Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Commenter Musings: Craigslist vs eBay

DT Editor's Note: We enjoy featuring Commenter of the Week awards, but sometimes a comment from one of our regular readers is so well put together that it demands is own post. So here is Kaibeezy's comment to an anonoymous poster who pointed out that the Amazon we featured had already been on craigslist.  Just read it for yourself.

It's an interesting, almost philosophical question: whyfor CL versus eBay? certainly there's overlap, but the venn diagram seems relatively clear:


The "death by stabbing" PV544 vs. a nice ebay listing from Oprah85 for another PV544.

CL
- primarily local audience
- free and easy to post
- clear distinction between owner and dealer sellers
- no shipping issues
- minimal oversight and rules

eBay
- national and even international audience
- structured postings, better filter and sort options
- fuzzy distinction between owners and dealer sellers
- shipping
- buyer and seller protection, lots of rules
-DT ed: cost is a factor as it can cost several hundred dollars to sell a car on eBay.

No doubt there's more to it - but the stories should generally fit:
- eBay for rare, newer, unusual and/or higher value cars
- CL for more fungible and/or lower value cars

Other factors can skew it: laziness, comfort with one site or the other, not wanting to deal with callers and people dropping by - the size of the metro area is probably a factor too, with big city CLs covering a diverse enough market that sellers can reasonably go either way, whereas in small metros unless it's a very usual car you might have trouble ever finding a buyer

This is where flippers come in - when a car is on CL but really should be on eBay (or on a used car lot for that matter), and the seller doesn't want to deal with it, the flipper spots it and moves it upstream - if they can resist the temptation to futz with the story and the car, and don't get too obviously flippy about it, none of us will probably mind, and even would call it a service - on the other hand, like with that green peugeot from a few weeks ago, we get a bit indignant

Anyway, that's how I see it from putting a bit of time and effort into this activity - your perspective may vary, and I'd be interested to hear it.

Original content written by DT regular reader, commenter & tipper Kaibeezy.

10 comments:

  1. As someone who live in an area with, for reasons unknown to me, an active Craigslist community but almost zero eBay (classic car) action, I enjoyed Kaibeezy's analysis as always, and I had never thought of how the two distinct markets have created an opportunity for CL to eBay flipping.

    The lack of local selection on eBay baffles me, because there is no shortage of classics on the road in the summers in Alaska, which was a pleasant surprise to me when I first arrived. I've seen E-Types, Sunbeams, 60's Porsches and VWs and many other rarities in addition to the standard American muscle zipping around Anchorage. As well, the 49th State Street Rodders Club has a really active schedule and hundreds of cars come out for their annual show on Anchorage's Park Strip, so it's clear the cars and enthusiasts are around.

    For proof of the lack of listings (and yes, we are deep into winter here but summer seems no different), there is currently one car Alaska in eBay Motors' classic car section: a '57 Porsche 356 tub (no engine, glass, interior, or right hand door) for anyone who's interested. I'm not currently in the market for a classic, but I do peruse the Anchorage CL for kicks, and have found the occasional curiosity that I ended up submitting to DT.

    I'd be interested to read in the comments from anyone in the know why AK sees such little activity on eBay classics.

    Thanks Kaibeezy and the rest of the DT community for all the great and insightful comments. Keep them coming.

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    1. I think Kaibeezy's comment about no shipping issues also affects HI which also suffers from a similar shortage of listings of classics on Ebay. PPIs and Shipping become an issue. I think Alaska also suffers from 'fear of rust' syndrome, when in reality many of the sports cars you described were well cared for and driven only occasionally because of the short driving season you described.

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  2. Took a quick look at the AK and HI CLs. Yep, pretty ordinary stuff. It's got to be a matter of isolation and shipping. New cars include enough profit for the dealer and manufacturer to cover the high shipping costs. How are the "new" older and more interesting cars going to get there? Individuals who want them have to eat that cost. I'd bet most of the classic cars in Alaska circulate by word of mouth and never even make it to the driveway with a "for sale" sign.

    Compare to what I could do living in the Bay Area, easily hauling a barn find from Fresno, or driving a desert rat back from Tucson after a weekend checking it over and refreshing the tires, brakes and fluids. Frankly, Wichita isn't too far for a perfect patina boattail Riviera 50-years cared for by a retired Cessna machinist.

