Looking back, when we blended our household with my husband’s parents a year ago, I wonder how any of us survived. As products of the Depression years, Tim’s parents kept everything. Trying to convince them to part with a stack of birthday cards from 40 years ago was a major effort, let alone pushing them to let go of their “high quality” furniture — worth a lot of money.
Yet we managed to donate, or pass on to the family most of it, and what has remained has been taking up space in the garage, where the cars should be. This is of great import as we are entering the “hard winter” we see in the Pacific Northwest. With this in mind, we attempted a garage sale a few weeks ago. So desperate I was to get rid of lamps, kitchen knick-knacks, books, and my dining room set, I just let the garage-salers set their own price.
When this did not work to rid us of these treasures at practically give-away prices, we took advantage of an opening in the lockdown to send stuff like decades old stereo equipment, picture frames, and lamps, and anything we could pile into the car to the local Goodwill. This pretty much left us with the “big ticket” items like a dining room set.
It is a good set. Vintage Thomasville with a few scratches here and there, but otherwise in great condition. I sent out feelers to the local consignment stores, which, while interested, did not have space for a large table (with extenders), six chairs and a buffet. The next brilliant idea was to place it online to the various sites like Craigslist, LetGo, etc.
This is where being a naive, generally honest person can take it in the shorts. No sooner did I post the photos and price for this once-in-a-lifetime find than I had a response. This person was so eager to complete the deal, it practically took my breath away. Cue alarm bell #1.
“Wow,” I thought to myself, “this person must need a dining room set in time for Thanksgiving.” No coming to check out the goods; no dickering on price; just make the deal.
I suppose I should have listened not only to my inner self, but to my spouse, who couldn’t understand the whole thing. The person wanted to send us a check and have some movers they hired from UHaul pick up the set after Thanksgiving. Cue alarm bell #2.
Needless to say, in my exuberance to empty our garage so I didn’t have to listen to my husband complain about the problem, we agreed that we would sell the set as long as we received a cashier’s/bank check in lieu of a personal check. No problem on their side; they were happy to comply.
What follows next is still a puzzle to me. My phone went off in the wee hours of the morning, four days before the scheduled transaction was to take place. This person texted to let me know the check had been sent via FedEx overnight and the movers were scheduled to arrive the day after Thanksgiving. They even provided the tracking information. Then they added this:
I would pay the movers their fee and they would take the furniture. Even my foggy brain thought this odd, and rather than awaken Tim to share this tidbit, I went back and forth with this person endeavoring to figure out why in the world we would pay for the pick-up and delivery, or, stranger yet, why they would pay for shipment before they received it.
I was assured that the check they were sending was more than enough to cover the purchase of the furniture as well as money for the movers. When I asked about the amount of the check it was a really odd amount. Taking out my cut, the movers would receive $1,111. This was so totally out there even by my standards that I knew I was being taken. I let the buyer know that I had never heard of such a fee and that I would be returning their check as soon as it arrived.
They weren’t at all happy and threatened to report me to the FTC.
The check arrived within hours of my early morning conversation, and it was promptly sent back to the sender, unopened.
My take-away from this experience is that online buying and selling is great if one sticks to sites that keep the participants responsible, those like eBay, and I will continue to use these marketplaces. Unrestricted sites like the ones I used to unload my dining set I will use only if I want to give it away.