Author Topic: cylists and/or Craigslist afficionados: please help me with my question  (Read 5233 times)

Zamboni

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Hi everyone!  Today I sold someone a mountain bike on Craigslist. My son had ridden it for a couple of years with no problems, but it had gotten too small for him so we got him a bigger one. She paid cash to buy it for her son, who is 13.  While we were waiting 30 minutes for someone she knows with a bigger vehicle to come pick it up, he rode it all around our neighborhood with no problems. He did change gears at one point as I heard it make that sound.

2 hours later she has called and left me a message to say when he changed gears the "big gear on the back ended up in the spokes of the wheels somehow." She says the bike is defective and she wants her money back. 

The only possibilities I can think of are:
1) The chain came off, which is easily fixed, or
2) he did something really weird like changing gears while not pedaling and it damaged the bike somehow (I don't know much about bikes but I've heard you shouldn't change gears when not pedaling), or
3) he wrecked the bike and damaged the sprocket, or
edited to add 4) random failure of bike part did occur.

Anyway, I am going to call her back and see if I can figure out more, but thought I'd throw this situation out there and get opinions. Thanks in advance for any thoughts you can offer.

edited to add: I called her and tried to get more information.  She says something came off while he was riding (it was hard to tell what from her description) but thankfully he did not get hurt. I expressed concern for her son, said I was glad he didn't get hurt, and offered to give her the money back if she wants to bring back the bike.  Then she hemmed and hawed a bit and asked if I wanted to split the cost of the repair with her.  At this point I'm not really sure what to make of it all.  I repeated the offer to give refund the money if she brings the bike back and said she can bring it back tomorrow instead of tonight if she wants to do that. She seemed annoyed that I didn't agree to split the repair cost (no idea what that would be anyway) and said she'd call me back tomorrow. 

Refunding the money seems like the right thing to do, and that's what I will do. But, part of me is thinking that next time I sell something online I won't give the person my address or phone number!
« Last Edit: May 18, 2015, 06:24:34 PM by Zamboni »

nereo

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Hmm.. very hard to tell without knowing exactly what happened to the bike.  I think your offer to refund the money is completely fair, and that you are not obligated to do any more than that.  Perhaps she thinks that you were knowingly trying to sell her a bum-bike, and that's why she balked when you didn't offer to pay for half the repair. 

I'd stand firm on your offer for a full refund until you see the bike
.  That's what I'd expect from anything I bought from a store.
Have her take a photo of the problem and email it to you - if it's an easy fix than maybe you can agree to have it repaired or fix it yourself.

Knapptyme

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Sounds weird indeed. The refund offer is more than fair for Craigslist. Most people know what they're getting into on Craigslist as an as-is type of sale. If something like that happened to something I purchased, I would just feel a little foolish, fix it myself, and suck it up. Plus, deals on Craigslist often afford a person a couple losses while still coming out ahead in the long run.

vivek440

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I think, she is trying to make extra money out of you!

Le Poisson

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Without knowing details, I would guess that the rear derailleur has been bent into the wheel. At best it can be bent/adjusted back in 5 minutes. At worst she needs a new derailleur.

I am willing to bet the bike was damaged either by being put in the trunk and too much weight going on the derailleur, or that it was set down on its side and the derailleur hit a rock or something.

Search on you tube for bent derailleur hanger or bent derailleur and you should find solutions.

kendallf

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It's likely that the rear derailleur hit the spokes.  There's a stop on the derailleur that can be adjusted to prevent this.  Over enthusiastic shifting or cross chaining (leaving the front on the big chainring while shifting the back up to the big cog) can cause this to happen.

On most new bikes, there's a plastic protector in place behind the cassette to prevent actual spoke contact if the derailleur is mis-adjusted.  People often take these off (they're colloquially known as 'dork disks').

In this case, if that's what happened, it could be equal parts operator error and mis-adjustment.  Not a 'defective' bike in any normal sense of that word. 

If you sell stuff on CL, especially stuff that you aren't expert in fixing, make sure and advertise it 'as is', with the clear understanding that the buyer will inspect it before plunking down the cash... after which there are no returns.  You aren't Walmart.  :-)

Zamboni

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Thank you for the replies, everyone!

Without knowing details, I would guess that the rear derailleur has been bent into the wheel. At best it can be bent/adjusted back in 5 minutes. At worst she needs a new derailleur.

