I should start out this post by saying I am angry. I am angrier than I have been in a long time and I’m having a hard time letting it go because I feel so powerless in this situation. I don’t just feel powerless, I AM powerless. And that feeling has led me to act in a way that I don’t like. I’m hoping writing it down, getting it out of my head and my gut and my heart and down on paper will help. It won’t resolve the situation, but maybe I can just let the anger go. We’ll see.
I am being fucked over by a corporation. This isn’t the first time either and although the last time the circumstances were different the end result is causing hardship for me, while said corporations steal and cheat their way to profits on the backs of working Americans. So, I guess I should start at the beginning. In 2008 I moved into an apartment complex in Dallas. It was called Camden Glen Lakes. While I had the usual issues of apartment living, management was always helpful and accommodating and worked to make sure things were right. In October/November 2014, the complex was bought by another corporation. The changeover was not smooth. The resident portal (where we paid rent, put in maintenance requests and had access to our past leases, which were all done virtually) was taken down without warning giving residents no time to print said leases etc. It was not restored before I moved. The new management/office personnel were unfriendly, snarky, rude, you name it. And it’s not just me, when you look at reviews online, that is being said over and over. The complex is now called Lakeside at Northpark. I have tried and tried to find out the name of the corporation that now owns the complex, but have been unsuccessful. Camden has many properties and has an easy system for contacting their corporate headquarters, but Lakeside at Northpark has no such transparency. My workplace moved its headquarters and since my lease was up on Feb. 3, 2015, I thought I might like to move too in order to be a bit closer to work since the office move increased my commute time. The ill manners of the new management made the decision easier and I was lucky enough to find a place a tiny bit cheaper than what I was already paying (and they raise the rent every year, so it’s even more so) in a nice area, very close to my new workplace. Also per the lease agreement you have to let them know you are moving out 60 days before you do, and finding an availability 2 months in advance, in your price range, in the area you are looking can be a challenge. So, I was happy with the change I was making.
When I moved into my previous complex in 2008, I paid a $200 deposit on a 2 bedroom and a $400 pet deposit for my cat, of which only $200 is refundable because they have to get rid of all the nonexistent fleas and grossness of my totally indoor cat. It’s a ridiculous amount, but the apartments have all the power, especially in a red (R) state like Texas that is completely pro business, completely fuck you consumer. So, if on move out there is no damage and the apartment is left clean I would be looking at a $400 refund on deposits. Since I had to pay a $250 deposit on my new 2 bedroom with a $300 pet deposit for my cat, you can understand why I’d be looking forward to getting that back. The last year of my old lease an addendum was added that upon move out the renter would be charged a $70 cleaning fee, no matter what the state of the apartment at move out. Just another way to soak the consumer.
Anyway, when I paid my last month’s rent in January, I went to the office and found out how much the prorated rent for February was since my move out date was Feb. 3rd. I added that to my rent check along with the water/gas/utilities that I paid every month. When I turned in my keys, I wrote a check for the $70 cleaning fee and I asked the office how long it would take to receive my deposit refund. They told me my refund depended on the state of the apartment. I told them I knew that and I still wondered how long it would take. She looked up my information and told me that I had paid a $200 deposit and it would take about 30 days to get a refund. I said I also paid a $400 pet deposit, $200 of which is refundable. She said Camden did not give us that information. I said well you need to get it from them. She said we will contact Camden about the pet deposit. She reminded me that I would be receiving a final bill for water/gas/trash since those were always billed a month or so behind. I received that bill a little over a month after I moved out, wrote them a check for it and then called them to ask again about the refund. I was told they were working on it and that they were going to waive the cleaning fee since I left the apartment in such good shape. They never deposited that check.
