A few weeks ago, I decided to embark upon a little experiment that had been playing on my mind for some time. The premise is simple: I pose as a naÃ¯ve old lady who has just lost her son, and chances upon an old electric guitar while clearing out his attic. The guitar is an original 1960s Fender Stratocaster. I took the picture from an Ebay listing where it ended up selling for over £8,000. But the naÃ¯ve old lady, unaware of its massive worth, is offering it for the bargain price of £50. Here’s the ad in its entirety:
‘hello, i have for sale an electric Guitar the make is a fender startocaster as you can see in the picture is in quite poor condition so will accept £50 or nearest offer, the guitar was found by my daughter in while clearing my sons attic after he sadly passes away. THe guitar i believe is quite old probably from 1960s of 1970s as i remember he had this many years.’
Of course, any reasonable person with half a conscience would immediately feel obligated to alert a bereaved old lady to the fact that she was selling her dead son’s guitar for a fraction of its actual worth.
Sadly, inevitably, the answer is a big, fat, resounding NO.
I posted the ad at around 10pm one Sunday night and retired to bed. Part of me was conflicted about the experiment — was it wrong of me to present strangers with this sort of moral conundrum? What would I do in their place? I eventually came to the conclusion that most people would probably see through my little scam, and those who did fall for it would invariably do the right thing. How wrong I was.
The next day, I logged into Gmail, expecting a handful of replies. What I got was a deluge:
The timing was pretty good, as it was the May bank holiday, so most people were off work and had nothing better to do than scam old women out of valuable guitars.
Throughout the morning, the emails flooded in, so I decided to place an arbitrary cap of 100 responses (partly to avoid cluttering my inbox, partly because I’m shit at maths and wanted to give you freaks some percentages). Here, for your edification, are the results:
Out of 100 people who replied to the ad…
4 people realised it was a hoax
84 people wanted to buy the guitar
And just 12 people urged the old woman not to sell it
I’ve even taken the trouble to produce this handy pie chart:
Special mention goes to ‘ash’:
And the Biggest Douchebag award goes to ‘Carol’, who not only wanted to buy the guitar, but even made an offer BELOW the asking price:
The overwhelming majority of replies were breathless, panicky exhortations along the lines of: ‘is this guitar still for sale???? I can come round and pick it up today! I can be there in ten minutes!!! Have you sold it yet???’ To put it in visual terms, basically something like this:
Anyway, in conclusion: the overwhelming majority of human beings (or at least those who live in the UK, play guitar and use Gumtree) are absolute cunts.