I am willing to bet the bike was damaged either by being put in the trunk and too much weight going on the derailleur, or that it was set down on its side and the derailleur hit a rock or something.

Search on you tube for bent derailleur hanger or bent derailleur and you should find solutions.

This seems most likely based on her description.  It does have a kick stand so hopefully it didn't get dropped onto that side, but maybe it had just gotten loose or bent somehow? It's possible that it was bent when I sold it and and I just didn't know, or it's possible that it got bent during transporting it or in a wreck after they bought it.

But the bottom line is that is wasn't a super expensive bicycle in the first place and I sold it to her for only $80. Mostly I just wanted it out of my garage. While I'm happy to take it back, which seems fair and reasonable, I'm not going to get into paying for repairs while she keeps it. She now says that she's bringing it back tomorrow. I guess I'll try to fix it a la youtube and then I'll probably just donate it to the local rescue mission. I will update if there is any more drama but hopefully tomorrow she'll bring it back and that will be the end of it.

It's likely that the rear derailleur hit the spokes.  There's a stop on the derailleur that can be adjusted to prevent this.  Over enthusiastic shifting or cross chaining (leaving the front on the big chainring while shifting the back up to the big cog) can cause this to happen.

On most new bikes, there's a plastic protector in place behind the cassette to prevent actual spoke contact if the derailleur is mis-adjusted.  People often take these off (they're colloquially known as 'dork disks').

In this case, if that's what happened, it could be equal parts operator error and mis-adjustment.  Not a 'defective' bike in any normal sense of that word. 

If you sell stuff on CL, especially stuff that you aren't expert in fixing, make sure and advertise it 'as is', with the clear understanding that the buyer will inspect it before plunking down the cash... after which there are no returns.  You aren't Walmart.  :-)

That last part is good advice!  I've learned my lesson.

Yes, he's a kid and probably was shifting like a wild man. She didn't call me until about 1.5 hours after they left, and they weren't going far, so her description that it "literally happened 30 seconds after they got home" seemed pretty fishy in the first place.  I'm glad he didn't get hurt; that's the main thing.

Slam

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Best case scenario: Chain derailled.  You just need to put it back on the cog, and maybe adjust the limit screw.

Worst case scenario: Derailler hanger got caught in the spokes, wrapped around the cassette, broke the derailler hanger, broke the derailler, bent the crap out of the chain, and broke multiple spokes.  You now need an entire new rear end...assuming that this bike actually has a removable derailler hanger.  If the hanger is an integral part of the frame, the bike is garbage; throw it away, part it out, or learn to weld.

Fun story:
I used to be a mechanic at a real bike shop.  It gets slow in the winters, so one holiday season I picked up some hours at Toys-R-Us assembling bikes, and RC cars, and other large kids toys.  I am pretty confident in my ability to build up even the junkiest bicycles and get them shifting and braking to the best of their abilities.  But this one lady tried to return a bike because we "sold it to her without a chain."  I was speechless.  I do not know how she thinks it is possible to build a bike and get it in working order, and never realize it doesn't have a chain.  I replaced the chain for her, because it was the holidays and that was probably her kid's Christmas present, but basically told her to her face that I knew she was a liar and I would not replace the chain again.

But I agree with other posters that Craigslist sales are final.  I have never bought anything on there and expected to be able to return it.  You don't have a business' reputation at stake here, you don't need to honor shit.  I would stop answering her calls.

The Money Monk

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I would never give a refund for something that the person inspected in person, let alone used for half an hour.

I would tell her that its unfortunate that something broke, but they tested it for half an hour before purchasing it, so its not like you were hiding a defect. Anything that happens to it after she buys it is totally out of your control.

No way would I give even a penny back. There is no reason to unless you felt bad or something (which you shouldn't if your story is accurate.)

Zamboni

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I agree that I don't owe her anything.  My philosophy of giving a refund is to avoid future drama.

She does know where I live and just my limited interaction with he yesterday makes me think keeping the peace is a good call.  The last thing I want is someone who is pissed at me coming over and ripping up all of the plants in my garden. After growing up in a neighborhood where adults actually did that type of stuff to each other over decades, that is not a direction I will venture.

