Sunday, December 30, 2007

xmas giving, and why giving is often flawed

I had a great xmas this year. I enjoy getting together with family, exchanging presents, a little consumerism, a little recycling, giving, etc.. All the stuff related to family and friends is great, absolutely great.

The upcoming rant has little to do with xmas, its just bad timing for xmas. I participate in this little group formerly called "Free Cycle" or Full Circle Ottawa. In theory, its great. You post when you have something to offer, or when you're looking for something particular. I've posted and successfully "freecycled" a lawnmower, file folders, and a few other things. But lately, i'm sick of it. Its not as easy as it sounds to give something away.

The rule of thumb seems to be, if you're offering something, state where you live and methods for delivery - either pick up, or drop off, or both. I always state pick up only... i'm sure if i were trucking this stuff all over town i could get rid of it much easier. I guess i'm not that nice, and don't want to spend 5 bux in gas to go to the east end... perhaps i should.

Another part of the problem is the email communication medium, which is used initially, but really should be taken out of the loop and replaced by the phone after the first exchange. Perhaps this is all i need to do in the future, but for the time being i'm pissed. Email is lazy, and not very time relevant. I post, an hour later someone responds saying they can pick it up. Then i see it, say when can you come, and 2 days later i get a response...

The reason why i'm mad now is because i've been trying to get rid of this old stereo system since boxing day. Here's how it's gone down:

  • I post around 10am on boxing day saying the stereo is in semi-working condition, available for pickup in centertown.

  • I get the first response at 10:20, saying the person can pick it up before 1pm today. The 2nd person to respond sent at 10:30am

  • I respond to the first person at about 10:40, saying i'll be home, heres my address, come and get it.

  • I wait... eventually at 3:45 the guy responds and says he just got home, and can pick it up on saturday.

  • I respond to the 2nd person saying it is still available, but she's mostly asking about the stereo, and where i'm located (which was in my original email).

  • At around 7pm, someone else responds, saying they're interested.

  • Still following up with the 2nd person now on the 27th, this is what they wrote at 11:44 am: hi a wiill try to get a ride right away thanks where do u live exactly does cd player also work thanks

  • I respond, saying i'll be around, with my address, but the person never shows up nor sends another message.

  • I'm pissed, but wait until friday... i send another message to person #1 saying if they can pick it up saturday morn, its theirs.

  • I don't get a response as of saturday morn, so begin comms with person #3.

  • Person #1 responds saying they can pick it up THIS morning (sunday) between 10 and 11 (getting less specific, should be a sign...), and i say fine.

  • Person #3 responds, i respond and say i've already committed to giving it to person #1, and they respond saying how disappointed they are.

  • Sunday morning rolls around, early, because i woulda slept a few more hours, and person #1 says something came up and to give it to someone else.

ARRRGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I need a xmas ceasar and pack of smokes. I don't have the heart to respond to person #3 after their "i'm so disappointed" email, the f*in stereo is hitting the curb on my way out to buy new shit likely made in china. I'm not in a freecycling mood right now.

This is NOT the first time this has happened. People troll these lists, respond to things they would like, with no way of getting them, and no real commitments to picking them up - they're free after all!

I think this rant has been therapeutic. In the future, i'll give people my phone number at the first exchange, and will not accept any pick up times more than 24 hours away, perhaps even none the next day... i welcome any other suggestions too. I also realize the silliness of posting this on my blog and not in their forum, but this was mostly for me to rant and now thats done and i'm selfish and frustrated right now... less so now though!


  1. I used to use Freecycle and had the same problems.

    If I was looking for, I would mention that I do not have a car and would be willing to pick up anywhere on a bus route. I was successful once or twice for small things.

    When I finally decided to post something (APS Camera), someone was supposed to pick it up between 4-5.. I had something to do after 5.. I waited until 5 to 5 and finally said f*&^ it and just left it in the mailbox with a note on it. When I got back at 9, the camera was still in my mailbox. I haven't used freecycle since.

  2. Ugh, full circle. Could be such a great service (and sometimes is), but I've also had the same problems you've had.

    I tried something new this year after our my annual boxing day purge. Instead of using full circle/freecycle, I posted everything to Craigslist's free category. Gone that very day. No bailers, no people who were all "can I get back to you?", etc. It was easy and painless.