    Got to wonder what a well-chosen truck- or boatload of classics would fetch on the first (only?) warm summer afternoon in Anchorage.

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    1. You could arrange to have a boat sail up to AK with a cargo hold full of classic cars and sail home full of fresh whale meat and otter pelts.

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  3. Hopefully this will improve the Craigslist experience a bit.

    http://www.jewelorjalopy.com/buying-tips/craigslist-cars-trucks-section-changing-for-the-better-tomorrow/

    For most of us bargain hunters, Craigslist is where the fun is. For those that just want a good car and don't want to spend hours searching, eBay is probably better. You pay in time or money.

    Cheers,
    Ian

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    Replies
    1. I just hope this rule change doesn't drive all of the dealers into the "By Owner" category like 90% of them do already. I may have missed it, but is there anything stopping them (short of the current reader-policing-poster flagging system) from doing this?

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    2. I'm sure that's a concern, and one that they are trying to address. The dealers have to live by stricter rules now, but it is still up to us as consumers to flag them. If it really gets bad you can report a dealer to the DMV. In most states if a dealer tries to pass themselves off as just an owner, the fines are big including losing your license. If enough get dinged then they'll play nice.

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    3. greetings, ian!

      spoiler alert: CL will now be charging $5 to post cars for sale by dealer - concur, and they should do it for owners too - it really would knock out the super-annoying multiple postings, people who can't figure out how to make a payment on the internets, and ... can't think of anyone else - that's good! but we'll see - myself, i click on "by owner only" and never even look at dealer ads

      interestingly, the fee is so low as to not create a barrier in-and-of-itself, as $30 to post 6 times is not going to stop all multiple postings by a dealer - what seems more likely is that it's about making people go through the extra payment steps over and over - an example of the "nudge" concept - in relevant part from Wikipedia:

      Choice architecture describes the way in which decisions are influenced by how the choices are presented. It is in arranging the choice architecture in a certain way that individuals can be nudged in a certain way without taking away their freedom of choice. A simple example of a nudge would be placing healthy foods in a school cafeteria at eye level, while putting less healthy junk food in harder to reach places. Individuals are not prevented from eating whatever they want, but the arranging of the food choices in that way has the effect of decreasing consumption of junk food and increasing consumption of healthier foods.

      in that spirit, got to wonder if there could have been a way to do it for free, which could more easily be applied to the owner sellers - maybe require the VIN and only allow one posting per car - they could show part of the VIN lookup result, which if it didn't match the car would make the ad look bogus - just spitballing here

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    4. ~ an interesting discussion, this is. being in the throes of breaking a long time addiction to both craigslist and eBay i am walking a tightrope here. my wish is that the 'nudge' or pay-for-play advertising will change the cl game. however those the large volume [or large margin] dealers who are are willing to break the rules, can afford $5 X ? X infinity. and others may simply ignore the rules, as the parts, scrap, and used tires dealers have. flagging has become a monumental chore that i do not care take on anymore. hopefully the solution can evolve from where we stand now. when craigslist was less well known and commonly used policing the abusers was handled by 26 people in and a small office and Craig Newmark himself oversaw customer service. that's no longer possible and Craig's energies are spread over many, many social justice and philanthropic causes. fraud seems rife it can only be detected and thwarted by a diligent, cooperative effort. the VIN idea has great potential but administering that system might involve some cost. craigslist does not want to be beyond local, and does not want to be become more like eBay, despite minority ownership cl by eBay, [28%, as i understand] only will tell, but i didn't actually intend to reply to previous comments but to speak another aspect of the two mediums, their overlap.
      [continued]

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  4. ~ i did want tell my personal experience with overlap, and i'll try not to be so wordy. when i found the Converse 5.o Volvo 745 i'm now driving it was listed on eBay in central Michigan. having just been brought out of a month long comma in a hospital in St.Louis i wasn't going to unplug and go shopping. instead i searched craigslist in surrounding areas and came across the local listing. i learned a little more about the car as well as the cash asking price. after a dialogue with the engineering student who had completed the build i made an offer 10-12% below the ask and the auction ended. when it arrived it was clean as a pin, detailed to a fault, and we have remained in touch for the intervening years. knock on wood.

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