybe it was chenille -- doesn't that stuff totally come apart in the wash? Our sofa cushion covers are microfiber suede ... they appear to be the most durable part of the sofa!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 8:19PM
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Oh My. With a former upholstered sofa (cream background, floral) I did take the cushion covers off a couple of times, knowing they weren't supposed to be washed and the zippers were for a tight finish of the loose pillow style.

Never the dryer, in fact, I did a Woolite/cold wash, hung them, put them back on barely damp. Stood them on end on towels to finish drying. And even then I would take all the skin off the backs of my hands trying to insert the cushions and get all seams straight. If I'd put them in the dryer, they'd have been useless, I'm pretty sure of that.

Still, I'm sorry you had a bad experience.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 8:43PM
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I have a sofa and loveseat I got from Macy's about 15 years ago. I guess the fabric is twill but it reminds me of heavy denim. I think they're all cotton. Being a light stone color, it shows stuff. I unzip the covers, take out the pillow, zip them back up and throw them in the wash. Because they're so bulky, I let them air dry most of the way and then fluff them in the dryer.

I don't enjoy stuffing the pillows back inside the covers, but everything turns out firm and clean and sweet-smelling. So, sometimes you can get away with it.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 9:42PM
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Ineffablespace - I know what you mean about the endless communications. I post a photo, a description, and a CHEAP price. What more does a buyer need to know without actually coming to look at it with cash in his/her pocket?? And the flake factor with actually coming at a specific agreed-upon time. I try to avoid giving my phone number so I don't have to deal with a blow-by-blow of how their day is going and multiple updates about when they will actually come.

Selling my car was the worst. People wanting to sniff the engine, do test drives, and waste my time. A WORKING Volvo for $500 with detailed photos and description. Either you want it or you don't.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 10:09PM
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Mick Mick

My bad cl experience ended with the buyer coming to my door with the police. She wanted to force my hand on a return transaction by intimidating me. I am not Nordstrom. You buy it. You bought it.

Don't ever give your phone number, always use google voice or another disposable/anonymous number. Avoid having the buyers come to your home.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 11:47PM
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Lynn_r_ct, I'm very sorry you had a bad experience. Since the woman told you she'd already been washing the covers, I can completely understand your wanting to wash them before you used the sofa in your home and your disappointment in the result. I would have checked the fabric content before doing so, but my background is in textiles, so that's the first thing I would have thought when she told me she'd washed them. Though my Mom had a sofa that she washed the cushions on delicate and they came out wonderfully, no all upholstery fabrics would wash as well. An uncle of mine own dry cleaners and told me that some things that are labeled dry clean only are often better machine washed. It's expensive for the manufacture to pay for testing of their fabrics so they stick a "dry clean only" label on it. Sad, but true.

Though $250.00 for a sectional sounds like a great deal, the problem is that you were lied to. That's wrong, any way you look at it.

The sad thing is, that CL is no longer the great place to buy and sell used items. There are so many in such desperate need for money, that they'll tell you anything about what they want to sell just to get your money. I blame the unemployment rate for much of it and for those that bought more than they could afford and are selling things to get out of debt, pay the rent or feed their family. Though I've always been careful when buying and selling on CL, I've noticed in the past four or so years that it's not worth my time because of those that are not honest. Not saying they all are bad, it's just not worth the time it takes because there's enough that are crooked.

Many towns have their own for sale sites on facebook. If you want to buy, I suggest you search fb "for sale in your town" and only buy from those that use their real name to join the sites. Only use sites that have strict rules, still be cautious and you should be fine.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 11:53PM
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I lurk here sometimes and just had to share this tip my mother taught me years ago for filling pillows and cushions.

To put the cushions back in the covers easily put the cushions in a big clean garbage bag folding the opening end over and under the cushion. Slip the cushion in the cover folded end first, it will slide in easily, then pull the garbage bag out and zip it up.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 12:14AM
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I might have WASHED the covers, but I surely would NOT have dried them in a dryer.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 1:22AM
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Justgottobeme, I too have a background in textiles so I was not going into this blind. The fabric was of a chenille type texture, sturdy and appropriate for an item of that type. I did wash only the covers, which should have been no issue, I have a chenille couch and wash and yes, dry the covers every few months as needed. But maybe I didn't make myself clear but, not only was the filter loaded, the lint was all in the dryer. Took me forever to "crawl" inside the dryer to get it out. When I said you could see through it, I don't mean in little patches here and there but within the weave and waft, those threads were almost totally gone. When I say you could see through them I meant dinner plate sizes.

