The Problem(s) with Craigslist

I have mixed increasingly negative feelings about craigslist. Like all websites, its utility has faced a diminishing law of returns – its usefulness declines the more people use exploit it.

I used to think that what would help was if there were some kind of buyer/seller pricing app or plug-in, a tool that would mine craigslist listings for any item and recommend a fair selling price based on the pricing data and how long the listing lived on the site. A Kelley Blue Book-style tool for craigslist, if you will, like the ebay seller tools. But then I realized that all that would tell you is what the seller asked for. Not what the item actually sold for, if it even ever sold.

Craigslist suffers from the same problems as Yelp: the lack of any oversight means that there are no standards to ensure any consistency or quality. On Yelp, there’s no rhyme or reason to what 1, 3, or 5 stars means. What constitutes 4 star service to me might be 3 star to someone else. And what I think is 1 star food might get rated as 5 star by some reviewer suffering from ageusia.

The other problem they both have in common? There’s no floodgate to control the number of identities or postings one can make. Are these sites assuming we’re dumb enough to believe the number of users is representative of the real number of unique users? Twitter, anyone? Just because there’s “Bill,” “Wee Billy Winky” and “Will-e,” all of whom go gaga for the food doesn’t mean that some fanboy hasn’t logged in under 3 different identities. And that’s not even counting all the self-promo ‘reviews’ planted by corporate hacks, owners, bots, and paid reviewers. Likewise, some craigslist yahoo might think their ugly-ass orange chair is worth $500 when I wouldn’t pay $5 for it. Or, just because someone lists their chair for $500 and it sells doesn’t mean it sold for $500. Hopefully the buyer negotiated to trade it for their mean cat.

And all of that is setting aside all the many, many other problems. You have the flaky buyers/sellers. You know, the sellers who, when you text to let them know you’re at the apartment complex gate, text you back to say “oh, sorry. Just sold it to someone else” even though they knew you were on your way 10 minutes ago. And the buyers? Don’t get me started. Texting at all hours, berating you in ALL CAPS EMAILS for not having responded to their other grammar-poor email from 10 minutes ago, never showing up for the agreed-upon exchange. You have the sellers that abuse the listings, listing their item multiple times every single day, making sifting through the listings about as effective as flushing the display toilets at Home Depot. And let’s not forget the whole recent spate of craigslist-based crimes that make the buyer/seller exchange just downright scary. Even if you could eliminate the criminal element, the site is just useless these days.

Related: where am I going to offload my old loveseat now?

The Great House Hunters Mystery

A couple years ago when I was visiting my folks, my mom got me hooked on House Hunters. And now every time I see it, I can channel their reactions. Their biggest mystery for most any episode is “How can someone who’s only in their 20s afford a $400,000 house?!?!” See also: “How can someone who works as a [occupation] afford a [dollar amount] place?” It’s true – it is odd that for so many episodes the math just doesn’t really make sense to me. And that’s not even counting the episodes where it’s some spoiled 20-something whose mommy and daddy are footing the bill their place. Other frequently cited mysteries include: What is the big deal about a double sink? Why do all of you need your own sink? (Seriously. If someone can explain this to me, I’d be grateful). And, Why are you hinging the purchase of a HOUSE on whether or not it includes a $750 dishwasher?!

But for me, the greatest mystery of all is the home visit at the end of the episode after they’ve settled in to their new place. How the hell do these people afford their new furniture? I just saw an episode where the couple needed a bigger house, so they selected a large 4 bedroom place that was at the upper end of their price point, and yet in the after segment, they’ve got it furnished with a brand new high quality giant leather sectional, accompanied by oversized plush recliners, and a super modern coffee table. WHAT. THE. HELL. If you can barely afford your house, how did you come up with an extra money to furnish it?! You might be thinking that I’m just jealous. And you’d be right.

Bitter, Party of Two

Daycare is right next door to Trader Joe’s. That produced the following conversation this morning.

