Craigslist has added a new category to its growing list of paid-for ads: cars for sale by owner. Beginning April 15, Craigslist — the No. 1 general classifieds site in the world — will charge $5 fees for cars ads from private sellers. Dealers have had to pay since 2013.
That gives the $1 billion-a-year company a fresh stream of revenue, but it might also be a win for users.
Following news of the charge, a minority of commenters on Reddit voiced complaints, but the balance of feedback fell solidly on the “pro” side. “I’m cool with this,” said Reddit user thegoose8. “Cuts down on spam (seeing the same Chevy Silverado posted 100000000000 times).”
“I’m old. It was far more than $5 for an ad in the paper and even a Pennysaver ad was $2-3,” pblood40 replied.
But the vast majority see the fee as a necessary and overdue evil. By-owner car ads are cluttered with repeat listings as sellers repost every day to move their cars to the top. There are ads by dealers trying to pass off as owners to avoid posting fees. And there are spam ads touting Mercedes sports cars for $1.
Clutter is likely what drove the move by Craigslist, although we can’t say for sure because Craigslist didn’t reply to our query about the charge. A nameless spokesperson told Forbes that the move was intended to decrease clutter.
Craig Newmark started Craigslist as a free email entertainment and culture calendar in San Franciso in the early ’90s. Its listings were entirely free until 1998 when it began charging for job postings in San Francisco. It’s since gradually rolled out other fees in different categories and geographies.
Fees for professional car sellers were rolled out in 2013. This included dealers in the U.S. and Vancouver B.C.
Although Craigslist CEO and part-owner Jim Buckmaster is a professed socialist, Craigslist, which attracts nearly 500 million visits per month, is a huge money maker. The company surpassed $1 billion in revenue last year.