Ethics when freecycling...?? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm doing spring cleaning and finally getting rid of stuff that has been on my to do list for who knows how long.

But here's the problem... When I usually list something I get 2-3 responses and I just pick the first person to respond to get the item.

Well this time, I listed a great working, older laptop, complete with high-speed internet adaptor, and printer. So I've got about 15 responses, some are serious sad stories. And the first one to respond says his son is looking for a laptop, his name and number. That's it. Very nonchalantly, like he doesn't care one way or the other. Then there are all these others who are desperate to get it.

Do I just go with the "first come, first serve" way of picking, or should I pick someone based on need? Or is it my place to even judge like that?

What do you all think?

I'm not sure what to do!!!

Thanks!
Sarah

Sarah, wife to dh, mama to dd 1/07/03 and ds 3/30/05
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#2 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 04:02 PM
 
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I usually give my things to the first to respond.
BUT a labtop is pricey and I think I would give it to someone who NEEDS it, kwim?
Ultimiately its YOURS and you can give it to whom you please !!

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#3 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 04:02 PM
 
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One of the joys of freecycle is you're in charge of who you give it to. I just had a really rather snotty response for a potty chair I listed; I'm not giving it to her. And that's OK, because it's mine to give, you know? Anyway, I say give it to whoever you feel like giving it to.

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#4 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 04:04 PM
 
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Here, it is completely the giver's discretion who gets it. I used to do first come first serve, until I gave an old microwave away in Sept 05. I gave it to the first person who emailed me. The next day, I got an email from someone who was housing some people from Katrina who were in desperate need of one. I couldn't help them because it had already been picked up and I felt terrible about it. So, from then on, I always wait a couple of days and then use my own judgment to pick. It isn't unfair - you're giving it to them, it's very much "your place" to decide who gets it.

As a side note, I might scan through your local chapter's rules to make sure. I know this is clearly listed in the rules on our yahoo group.

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#5 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 04:05 PM
 
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Call me strange, but I'm kinda leary about sad stories for expensive items, especially on FreeCycle. It seems like everyone comes out of the woodwork with a story. I know most of them are probably true, but I would hate to pick the saddest story that's not necessarilty true, ya know?
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#6 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 04:14 PM
 
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I have a better idea - send it to me! Just kidding! I'd definitely give it to someone who needs it. Yes, some people may be lying about their need, but I believe Karma will come back around and bite 'em in the butt for that!
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#7 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 04:23 PM
 
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It's up to you, really.
I don't like the first-come, first-serve policy because not everyone is sitting by their computer all day long, ykwim? Most moms are chasing kids around, etc. So I like to wait until I have a few responses and pick the best one. Not necessarily looking for a sob story, but someone who says why they will be able to use it, etc. The people who simply say "I'll take it" never get an item from me
But it's totally up to you.. you can choose however you'd like. People have all sorts of different methods

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#8 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 04:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the responses... I just read through all the emails again. The pathetic stories I'm weeding out (partly because they live FOUR hours away from me and I'm spring cleaning, aka it's gotta get out of here soon!). And I know this sounds totally judgemental and shouldn't determine my decision overall, but a huge number of misspelled words really turn me off. Retarded I know. I guess I'm just a spelling freak. lol.

Also most of the folks just put their name and number. No ideas to go off of there.

One guy emailed me twice saying "I have a good use for this". I'm sure you do, but do you want to share? B/c I'm guessing most people do. lol. Though his offer is tempting, since he says he can come get it today... hmmm..

Anyway, just read the rules of my freecycle and it basically says to give it to whom you want, and keep charity organizations at the top of the list.

Hmmm.. Decisions. :

Thanks though for all the insights!!! It's nice to know I can pick who I give it to!
Sarah

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#9 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 09:42 PM
 
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I would give it to the person I thought would need it the most
I would have NO PROBLEMS with that.
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#10 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 09:47 PM
 
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I gave away a laptop on freecycle - it was a serious influx of emails! Even after I emailed saying it was taken, I kept getting them.

I chose to give it to a mom who said she wanted to start a home business and pack up her four kids and drive the 30 minutes right away. I felt like it was one of the most sincere responses, since she didn't give a sob story, just explained and the fact that she was willing to pack up her kids and drive to get it right away told me the rest. I was very happy with my decision and I'm glad to think I might have helped her start a home business.

