Tales from a Tenant is a new series featured here on My Life, I Guess… that chronicles the ups and downs of being a tenant. If you are interested in contributing your tenant (or landlord) tales, please contact me. I’d love to share!
Today’s post is by yours truly. I recently moved into a (so-called) professionally managed townhouse with my boyfriend “R” and 2 cats.
I’ve mentioned before that the rental market where I live is garbage and that the landlords are even worse. (I’m still fighting with my last one even though I moved out 2 months ago!) So I was looking forward to renting with a property management company with our new place. I had assumed that dealing with a professional business would make being a tenant a lot easier – but of course, that hasn’t been the case.
A big selling feature of the townhouse R and I chose was the fact that they were offering a year of free cable and internet as a promotion to get tenants in the off-season. (Who wants to move in the middle of winter?) Since hydro and gas are not included in our rent, we were excited to have at least one less bill to worry about. It’s also been years since either of us have had cable, so we were looking forward to the novelty of it.
Back in January, about a week and a half before our scheduled move-in date, I called up our rental agent to book an appointment to sign the lease* and get the keys.
(*Let me side track here a little. Yup – up until this point we had not signed a lease. We filled out an application and handed over a $1000 deposit equal to last month’s rent. Once we got the call saying that we were approved, we set up our gas and hydro accounts, booked a uHaul, and started changing our address without signing a damn thing. I don’t know how I didn’t realize how dumb this was until it was pointed out to me. Thankfully, everything worked out in that regard and this isn’t a tale in “how to get your deposit back when you didn’t sign a lease”.)
Any who, we set up the appointment and everything was on track – until I got a call the next morning telling me that they couldn’t offer the free year of cable and internet after all. Apparently there was a “misunderstanding” and management couldn’t reach a deal with the service provider. Instead, they were offering us 30% ($300) off first months rent or the 13th month rent free ($1000).
I was bummed, but thought “Hey, a free month of rent!” (There was no way in hell I was taking the $300 option! What a joke!) But R pointed out that taking this offer would mean it’d be more than a year before we reaped any benefit and that we’d be committing to living there an additional month. What if we hate it? What if we want to move?
What if we break up?! (Not happening.) And I wasn’t impressed that they were trying to short-change us when I figured out that a year of basic cable and internet costs upwards of $1150. (Yikes.)
So I called them back and told them that this wasn’t going to fly. And then we spent another week waiting for them to return my calls, freaking out, and seriously considering moving elsewhere.
They finally got back to us – once we started throwing around the phrases “bait and switch” and “false advertising” – and let us know that they would be honouring the original promotion after all, but with a different cable company.
A whole 36 hours before we moved in. Ugh.
But the battle didn’t end there, my friends. No, no.
It took another 2 weeks before our cable and internet were finally connected. This included more unreturned phone calls, a bit of Facebook-shaming, them blaming the cable company (who had no idea we had already moved in), another “misunderstanding” regarding our internet options, and then a whole kerfuffle with the installation itself (which, as it turns out, takes about 4 hours not just 1).
The lesson? Speak up and fight for what was promised to you. Don’t settle for less because of someone’s mistake. And you probably shouldn’t hand over wads of cash to anyone without signing some sort of contract. If I had been doing this on my own, I would have backed down and settled for one of their lesser offers – and then bitched and complained about it for the whole year. Instead, thanks largely to R, I pretended to be an assertive person and we now spend our evenings slowly turning into television zombies. And we enjoy every free second of it.
What would you have done if you were in this situation?
Have you ever had to fight to get a company to honour a promotion?
Like what you see here? Why not read other tenant tales? Or better yet,submit your own! If you have an interesting tale or important tenant lesson, I’d love to feature it in an upcoming post. Please contact me for more information, and let’s make this happen!