Everyone by now has heard of Craigslist. Many people around the country have used it in good faith, searching for or posted an item, service or job listing. What started as a free online service for identifying San Francisco area events has now become a full-out turf war for market share and sales. Competition is fierce in many of the service areas but perhaps none more than for junk cars.
Look in the automotive section in Craigslist for any major US city and you will see a multitude of similar looking ads posted several times daily, asking you to call the same phone number. This practice is referred to as “spamming.” Other ads simply link you to fake websites which then direct you to national online junk car buyer websites. These ads are generated on a daily basis all over the country.
So how does this fight for market share impact the Craigslist consumer, the junk car seller who is looking for the best deal for their wrecked, old, worn junk vehicle? The consequence of this all activity is that the junk car seller must be particularly diligent to find local buyers in the great sea of spammers and national companies. Everyone offers free towing. Local buyers tend to have lower overhead costs and therefore can make higher offers while maintaining a profit margin. Local buyers are also tied in more closely with the local economy, recycling efforts and public safety. For the best deal, sellers should wade through the ads and get offers from businesses with local phone numbers. National buyers have higher overhead and often try to pressure sellers to take low offers because their costs are higher. They sell to salvage yards who end up crushing the metal after pulling just a few key parts. Local buyers can instead use a network of local buyers who invest in fixing up or parting out the vehicles. The end result is a higher offer for the seller.
Perhaps the national buyer companies need to look more closely at the TOU themselves. While not currently pursuing their options legally, Craigslist has put all users on notice through their TOU that violators will incur a fine of $25 in liquidated damages for each occurrence of a prohibited posting. For some of these spammers and national buyers who are posting 10-20 time per day, that adds up to quite a chunk of change. Local companies may one day have a better shot at their own local markets on Craigslist after all.