Buyer Beware. Craigslist Cautionary Tales
From outright fraud, to simple misinformation. Have a scary or amusing example? Send it to us and we'll add it here!
Free Piano - "Donation" or " Owner Passed"
This scam plays on your sympathies - some "owner" claims to have a piano that belonged to a spouse/mother/etc. who has recently passed. And the survivor wants to give their newish Steinway, Yamaha, etc to a good home. Often the piano is shown wrapped and ready for delivery - which means you can't go see what you are buying.
This piano may even be offered for "free" - until you find out you need to spend $2000 to ship it to you. Once the "moving company" is paid, everyone goes POOF!
This particular piano scammer actually used a photo of another piano from sale at a dealer to post on Craigslist. Try using the right click and google search for the image to see where the piano is actually for sale before you buy a piano that doesn't exist!
Scammers have also started posting a "donation" piano on univeristy alumni and other websites requesting you just pay for shipping.
"Free Pianos" = Kindling
Do you often give away items of value to strangers for free? No? Well neither does anyone else. This simply means that the owner has already tried to sell it to several dealers, their friends and neighbors and probably listed it on Craigslist and Ebay for a few hundred bucks before finally giving up and listing it as "free."
Remember you have to move this piano, tune this piano and maintain it every year. Since the piano is out of tune already, you cannot easily access how it will eventually sound and how many parts are actually beyond fixing. Small uprights that are over 50 years old or are from a manufacturer that went out of business decades ago are prime candidates for a viking funeral! You may well get stuck with the bill for disposing of a piano that someone foisted off on you for "free."
We know way too many technicians who routinely have to inform owners who just bought their piano on Craigslist that they will not even hold a tune.
At minimum, we recommend have a piano technician inspect any piano you are about to buy from a private party!
Music Teacher or School Piano
This generally means one of two things - either the piano was played to death for hours every day and needs more repair work than it is worth. Worse, the teacher bought it on Craigslist and is hoping that someone will pay more for it from a piano teacher.
Downsizing music schools has also been popular lately. Again, the general rule is that teaching pianos get 5-10 times as much wear in a year as a normal home piano. If you are buying a 10 year old piano from a school, it likely has 50 years worth of wear.