Well, apparently SAS Real Estate came across my latest update on the $300 apartment deposit story, originating in June, and which I concluded in September. Sylvia from the company posted a comment on a prior post, and I’ll include her points here, to be fair:
Mr. —’s story above was brought to my attention as the broker of SAS Real Estate Services and one of the people Mr. — names in his story. He is absolutely correct on several points:
* The listing information: $1,540 for a 855 sq. ft. 1 BR apartment
* No realtor’s fee and first month’s rent waived
* The apartment would not be available July 1 as promised.
* Complex required a $300 refundable holding fee and a $40 non-refundable application fee.
The term “scammed” is a bit too harsh and uncalled for — perhaps a bit dramatic as well. Did Mr. — scam his landlord when he did not move out on July 1, remaining another month? [ed. note: not at all, since I had negotiated a flexible move-out date with my landlord, my unit was not assigned to any new renters, and both parties were aware of the circumstances.] “Honest mistake” is more like it. [ed. note: SAS did not acknowledge any “mistake” at the time.]
The rest of his cathartic story is slanted and somewhat mean. The facts: On June 3, 2006 Mr. —, who from his many commentaries appears to be a seasoned and knowledgeable renter, and yet after he had been advised of the application proceedure, brought cash instead of a check to make application for this one bedroom. Since the landlord involved would not accept cash [ed. note: as a seasoned and knowledgablee renter, other landlords I have worked with have accepted cash, and SAS never stated or implied that cash would be the “problem” as it turned out to be, although I’d imagine the same refund problem would have ensued regardless of method of payment due to the corporate office’s mishandling], SAS Real Estate agreed to accomodate Mr. — by accepting the cash (for which he received a receipt) and the two checks payable to the Mangement Co. required for the application were written on his behalf.
June 19th Mr. — called to say he was withdrawing his application. On June 20th, Mr. — informed Ben of SAS Real Estate by fax of his intention to withdraw his application. He requested the return of his $300. Inland Mid Atlantic was immediately informed and asked to refund Mr. —’s $300. That Mr. — waited a month to let SAS know he had not received his refund was to me, mind boggling. No blame. as stated above, shock – that he would not have called Inland or SAS before that. [ed. note, Ben from SAS said it would take several weeks to process the refund, and I gave him the benefit of the doubt.]
We immediately called and emailed urging Inland to refund the $300. We were just as surprised about this delay since we had never experienced this problem before. Proof of our responsiveness below in email messages to those in charge of the local and corporate offices.
[ed. note: The included email messages show Andrew’s request to “corporate” on June 19, the apartment complex’s confirmation of receipt of the check on July 3 with a note by Sylvia that this was indeed the wrong check, payable to someone else, and an email on July 30 from SAS to “corporate” following my last call to SAS. The emails don’t show any of corporate’s responses, but when I called corporate they did not have the request. In fact, I didn’t get a solid answer from Inland until I mentioned I was preparing material for my lawyer.]
Obviously, this experience was a disservice to Mr. —. But bottom line, despite the difficulty, no one “scammed” him and no one was dishonest. The statement, “If you want a stress-free living situation, do not deal with these people.” is first melodramatic — life is stressful, and second, hopefully, Mr. — will find more important things in life to do than badmouth people who really do care and were as upset about his experience as he.
And, Mr. —, you are wrong. Prospective renters or buyers should ask as many questions about ads or listing information as possible. That is the only way to reduce any potential “stress.” Yes, in a perfect world, we would have [resolved this issue in June]. We tried, we failed in June, but we persisted and Mr. — did get his money back and his check did not bounce. And hopefully he will live happily ever after to write more commentaries.
So there you go. That’s the message from Sylvia Aranow from SAS Real Estate. On reflection, perhaps I shouldn’t have used their full names, but I have every right to publish my experience, with all details. Nothing I said was untrue. Read the story if you haven’t already, and you should find I was fair and reasonable, and included only facts.
Nowhere in Sylvia’s response above did she acknowledge that her office initially sent the wrong application information to the property management when requesting the refund, as was later admitted over the phone by her staff. This is what resulted in the check being cut for the wrong individual, the cause of the initial delay.
SAS was not alone in the mishandling; either Inland Retail Property Management didn’t receive my information from the local property manager until the day I happened to call or lied about it to excuse the delay.
In response to Sylvia’s last comment, SAS Real Estate did not try hard enough — if they had, the issue would have been resolved — and when I finally received the refund, it was a result of my dealing directly with Inland’s corporate offices, which I should not have had to do, not as a result of any action taken or not taken by SAS. Her last sentence, “… but we persisted and Mr. — did get his money back and his check did not bounce,” implies that SAS’s “persistence” had something to do with the fact I finally received my check, when in reality, the only reason I received my money is because I treathened Inland Retail Property Management with legal action (which I was fully prepared to take).
As far as use of the term “scammed,” I did say I felt scammed because it appeared to be a classic “bait and switch” operation. Perhaps that’s not what was intended, which is why I didn’t write, “I was scammed.” I wrote, “I felt scammed yet again,” and this was in a post that was written before the refund debacle unfolded.
And I surely will live on to write more “commentaries” just as SAS will live on to sell more real estate. Whether or not any readers take anything away from this is not for me to decide, but I’ll have no need for dealing with SAS or Inland again, and I’m happy the issue was resolved last month rather than never. Perhaps $300 isn’t a significant sum for the employees of SAS, but it’s an amount I’d rather have in my bank account than not.
It’s very rare that I have negative experiences, but there was a need for me to express my acute displeasure.
Published or updated October 10, 2006.