1 How Much Am I Willing to Pay for Convenience? | The Billfold

How Much Am I Willing to Pay for Convenience?

After I got back from the holidays, I noticed that the park across the street had put up two ice rinks. Yay, free ice skating! And then I remembered that I don’t have skates that fit anymore. Here’s a timeline of my attempt to get used skates.

Friday: Look on Amazon to see how much ice skates cost: $32-$45. I bet I can find a better deal on Craigslist. Since I have pretty small feet I guessed that it wouldn’t be too hard to find a pair in my size. Most of the listings were in the suburbs—between not having a car and general apathy, those were out. Anything over $30 was out, since I could find that online. I replied to one post about a pair available near where I live and got a response—they weren’t available on Saturday, but I could maybe try them on Sunday. There was also a pair in a suburb my friend drives through on her way to work for $10, so I contacted the seller about those too, since they were such a good deal.

Saturday: Look at the ice rink, imagine all sorts of fun skating times. Hear back from the seller in the suburb that she’s not interested in coming to Minneapolis; my friend will have to meet here there if I want the skates.

Sunday: Email the seller with the pair for $30. Ask her to contact me via phone. Hear nothing. Email again. Again: Radio silence.

Monday: Chat with the seller of the $10 pair and my friend—the seller isn’t willing to meet at a store near a highway exit. Also I read the ad again and realize the blades will have to be sharpened, meaning more hassle. I email the seller of the $30 pair one more time. Re-checking Craigslist reveals a new pair for sale in northeast Minneapolis (far from me, but not impossible) for $15. I text them. Then I realize that if I had ordered off of Amazon in the first place, I would probably have ice skates by tonight, or at the latest tomorrow. I did get Christmas gift money, after all, and wouldn’t my grandparents want me to get something for myself instead of just spending it on groceries? I order a pair for $34. They’ll be here by Thursday.


Liz Niemer lives in Minneapolis, Minn. She tweets (@lemur_niemer) and blogs here and here. Photo: Saad Ahktar


5 Comments / Post A Comment

garli (#4,150)

Don’t all skates need sharpening from time to time? I assume they need it straight out of the box, but since I haven’t bought a pair this century I can’t say for sure.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

I envy you. I tried to buy skates last year for a reasonable price and the internet was like “Haha, no freakish giant”

Susan Tidebeck (#5,691)

I’m always amazed at how much effort people put into finding a “bargain,” like driving 40 miles to save fifty cents on a toaster. Is it because they want to brag? Superiority?

Perhaps this phenomenon is the result of boomers that were raised by depression era parents. Growing up with the belief that there is nothing but significant lack. Ever.

Hopefully this trend will fade away and everyone will start enjoying life a little bit. And skating!

Adam (#5,554)

I hate to sound like I’m chiding, but since when is it ever the seller’s responsibility to ever go out of their way to meet you in order to sell an item? If you wanted to buy jeans from forever 21, you wouldn’t call up the store and ask if they could drive ten miles to meet you at the Barnes and noble to sell them to you. Why is it any different with craigslist? This is probably my biggest pet peeve of cl – people asking if you can lug the huge-ass item you’re selling to some far away location, only for them to not even show up (what is it with cl and people not showing up???!) if I get an email from a potential cl buyer, asking me to bring the 50lb keyboard I’m selling halfway across town to their local Starbucks for them to view, their email gets lobbed straight in the trash!

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

@Adam indeed. Craigslist sounds like a very time-intensive way to buy/sell things.

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