Fun story:
I used to be a mechanic at a real bike shop.  It gets slow in the winters, so one holiday season I picked up some hours at Toys-R-Us assembling bikes, and RC cars, and other large kids toys.  I am pretty confident in my ability to build up even the junkiest bicycles and get them shifting and braking to the best of their abilities.  But this one lady tried to return a bike because we "sold it to her without a chain."  I was speechless.  I do not know how she thinks it is possible to build a bike and get it in working order, and never realize it doesn't have a chain.  I replaced the chain for her, because it was the holidays and that was probably her kid's Christmas present, but basically told her to her face that I knew she was a liar and I would not replace the chain again.

That's kind of where I am with this. I feel a bit sorry for her kids for a number of reasons after listening to her prattle on for a half hour yesterday, so regardless of what happened hopefully she will use the money I give her back to invest in another bike for her son. I half wanted to just go buy him a tire pump when listening to her story yesterday about how all of her kids' other bikes had flat tires after sitting all winter but that she wasn't about to go pay someone for new tires . . . even I know that they go flat slowly over time and most likely just need to be pumped up.

In any event, if the damage isn't too bad I'll fix it and find another home for it; if it looks totally trashed, I'll trash it. No biggie.

Syonyk

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This is why I generally make Craigslist transactions at neutral locations...

And, yes, you buy it, it's yours.

rocketpj

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Almost certainly a scam (at least inasmuch as the bike was broken and she thought she'd try to get some cash from you rather than just pay for it herself).

But I get the wish to just pay it out.  The fact she balked at splitting the repair cost sounds a bit odd.

I once bumped a table, which caused a person's coffee(in a paper cup) to spill onto her cell phone (which was right beside it, on one of those collapsible tables).  The phone was ruined, and she immediately began to insist I buy her a new one.  Two days later she even brought in some flyers and pointed out the phone she'd like me to buy for her.

I knew that I had done nothing wrong - bumping a table in a classroom is a minor thing.  And there was no way I was going to buy her a $500 phone.  But I did offer to give her $100 towards her next phone, not because I felt obligated but because it was the way through the dilemma without being either a jerk or a sucker.

FreeWheel

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In any event, if the damage isn't too bad I'll fix it and find another home for it; if it looks totally trashed, I'll trash it. No biggie.

So what was the outcome here? Did she bring the bike back? Did you refund the money? Is the bike repairable?

I refurbish and sell many bikes on CL, so I do feel I have a reputation to uphold, and my own standards. I often (not always... it depends on the person) tell the buyer to let me know if they have any questions or trouble with the bike over the next few weeks, and I'll attempt to help them out. I have never had any problems with this.

I also sell bikes (for cheap) to co-workers. They love me and know they are getting a great deal!

Zamboni

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She brought it back the next day and I gave her the money back.  Chain was off and the derailler hanger was bent.  It is removable, and no spokes were broken.

Right now it is sitting in my garage at the bottom of my to do list.  I suspect I'll just donate it to the local rescue mission next time I go over there.  It wasn't a very expensive bicycle and I don't want to spend more time on it, but surely someone with some mechanical skills can fix it.


Syonyk

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Was the hanger bent when you sold it?

It sounds like the kid screwed up and told a little fib to his mom demanding that she return the bike.

Zamboni

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No, wasn't bent, and he rode it around my neighborhood for a half hour while they waited for someone with a bigger vehicle to come pick them up. I'm guessing it got damaged either during transportation or during a wreck or some crazy gear change later that evening. But I really don't care what happened or whether he fibbed to his Mom or she just decided to fib to me because she wanted her money back.

Lesson learned to do Craigslist transactions at the grocery store lot near my house rather than at my house, and don't give people my phone number.

Outlier

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I sell a lot of stuff on craigslist and it's taught me to be informative and absolute about my rules.

This goes on every post I put up.

1. All items are in used, as is condition. No refunds on anything I sell for any reason.
2. You can inspect and test items for sale in person before offers are made.
3. Cash only, in person, non negotiable.
4. People will be contacted in the order they respond to my listing. I will not hold any item for anyone. First come first serve.

This is the rule list from someone who has been screwed into refunding a car that someone blew the engine in after 24 hours of owning. I've also been berated for not wanting to refund on used items that had minor wear and tear issues. The cash only in person only rule gets rid of scammers sending "totally legit checks" through a relative using an escrow service.

Everyone can test and inspect stuff I sell to their hearts content in person with me watching them. After that just be a normal person and negotiate for the deal you want and move on. It shouldn't be harder than that to sell things.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2015, 09:22:27 PM by Outlier »