Episode 17. In which we go flathunting

My Man and I are moving house in a couple of months, which I may have mentioned before, but what it means is that we have to start flathunting right about now for a place to move into.  We started looking around a couple of weeks ago but didn’t see much, and nothing perfect.  We were trying to find a private let for several reasons, not least Henry the cat, because I don’t think agencies like pets at all.  Too much like hard work or something,  Despite the fact that Henry’s the perfect cat.  He’s just lazy enough not to cause any damage, and just friendly enough not to want to destroy stuff to spite us.  He has his own armchair he sits on and he likes it.  He has a fluffy cushion to do that funny little dance on (which someone told me was him trying to induce lactation although that’s a bit weird) and he loves his litter tray.

As well as that, we’ve had some pretty rubbish experiences with letting agencies, and it is my personal opinion that they are all a terrible waste of time and money.  I have gone without heating for a week in mid-January in the north of England while the agency failed to get the heater stuck back on the wall, and when My Man was flathunting before my move down south he turned up at a viewing appointment only to be stood up.  Actually not quite stood up, someone from the agency turned up, but they had another potential tenant in tow, ignored My Man, took this other tenant in with them and by the time he got through to the office to find out what the hell was going on, the place had been given away.

I have spent some time working in service industries myself, and bad customer service is just not something I understand, and it’s not something I can forgive.  If you’re not a people person, that’s your business, but if you can’t even pretend to give a shit, then get another job.  I will never understand why these peoples’ bosses don’t have the same opinion, and why they are allowed to remain in their service industry jobs, failing to provide any form of service, as long as they feel like it.  I once saw an episode of one of those airport programmes where an Easyjet employee was on a service desk being completely useless, and when a customer got frustrated and said something along the lines of “would you just tell me what the fuck is going on?” she got all uppity and refused to help him any more.  Her line was “I don’t get paid to be spoken to like that”.  Well, yes, actually, you do.  It’s your job to be helpful, and if you’re not helpful, then you’re not doing your job, and at that point all bets are off.  It’s like your boss saying “you’re fired” and you refusing to acknowledge it because it’s not your job to be spoken to like that.

Sometimes you do get paid to be spoken to like that.  If you’re in the wrong, then quite frankly you deserve to be spoken to like that.  And if you’re not in the wrong, then you’re in the same boat as every other service industry employee, and if you can’t just put up with it, nod, smile then bitch about it in the breakroom when there’s two warehouse floors and a lift with an entry code on it between you and the customers, then Get Another Job.

The thing is, I reckon they can’t get another job.  I’m not saying that it’s easy to work in the service industries, but it is easy to get a job there, and although good customer service employees are excellent and make everyone’s lives run a lot smoother than they would otherwise, there are enough jobs out there to keep bad customer service employees in Burberry too.

Estate agents have a bad reputation, and I can’t speak for them because I’ve never bought a house.  But I can tell you that my experience of letting agents is just as bad.  I don’t want to find a flat through an agency because, for all their talk of how much easier it makes things, I’ve no intention of renting from a slumlord either and at least a private landlord won’t be adding 10% onto the rent for their own pockets and forgetting to let me know when someone else is coming round to view the flat before I move out.  That happened up north too, I got home from work about three days before I was moving out (I was halfway through packing up my clothes and had underwear strewn across the bed in an effort to decide what to keep and what to chuck) to find the door unlocked and all the lights on.  Not only had someone from the agency been in my flat, but there had been potential tenants in there.  So at least two complete random strangers saw what was still, at that point, my flat, in a complete mess, and my underwear all over the place.  And then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, they had failed to leave the place as they’d found it.  I have rarely been more angry or had my privacy violated more grotesquely.  They swore they had told me, which was clearly a lie, and swore that nobody in their agency would have left the lights on and the door unlocked.  As if I’d done it myself.  The implication being that I was either mental or a liar.  And making a fuss for the hell of it.  Anyway, that’s a fuck-up I am not willing to have repeated.  In any way.  If I do find a flat through a letting agency, and if anything remotely similar happens again, there will be legal action involved.

Anyway, yesterday I found a website that I have quite high hopes for.  I didn’t see anything about pets, which may well be because it’s assumed that pets are a no-no, but until I hear that outright, I’m not taking it to mean much of anything at all.

It is, however, a renter’s market right now, so I’m quietly confident that we’ll find a place that won’t bankrupt us in a nice enough area with a little patio garden for Kitty McCattins.  Wish me luck.

Diabetic moment of the day

I tried to eat some chocolate fingers today.  As a treat.  Turns out I don’t really like them any more.  Boo.


4 Responses to “Episode 17. In which we go flathunting”

  1. ian and I decided to give letting agents another try this time around, it lasted approximately 2 weeks before giving up on them and deciding it was better to go for a private let although there was much less choice.

    we were stood up countless times, they refuse to do viewings outside the hours of 10-5 and then they will have to be group viewings which always have that strange slightly competitive feeling even if you don’t want the flat, they ignore your requirements or even lie about flats just to get you in them – presumably thinking they can change your mind when you’re in them, they keep your name and details on spam databases for months on end no matter how many times you tell them to remove them (Leaders are bastards for this), they then lie about how many viewings they have coming up to put pressure on you, then to top it all off when we did find one we half liked we added up the agency fees and they came to over £500 – only a small proportion of that was holding deposit which would go towards the actual deposit, oh and they always charge 6-8 weeks deposit as well instead of a month. having a direct phone number for my landlord so I can badger her is far prefereable when things go wring. oh yeah, and then they always side with the landlord over the deposit. DON’T DO IT.

    (actually there was one nice agency – whiteheads I think. he was a nice bloke).


  2. Leaders were the ones who stood us up. Or, rather, turned up and ignored 5olly who was standing outside waiting. The agency I used in Gateshead were abysmal, and although I got my full deposit back I’m sure that was only because they thought I might sue over showing people round without telling me thing. I really, really don’t want to use an agency. What you said about their fees is right, how can it possibly cost them hundred of pounds to get a reference?

  3. I used a small independent agency to find my current place and lucked out as they were only acting on behalf of the landlord in the initial stages. Once I’d signed the contract I just deal directly with my landlord, who’s a lovely bloke and responds straight away when I call him.

    I have, however, had terrible experiences with larger letting agencies (and with estate agents when I bought my flat previously – again I ended up using an independent one and used them again to sell it when I had to)

  4. diabetses Says:

    I don’t know if there are any agencies out there right now that aren’t scalping everyone they possibly can because otherwise they’ll go down the pan. And it’s not my fault if they ruined the market in the first place, so I’m not paying for it.

    If I knew of any nice little agencies I’d be all over it but I don’t, unfortunately. I’m sticking with gumtree.

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