[Selling Zeal] Troubleshooting Entertainment Gateways

This Gateway 2000 4DX2-66 was a buddy’s old computer he hadn’t used in years. When I tried booting into it, I ran into weird enough challenges to where after about a half-hour of troubleshooting, I decided to sell it as-is, and within a day, I’d already sold it to someone that was willing to take on the troubleshooting challenge. It’s all about the priorities we set for ourselves. For me, that entertainment wasn’t worthwhile. For him…

“I wanna play old games on it.[1]”

Carson” responded right away with the following email: “Hi there! Just saw your posting on Craigslist and I’m very interested if it’s still available. Looks like it could be a fun project :D. When would you be able to meet up? I’m free any time this evening or any other day this week after 3. Let me know!”

That was all the information I needed to know that this computer would go to a good home.

Briefly dissecting the email, he says right away that it looks like a fun project. In the ad, I posted some of the troubleshooting I had done: “This PC starts up, clears POST, but hangs at the Windows 95 screen. Switching types in the BIOS away from [hard drive] type 23 makes the HDD not found. Tried with two LCD monitors but it might work with a larger CRT monitor. It should make for a fun project computer. Selling as-is, cash only, local pickup.”

I included the photos included in this essay in the ad.

I have no attachment to that computer and the benefit I’ll get from working on this computer as opposed to the four computers of mine that I have an attachment to is minimal. My buddy doesn’t want it. So it should go to a home where they could take on the project for themselves. I’ve been posting these computers for between $20 and $40, usually, as more of a troubleshooting skill floor, if you will.

Everyone will take on a project if it’s free.

If you pony up some cash for it, however, it makes the project more substantial. You had to work for that money that you’re giving over to someone. It also means, too, that I believe the item is worth that much. I told “Carson” as much as well, explaining that if it wouldn’t boot or clunked, I would have chucked it.

I am beginning to quickly tell if buyers are worth the interaction time.

For someone like “Carson,” he gives all the relevant information upfront, and questions he might ask are less like other buyers where all they ask is for the specs without leading into further conversation. He asked a few questions in person about whether I was the original owner, which is a question you’d see more when buying automobiles, but these are all good questions that shouldn’t impair the buying process.

Let’s say you wanted this computer but had some questions.

I think it’s fine to ask those questions along with stating your interest and availability. That’s the big thing I subconsciously look for in buyers’s emails. Even something like this is fine: “hey, is this for sale still? I’d love to buy it! I can buy it tonight and am open throughout the week. I did have a few questions – Can you send along the specs? Would it be annoying to send a photo of the inside? Thanks!”

I find that putting in a phone number legitimizes the interaction.

If you have a burner email address without your name on it, as I do, then I have no problem replying to people that ask dumb questions like “will you ship it?” or “would you take [less money]?” If the ad’s been up for a few weeks and I’ve already reduced it down from full price to half price, then, sure, I’m willing to lowball a bit.

I find questions without any personality to be red flags.

We don’t have to become friends out of this, but tell me a little about yourself when you’re buying it. That’s how I troubleshoot the flaky buyers from the good buyers. I’ve already decided that I don’t want to spend any more time working on this thing. I want it gone, but I don’t want it gone fast enough to where I’m going to drop it off at a local recycling company to have them part it out for gold and aluminum.

Besides, there’s still life in this thing.

I reiterated to “Carson” what I wrote in the ad and he said he had a small CRT, so that might help him get through the messages that I couldn’t see when it went through POST and continued. I suggested swapping out the hard drive, too, to see if another one would work or if the hard drive would work in another device. All this was too much for me to execute on but as far as thinking about, it was fun thinking about hypothetical troubleshooting strategies on the drive over to make the sale in the parking lot of a semi-crowded business.

Not fun enough to cancel the sale.

We have to pick and choose our battles in life. For this Gateway, it is no longer my fight. “Carson” can work on it for a while until he gets bored with it himself. He was maybe in his early 20s but had already thought about swapping out the CMOS battery since in the BIOS it showed a date of 2009, so he’d already been thinking about his own troubleshooting tricks.

Hopefully he gets that computer working again.

We can emulate games but playing them on their original hardware has value. If you’re keen on a particular era of gaming, or the games aren’t readily available through the common paid-emulator services, then these are the only ways to play them. I don’t have enough interest in all that anymore to give it much more than the time I already spent.

“Carson” might be working or playing on that computer now.

Quotes: [1] “Carson” when we talked in person.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: Writing about my experiences selling stuff. I’ll keep doing so until I’m bored of writing about these sales, or I’ve sold everything I wanted to sell.
Related: Other Selling Zeal essays.
Photos: All the ad photos.
Written On: 2020 February 19 [Roughly from 1:50am to 2:24am, but there was a few minutes around 2am where I wasn’t writing but I didn’t note that time. Gdocs.]
Last Edited: 2020 February 22 [Minor adaptions from Gdocs. Second draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.