As soon as somebody cones to look at a car and they start quibbling over mind numbingly boring queries about what spec a £500 car is, I know then I've got a timewaster. Your ideal purchaser turns up on time, doesn't act odd, wants a drive, has £500 in his back burner and can make a prompt timely decision. The problem is a lot with just £500 to spend cannot actually afford a car full stop, they're just there for the day out on the off chance they can get it for 25p.
The biggest ball-ache I ever had selling a car was a 1986 Fiesta 1.1 that spectacularly failed its MOT on massive corrosion. The engine was perfect through with only 40k genuine miles and it had a mint Ghia interior, so I thought it may be some use to someone. I bucked it in the Friday Ad with an honest appraisal of its MOT failures and calling it a spares car only, just needing it gone - for the princely sum of *fifty quid* .
Took about thirty calls in two hours - "Can you deliver it to Southampton?" Erm, no. "Is it taxed and MOTd?" No it isn't, as stated quite clearly in the ad. "Can you keep it for me until I get back to Brighton in February?" Since this is early December, no. "Would you take the £50 in Shop4All vouchers?" Fuck. Right. Off.
The only person to actually bother their arse calling over (two hours after he said he'd show, and with two strangely silent friends in a Transit) spent an hour closely examining it, prodding it, test driving it up and down the street several times (even though I'd demonstrated how totally rotten the shell was by poking my finger right through the crusty wing), stroking his chin and making phone calls to various persons unknown, before making a "firm offer" of £40. Eager to get my life back, I accepted.
On the way up the stairs to the flat to fill in the V5, he asked whether the rear seat belts were ok, as he'd just remembered he had to look after the kiddies at the weekend. Slightly agog at his presumption he'd be driving it anywhere anytime soon, I told him there were no rear seatbelts fitted (ex-Guernsey car, so seemingly not quite UK spec). He immediately threw a paddy, finger-pointing, accusing me of wasting his time and endangering his precious children etc etc.
I ended up letting him take it away for £30. I've never been so tired in my life. I should have just taken it down to the metal recyclers at Shoreham docks and let them feed it into their giant cheesegrater.
[as previously posted on the 'Shite You Most Regret Weighing In' thread, as one I wished I had weighed in, but I think it bears repeating for all of us who have had to deal with the absolute bottom of the automotive sales barrel.]
Note also that when I bought this Fezzer out of Auto Trader nearly three years before (as an MOT failure for £120), I'd called the seller from work at lunchtime and agreed a mutually convenient post tea-time viewing for the car. I showed up at 7 as arranged, drove it slowly round the block (yes, it was somewhat fucked but then I wasn't expecting much for the price and knew I could easily sort the non-functional brakes and raggy arches) and returned to the seller with cash in pocket to pay the full asking price.
Arriving back, I noticed another Fiesta parked outside, filthy and with what seemed like thirty people packed into it. There was a ding-dong argument in progress on the driveway, with another putative buyer roaring and shouting at my vendor. Apparently, he had phoned about the car after I'd already arranged a viewing, and despite this being made clear to him, he had driven down straight away from Belfast (along with the rest of the street, seemingly). However, he managed to get himself lost in the warren of streets around Towerview and so wasn't able to nip in ahead of me, and was now in a terrible rage about it, since I had 'stolen' 'his' car.
I think the vendor (a fairly mild-mannered chap in his 50s) ended up having to give him a substantial wodge of my purchase cash as 'petrol money' just to get him to go away. I received quite a lot of abuse and veiled threats too. All over the head of a cheapo lilac Fiesta.