Choose whichever response you feel right with, its totally up to you!

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#11 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 10:01 PM
 
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If I get a bunch of responses, I like to wait until I get one I'm sure will come pick it up. Some people jump on stuff quickly and then never follow up. It's like some kind of freecycle OCD.

I'm also not trusting of the serious hard luck stories. Not all of them, but I try to have a BS detector about them. There was someone who posted a "WANTED" here for a flat screen computer monitor. He said he was building a computer that he was going to sell and then give the profits to charity. That just sounded ridiculous to me. That guy just wanted a flat screen monitor.
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#12 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 10:11 PM
 
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I have to admit, there are a few freecyclers that I just won't give stuff to, even if they're the first. There was one lady who constantly listed this thing or that thing, threatening if it wasn't picked up, etc., then asking everyone for job leads on get-rich-quick schemes, or donations for her own yard sale so she could make a car payment, then she gets kicked out of one house, and has to redo all the decorations in the new one, and now she's asking if anyone knows of a good place to live, and by the way her daughter wants a purple bedroom (when last month she was wanting to do up a room in hello kitty crap) I see that as an overuse of a wonderful thing, and a confusion of need/want, and person who needs to get off the computer and get a job, but again, like a pp said, the beauty of freecycle is you get to choose.
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#13 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 10:26 PM
 
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I usually wait a couple of days, and I say in my offer that I'm going to do that. For instance I might list something on Thurs. and say I'll check my email Sat. for responses, and then pick whoever I feel like giving stuff to. I don't go with first come first gets it...because I have noticed that the first requesters are always the same few people!!!
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#14 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 10:31 PM
 
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I thought there were rules? I thought first person to respond gets it? Maybe that's why no one responds to me--I just say, "I'm interested if it's still available."

:Mama to 2 :
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#15 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 10:35 PM
 
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Our local freecycle just added some rules for Wanted posts... things like you have to have offered stuff first, you can only ask for the same item once a month, wanted posts cannot contain a sob story, i.e. "Wanted: Cat Food [Part of town] Rescue organization in search of cat food, will pick up" is acceptable but you cannot go on and on about how your husband left and your kids REALLY want a PS3 for Christmas and your job only pays 23 cents an hour and they are mourning the loss of a pet turtle, blah blah blah.

I found the home for a stray on freecycle and I made it clear I was NOT letting her go to the first person who asked and I screened this family for weeks w/ visits at my home and at theirs and the match could not have been more perfect.

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#16 of 36 Old 03-18-2007, 10:38 PM
 
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I don't always go with the first person. It depends how they sound. I hate ones who are abrupt. I don't want an epic, but I do want at least the courtesy of a full sentence if I'm giving someone something that I could easily sell on craigslist.

Which reminds me that I must reply to someone about a girls' bike I'm giving away. I'm really happy about this one as the mum is excited about doing the bike up for her dd. Dh thinks I'm awful for not doing the work myself - he can't understand why anyone would want a 'fixer upper' bike for free LOL. He wanted me to spend time and $$s fixing it up before offering it on Freecycle. : Luckily the first person to respond seemed really cool, so I feel good about this one. No sob story, just that she'd like to have it and fix it up for her dd.
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#17 of 36 Old 03-19-2007, 12:43 AM
 
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Our rules also say we can choose recipients however we'd like, so I would totally have no problem with that.

I love freecycling stuff, but I do wish I were on a list that had stricter rules, or something. I am really getting sick of the "Wanteds" on our list. There was a recent one where a woman wanted a TV to replace the one her daughter used in her room to play video games. I believe the words "my daughter is looking for an upgrade" were in the freecycle post.

(Sorry for the off-topic!)

There's me, DH, and the little guy (8/05). Expecting another little one 10/10! Hoping for a .
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#18 of 36 Old 03-19-2007, 12:51 AM
 
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I skip the three word emails, and I skip the ones that can't seem to spell "Thank you". I have had the same dilemmas as the OP, but have learned over time that you're the ultimate decision maker. I've even offered to someone, only to retract if the response time after the initial contact was waaay too long. i.e. I offer on Friday, they respond right away, I give them my address minutes later, they haven't gotten back to me by Saturday evening to say they're going to actually come and pick it up. Freecyle can be so great...

