06 August 2010

Freecycle: Theory vs. application

Inspired by my cousin's Freecycle post, I thought I'd mention my own experiences.

When I first joined, I LOVED the idea, but now that I've been around the block and seen how it works in practice, I'm anywhere between indifferent to completely exasperated and livid.

I've offered quite a number of items through this community service and had ridiculously difficult experiences.  I never put a time limit on pickups as some others might, so when someone mentions a date/time when they'd like to pick an item, I assume they will honor it.  Not once has an item been picked up on the initially arranged slot.  In fact, one woman took 4 tries before she picked up an item--apologizing profusely in between and begging me to allow her "first email" privileges.  I'm amazed by this; it's not like I'm coercing her to set times which are inconvenient to her.  But they ARE inconvenient to me.  I leave the items outside so if we are home, I have to keep the boys inside, and if we are not at home, I have to lock the dog in the house as well so that he doesn't bark at and otherwise harass the random Freecycler. 

I've responded to offerings on 3 different occasions.  In 2 of those instances, I was completely ignored.  The first time, I was surprised I never heard back because I, myself, reply to EVERY email--usually to tell the inquirer that someone else has staked a claim on the item and that they are the nth person in line should those arrangements fall through.  The second time I was ignored, I was completely perplexed as my reply happened within seconds of the posting....I mean, even if I hadn't been the first to reply, I was probably way up there.  The third time I replied, the gal offering the item gave me lousy directions that didn't quite get me to her complex--she didn't even offer a full street address, just landmarks...but she was around the corner from me and I (thought I) knew the area well.  Well, it turned out that her complex was behind both parking/car and walking gates.  I have no idea how she thought I was going to sneak myself into her place, where she supposedly left the item at the front door.  She then offered another time for me to come when she would be home to let me in.  She was not home.  Total shocker, right?

I don't like to pose questions of my readers, because, yes, there are 3 of you, but please tell me that you've had positive experiences because I'm fuming just recalling these examples.

Okay, this post is naked so I'll add some completely unrelated photos.  These are the boys', "Mama, mama, take a picture of this," shots:

A1 buried in our ball pit with only his arm peeking out

Driveway chalk art and A2 discovering the difference between wet and dry chalk:


Michi said...

That sucks that your Freecycle experience has been so crummy! It really is a great system when it works correctly but sadly, people can be real dips. I've discovered that being ignored when responding to an offer is quite common. Annoying but common. Sometimes a user will have the good graces to tell you whether or not the item is taken but otherwise... myeh.

Ivan Chan Studio said...

I've never used Freecycle.

I use Craig's List and it's been successful for me (buying and selling).

When I've bought stuff from CL, the buyer is usually a little surprised to see me and also usually says, "You're the first one that's actually shown up!" Which indicates that they've had flaky experiences, too.

I know a friend of mine trying to rent out his place had similar flakes (and worse) apply and even rent for a short time (before being asked to leave due to contract breach).

I think there's hope out there and certainly people like you and me that are honorable and considerate. That makes CL worth it to me, but always with a grain of salt, for both buyers (from me) and sellers (to me). Flakiness, prejudice, etc. who knows comes into the picture.

Reminds me of driving on the freeway!

Lam said...

People can be crazy and annoying in general, but people who are looking for deal are even crazier and more annoying than the average bear!