Like a few of you mentioned, it is always buyer beware - I get that. I was buying this from a 70 yr old woman from the suburbs - nice house even. I really hate being lied to. Obviously she was not being honest about the use of the sectional and her washing the covers. If she had been, in my world of "do unto others", she would not have said "You did not give me any money". Planned on dumping it back on her lawn but found that would be trespassing so drove it to the dump next day. Cost me $20 to get rid of it.

Still feel cheated, I myself could never do that to anyone. I have learned my lesson. I went and bought an entire kitchen (One town over - very affluent town), of Plain and Fancy cabinets - 5 yrs old-ish, but in great shape. Planned to use them in the laundry and storage area. Owner only wanted $400 for about 14 cabs. This time I gave her a check, clearly marked exactly what they were. Said I would pick them up when she cashed the check. That way she was protected and I had some "proof" if I had to go small claims.

I am working on a somewhat large remodel project. If anything has taught me about dishonesty this sure is, but I digress.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 1:33AM
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partst, clever idea! I will try it next time instead of manhandling the cushions.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 2:10AM
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I'm so sorry this was your experience, Lynn. Her reaction was certainly jolting, too--how disappointing.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 3:24AM
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Is it possible that the fabric was just old and dry-rotted -- to the point where it looked fine but fell apart with a lot of handling? If she really didn't sit on the sofa much, she may not have known this. As my own example, my kids got a little fisher price basketball hoop thing with a nylon net as a gift when they were little. This thing sat in my garage untouched for years -- they played with it maybe once or twice max. I finally dug it out, took pics of it, and listed it to sell. I mean literally, it looked BRAND NEW - the net was clean and white so I listed it as "used once once or twice - in perfect shape". When the buyers came to pick it up, as we were loading it into the car, I bumped the net -- and it literally crumbled apart in my hand. The fabric had been dryrotting, I guess, so even though it looked brand new, it just fell apart into dust. The buyer bought it anyway (for a reduced price so she could get a replacement net), but I felt so bad -- I had no idea.

If this woman was 70 years old, it has perhaps been many years since she actually took the covers off to wash them -- she may have USED to wash them once a year, but maybe not for a while. And in the meantime, maybe the fabric dryrotted and weakened from sun damage or whatever. I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt (though the "what money? you didn't give me any money?" is pretty hard to get past....but maybe at that point she was thinking that you were a crook trying to steal her sofa for free. CL has crooks on both ends of the transaction, unfortunately, and she may have decided you were a flake who was making stuff up.)

At any rate, it might not have cost much to get new cushion covers made from a coordinating fabric instead of scrapping the whole sofa -- I probably would have looked into that option first and just figured it was part of the risk you take buying used upholstery on CL.

Overall, though, I have bought and sold tons of stuff on CL and never had a problem. People come to my house, I've delivered stuff to theirs, met them in public places, and gone to their houses alone to buy stuff. Guess I'm just lucky!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 7:23AM
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I'm sorry you had a bad experience, Lynn!

I'm also sorry for this little hijack, but below is a short video showing how to use a sheet of plastic and a shopvac to make inserting cushions into covers... well, magic! Never tried it myself, but have bookmarked it for future reference. (I found Kim's upholstery videos very helpful when embarking on my first upholstery projects.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Kim's Upholstery video

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:31AM
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Any chance this 70-yr-old has memory problems? the "What money?" part made me think that (along with thinking she had washed it,) but I didn't hear her tone.

Anyway, I would never consider a CL (or garage sale) item returnable.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:40AM
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Holly- Kay

Lynn, sorry you had a bad experience. I would have reacted the same way you did in regards to washing the covers.

I have a business and frequently advertise items on CL. I state "starting at $20". I have had people call thinking they are getting a $100 item for $20 and end up angry. I am now not including any price in the description so I don't unintentionally mislead.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 1:29PM
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My poorest experiences were with mechanical items, too. Never again! One person tried to sell me a vacuum that was missing the part that holds the bag, after I asked about problems and traveled quite a distance to get it.
Another claimed a mixer was in perfect condition, only used a couple of times and being sold because their Oster, with a ton of attachments, was able to be repaired. However, the gear was stripped (inexpensive part, thankfully).

This last transaction took over a month. She didn't respond to an email to meet so that I could see the item, for a couple of weeks. Contacted me later but ignored my, repeated, issue of having to rent a truck to transport the cabinet and I needed more than an hour's warning given the distance.
Then, he was an hour late meeting us (hourly rental) and the cabinet was missing several of the glass shelves. He came down on the price quite a bit because of these issues and I really love the piece, it just was NOT an easy transaction. Nice people, but not organized.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 1:52PM
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Oh my gosh, that shrinking and inserting foam video is amazing! Thank you for posting it, fouramblues.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 2:30PM
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"My experience has been that most people who want to buy something from me on Craigslist want me to give it to them for nothing, "

My experience is that most people on craigslist think their stuff is worth way more than it is.

