Finding Manners on Freecycle

You may be familiar with online communities such as FreeCycle/Freegle; messageboards where people can post items that they no longer need, or requests for unwanted items. Boards are organised by geographical area, and you’ll find everything from 6 month old sofas, to second hand pants.

One thing the website seems to be quite short on, however, is manners. On the Portsmouth board there were frequent requests for expensive items such as iPads, iPhones, DSLR cameras, MacBooks, cars, motorbikes… all sorts. Two months after the iPhone 4 came out there was already a request for an “unwanted” one.

These requests are unrealistic and somewhat arrogantly greedy, but at least you can laugh at them and scroll down. Unfortunately, these kind of people also reply to offered ads, and here the sense of self entitlement really shines through.

I’ve “got rid of” a lot of stuff on Freecycle; a bed, a sofa, a sofabed, old computers, clothes, shoes, etc etc, and it can be hugely useful for shifting furniture fairly quickly. Nearly every message I’ve posted has had multiple replies, which is great, but I do wonder how these people interact in “the real world”.

We needed to get rid of an old bike, it’s not fubar but certainly needs some TLC to make it roadworthy, so I was surprised to receive 37 emails within an hour of posting:

Getting rid of an old bike which is no longer needed, it’s a Saracen, and the frame size is a men’s large.
It’s been well used, and could definitely do with some TLC, but it is currently rideable at least, so I expect with some WD40 and a bit of know-how it’ll have a fair few miles left in it.

No phone numbers, collection between 2pm-6pm today please.

Here are some of the most notable replies:

Yes plz to ur ad


Hello, I’ve not had much luck lately as my wife has just been diagnosed with cancer, so a new bike would be great, thanks.

Wow, pulling the c-card in the hope of getting a second hand bike. Classy. Also, I’d suggest that if this is true, your wife is having somewhat worse luck than you are. On two counts.

is it available

I don’t know, is it? Huh?

can i have the bike


hi do u still have this bike i need a bike as i lost mine thanx

You LOST a bike? Lost it? And you’re happy to freely admit this to a stranger in the hope that they’ll give you theirs?

yes pls

no thx

bike pls 077********

This is why I specified “no phone numbers” in the post, because people will just send you their mobile number and expect you to call them. Obviously this person was not only too busy to converse by email, but also too important to even read the sodding post in the first place.

I really need a bike, I’ll be there in 10 minutes

¬†Shit, really? Do you know where I live? How? I haven’t given you my address…¬†

Now I admit I have a tendency towards pedantry, but I don’t think I was being terribly unfair in rejecting these replies. If you’re asking someone to give you their property, for free, the least you can do is use a properly structured sentence. I’m still reeling from the “cancer” reply, that’s certainly a new one.

I’m tempted to link to this in my next Freecycle post, but as most people don’t bother reading beyond the subject line, I doubt it’ll be worth it.

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