x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Confessions of a Dubizzle and Facebook seller - part 2

Selling belongings in the UAE can be fruitful, and also downright frustrating - especially when the phantoms come out to buy.

Some Abu Dhabi residents may be able to afford a Mercedes but they still try to save an extra Dh20 here and there. Courtesy: Daimler AG
Some Abu Dhabi residents may be able to afford a Mercedes but they still try to save an extra Dh20 here and there. Courtesy: Daimler AG

It’s taken a few weeks but now I’ve experienced the dark side of flogging off my unwanted stuff to anyone in Abu Dhabi (or beyond) who wants it.

At first it was so straightforward. List the item, wait for the phone to ring, open the front door, hold out hand to receive cash, put cash in wallet. Now, though, I have been introduced to the phantoms that no doubt stalk many an internet sale site.

These are people who come across as full of enthusiasm and what seems like a desperate need for an item, confirming they will collect their purchase later in the day, only to never be heard from again. Then there are those who promise to come “ASAP”, delay until the next day, then the following week before disappearing completely, no doubt to a lower price elsewhere on the internet. One buyer asked to pick up after they returned from holiday. Did they have such fun that they never returned to the UAE? Was there a family bereavement? Or just an attitude that no contract has been signed so they have the right to vanish?

Sure, there are no rules to this buying/selling game, but it doesn’t mean the simple values of human life should be completely disregarded to save an extra Dh20.

I appreciate that some have less financial clout and need to play hardball for the sake of their family’s wellbeing, and that there are many in the UAE for whom Dh50 might be a sizeable amount to pay for a Hello Kitty phone case.

This leads me on to another story which showcases what can happen without the rating system which is used by eBay, whereby buyers and sellers are marked on how smooth their transactions are.

I was selling a baby item which had been recently outgrown and priced it at Dh100. A text message was received the same day offering Dh50. I said my lowest price was Dh70 as, quite frankly, I wasn’t running a half price summer sale and Dh100 was cheap enough considering what the item cost new.

A couple of days later, after some “I’ll collect it tonight, I’ll collect it tomorrow or the next day”, correspondence the buyer arrived at my building. There was some small talk which was going nowhere (I was in the middle of a gym session so keen for a quick exchange), before the gentleman asked if he could take the item to show his wife who was waiting in the car. She nodded at me and then gave a nod of approval to her husband, who declared that he “came this evening with Dh50 in mind”.

When informed that the price was Dh70, and will remain Dh70, he demanded a discount based on his lack of map skills - he’d “been driving around for 20 minutes trying to find the place”.

On that premise, he should attempt to ask for a discount on his shopping the next time he gets stuck in traffic on the way to the supermarket. He’ll get the same response I gave him.

To top it all off, this chap (nationality withheld), who handed over his Dh50 so grudgingly, was driving what car? Yes, a brand new top of the range Mercedes. And the child? Sat on the mother’s lap in the front seat.

ioxborrow@thenational.ae

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