My Better Half™: I HATE the people who come to Trader Joe’s first thing in the morning.

Me: Why?

My Better Half™:  Because. They are just there to shop for lavish things. They clearly have nowhere they have to be right now. All they have ahead of them today is a leisurely schedule of making extravagant meals out of their delicacies. Do YOU spend your mornings menu planning for the day and then leisurely shopping at Trader Joe’s?

Me: Uh, no?

My Better Half™: Right! Because you have to be somewhere. At a JOB. My point is this: they don’t have to go to a JOB. I FUCKING HATE THEM.

I Think There’s One Too Many Digits

I just got an automated voicemail from the pharmacy that said “Your prescription is ready for pickup. It will cost $947.76.” Clearly I need my hearing checked because I thought you just said that my prescription would cost more than NINE HUNDRED dollars.

I just came down with bronchitis, and my doctor prescribed an inhaler, which I’ve never had before, so I thought, well, that must be the culprit. Well, that, and I had changed insurance with my new job in April so I thought they must not have my updated insurance information on file. That part was true. But the $900 prescription was not the inhaler, nor the antibiotics, but the stuff I routinely take for hypothyroidism. Once they input my insurance info, the total for four prescriptions came down to $54.

You might be asking “What in the WORLD is her hypothyroidism medication made of? Magical fairy dust?! Gold??” Nope. It’s all natural, actually. But it does make me even more grateful for health insurance. Unless I’m working for an employer that offers medical coverage, the only way I can get health insurance is through My Better Half. Because of pre-existing conditions, I don’t qualify for any private health insurance. Trust me. I’ve tried. Eleven times. And I’m not talking about cancer or something serious. I have pretty standard, chronic medical issues that millions of other folks have, and which are easily managed through medication. I’m lucky to have conditions that are so easily managed, and to have good overall health. And I’m fortunate to have a job that offers health insurance. In my experience, many, if not most, of those toiling in nonprofits in particular don’t get benefits with their jobs, and are left to fend for themselves on the “open market,” only to find they can’t get insured unless they have a spotless record of health. Which is why my blood boils over political debates that question the constitutionality of health care reform. Drives. Me. Crazy. Republicans and Tea Partiers Congress routinely makes it their business to block countless initiatives simply because they are introduced by and sponsored by the other party, and that practice especially drives me nuts with health care reform. Because, yes, let’s put the interests of your own party in front of the needs of millions of people. And, no, don’t offer any of your own alternatives to the reform to which you are so opposed. Just oppose, letting millions of people continue to flail around in a constantly shifting game of choosing which health concerns they can afford to treat.

Genius

I think that next to every Apple store in America there should be a Kick A Genius store. Y’know, let everyone get their frustrations out.

Rants & Raves of the Year (2006 edition)

It’s tempting at this time of every year to look back and reflect on what has passed in the previous 360 or so days. So why resist temptation? In no particular order…

Raves to you, Slate Ad Report Card. I often think that if I could dream up a job, it would be ad critic. That way I could still apply all of my analytical skills & intelligence but to something I really care about: TV. Still I have to say (albeit humbly), you missed a few on your worst of the year-list. What about the Cingular Stop the Catbox piece? Even when I didn’t know what a casbah was, I still knew the name of the song! Not to mention, last I checked you gotta know the name of a song to download it, you retards. And don’t even get me started on that Gap ad featuring Common.

Rants to you, Fergie. You drive me all the way from the C to the R to the A to the Z-E-Y.

Rants to you, Twitwit. I’m still putting out fires started as a result of your staggering incompetencies.

Rants to you, Time magazine. I assure you, they were not thinking of me when they chose You as 2006 Person of the Year.

Raves to you, vacation time. June spared me barely two weeks between the day I landed a job and the day I had to start work. Knowing I might never know this “vacation” again, I immediately took flight. Visiting friends and family accompanied my long stints of doing absolutely nothing and relishing every moment of it. Good thing, too, because with all of my job duties, I may never see you again, Vaca.