Injustice: Daily Price Changes

Wednesday, 13 May 2009 at 3:08 pm Pacific USA Time.

I'm trying to get an apartment. Using only the internet (since I'm not even in the same time zone as this apartment building), I fell in love with a community. I called them up, sent in my application, but found out that they don't run the application until they get a security deposit.

Well, I'm not ready to put that down until I know they have the right place for the right price. What is your price on the 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom unit I'm considering? $1670/month. OK, I'll think about that, thank you.

I call back a few days later. I think I might want it. Oh, the price went up? The SAME apartment you were going to give me a couple of days ago is now $1765/month? Um OK. That chips away at trust, but OK. I'll think about it.

OK I'm ready. I have my security deposit ready. The moving company is just about hired. Now, I'm in the right spot to put that deposit down, and hold that apartment! What's that you say? The price went up again? Today is Wednesday. On Monday, you said it was $1765/month, but today's it's $1830/month? WHY?

They explained to me that when demand is up and they're signing lots of leases, they raise prices because they think they can. They evidently have NO policy about sticking to a quote they gave me before. When I complain that I could NEVER get away with that in my business, they tell me that the California Fair Housing Laws won't let them offer me a different price than someone else would get today.

That's bull.

You are offering me the price that you ALREADY OFFERED ME. If someone calls today, they can get a fresh price quote. But if you already quoted me a price, at least give me a few days to make sure I am ready to put money down on this place. Stick to your own price for a few days. If someone else takes that place before me, give them the higher price… they won't know any better! But if I'm taking it, give me the price you quoted me earlier.

I could never get away with this in my business. Where I grew up, this was called Israeli Negotiating (whether or not that's flattery :) ). The idea was that you make someone an offer. If they turn it down (because they think they're going to bargain you down), you RAISE the price. You are basically teaching them that you will NOT negotiate down, and you start basically bullying them. They quickly learn that if they don't take it now, the price will just keep going up, so they'd better take it now.

That's the same thing this apartment complex is trying to do. It's bullying. They won't even honour a price they KNOW they quoted me. I can't think of any other business that gets away with this. This is not "catch of the day" where maybe the fish was harder to catch today because of the weather. This is an empty apartment standing there.

Meanwhile, the price on their website is wrong. The price on the website is WAY lower, so you also have bait and switch. I have bait and switch now, and they get around it by warning me that oh, you'd better lock this in now… the price may go up tomorrow.

I told them I will roll the dice, and wait for their price to drop. I will not pay an extra $2000 per year in rent because I am ready to sign the lease today instead of 3 days ago. That's an insult, and a waste. I will not be bullied, and I will not be baited and switched.

I've left a voice mail for the Santa Clara County team that mediates disputes between landlords and tenants. I'd like them to explain to me which part of the California Fair Housing Law allows them to do this to me, and why CA law would allow such bullying and deception.

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Categories: That's Bad Marketing

Comments Closed

2 Responses to “Injustice: Daily Price Changes”

  1. Kate says:

    That’s audacious and infuriating. I’m frustrated for you! I’m also interested to hear what happens.

  2. So far, what has happened is that I’ve chosen another apartment complex.
    Everything happens for a reason, and I am NOT going to do business with someone who can’t quote me the same price two days in a row.
    The apartment I chose was on Craigslist, and days later, they are STILL honouring their price! Amazing!