I Can Explain… Free Online Classifieds

First appeared in the March 24, 2011 issue of Retirement News Weekly

Need an apartment? How about a used car? Or two posters of Canadian stamps, which are described as “valuable”? You may pick up your local newspaper and turn to the classifieds, but more often than not people are jumping online to meet their shopping needs. Websites offering free classifieds like Kijiji and Craigslist provide the opportunity to buy, sell and rent at ease. But if you’re not sure where to start or what a reasonable price for a pair of women’s show chaps is… well… I can explain one of those things!

Online Classifieds are websites that allow users to post and/or view classified advertisements for free. If a user wants to create an ad, they just go to the site and click “Post Ad.” After choosing a category that there product falls within (Buy/Sell, Pets, Housing, Services, Vehicles, Jobs, etc.), the person creates their ad. They’ll have to decide if they are offering something or looking to purchase something, the desired price, a title, and a brief description. Then other users can search for their ad or browse within the categories listed above.

Perhaps the most well known online classifieds website is Craigslist. The site, started by Craig Newmark in San Francisco, took over the internet in the mid to late 90s with options to post ads for nearly anything. E-bay, the online auction website, created Kijiji to compete with this free service. While Craigslist is used almost exclusively in the USA, in Canada Kijiji seems to be much more popular and offers more listings in my experience.

My father is somewhat obsessed with this whole process. He’s bought windows, appliances, furniture, and vehicles off of Kijiji. Both of my parents have also been using it to sell off all their unwanted exercise equipment, appliances, and basketballs (Yes, they recently sold three worn-out basketballs from my childhood for $5 each on the site, which just goes to show there’s nothing too big or small for Kijiji). I’ve also used the site. I’ve found numerous apartments on the site and since I’m currently looking for a summer residence, I posted an ad two days ago. Within 12 hours, I had six responses. Kijiji is also where I found my job selling Christmas trees for two weeks this past December.

While my family and I love the site, it’s not for everyone. When responding to ads, one must remember that it is online and that the ads can be posted by anyone. When going to see an apartment found on the website, it may be best to take precautions. Also, shoppers should always see the item being purchased or apartment being rented before making a commitment; pictures and people lie. A close friend once rented an apartment off the site without going to see it and spent a summer with a hole in her bathroom large enough to see her neighbours.

Craigslist also has a bad reputation as a result of their personal section (Kijiji removed their personals). This is where people can look for dates, friends, and sexual encounters. That said, if any ads are inappropriate or offering something illegal, it’s possible for users to flag them and the administrators of the site will take the offending ad down. As a joke, someone recently posted an ad selling children, which was removed within the hour and police investigated the incident.

So if you want to take second-hand shopping to the next level, check out one of the many free online classified websites that the internet has to offer. And if you want to know why someone wants a super ugly couch because it’s free online… well… I can try to explain!

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