CSUN students use Craigslist to find the best deals on a college budget

craigslist_color_1-web
Illustration credit by Julie Salvatierra

With a new semester underway, CSUN students are turning to Craigslist to find a good deal with a reasonable price.

Craigslist is a website that allows the average person or business to post advertisements in order to buy, sell or trade products. There are categories and sections ranging from jobs and housing to pets and furniture.

What makes Craigslist different from other advertising websites such as Ebay is the amount of resources available. Maggie Vasquez, senior sociology major, found out about Craigslist through word of mouth.

“My mom and dad were looking for a washer and dryer machine since they didn’t want to buy it at a full retail price,” Vasquez said.

She and her parents were able to buy it from a family that lived five minutes away from their house.

Vasquez has also had experience on putting up ads on Craigslist for Big Show tickets that sold out quickly last semester. She said that she was able to meet up with the girl who sold her the tickets as she really wanted to go.

Monica Orozco, junior chemistry major, was looking for a bed platform for a mattress that she recently purchased on Craigslist.

“There was this head platform with a little makeshift headboard that was made out of palette–a wooden frame that you see in products,” Orozco said.

She was fascinated by the unique and simple style of the bed platform and was able to email the seller as the contact information is shown on the listing of the item.

For Orozco, differentiating between a good deal and a scam depends on using good judgement and paying attention to the wording on those advertisements.

“When I was looking for a bed platform on Craigslist, there was more than one listed posting of the item by the same person or people. That’s when you know that you shouldn’t go look into this. The advertisement makes it seem like it’s a business when it’s not,” she said.

Unlike buying furniture and appliances, Josecarlos Chavez, senior cinema and television arts major, prefers to use Craigslist as a way of looking for jobs. He was able to find jobs successfully through Craigslist as he worked at Applebees and PizzaRev around Northridge.

Chavez said he’s always had an interest in online shopping.

“I’ve always been big on technology and have a good, general understanding of it as it is much more useful and convenient than to hand out resumes in a crowded place when applying for jobs,” Chavez said.

Jessica Saavedra, senior nutrition dietetics major, is one of the few students who has yet to encounter a successful Craigslist experience.
Saavedra attempted to get a car but as she browsed around Craigslist, she realized that the idea was unrealistic because there were no phone numbers listed.

“I have had second-hand experience on the potential scam through my roommate,” Saavedra said. “I applied for a job in Woodland Hills at a photo company through Craigslist where I was forced to communicate with my employer through emails and not in person.”

Saavedra’s roommate became suspicious of this activity as the employer began asking for her address and asking for her picture to put on the company’s website. Saavedra said her roommate acted fast. She never responded back to the employer and never took the job.

“It was such a scary and creepy experience to witness,” Saavedra said.

In order to get a good deal, research around Craigslist on the item you’re interested in. Once you find it, express that interest and keep it monitored for a couple days to see if there are any other users that are interested. If the price goes down, you may decide to buy it or you can bargain with the seller if the price isn’t lowered.

At the end of the day, it is about what the buyer wants to pay and how much the seller is willing to take.

Craigslist could be a great way for any student to discover an affordable deal just as long as you know how avoid potential scams. Here are a few helpful tips to make sure you aren’t being cheated out of your money.

8 ways to avoid scams, according to scambook.com

  1. Research the item, subject, or job that you are looking for (phone numbers, email, address, contact information, pictures etc).
  2. Be wary of the “too good to be true” products, as it is most likely a scam. If you gut is saying something is wrong, it most likely is.
  3. Deal locally and in person with negotiations. Meet at a public place to ensure safety.
  4. Never give out private information if a listing is asking for financial information (like social security number, bank account number information).
  5. Don’t commit without seeing the goods in person. This way you can avoid buying items that are broken or in poor condition. If you’re buying electronics, meet at a coffee shop and plug it in before committing to make sure it works.
  6. Avoid wire transfers, cashier’s checks and money orders. It’s a huge red flag if someone wants to send or receive payment through the mail.
  7. Don’t fall for job scams. If you’re looking for a job on Craigslist, be wary of anyone who’s willing to hire you without an interview. Make sure the business has a physical location near you and visit their offices before you provide any information.
  8. Use a counterfeit detection pen. A counterfeit detection pen will allow you to find out if someone is trying to pay you in phony bills. You can find counterfeit detection pens at most office supply stores or online or around $5.