Chicago’s apartment locators – we call them bedbugs – engage in wholesale bait-and-switch advertising on Craigslist. When you see enough rental service ads, you’d be hard pressed not to conclude that lying is at the core of their business model. Many tenants who’ve used their services rapidly conclude that lying is the only thing they do well.
Bedbug ads bait you with an enticing offer. When you call, you’re invited to make an appointment. When you arrive you learn that the advertised property is no longer available at the advertised price but – here comes the switch – they have 1,000s of other apartments to show you.
Bedbugs are nocturnal creatures that seem to lie awake at night conjuring new ways to lie to prospective tenants. One I’ve encountered recently at Craigslist is the instant bait-and-switch, illustrated above.
The headline in the Craigslist ad baits you with a bargain-priced apartment ($970) in Hyde Park. Click on the headline and you’re offered a $1,740 apartment that’s said to be in the Gold Coast, but isn’t – a compound bait-and-switch. You’ll find many more ads on Craigslist from the same advertiser employing the same sleazy tactic.
Last July, in a comment thread, we called out this particular bedbug, Luxury Living Chicago, for lying (among other things) about condo rentals at his web site. He’s still lying about condo rentals at his site.
I contacted the leasing office at one of the buildings advertised at Luxury Living Chicago – a 1-bedroom at North Harbor Tower for $1,450 a month. The lowest-priced 1-bedroom available at the property is $1,495.
State licensing and consumer-protection agencies have been stunningly ineffective in addressing the wholesale lying and fraud in the bedbug / apartment locator industry. If you’re in the market to rent an apartment, you need to protect yourself by not doing business with any of the locator services. Bedbugs bite, and the bite can be nasty.