Hey Ginger Summers, cut the crap on Craigslist

by Joe Zekas on 3/12/11

Chicago, Streeterville skyline, photo by Michael Kardas

Between midnight yesterday and 8:42 this morning, an apartment rental bedbug by the name of Ginger Summers placed 962 housing for rent ads on Craigslist.

Why single out Ginger Summers? She’s only one of a frenzied swarm of hundreds of bedbugs busily crapping up Craigslist with tens of thousands of repetitive ads, many of them bait-and-switch come-ons, to frustrate or deceive renters into using their “services.”

Mike, a commenter on an earlier post, suggested using Craigslist’s “exclude” feature to eliminate sleazy bedbug ads from an apartment search:

Another trick to use to your advantage: I found there were particular companies whose listings sucked worse than others. Add a “-“ before these companies names or their email suffix, whatever appears in all of their ads (e.g., -“crap realty co” or -craprealtyco.com) to exclude their listings.

Ginger Summers is affiliated with a bedbug-spawning company that goes by the name of Rent Proactive. That company, along with many of the other bedbugs, has a workaround that keeps you from excluding their ads: include the company name in a non-searchable graphic.

The bedbugs are sending you a clear message: “we’re out to make your apartment search more difficult by crapping up Craigslist. There’s no limit to how much of your time we’re willing to waste.”

One message tenants should take away from this is that any company that tries to get your business by jerking you around and wasting your time is highly likely to continue to jerk your around and waste your time if you’re foolish enough to contact them.

Avoid the bedbugs entirely. Anyone who suggests, as Mike does, that some bedbugs suck less than others simply doesn’t understand bedbugs. Among their other tactics the bedbugs have crapped up Yelp with reviews that appear to be written by their marketing department rather than by actual tenants.

If you’re looking for a home, apartment or condo in downtown Chicago, our rental Guides make your search relatively easy and painless.

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Rojas March 14, 2011 at 3:58 PM

…or hire a Realtor who does rentals using the MLS…or, walk down a street and call the “For Rent” sign!

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nwzimmer March 14, 2011 at 4:10 PM

ahh yes, I recall two summers ago when I was looking for a new apartment to rent; when I called one of the bedbugs on the phone:

I caught on within just a minute or two of talking to them of their bait-and-switch tactics. It seemed pretty obvious to me, but I realize that not everyone is going to be so perceptive, and no doubt there are a lot of people who are going to fall for this.

I recall sifting through all the garbage posts on craigslist, I quickly trained myself to immediately click ‘Back’ as soon as I saw the orange ‘HomeScout’ layout… for me, I was so picky about the location that I quickly noticed that none of them would even put the closest major intersection, much less the actual address…

What a scam those ‘locator services’ are… I ended up leasing a condo from an individual owner; far, far better value…

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Joe Zekas March 14, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Here’s a practical, easy-to-implement way to enable renters to screen out bedbug ads.

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nwzimmer March 14, 2011 at 7:07 PM

Joe, great idea for cleaning up Craigslist! As long as more and more owners/landlords became aware of it and followed the process, I could see it really improving the rentals section on Craigslist and eliminating the headaches for 1,000′s of renters.

I would say go one step further and try pitching your idea to Craigslist themselves. I would think it would have to be in their best interest in cleaning the postings up too. That particular section of Craigslist can’t be too far from being rendered totally useless. When you have a single bedbug person posting over 900 per day… it’s just going to keep escalating.

It was bad two years ago, the last time I tried using Craigslist, but it looks like it’s even a lot worse now.

Also, they’ve got to be circumventing the posting system, using a ‘bot’ to post and get around the ‘Captcha’ images. It’s physically not possible for someone to post new listings at the rate that ‘Ginger’ is posting.

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Joe Zekas March 14, 2011 at 11:14 PM

nwzimmer,

Ginger Summers placed 991 rental ads so far today, over 40 an hour on average.Each of her ads is repeated about 50 times a week.

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Bob Darrow March 16, 2011 at 9:55 AM

I love how a search for “Ginger Summers Chicago” on google returns YoChicago first and fourth in the search results. ;)

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Joe Zekas March 16, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Bob,

If you search only “Ginger Summers” we’ve got the first and second positions on Google. Skip the quotes and we’ve got 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, but that won’t last.

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nwzimmer March 16, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Keep in mind they may not care that the name “Ginger Summers” is exposed. Given how shady and sleezy these companies are, I wouldn’t be surprised if “Ginger Summers” is not even a real human being.

There is a picture of a woman on the postings, and even if that same woman showed up for the showing (if they even do that at all), I wouldn’t be surprised if her ID proved her to be someone else…

Just for kicks I responded to on of the adds and I didn’t even get a response from “Ginger Summers”, I got responses from oscar@rentproactive.com and priya@rentproactive.com

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Nancy Moore March 17, 2011 at 11:02 PM

I called one of their ads and was able to speak with Ginger Summers directly. She was very helpful and I am going out to see some places this weekend, so Ill let you know how it goes.

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Joe Zekas March 17, 2011 at 11:18 PM

“Nancy Moore”

Sigh!

Pardon my suspicious nature.

