Monday, July 16, 2012

Failure to communicate

"What we got here is...failure to communicate."
--Strother Martin, Cool Hand Luke
I'd like to think I am a fairly decent communicator. I've spent my entire career distilling words to make them understood by the lowest common denominator. But I'm beginning to believe that the Internet and electronic "communications" has destroyed most people's ability to actually communicate.

Case in point, Craig's List. For some reason, I got it in my head that it would be kind of fun to buy a moped to drive the mile or so from my home to the train station for my daily commute. Well actually the reason I had that idea in my head was a Groupon e-mail about half off on an electric moped. Even half off, the electric scooter cost about $1500 plus shipping. Even for an obsessive compulsive personality such as mine, $1500 is a bit steep.

So I did what I normally do, I Googled moped and opened up a new universe of transportation options using vehicles that reach maximum speeds of 35 mph but can get 90 miles to the gallon of gas. The electric versions only reach speeds of about 20 mph but eliminate gas altogether.

Why not just get a motorcycle? I don't want to go through the training required to license and ride a standard motorcycle and I don't really have any desire to be a middle aged man on a chopper picking bugs out of his teeth. Plus everything in the Puget Sound Region is either at the top of a hill or at the bottom of a hill. I've mastered driving around in a car, but I just don't have the energy to figure out how to master the local hills and freeways on a motorcycle. A moped/scooter that can't go over 35 mph and doesn't require any special license or training just seemed a more reasonable option when all I want to do is make a round trip to the train station.

Anyway, I set off on a quest to find a moped/scooter, gas or electric, that didn't cost an arm and a leg (or risk losing one). The prices were all over the map, but the cheapest vehicle I could find new was about $750 and still involved shipping. So that brings in Craig's List. I figured someone would be selling one locally at a bargain price.

One of the many downsides of Craig's List is that you have to do a lot of sifting to find what you are looking for. You can search for scooter or moped and get an ad for a Bowflex exercise machine (I'm not kidding). But I did manage to find quite a few scooters/mopeds including this ad:

2010 tao tao 49cc Runs Great pushstart and kickstart well kept, minor scratches from a fall goes 30-35mph depending on riders weight motorcycle helmet included comes with two keys just recently had them ordered must sell soon $500 for pictures text or call: Dell xxxxxxxxx
Not being a text or call kind of guy, I used the e-mail address provided by Craig's List and sent the following message:

If the scooter is still available, could you send me photos? 
The next day I get this reponse:
whats ur mobile phone number
That's it. No photos. No "thanks for your interest in my scooter." So I reply with my cell phone number assuming the seller doesn't know how to send photos via computer but can send them via a cell phone. 

But I don't get any reply.  So a couple of days go by and I decide to text the person thinking that perhaps they don' t check their e-mail often and are more comfortable with text messages. I send the following text:
Could you send photos of the scooter listed on craigs list? Thx
I threw in the "Thx" as a concession to the moronic text language I believe this person was used to. In a few minutes I get the response:
There already posted.
Okay, I had checked Craig's List the night before and there were no photos with his ad. But I go back and sure enough the seller has added two blurry photos of a scooter. Plus he had lowered the price he was asking.

I realize that I am in marketing and take for granted that anyone selling something would go out of their way to be at least polite to a potential buyer. But this was ridiculous. Would it have killed this person to have responded with something like, "I've posted a couple of photos on Craig's List. But I've attached some as well. Just want you to know that I've reduced the price and it's a super bargain. Let me know if you have any questions or want to schedule a time to see the scooter."

I really wanted to text the person back and say, "Gd luck sellin ur scooter moron :)." But I imagine the mental midget would have responded with "So ru goin 2 mk offer?"
Anyway, I've pretty much given up on the scooter idea. I've done enough research to determine that owning a cheap Chinese scooter without a minimal mechanical aptitude would probably be a move I'd regret. Apparently you have to adjust carburetors and clean spark plugs a great deal to keep the things working. I have difficulty keeping my Sonic Care toothbrush running. So I don't want to spent each morning trying to kick start a scooter and then give up and drive my car or walk anyway.

I have had many similar experiences with Craig's List. I realize it is free, but I wish they would require people posting to take a rudimentary literacy test. In the meantime, I'll stick with eBay.

1 comment:

Naughti Biscotti said...

You're not going to believe this but I bought my house off of Craig's list. Weird! I found the listing and then had my realtor contact the seller.