Looking for a lodger or apartment sharer in the London, UK used to be fairly straightforward process.
Gumtree did a fairly good job. But recent times Gumtree just isn’t getting many replies, generally because of increased competition and Gumtree now charging for everything, for example £5 for website link and £50 for a dumb-ass red “urgent”, whoever thought of that needs a labotomy. I’ve tried with them this time, the first few hours I had 25 hits, now virtually nothing, presumably because I’m off the first page. Gumtree (an ebay company) I feel they have probably forgotten why they became successful in the first place, which is basically a site which enables transactions to happen easily and inexpensively. My recent experiences with Gumtree seem to mirror those of ebay which is now very poor
Anyway, at the moment I’m not desperate enough to spend £50 – £100 to get priority coverage on Gumtree, so …
Enter easyroomate dot com and spareroom.co.uk
Both have good SEO and PPC presence on google.co.uk, both sites advertise free listings. My experiences so far have been worlds apart for each site.
Easyroomate seem to operate on what I call the “dating website scam”. What this basically means is that they advertise that their site is “free”, and it is to signup, add a profile. However they rigorously control any contact details like phone numbers, websites etc, these are removed or photos/videos with contact details are “not authorised”. When a prospective renter gets in contact, it’s only then that the dumb-ass who signed up on their site realises that they have to pay for the contact details of the other party. In the case of easyroommate, minimum £25. It’s also my opinion that the authenticity of the contacts were dubious, these people had massive budgets and just suited what I was looking for a bit too much. I have no way to prove this because obviously I don’t work at easyroommate.
Also, using my brain I can see that actually the only one doing anyone a favour with Easyroommate, is me doing them a favour. They have an extra authentic listing on their site to make them look more popular, attract more renters and landlords. So I’m essentially providing them with free advertising, whilst they want to stiff me for £25. You can see why I’d be slightly annoyed, and very much not going to use them ever again.
On top of all this I got endless patronising emails from some guy called “Frank”. I don’t know you Frank nor do I want to be on first name terms with you, nor do I wish there to be any more spam in my inbox from you. Actually, nor do I wish to be bombarded by you with your witty little ditties, that are carefully crafted to persuade me of your keenness to help me, but are actually designed to make me part with my money. Dude, you’re trying too hard and it shows.
Spareroom by complete contrast, seem to be allowing prospective renters to contact me and vise versa and contact details exchanged phone, email etc, no problem. Obviously they need to make money, and it’s possible to upgrade to their “early bird” service, which allows renters and landlords, who’ve registered within 7 days to contact each other. Judging by what I’ve seen so far. I would probably use this service in future, but currently I’m in no hurry, so happy days.
Their communications are straightforward and businesslike, friendly enough and detailed enough, and all without being on first name terms with some guy who probably doesn’t even exist.
My gut feeling is that it’s basically run by honest genuine people, who are trying to earn an honest living.
I have sent them some feedback, indicating that I’m very happy with them.
Update 26-Aug-2013, I have managed to find one negative, spareroom didn’t authorise my video, presumably because it contained my website address.
Beware of things that seem too good to be true, usually they aren’t. Free advertising is a precious resource. I am happy to say good things about people who are doing a good honest job, and also want to point out the unscrupulous, the dubious and the downright scammers.
Bottom line –
Easyroommate, borderline scammers 0/10
Spareroom, great very happy 9/10 (so far)
Easyroommate dot com – look it up yourself, and do click on their Adwords link at the top of the page.