Today's MoneySmart story brings to mind something I saw on Craigslist a few years ago.
It was a (very funny, creative) ad for a free piano. It included very detailed instructions and rules for the person picking it up:
Here's how it will work. You and as many of your strong friends that you can Tom Sawyer into this job will come by and move the piano off my second floor (1 set of straight stairs) into a vehicle of yours. I'm not lifting it, or providing a vehicle for it. I will help you gently guide it through my house so that I still have walls after you leave.
Now here's the part that I know will be hard for people to understand:
I'm not holding it for anyone without a $100 deposit for every week you want me to hold it. Not even if you ask really nicely.
The first person to show up and take it gets it. This piano was listed once before, and you wouldn't believe the number of homeless dying one-legged Mongolian orphans that just needed a piano to make life better. I heard some great sob stories (probably all true!) about why I should hold this piano for this person or that person. Well, I ended up holding it for the first caller, who never got it. Then I held it for someone else, and they never got it. Then everyone was gone, and I still had a piano.
"But wait!" you're saying. "Why should I put down a deposit on something that's free?" Well, if you want me to hold it, you can give me a $100 bill. I'll tape it to the piano. When you get the piano, you get the $100 with it! It's like getting paid $100 to take the piano! You won't find a better way to get your money back - *and* you get a free piano! If you forget, or get run over by a busload of orphans on their way to get a free harpsichord, I'm going to keep the $100. Want me to hold it 2 weeks? That's $200.
"But I don't trust you to keep my $100..." Well, I don't trust you to come back and get this oversized paperweight. I tried that before and it didn't work.
"But I don't have $100 and I really want the free piano!" OK, just come get it! It's really that simple.
"But I don't have $100 and I can't come by with a truck for two weeks..." No piano for you! Life sucks; get a helmet.
I don't really want the piano. It came with the house when I bought it. I play the flute, which I can carry in one hand. I've tried picking up the piano with 1 hand, and I can't quite get a good grip. Please, take my piano.
So, if you want it, show up and take it! Simple, huh?
---Samantha Maziarz Christmann