Selling a car was, not too long ago, something of a giddy thrill. Those of you of a certain generation will remember when the only way – certainly the most effective way – to sell a car was through AutoTrader. And to do so meant a man called Geoff would pop around to your house on a Saturday morning to take your details and to also take photos of your car. Back then, we couldn’t be trusted with such a herculean task. Now, we all have a smartphone.
Back then, selling a car was something of an occasion. It was, dare we say it, fun. There seemed to be an unwritten code between buyer and seller based around reliable communication and of course, manners. Manners were key. Manners made for the glue with which a successful sale would be held together. Then in the ’90s the internet happened. Geoff was fired and we were entrusted to do everything ourselves.
Now, I could happily rant about the current state of used car sales on the internet. The ocean of adverts with photographs taken with a calculator. In the dark. The adverts with a three word description. Or the outrageous number of scam accounts insisting you email firstname.lastname@example.org rather than use the eBay interface. But that’s another rant for another time. For now, I’m going to focus on the sea of knuckle-draggers out there. The ones who also have a smartphone, but who are so unintelligent they couldn’t find a white ball in a black room. Or spell their own name without multiple attempts.
You see, while the act of selling a car has opened up to the masses, so obviously has the market of buyers. But now there is no phone number, there is no unwritten code of conduct, there is just the internet. And the internet is a shambles, for the best part.
We have a car on eBay at the moment. Because we’re not idiots, we have capitalised on the site’s generous twelve picture limit. We have written a long, but not boring overview of the car explaining in the great detail what it is, what is wrong with it, what it needs, and everything else that a potential buyer with at least three brain cells should need. Nice of us? No. It’s just common sense.
And as soon as we clicked to make the advert live, it began. The wave of morons. One question asked us what car it was. WHAT CAR IT WAS. It’s right there, Cleetus, on the top of the description. Another asked us if it was was roadworthy and could they drive it home. Seemingly they had neglected to read the two paragraphs stating exactly what was wrong with it and why it can’t be driven anywhere. Apparently this chap read “fuel tank not connected” and immediately jumped to “I’ll start using that for commuting immediately”. Then he French-kissed his sister. Probably.
And then we have the offers. Oh the offers. I find these to be particularly irksome. I was once selling a car for £1,500 and got a message saying “I’ll get it this afternoon and give you £250”. No you won’t, you shitgibbon. If he’d at least asked, that would have been something. But he TOLD. That’s what annoyed me. Do they get to the end of the checkout when doing their ‘big shop’ and say to the cashier “£25 now” despite it being £150? And full of vaseline and mincemeat, no doubt. No, they don’t. But on the internet that’s just fine.
So fine that that someone offered me £250 for the car I currently have online. Very generous, but it’s a no reserve auction and it’s already at £400. I’m no Carol Vorderman, but to accept that offer would make little financial sense. “But I can get it today” was his retort. It’s a seven-day auction, you dickthimble. I chose seven days. I’m okay with the car hanging around for that amount of time.
And it hasn’t stopped. Stupid question after stupid question. And I’m not being difficult here – every question I have been asked can be answered by reading the description. It’s all there. I foolishly put my phone number on the listing. One man has called me SIX TIMES TODAY. Six. It’s Sunday. Pack it in. And for the ninth time, no, it has no MOT. IT SAYS THAT IN THE LISTING.
Then I had someone cancel all their bids because “the guy who was going to restore it now can’t”. I’ll be sure to run the validity of that by the Easter Bunny and Santa.
It’s been on eBay for six days. It ends tomorrow. In that six days I haven’t had one serious question. Not one question that couldn’t be answered by reading the description. I’ve just had a relentless wave of muppetry of the highest order, to paraphrase my father.
What happened to the code? What happened to the manners? What happened to Geoff?