Ok so let’s rewind a bit. The agency (onehouse.nl, who seemed to hire Stevie Wonder to design their website) had felt dodgy to me since the start. They often called me way out of office hours and seemed TOO nice about everything. Up until today I had only met one of them, Klaas, although I think he may be 50% of the staff. I viewed the apartment twice and had had several calls with the woman at the company Yasmina. Today I went in to sign the mediation agreement which basically just agrees that I will pay them one months rent for their agency services.
Stevie Wonder Webdesign:
No one had the heart to tell him he had his chair on backways
So last night I research them a bit and find surprisingly little on them. And in the few things I do find I see a few stories on being ripped off and also mention that they don’t have a license. I called them last night and they had valid if convoluted reasons explaining these stories. So this morning I go to their office for the first time.
I get there and my first sign that something is up is that their corporate headquarters is a bit of paper stuck to a buzzer reading “onehouse”. Yasmina had, in many or her rambling late night calls gone on and one about the high end clientèle that they deal with. This place wasn’t exactly the Ritz.
I get buzzed up and go into a room. It has a couch, a table and chairs. And that’s it. She explains that they are currently moving. But to me it stinks of “let’s rent a building for a month, set up a shitty website and then move on somewhere else once we’ve scammed some people”.
Yasmina, who I had not seen before this, reminded me of… remember in ET when they dressed him up as a woman? Well that but less hot. She was wearing giant shades and said that she had just had laser eye surgery. “It must look like I’m drunk or something” she said, not exactly holding her cards close to her chest. Still, she wasn’t a zombie Pastor, so I didn’t run out of the building yet.
Yasmina, while always friendly on the phone had an oddness about her. Nothing seemed very official, the best way I can describe it was it was like she was winging it. She also seemed incapable of not veering off track randomly and telling completely unrelated anecdotes. In person she was more or less the same but without the anonymity of the phone it was quite apparent that she’d sell her baby’s kidney.
She offered me coffee, no joking, about 7 or 8 times. This made me super paranoid that she was trying to drug me. The more she offered the more aggressively I refused. Eventually I said I had an ulcer. She stopped offering.
I had brought the agreement filled in on a USB stick. It needed to be edited as it seemed they made it using WordPad ‘ 72. The fact that it was on a USB stick cause mass concern as they didn’t seem to have a computer. They said they had one upstairs but they couldn’t connect a USB to it for security reasons. Or maybe cos it was a box with P-P-P-Pee Cee written on it.
Eventually through the magic of my Blackberry we get the document to them and printed. She has it printed out and all I have to do is sign it and I’ve agreed to pay them €900. At this stage she has started channelling Gollum and it urging my to sign the precious contract. I then ask, what seemed like a perfectly reasonable request. Can I see the rental agreement first? I mean it’s great agreeing to pay them €900 to mediate the deal but at this stage I don’t know the details of the deal. Immediately the mask comes down and I’m being told that the landlord has lost weeks waiting for me to sign (not true. I only saw the place last Wednesday), that I’m dodgy, she has a bad feeling about me, there’s a list of people waiting to rent the place, etc. She’s throwing the kitchen sink at me trying to make me sign. I tell her straight up, I am not signing until I know what I am signing for. She then walks out of the office and says the deal is off. I call after her but she just leaves.
I exit to the corridor and she has her head around a door and is talking to Klaas, the guy. She’s saying things like “yeah he’s refusing to sign. He’s being a pain” etc. I look in the office. There’s no one there.
So I leave and decided I’ll walk to the land lady and tell her what happened. Maybe I can still salvage a deal with her. I go there and on the way get a call from Klaas asking what happened. I explain and he seems quite surprised. Yasmina then comes on the phone and what begins as an apology soon becomes her blaming me for scuppering the deal and wasting everyone’s time. I tell her that I wont be doing business with them and end the call. I go to the land lady’s house. As she answers the door her phone rings. I instinctively and quite ridiculously say “Don’t answer that!”. She answers and it’s them, they told her that I refused to sign the contract. She presumed they meant a rental contract and when I explain what happened she’s shocked. THEN they arrive at the house.
Yasmina is a mess at this stage. She starts crying and says to the landlady that she should not rent the place to me, that it would break her heart for one of her clients to have the misfortune of going into an agreement with me. I play the “act really sane to make the crazies seems even crazier card”. I keep pointing out how she was more than happy to set her up with my until I asked to see the contract. She just talks round and round about how terrible I am.
I then stand up. I say “I’m going to make this real easy for us all. Yasmina, clearly does not want to do business with me. There is no way that I will do business with her. So here’s my number, call me before the end of the day if you would like to rent me the apartment directly. If you choose to stay with renting via the company then that’s your own choice.” I get up and I walk out.
I’m in the office and I get a phone call. There’s some guy saying he has my contract with onehouse. I’m thinking it’s someone from there trying to somehow salvage the deal again. But no, it’s some punter on the street who found my mediation agreement on the street! Luckily he rang to see if I still needed it. I asked him to please trash it as it contains quite a lot of info. I have this image of Yasmina the ET faced hobbit screeching running around her empty office throwing copies of my agreement out the window.