Somehow I get the feeling that you’re going to have an awesome experience, that Ginger will prove to be a Rock Star who’s sympathetic to your eery need and finds you the ideal apartment at an incredible price …

If you’re for real, tell Ginger to cut the crap on Craigslist.

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MS March 18, 2011 at 9:58 AM

I actually feel a little bad about piling on here, but–as the idea that there is no “Ginger Summers” was just too funny to me to ignore–I just checked out her “official bio”… pretty funny stuff. Did you know she “achieved her degree from Depaul” and that she “possesses a strong pulse on the community”? Not helping.

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Joe Zekas March 18, 2011 at 10:43 AM

Real estate bios are often written by underpaid freelancers and marketing newbies, so I wouldn’t make too much of the writing.

Based on my familiarity with bedbug mentality the richly ambiguous phrase in her bio that gave me pause was “helping clients with what they … deserve.” That strikes a chill.

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Wilson March 18, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Funny enough, Ginger Summers looks to be a real person. If you go on the IDFPR website she does have an active salesperson license. No disciplinary actions either. However, she originally got her license on March 22, 2010, so she’s only been in the game less then a year.

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Joe Zekas March 18, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Wilson,

She may have held a Leasing Agent license prior to that.

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Wilson March 18, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Nope, I checked and there were no previous leasing licenses for a G Summers…unless it’s under a maiden name.

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movingtheresoon March 23, 2011 at 12:37 PM

“Her biggest and most important clients are the ones from repeat referrals. ”

So I guess that the person right off the street doesn’t matter to her as much.

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rentingsoon March 25, 2011 at 10:40 AM

ha, ginger is one of thousands….its disgusting what these people do to craigslist….for those of you out there like me, try domu.com. its what craigslist use to be like years ago except better. well at least it worked for me. good luck to all of you craigslist loyalist, youll need it

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Joseph Askins March 25, 2011 at 12:11 PM

Since rentingsoon / rentersickofscams chose to post this message in two different threads, I’ll respond twice.

Regular readers (and anyone with half a brain, really) should see this coming a mile away — this user’s IP address traces back to Schatz Properties, which just so happens to own Domu.

The people at Domu more than welcome to contribute to this conversation in an open and honest manner — that is, to identify themselves properly and explain why they believe their service is a good alternative to an apartment finder.

It’s a shame to see them stoop to the bedbugs’ level.

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John Walters May 18, 2011 at 4:16 AM

Why do you have such a problem with so-called “bed bugs” in general and this Ginger woman (and by extension her employer Rent Proactive)? You have no real evidence that this company is similar to other companies, and don’t give me an anecdote or two about this company to prove your point. The plural of anecdote is not data. You can’t measure the quality of a company with just a couple of stories from people who have talked to you. If a company wants to advertise it’s services, let them. It’s up to the consumer to pick the right company to go with, and obviously people are picking Rent Proactive.

I wonder what your real agenda is here. Could it be that databasedads.com approached Rent Proactive and they denied your business and now you’re sticking it to them?

Finally, why, in the posts I have read, do you never recommend that people check out the Chicago Reader? Any person with knowledge Chicago Apartment scene (knowledge which your posts imply that you have) should be directing people to the Reader. It has always been the best source for apartment ads.

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Dan May 18, 2011 at 7:38 AM

@John Walters,

What over posters on a listing service do is comparable to bad graffiti in a neighborhood. It just junks up the community and makes it difficult to find real information. The idea behind a free listing services is to provide “everyone” with an equal opportunity to promote their goods and services. Not for single individuals to spam the service with the same ads repeadily.

My personal thought is that craigslist needs to allow developers to create filters that remove the duplicates from the listings by utilizing a simple 80% string match on the listing.

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Joe Zekas May 18, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Why do I have such a problem with bedbugs? Do a little reading here.

No real evidence? Have you looked at Craigslist? Talked to anyone honest?

My real agenda? Do a little reading here. One of the things you’ll learn is that we do not accept rental service / bedbug ads. Banned them long, long ago from our publications and sites. “Sticking it to them” is the bedbug way of doing business. You sound like a bedbug.

I know the Reader extremely well. It lost its leading place in apartment advertising long ago.

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John Walters May 18, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Dan — Yeah, I don’t see CL doing that anytime soon especially because that is not the idea behind a “free” listing service. What craigslist should do is charge a nominal fee, similar to what they did for employment advertising.

Joe — I have done reading here and your complaints about listing services seem to boil down to the fact that you don’t like their business model. Which is fine except you promote a competing business model.

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John Walters May 18, 2011 at 3:30 PM

It is clear that Ginger is likely not a real person.

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Joe Zekas May 18, 2011 at 5:20 PM

John Walters,

Your conclusions about Ginger Summers are as sound as all of your other conclusions.

She is real. She holds a real estate license.

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John Walters May 19, 2011 at 2:50 AM

So she does. Regardless, you should be more forthcoming about your own motives when slamming apartment rental services.

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Joe Zekas May 19, 2011 at 8:24 AM

Regardless. That one word pretty much sums up your approach to facts.

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John Walters May 19, 2011 at 6:33 AM

Moreover, if this company was really that bad then it would have a BBB file.

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Joe Zekas May 19, 2011 at 8:25 AM

Yelp is the new BBB.

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