I hate the Wanteds that "desperately NEED" some luxury item or other, such as a DVD player or whatever. Nobody NEEEEEDS those things!!
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#19 of 36 Old 03-19-2007, 01:05 AM
 
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I freecycle several times a year. My favorite was when I cleaned out my son's closet and offered up some clothes. A mama responded that her son would love to have the sweatshirts and jeans. I loved that the clothes were going to another teenager

I also choose who gets the books I list. I am very concerned that the books would be picked up and never read. I've gotten several great reviews of my freecycled book collection from recipients

I also posted before my dd's bday that I would love to give her a gift and a very great mama responded that she had a toddler stand up piano that I could pick up. It was perfect and dd loved it. I emailed the mama back and told her all about it!

Our rules state that the offerer has sole discretion about who recieves the gift as well as the option to cancel the transaction altogether. We also have to list items before requesting something.
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#20 of 36 Old 03-19-2007, 02:44 PM
 
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Our local Freecycle guidelines actually recommend that you wait a period of time before deciding who to give an offered item to, in order to give different people a fair chance. I like this system better than simply "first come, first served" because it lets people who don't have the time to sit at their computer 24/7 responding to Freecycle posts still have a chance to get something. (Seriously -- if I post an offer, I can guarantee that two of the first five responses will be from the same couple of people, who are apparently constantly checking Freecycle.)

What I usually do is wait 24 hours -- I specify in my post that I am doing this -- and then just pick the one that sounds the best, or randomly pick one, depending on my mood. I delete anything that is overly rude, i.e. "yeah i want that tell me where u r so i can pick up" or people who are collecting for charities (nothing wrong with charities but if I wanted to donate to charity I'd do it directly, I prefer my Freecycle stuff to go to individuals, just my preference). For clothing I often will go with someone who mentions that their kid is actually in the size that I'm giving out. But it varies. At any rate, I think it's definitely okay NOT to just go with first come, first served.
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#21 of 36 Old 03-19-2007, 06:10 PM
 
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It is tough!! I usually go with whoever can pick up first, just because I'm pregnant and can't be lugging stuff inside and out due to no-shows.

Here's my best Freecycle story:

I offered several household items and one lady responded saying she would LOVE to come pick it up. She was mom to 4 kids, including infant twins. She and her fiancee had been homeless for a while, but then a friend helped them get a house and they were really trying to get their lives together. I told her the stuff was hers and even went through the house and packed up a bunch of other stuff I thought she could use - sheet sets, curtains, etc, etc. She started chatting with me over ICQ and was giving me updates: her friend had to take a shower, now her friend was out of the shower and they were packing the kids up. Now they were leaving...and then she told me that she had passed my ICQ info over to her fiancee who was at home...wait, huh??

He started ICQing me and tried to tell me that we had talked in the past. THen he wanted my picture. I told him I don't give my picture to strangers. And I stopped talking to him.

So I waited all day and they never showed up. Emailed her, ICQed her...nothing. I waited all day the following day, too because it seemed like they really needed everything. Nothing. Finally reluctantly offered everything back up on Freecycle and someone picked it up on day 3. On day 4 the fiancee shows up out of the blue and said he was there to pick up the stuff and then seemed hurt that it was gone. Luckily my husband was home and answered the door and dealt with the guy. The gal emailed me sort of huffily and asked why I gave it away. : Then told me how her friend had decided not to drive her out after all and then took the computer away. Whatever.

The guy kept emailing my yahoo account for a while. I never answered and now I think he's got the hint.

Whew. Sorry for the novel!
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#22 of 36 Old 03-20-2007, 04:38 AM
 
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I originally signed up for freecycle back when I was pregnant, bored, and had heard that some posts can be pretty funny in a pathetic sort of way.

I've been offering things on freecycle all weekend. The only amusing thing I could see was that the cheap knife block I offered up has recieved 30+ responses. I posted it about 12 hours ago.

