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guitarhero1983's avatar

Advice on how to handle awkward Craigslist encounter?

Asked by guitarhero1983 (135points) August 27th, 2010

I am trying to do some work on my car myself to avoid taking it into the shop and it costing $300, so I put a Craigslist ad in the “labor” section asking if anyone would able to help me do the work on the car for $40. I received a ton of responses. I responded to the best response, which was thorough (several paragraphs), very well-written and the guy seemed very eager and interested in helping me. I suggested we meet yesterday at 6:30, and he didn’t respond until the next day. However I didn’t see his response until much later. In his response he said he would go ahead and meet me at 6:30, which seemed strange to me as I had never confirmed the meeting. I e-mailed him at 6:15 asking him to call me, so we could work out the details (perhaps re: meeting at 6:30) but he didn’t call until 10:15, which also seemed inappropriately late to make a phone call. He left a voice mail (calling from an anonymous number—which is also sketchy) asking “what happened?” as he had apparently waited for me for an hour, which seemed quite strange as I had never confirmed the arrangement. He then called me again at 7 am this morning, which seemed very intrusive, and asked where I was. I blew him off gently, being caught off guard with his voice mail at 10pm and phone call at 7am) saying I would give him a call later regarding rescheduling, but at this point I don’t feel comfortable; this guy seems creepy and way too overzealous about helping me, and I don’t like the fact that it’s apparently his policy to use an anonymous number. The only problem is, I told him in my e-mail that I wanted to meet up with him, and so I am worried he is going to flip out on me and potentially become dangerous or do something strange, as perhaps this could be viewed as “rescinding” my acceptance of his offer. I also feel very stupid because I responded to his email with my normal email address, which has my full name and phone number, as I had forgotten to forward his email to my “Craigslist e-mail account” which only has my first name. Any thoughts on how to handle this? I want to tell him it’s not going to work out, but he seems way too eager and industrious to let this one go; I am also concerned (and have learned my lesson) about the fact that he now has my name and phone number.

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23 Answers

poofandmook's avatar

Maybe you can tell him that you’re not going to need to do the repairs at all? You got a great deal on a different car?

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

This sounds suspiciously like some kind of set up. Back away from this.

guitarhero1983's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Thanks. Why do you think this? And how would you recommend I back away exactly, without pissing him off?

Austinlad's avatar

Break off all contact and don’t look back. You owe this guy nada. Even if he’s on the level, which I doubt, he’s not the kind of reliable person you want to do business with. Out of all the responses you got, there’s bound to be someone better than this guy sounds. P.S. Craigslist attracts a lot of nutjobs.

Austinlad's avatar

One more quick comment: You asked @stranger_in_a_strange_land what made him suspicious of the guy, but my suggestion is, don’t look further for imperical evidence. Trust your instict about how odd the experience had been so far and bail.

guitarhero1983's avatar

@Austinlad Thanks. Just concerned he has grounds to sue for breach of contract…

Austinlad's avatar

Nah. I understand your concern, but he has nothing to hold you for.

mowens's avatar

Whenever there is any doubt…. there is now doubt.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@guitarhero1983 I think you should be more concerned about your safety than getting somebody angry who is a complete stranger.

lilikoi's avatar

Calm down. It sounds like you’re blowing this way out of proportion. Lawsuit? No. An auto mechanic is more like a plumber than a wall street suit. He may not keep normal hours. He probably doesn’t have a secretary to make sure he gets and responds to all his messages in a timely fashion. The economy isn’t that hot and he may really need the work. Maybe he is an “illegal immigrant” and his livelihood is based on under-the-table gigs like this. You don’t know his story, you don’t know him, and it is pretty wild to assume he’s a serial killer or something based on a few missed phone calls.

That said, you had a (wild) gut reaction, and I wouldn’t ignore it. Just politely tell him you don’t need the work done or whatever and leave it at that. If he persists in calling you at odd hours, then you have a real problem worth losing sleep over.

guitarhero1983's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land But someone who is angry is a threat to my safety, no?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think you’re over-reacting. Simply tell him you found another person to help you and hang up.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I’m with @Simone_De_Beauvoir – I’ve done alot on craigslist as far as odd jobs and yard stuff, I just tell them I found somebody else, or don’t need the work done anymore. I’ve never had anybody do anything wierd. You’ll be ok.

marinelife's avatar

Simple tell him that you are sorry about the miscommunication, but your needs have changed.

jca's avatar

very strange that he’s so eager to make $40. a word of advice – change your email so it does not show your real name. You can go into security settings or something and just make it show the name that is the email name – like if your email is “,” don’t have it show your name to be “john smith,” make it show your name to be “1234.”

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Gadzooks, that is as simple as falling off a log. Because he was so sketchy contacting you tell him that you found another person and got the task done by way of them. Thank him and say “sorry we could not seem to connect but, I had to get this done fast” and be done with him. :-)

Tuesdays_Child's avatar

You don’t have to make up a story to tell him, use the truth. Tell him his response to the missed communication made you uneasy and you would prefer to look elsewhere for help. Simple and true, thanks but no thanks. As for the idea that he could sue you for breach of contract, the grounds would be pretty slim and would cost him more to file and get things started than he couls stand to gain, plus it would make him have to report the income as taxes. Really not worth his time.

Tuesdays_Child's avatar

couls – could, sorry.

mowens's avatar

That was a typo. That was supposed to read: “Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt.”

guitarhero1983's avatar

@jca But would that apply to earlier e-mails I’ve sent? And also, I want all my friends, etc. to see my last name.

jca's avatar

@guitarhero1983 : if all your friends know that you, joe smith, have the email, then what do they have to see joe smith’s name for when they receive the email?

or, if you want to, set up another email for other people who are not your friends. so your friends have, saying “joe smith” and your non-friends, non-personal, have saying “9876” or whatever.

iamthemob's avatar

Although he has more information than you would like him to have, realize that in order for him to use it requires some effort on his part. In the vast majority of cases, if someone stops responding party attempting contact will just assume that they found other prospects or that the poster was just a flake. Either way, it takes a special sort of crazy to stalk you based on what seems to be fairly surface interactions. Stop responding, he should get the message. Generally I would suggest emailing that you won’t need him after all, etc., but because there appears to be tension, I would just stop. If he doesn’t get the message, email that you’re all good and won’t need him. And if for some reason you begin to feel harassed, I would repost at that point – but I would probably simultaneously contact the authorities.

musicislife75's avatar

i would just ignore him and pick someone else to help you.

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