Truthiness in Advertising

After partying in Xiaogan for the week, Tian and I headed back to Beijing.  We had about a month left before our formal wedding celebration in August, and our to-do list was incredibly long.  In addition to preparing for the wedding full time and working jobs part time, we also had to find, rent, and move into a new apartment.

Ok, I’ll back up for a second.  You may be wondering why we had to move.  Well, last year we signed a one-year lease on our place, so it was up in mid-July.  Before starting the search, we actually did inquire about staying in our same apartment because we like the location and the price wasn’t bad, but the owner informed us that rent would be going up 25% next year to an absurd price.  Despite our best efforts to negotiate, she had none of it.

One of the big rental websites.

So that meant we had to look elsewhere.  And look elsewhere we did (actually it was nearly all Tian).  The first resource we tried was the internet, specifically three websites that somewhat resemble Craigslist.  But a few problems emerged.  First, the properties moved incredibly fast, so the actual available inventory listed on the site wasn’t that big.  Second, many of the properties were posted by agencies, which require a one month’s rent service fee when you move in (more on that swindle later).

However, the worst part about looking online was actually that it often did not give an accurate view of the inventory.  We found after visiting a couple places that the owners and agents sometimes purposely embellished information about apartments to make them more attractive to potential tenants.  Then when you showed up at the apartment it would be completely different than advertised.  Photos were by far the most used method of embellishment, and I’ve posted some examples below.

This is the picture of the bathroom provided online.

The actual bathroom. Just a little different.

The picture of the bedroom given online.

The actual bedroom.

The street level advertisements were similarly unreliable.  We learned from experience that signs posted on the street or in storefronts giving information about specific properties were almost all hooks.  Either the properties were fake, or they had been rented out a while ago and were no longer available.  They served the purpose mainly of getting customers to come in and talk to the rental agents.

Free standing apartment rental ads outside of ad agencies were also unreliable.

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