Mama to Raina (9/06) and Peter (8/09)!
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#23 of 36 Old 03-20-2007, 12:31 PM
 
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I once read an article about the person who started freecycle, and it was meant only to be used for things that charities would not accept. They never meant it to take away from goods that a charity would use. As this is probably a very good quality item, why not consider donating it to a charity? They often even have drop off spots, and if you have quite a few items they will schedule a pick-up. Or, you could pick an organization that you feel strongly about...a woman's shelter or something...and give it to them and they could see that some deserving woman who was getting a new start in life had it to use as a resource.

My sister too tried freecycle for a number of items...she too had a problem (similar to the person a couple messages up). She wound up with an irate person pounding on her door late at night. She was freaked out as it was, then she had to deal with the knowledge that the person had her email address AND worse, knew where she lived. After that, she decided it was no longer a good idea to invite complete strangers off the internet to her home. So, she now just drops off at the Salvation army drop spot whenever she goes to Chick-fil-a (they've got a drop spot there).

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#24 of 36 Old 03-20-2007, 01:46 PM
 
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I'm sure that some of the sob stories are lies. I don't like being manipulated so I'd go with one that seems more feasible.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#25 of 36 Old 03-20-2007, 03:13 PM
 
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The sob stories don't really work for me. I don't like when people go into every detail of why they need said item.
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#26 of 36 Old 03-20-2007, 03:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ~Megan~ View Post
I'm sure that some of the sob stories are lies. I don't like being manipulated so I'd go with one that seems more feasible.
Exactly.
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#27 of 36 Old 03-20-2007, 07:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ~Megan~ View Post
I'm sure that some of the sob stories are lies. I don't like being manipulated so I'd go with one that seems more feasible.
Yeah, I don't like the sob stories. Tell me why you need the item, or what you want to do with it, sure, but the fact that you have fibromyalgia has zero zip nada to do with why you want a bucket of old licorice I'm giving away!

On our local freecycle, I noticed that the same person was responding to ALL of my offereds, with a boilerplate email ("I am interested in the item" without specifying what the item was).

I wait at least a day, and offer to the person who both seems like they'll really use it AND, more important, will come and get it when they say they will.

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#28 of 36 Old 03-21-2007, 02:20 AM
 
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Originally Posted by miss_sonja View Post
Yeah, I don't like the sob stories. Tell me why you need the item, or what you want to do with it, sure, but the fact that you have fibromyalgia has zero zip nada to do with why you want a bucket of old licorice I'm giving away!

Too funny.

I would love to read that article about freecyle... I didn't know it was for things charities wouldn't accept... I had assumed it was more of a "so this stuff doesn't end up in landfills" motivation.

There's me, DH, and the little guy (8/05). Expecting another little one 10/10! Hoping for a .
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#29 of 36 Old 03-21-2007, 02:55 AM
 
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I had assumed it was more of a "so this stuff doesn't end up in landfills" motivation.
I think that is the common thought now. Each list has to adhere to certain guidelines that the mods monitor for. And we are monitored to make sure we do so. Typically the guidelines state that it has to be completely free (no strings attached), legal, and an item that would otherwise be in the landfill (so no services, etc.). We actually recommend that our members keep a "do not deal with" list of sorts to keep track of the people who never show up, are rude, offer things that are not as described, etc. That way you know instantly who NOT to give your stuff to. And it is nice to wait a day before deciding so that people who don't actually sit in front of the computer 24/7 have a chance too.

I always decide by who actually has manners (please and thank you go a long way) and who has a nice, normal (read: no sob stories) reason for wanting it. If it is someone I have had good dealings with or I know to be reliable, then all the better.

So it is up to you. Give it to whoever you want to


 

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#30 of 36 Old 03-21-2007, 07:19 AM
 
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Well, I normally go first come, first serve, and that has worked great (they were at the right place at the right time, like they were meant to have the item). However, recently I fell for a sob-story for some items I was giving away, and I will NEVER do it again. I find out that the woman lived about an hour away, and gave me the run around. I really didn't think it was fair that she was not local. Then, when it came time to FINALLY pick up the items (I made up a story to get her butt here, because even though I listed the items as pending, my e-mail box was getting flooded by other people begging for the items), she ask someone else to pick it up, who then sent someone else to pick it up, and it created a lot of confusion (she didn't tell me either). Ugh - too much of a headache!

I also will also probably not respond to "Wanted" posts anymore - that act like they really want it, act all greatful, but in the end .

So, sadly the sob stories just don't work for me anymore.
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