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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Efficient Use of The Online Marketplace

Let's say you are tired of paying retail prices for everything you buy.  It may be because you are a bit low on funds.  It could be because you like getting deals regardless of how much money you have.  It could be because you want to choke off the flow of tax dollars to the free-spending politicians in your state capital.

They are all good reasons.

But how do you do it so you're not spending hour after hour clicking through online ads that have little to do with what you're looking for?  There are a number of ways to focus your search for just what you want, and allowing you to quickly search a number of sites.

First, you have to decide where you're going to look.  For me, I have 4 sites I check:  Craigslist.org, Freecycle.com, PennySaverUSA.com and Recycler.com.

Let's start with the big-dog, Craigslist.  It clearly offers the most options.

Let's say you're in the market to buy some Silver Rounds - one ounce silver bullion coins.  Most people will go to their local Craigslist (CL), click the "for sale" section and key in Silver Rounds.  You're going to get every single ad in the "for sale' area that have the word Silver or Round in it.

I just did this on the SF Bay CL and got 25 hits.  It included golf, airsoft guns, fabric, DVD and computer listings.

When I put the search as "silver rounds" - the phrase enclosed in quotes - it dropped it down to 9 hits, all of which were related to my desired purchase.

What if I hit a dry hole, and didn't get any items?  If you notice, in the lower right-hand corner, there is an RSS feed icon.  If you click the icon, as soon as an items that meets your search criteria comes up, the ad is posted to your news reader!  It does the search so you don't have to.

What do you do if the person with the item mis-posts it in the wrong category?  Or what if they are offering something in the Gigs, Community or Jobs sections and you don't want to have to search in every single category?

Google to the rescue!

By keying in a simple search string, you can find what you need anywhere on the site.

In our example, I could key in:  "silver rounds" site:sfbay.craigslist.org

It would give me every posting in the SF Bay edition of CL that had the phrase "silver rounds".  If I wanted to narrow my search to just the East Bay area, I would put in the string:

"silver rounds" site:sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/

Note that there is a space between "silver rounds" and the word "site:".

This same technique can be used for Penny Saver and Recycler as well.  It won't work with Freecycle, as they require a Yahoo Group account to access the information.

As a side benefit, you can post for free on all of them for goods or services you offer (although Freecycle you must give your stuff away).  You can make some bucks as well as saving some!

Accept The Challenge

Whenever possible, when you must make a purchase, give one of the listed sites a look-see first.  You can find virtually anything you want to buy (except for guns and ammo), usually at significantly reduced prices.

This IS an unregulated market place.  Caveat emptor (Buyer beware) is the rule. 

NEVER send money in any form through the mail - you'll likely get burned.  ALWAYS try to consummate the deal in a public area, especially if you are carrying any sizable amounts of cash.  This is not always possible or feasible, so when you must go to someone's home, bring someone else with you.  Don't risk your life or health to save a couple of bucks.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates. www.BisonRMA.com

2 comments:

theotherryan said...

Wifey haunts the craigs list and other comparable sites for deals. By looking regularly she gets us great deals on stuff sometimes. I like Amazon and Ebay. Of course buyers must beware but Amazon and Ebay are a lot less risky. A guy with a 98% positive rating on Ebay and 12,000 sales is probably legit.

The big thing you've got to remember is to figure in shipping when applicable. Saving $20 on something and then paying that much or more to ship it is false economics.

Chief Instructor said...

I use ebay when I need near perfect assurance that I'm not going to get ripped off. Usually if it is gold or silver bullion, or a big-ticket item.

The guarantees ebay provides, plus the feedback system are excellent.