Who would write a form letter to enquire about an item for sale?
Starting our fourth decade: Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online for 31 years


If it smells like a fish …

August 24, 2014

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, The Post-Standard

Nancy had barely placed an ad for our motor home on Craigslist when she shouted across the room: "Someone wants to buy it!"

But the reply seemed odd. As a writer, the first thing she noticed was the awkwardness of the phrases in the message. It obviously was not written by someone familiar with English.

It even seemed like a form letter.

Who would write a form letter to enquire about an item for sale? Why not just say, "Hey, I'm interested. Can you tell me more about it?"

No. The message said something like "my movers will pick up your item since I can't come to retrieve it."

What? My movers? And how do you retrieve a motor home? The next thing will be a note telling her to deposit a few thousand bucks in some Nigerian bank as a good faith gesture -- money she would, of course, get back as soon as the deal was completed.

She can smell a fish half a world away. So Nancy wrote back and said, "No deal. Get lost."

The purported buyer then thanked Nancy for supplying the information and said he was ready to purchase our item, if the movers did whatever they were supposed to do and if, ahem, she fell for his ploy. Or something like that. I was doubled over with laughter, paying no attention to what else was going on.

What kind of person doesn't know what "Get lost" means? A scam artist who knows nothing of our English idioms, of course.

When the ad expired, Nancy placed it again. Same thing. A different scam artist, maybe. Or maybe not. It didn't matter.

They say bloodhounds can pick up a scent that comes from a mile away. I know someone who can do much better than that.

By the way, our motor home is indeed for sale. Send me an email if you're interested.