As we’re having a new kitchen installed shortly, the old freestanding dishwasher that came with the house is surplus to requirements, and its most likely fate would be a skip and thence landfill. I don’t like that, and I’d rather see it live out the rest of its life in a loving home.

In order to give it this chance, I listed it on Freecycle. It’s a great place to give things away, except for the fact that the number of responses can be overwhelming. A lot of people want free stuff. And, unfortunately, some responders are clearly bots run by resellers: you can tell these by how quick they are, and how vaguely they reply.

Others come from people who are just a bit of a nightmare to deal with. “Can you deliver it?” No, I don’t have a car and part of getting it for nowt is that you do the work. A surprising number say they’ll collect but never turn up. There are a lot of very flaky people on Freecycle. Something about the free part, I think.

In this case, I wanted to make sure that the person collecting has appropriate transport and brings enough muscle to wrangle it out the front door and into a vehicle. I’m neither big nor strong, and I try to avoid heavy lifting as far as possible.

Thus, to forestall problems, I listed the dishwasher with some fairly stringent criteria. It’s a bit stern, perhaps, but informed by experience. I wrote:

Used Hotpoint FDPF481 dishwasher. It works, but we’re replacing our kitchen, and will have a built-in dishwasher.

Please read the following points before responding. You’ll be ignored if you don’t!

  • This can be collected on Saturday or Sunday this week. That’s 6th or 7th April. No earlier, no later.
  • Bring your own labour. Although it’s on the ground floor, you’ll need two strong people to get it out of the front door.
  • I cannot and will not assist with carrying it.
  • I cannot and will not deliver.
  • Tell me about your favourite animal in your reply.

I was inspired by the story of Van Halen’s legendary tour rider, which included this line:


This was originally reported as a weird news item about the capriciousness of rock stars, until the full story emerged years later: the M&M’s were there to check that the people running the venue had read the rest of the contract, which included detailed specifications about weight, access, and electricity for Van Halen’s enormous live show.

So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl … well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.

So I added my own brown M&M’s line, asking respondents to tell me about their favourite animal.

Within five minutes, I had a couple of suspiciously fast replies from people who had not understood the assignment – if indeed, they weren’t just automated systems. This kind of thing:

Hi I am interested , still is available ? Thank you

In total, I received 16 responses over the next day.

10 responses did not mention an animal, and I happily ignored them.

4 responses came from people who had followed the instructions.

The other two replies came from people who didn’t appreciate the favourite animal line. One clown further stated that they would not have “a black dishwasher as they are racist against white dishwashers”. I ignored and blocked them.

The winner turned up exactly on time, in a van, with help, and took the dishwasher away to the warehouse where nine of them live, and where it’s going to be kept busy.

I still had to disappoint three people, but I knew that there were ten more about whom I didn’t have to feel bad at all.

In summary, I’d say that it was successful, and I’m going to try this technique again in future.