February 26, 2021•1,423 words
Wow. After getting laid off from my food delivery job a few weeks ago, I didn't realize how utterly bored I am. Of course, anxiety as to how the bills are going to get paid -- I know I'm by far not the only one who is currently suffering from unemployment. Every couple of minutes I've been impulsively checking my email, and if I'm not doing that, I'm playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
So you're probably wondering, "Why would you try to buy a PS5 when you don't have a job?" Heh. I'm kind of wondering that myself. I guess it goes to show I want to try something different in an attempt to stave off boredom.
I don't understand why anyone would ever recommend Craigslist. Every, and I mean every, time I've made any sort of business trade through that site, I got robbed. The seller won't ever tell you that the puppy you're looking at buying was probably traumatized early on in his life, and seemingly every step a person takes near him causes him to scurry to the nearest exit. They won't tell you that, despite the Toyota Avalon they're selling looks shiny and drives great, in just a matter of weeks you may end up spending thousands of dollars on original parts, because the "upgrades" the seller put on it is all falling apart.
And they won't tell you that the console they're selling is more likely than not stolen.
I've had bad results with Craigslist, but this was by far the worst of them all. I couldn't believe at myself for how dumb I was to fall for this guy, and chances are I'm probably not ever going to see my cash back.
Relating this story has a twofold purpose:
- It's a way for me to vent my frustration and anger at myself for falling for this trap, as well as the individual involved and Craigslist in general
- I'm hoping that if you stick around, you'll be able to learn a couple of lessons doing business transactions with complete strangers and not to do the things that I did
You're probably aware that, at such a time as COVID, hardware has been incredibly difficult to come by. It doesn't matter whether you're looking at a console, a graphics card, a processor, or even a Tesla. Chances are you're going to find the average price of a console $1,500 on eBay. Well, I tried to get a little creative and see if I could get a PS5 a little cheaper than that, but the caveat is that the console would be broken and I'd have to find a way to repair it.
So I put an ad up on Craigslist. A little less than a week after posting it, I got a text early Wednesday morning.
Hey you still looking to buy a broken ps5? This one cannot connect to PSN network.
Right off the bat, I should've clarified my post that I wanted a console that was broken hardware-wise, not because of software. But I asked him anyway if it could still connect to the Internet and load web pages.
Yes it can.
I asked him to send a couple of pictures. He sends three: the first was the box, the second was the cables and the controller, and the third was the console itself, enclosed by the egg cartons typically shipped in the PS5 box.
Looks like everything's there. Console itself looks pretty good too. I offered him a price, a price lower than the MSRP. He told me he was fine with my offer. You're not even going to negotiate the price with me, kid?
I find out he's located just a hair less than an hour away from me. So we agreed to meet at a location that was about halfway between us.
I wait a few minutes at the parking lot. I wave to him as his car approaches. Right away, I could smell weed. All these red flags were raised high up and I was stupid enough to keep falling for this.
He opens up his trunk and there is the box. I ask him to open it so I can verify everything's in there. Sure enough, everything's there.
"How long have you had this?" I ask.
"Just a day. I've since bought a PC and use that for my gaming needs."
I hand him the cash. I even tell him to count it to make sure it was what I offered. He counts it, verifies it's the correct amount, then he hands me the console.
A 40-minute drive back home later, I open up the box. The smell of weed remained. I notice one side of the console is dirty. I take some isopropyl alcohol and a toothbrush, and got to work getting rid of the dirtiness. I didn't completely get rid of it, but it looked better. I plug the console in and see what's going on.
It turns on. Okay, good. There's a video on the monitor. Okay, better. Then I find out I can't connect to PSN, just like he said.
Error code WS-116332-6. There was a message that said something along the lines of "Your console has been temporarily or permanently banned from accessing PSN." I look the code up online and sure enough, that's what the code means; he broke the terms of service. Apparently Sony can even track down consoles by their serial number and discover whether it was actually purchased or not.
Means this console is just a brick that's useless. And on top of this, I just supported a criminal and now I'm guilty of owning the console.
Though I probably could still make some use out of it if it had a disc drive, it didn't. No games, and no games were able to be downloaded.
I call PlayStation support. They directed me to call PlayStation Direct. Called them, told me there was nothing they could do. I tried the same with their online chat, and they told me the same thing. Now I get a sinking feeling in my heart, like I was playing the anti-piracy screen in my head. I paid this guy so he could be clear from theft, and he transferred that burden to me.
Now, I don't know for a certainty if he actually stole it or not. There are plenty of other things that he could of done to violate the TOS; he could of sent porn to someone on his friends' list, he could have taken advantage of the PS Plus Collection exploit, he could have sent hateful messages to someone, I don't know. But since he apparently only had it for a day, it's more than likely he stole it, especially since he didn't get back to me after asking him where he "bought" it (of course, I knew that was something I should've asked him before I made the purchase).
So I looked up his phone number online and found his address. I packed the console back up, drove an hour to get there, and of course he's not there. So I decide to leave the box by his apartment. No way was I going to keep this.
I filed a police report with his town's police department for theft. I've yet to hear from them, but hopefully they'll punish this scumbag for what he did.
Now, the takeaway lesson. Please, I cannot stress enough how careful you need to be when buying from strangers, especially from the likes of Craigslist. In fact, if you can, don't go there at all. Like I said earlier, I have never had a good time buying from anybody there, and this was by far the worst incident I've ever dealt with. Just be patient. Scalpers will eventually have enough with buying (or stealing, as in this case) consoles before they even come on the shelf, and prices will go back to normal. And if you do really want to buy from someone, don't be afraid to ask them a plethora of questions. You deserve all the information you need. Ask for pictures. Call them to make sure they're an actual human. Test the console before you buy it. Once you buy it, the seller couldn't give a rat's behind about you and they'll probably block your number too, because they know you're going to get upset that you just got ripped off.
Anyway. That's my story. Be extremely cautious when dealing with people on Craigslist.