I've never really had any problems. Have a couple of pieces of furniture from CL, a couple of farm tools, a tractor, etc. Sell a ton of stuff on there too.

I don't hold anything for anyone unless they put down a deposit. That really helps. People don't just not show up when there's $ on the line.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 2:39PM
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Tossing the whole sofa because the cushion covers were ruined in the dryer would be, as my hubby would say, "cutting off your nose to spite your face" I'm sorry you were so upset you felt you had to do that and hope you don't soon regret it.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 2:47PM
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There is no way in you know what, that I am going to defend what this woman did to me. She did not have dementia (my Mom had Alzheimers so I know it all too well). Even if she may have "forgotten" I gave her money, when I said it was for the sectional in her formal living room, all it would take is a glance to realize something wasn't right. And again, I know fabrics so I would not be fooled by something old and rotted.

I am not a cheap CL shopper. I always offer a lower price, just like at the Antique shows (read Brimfield - love it) because that is what is expected. I do not, would not, ever low ball an item so as it is insulting. There is nothing in this world that I need that badly that would cause me to do that. That's what us" do onto others" do.

Getting a 12 X 12 sectional reupholstered would be cost prohibitive in my area. I wound up buying a new one. lower range, from one of a New England chain (Bobs if you are from here - they have 50 stores so fairly well known). I know their stuff is not top notch, but we never ever use it. Honestly don't know why I even bought one.

If I bit off my nose a bit, honestly it was well worth it. Looking at that thing everyday would make me cringe, that someone could lie so much, the loss of money meant less to me. I hate that I fell for her "need to downsize" crap. Re returns on CL - I don't care what it is, if you have been purposively deceived, you have a right to expect that person to accept it back. And if they won't you have every right in the world to be PO'd. I have purchased other items and never had this problem. Actually the new sectional is turning out to be great. Now we all have someplace to put our luggage on!!!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:14AM
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If looking at it would have reminded you of how mad you are at what she did, then you did the right thing in getting rid of it. And really, $250.00 is more than worth getting rid of a reminder to cause one such anguish. In that case I too would have wanted to dump it back in her yard to deal with. Not that I would have, but boy would I have been tempted to. I believe you can turn her into CL at

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:20AM
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We once bought a classic car from a guy who looked us in the eye and told it was his wife's car and how little she used it, "just driving to the grocery store and dropping the kids at school - she's a stay-at-home mom" he said. Yeah, right. I saw the paperwork on his desk - she was a veterinarian in practice with HIM. Liar. Didn't matter because we had the car checked out by a mechanic, we bought it and we loved it for years, but it has galled me ever since that someone would just blatantly lie like that (and about something that wouldn't even have made a difference -- after all, if she just drove it to her office and back, it would have been the same). Grrrr....

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:47AM
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Grrrr, I am with you there sjhockeyfan. If that was the car you wanted and the mileage was good, why did he even feel the need to lie?

A few years back I bought a Kirby (way too heavy but...) on ebay. The seller gave me a tear jerker of a story - her son just started as a salesman with Kirby and his MIL had promised to be his first sale. But then she got cancer and with all the chemo and, the story got deeper and deeper, bottom line is the woman said no one had ever used the machine. So I pay through PayPal and get the vacuum. It was so obvious it was used, between the dust all over the thing and the "stuff" in the bag. A grrr for me moment sj!

Other than that, nothing was wrong with the machine, but with all the emails back and forth about how sick the MIL was, and the doctors and hospitals, I was ticked. Filed a complaint with ebay and they refunded my money. Because the seller had been deceitful, ebay said they would handle it on their end.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 2:08PM
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For those who are ready to give up on CL and just trash their items, I would suggest Freecycle. There may be a group in your area. The one in my area is very active and I give stuff away all the time. reduce your trash and help some people out!

Here is a link that might be useful: Freecycle

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:12PM
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I agree, jules8 - I freecycle all the time and it's a great resource.

lynn_r_ct your entire experience on this purchase is really unfortunate and it is a shame there wasn't some way to prevent such a disappointing - and costly - outcome. I'm another one who has had almost 100% good CL transactions as both a buyer and seller. Perhaps it's luck.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:56PM
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I gave away a ton of stuff on Freecycle when we moved/downsized (and we were brutal about downsizing). We've only been successful selling a few items on Craigslist and I didn't want to throw out perfectly useable items.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 4:22PM
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