My wife’s old Ford Fiesta was a great runner but useless for a family of six. We upgraded to a Ford C-Max, an automatic, diesel, family-sized solution to our travelling woes. It improved things immensely, and made the Fiesta redundant.

Fiesta GumtreeEmma’s father-in-law borrowed the Fiesta for a while and then it lay in his drive unused. The time had come to sell it. Some idiotic vandals had scratched claw marks into the door and ceiling so I had to learn how to fix that. An afternoon of sanding, priming and spray-painting fixed that problem. We replaced the rear windscreen wiper, put in a new battery, passed an MOT and it was ready to go.

We put it for sale on Gumtree. It was free to list and allowed a decent amount of photos. They also pulled through lots of info about the car just by putting in the registration number. A great service for no cost! Independent sites had valued the car at £1500-1600. We put it up for £1350. Almost immediately, I received an email from some fella who wanted to buy it without even needing to see it. He was offering to buy it through paypal and would send someone to collect it. Sounded great. Too great, actually. I googled and found out this was a scam.


This is how the scam works. Let’s say you agree on a price of £1000 for the car. He explains that he’ll send someone to get it but there’s a shipping fee of £50 that needs to be paid via a money wire payment. What he’ll do is make you a paypal payment of £1050 and then you send the additional £50 to this other account. (It has to come from you as the seller, he’ll explain). No worries, you think. He’s paying. So you receive an email confirming that this fella has sent you £1050. Only, this email is fake. There has been no transaction. This email isn’t from paypal, it’s a fake one from this dude.

Lots of people have unfortunately fallen for this, so be wary. Ultimately, I’d be wary of anyone who wants to buy the car unseen. Would you?


There was hardly any interest, so we dropped the price. A bizarre amount of people sent a message asking if the car was still for sale. I would reply, “yes – would you like to see it?” and they wouldn’t get back in touch. Some people get their kicks in weird ways.

Then one chap seemed genuinely interested. He gave us a story about wanting a car for his pregnant girlfriend. Perfect. He arranged to come see the car, but then the battery went flat. My father in law went to jump it and the jump lead melted. What had happened?! We charged the battery in the house but then the car wouldn’t start. Immobiliser problems. Jeez – what timing!

24 hours of googling and experimenting later and we figured out the problem. Either the fuse had gone (20p repair) or the immobiliser had broken (£500 repair). Luckily, it was the fuse. Joy!


gum-listingsWe replaced the fuse. I went to drive the car to the petrol station and there was a horrendous grinding sound. I looked at the front of the car and the wheel arch was practically touching the tyre. The spring had broken. ARGH. On a Saturday afternoon. The earlier I could get it fixed was midweek.

My father-in-law knew a guy who could fix it. We cautiously drove the car up to his workyard. In the meantime, the buyer said he still wanted it and could get a friend with a truck to come and get it. And yet, when we agreed, he always had an excuse for not showing up. One day, he had to work too late. The next day, his mate’s van was getting an MOT. The next night, he just didn’t get in touch at all. Like I said, Gumtree attracts some odd folk.

A week and a half later, the car was repaired. Now we have it back, tip-top condition and ready to sell.

Gumtree again

On Thursday, I relisted it back on Gumtree. Immediately, I received three messages. One just said “£800”, which got my back up. Isn’t that a bit arrogant? Sweet talk me, Mr. I want you to persuade me you’re worthy of taking on this car after the work we’ve put into it.

One chap, however, came across as being a sincere buyer. He was polite, and arranged to come and see the car on Saturday. He arrived at 10am, and by 10.30, the car was his. He’d bought it for his son. Unbelievable. After all the build-up, the sale went through without any upset and really quick. Emma was over the moon.

The steps of deleting the Gumtree ad, cancelling the insurance and the road tax were sweet ones. It was a weight off our shoulders. The time just happened to be right for the sale. Would I recommend Gumtree? Well, it eventually worked for us, so yeah. They get the car out there and it’s for free! Just be warned that in order to get a sale, you have to wade through a load of nonsense first.