After 5 weeks had passed, I called Lakeside at Northpark to check on the status of my refund. I was told that it had been sent to corporate for approval and my refund amount was $41. I was all like how did you get to $41 dollars? She said well you had a $200 deposit and you still owe the cleaning fee and utilities and that was taken from the deposit. As you might imagine I was a little hot and it apparently sounded in my voice because when I said, I paid $600 in deposits, $400 of which is refundable, I wrote you a check for the cleaning fee that you never deposited because you said you were waiving the fee due to the awesomeness of my apartment and I already paid the “final” utilities bill you sent; she said, in that smug, patronizing tone of voice that is designed and perfected for the sole purpose of pissing someone off further; ma’am, there is no reason to be rude. This is a professional conversation. So I proceeded to tell her that her professional assessment of what I owed and the amount of the refund was bullshit. More faux outrage about my use of foul language and how it wouldn’t be tolerated ensued at which point I said, you told me 5 weeks ago that you would find out from Camden the true amount of my deposits, you told me you were waiving the cleaning fee and in fact did not deposit the check I ALREADY WROTE for that purpose and I’ve paid what you told me was the FINAL utilities bill! So she said, ma’am if you can’t have a professional conversation without that tone of voice, at which point I repeated what I said before, more faux outrage, I repeated it again at which point she decided I wasn’t going to just go away so she said, well I will just go ahead and wave the cleaning fee. I said what about the utilities? She said well they are always billed a month behind. I said this is 2 months later I paid the month behind bill you sent 3 weeks ago, I have the deposited check as proof. She said, yes that payment shows in my ledger but my ledger shows you still owe $100 in utilities (it changed 3 times in the course of our “conversation” from $99.something to $103.something to “around” $100). I told her that her ledger was full of shit. She started again with the ma’am at which point I interrupted and said what about the deposit. She told me she would call Camden and find out and call me back. This was at 4:45 in the afternoon. I gave her until 1:30 the following afternoon. She did not call back.
I called Lakeside at Northpark back. Spoke to Lauren which is who I spoke with the day before. I said you never called me back. She said, (and this is in quotes because it is verbatim) “Yes. You’re $41 refund is at corporate for approval.” I said did you not call Camden? She said I think we are having a miscommunication, I’m going to transfer you to my manager. I said please do. I’m not going to go completely through the back and forth with Lisa, the manager of Lakeside at Northpark. Suffice it to say her condescension, patronizing tone and downright rudeness made Lauren seem like a stellar customer service employee. I was told that she was not going to call Camden to fix the mistake, she didn’t have time to check on every little issue that every person had and if I disagreed with their records on the amount of deposits I paid, I would have to prove otherwise. I asked her how I was to prove it when they closed the resident portal and I had no access to my lease agreements she told me I should have printed them out. I said you have access to my lease agreements all you have to do is look at them and she told me it is not my responsibility to fix your mistakes. Her tone and absolute unwillingness to work with me even a little, frankly had me very flabbergasted. I said, ok you’ve told me I still owe “around” $100 in utilities in spite my already paying the “final” utilities bill you sent me. I want a bill for those charges. She said I’m not going to do that. I said, you can’t charge me for something and not tell me the dates of service and for what. She said I can and I have done. Again, her tone was, I don’t even know how to describe it, just as if she was talking to a worthless piece of shit that she couldn’t wait to get off the phone with. That combined with her flat-out telling me she could take my money without invoicing or billing for it shocked me so badly that what I said next just flew out of my mouth. I have never spoken like that to anyone’s face. (I have thought it more than once) I truly believe that no matter the situation, name-calling is utterly off the table. And yet, “you are such a bitch” came out of me and I was so shocked that it was barely above a whisper and then I slammed the phone in her ear. And the best part about all this? Not only is she trying to cheat me out of money owed to me, I have felt terrible, TERRIBLE ever since, for the way I acted and for calling her a bitch. I still feel terrible. I feel GUILTY for bad behavior and I know for a fact that my behavior just reinforced her belief that the way she treated me was correct. Allowing someone to upset you to the point that I allowed her to upset me never works in your favor.
Of course I’m not going to just bend over and take it. I sent an email to the corporate headquarters of Camden telling them the problem and hoping they could send proof that I had paid the pet deposit. I also called my bank to find out if it was possible to get a scan of the original check I wrote in April of 2008. They didn’t automatically scan them then like they do now, but she said a photocopy of it could be made that would cost me $5 and would take 5 to 7 days to be mailed to me. 1 piece of paper, what, about .45 cents for postage? And they charge $5. I suppose it could have been worse. Banks are notorious for how they screw people. Anyway, that’s where things stand for now. I’m also going to dig through old paperwork this weekend and see if maybe I still have my original lease from 2008 that I did have a hard copy of. I know I can prove that I paid the pet deposit, but I’m damned if I know what to do about the “utilities” that she refuses to send me a bill for. How do I keep her from cheating me that way? Any ideas, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Oh, and whatever you do, don’t live in the Lakeside at Northpark apartments in Dallas.
ETA: I just got a reply from Camden telling me what I already know, that I paid a $400 pet deposit, $200 of which is refundable. I have no idea if that is enough to convince the fine ladies of Lakeside at Northpark. I think I will wait until I receive the copy of the check from the bank as well as see if I have a copy of my original lease from 7 years ago (unlikely but maybe). The more proof the better!