A mistake made by an online housing company has cost a southwestern Chinese woman a home and over 100,000 yuan (about $15,000) in personal belongings, according to reports.
The woman, Ms. Wang, was in the process of moving apartments. She left many of her belongings in the Chengdu, Sichuan Province, apartment in January, and on March 5 finally returned to clean up her remaining belongings.
But her key wouldn’t open the lock.
A man then came to the door—one of the three living there—and asked what she was doing. “This place has been rented out, hasn’t it?” he said, surprised, according to the March 18 report in West China Daily.
As far as the men were concerned, they had moved into the cosy 484 square-foot apartment on the Baorunyuan Housing Estate after simply responding to an advertisement for it on the Internet.
They had moved in on Feb. 20, finding an empty apartment that they’d rented from a real estate company.
Wang was furious: She left in her home a jade bracelet from her mother, a diamond wedding ring, other expensive jewelry, luxury bags, and a couple of computers.
These items were all gone, leaving only three men, a TV, and multiple cans of beer.
The housing company—which had got a locksmith to change the locks, and cleared out her belongings—was rude and dismissive, she said. After looking at their system, they conceded that there must have been a mistake.
But they said they couldn’t help: all the staff responsible for the mix-up had quit their jobs between Feb. 20 and March 5, and there was no one who knew what happened to all her personal belongings.
Wang said, according to the report, that they were only willing to compensate her 10,000 yuan (about $1,500).
Because the issue began making a stir on the Internet—Chinese people love a good story of injustice and bureaucratic torture—the company was forced to issue a statement. It said that two staff had prised open the door and that cleaners had disposed of the “two computers, clothing items, and boxes.”
The boxes that had a jade bracelet from her mother and other jewelry.
Wang can’t even prove that those belongings had been stolen. The two parties are currently negotiating the case. The company offered to pay her the rent that they were currently collecting for her apartment, plus compensate her for emotional damages. They were also willing to go to a third party arbitrator on the matter.
Wang is furious, still. “They’ve admitted the mistake. But should it be me, the innocent one, who foots the bill?”
In the meantime, she can’t go back to her apartment because the tenants are still living there.