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February 18, 2009

Why Craigslist is my friend: Competition!

February 18. Day 233.

Thanks to all who replied to my preliminary poll. I think I have enough data to proceed with the actual poll question... stay tuned... I'm waiting for just the right day to put it up.

Today I asked twice, online.

First: I somehow landed on an email list about San Diego's theater scene. I love theater. Love it. But I don't love unsolicited links to crappy websites about theater. Especially with no "unsubscribe" button at the bottom. Gauche!!!

Here was my email:

kindly remove me from your list.

Thank you,

La Roxy
That was, frankly, much nicer than some of the emails I got back when I sent a single mass message with an announcement. Those included: "REMOVE" and "DELETE!!!"

Next, I used Craigslist for what it's best: securing quality products and services by snagging the lowest bidder.

Our adowable widdle house comes with a matching lawn, and per the lease we're in charge of landscaping. I looked online and saw a few price ranges for lawn care that made me gag. I refuse to spend $50 for 10 square meters of mowing. So, I turned to craigslist, stated the dimensions and said the lowest bidder will win.

Got about 30 answers in a few hours I still need to sort through.

(Option B: do it ourselves, but I wonder if it's worth investing in a lawn mower rather than outsoucing? Unless there's one from the previous owner stashed away somewhere... Hmmm...)

Seriously, this lowest bidder mentality has me thinking of the possibilities. Especially in this down economy.

I mean, why let the retailer dictate the terms??

If I ever host a party, perhaps I won't try to find a caterer through individual negotiations. Instead, I'll email 30, say "I'm feeding 20 people next month. What's your best offer?" and take it from there. Not that I ever use caterers, but you get the idea. Or when I buy a car, I'll approach the dealers with this attitude: "I'm going to every dealer along this strip and asking the same thing: Can you beat your neighbor? Whoever gets me the best package will get my cash." Etc.

Exploit their spirit of competition. Make them earn my business, rather than present myself as trying to earn their services.

After all, no one will charge me less than they consider their time or product to be worth. Right?

Here's a story in this week's TIME saying pretty much the same thing:
The upside to the downturn is the immense incentive it gives retailers to treat you like a queen for a day. During the flush times, salespeople were surly, waiters snobby, as though their kanpachi tartare with wasabi tobiko might be too good for the likes of you. But now the customer rules, just for showing up [...] Finger the scarf, then start to walk away, and its price floats silkily downward. When the mechanic calls to tell you that brakes and a timing belt and other services will run close to $2,000, it's time to break out the newly perfected art of the considered pause. You really don't even have to say anything pitiful before he'll offer to knock a few hundred dollars off. (More here)
Gained: A reduction in spam and a price cut off of retail.
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