My horrible experience with Nestpick and why I’ll never use them again

When I was searching for apartments in Amsterdam and Utrecht, I discovered a website called Nestpick. For those of you who haven’t heard of Nestpick, it’s a site that lets you look for rooms online that are placed on the website by “verified” landlords. If you find one you like, you pay a deposit on the room and the landlord has 48 hours to make an approval. If approved, you’re set to move in and Nestpick transfers your deposit to the landlord. If unapproved, then Nestpick refunds your deposit and you can apply for another room.

The concept of Nestpick is great since you’re not required to see the room in person or meet the landlord beforehand. For those people moving to a new city or country, this concept can be a lifesaver when looking for accommodations without stress since you’re in a different country or paying hefty realtor fees.

When I first started to use Nestpick, in the beginning they seemed like a great company. I applied to a few different rooms in Amsterdam and while I didn’t get accepted to the rooms I applied for (competition for rooms in Amsterdam is just crazy), I would get emails from different reps from Nestpick offering to help me find a place and let me know that they will do their best to make sure I find a room.

Sounds great, right?

After I decided that finding a room in Amsterdam was impossible, I applied for a room in Utrecht. A few hours later, I got an accepted offer from the landlord, and that was where the problems began…

First of all, Nestpick sent me the contact info for the landlord so I can get in contact to arrange my move-in. Right away I noticed that the renter’s name was “Betty Chang” but the email was associated to someone called “Frank Toney.” Since the names didn’t add up, I immediately felt suspicious.

I did a quick google search and there are literally pages of results pointing to Betty Chang as the worst landlord in Utrecht. There were blogs, newspaper articles and forum threads warning you to stay away from her to even YouTube clips of local news segments of her being confronted by reporters.

In fact, she’s been sued many times for malpractice and people posted warnings to stay away from her because she would pull tricks like not returning your deposit money or charging you random fees that she claimed were set by the city. In fact, her name has such a bad rep in the city with many people refusing to work for her that she now has a Frank Toney working for her.

First thing I thought after reading all of that was how Nestpick, who claims to “authorize” all their landlords could have allowed someone with such a bad reputation list rooms on their website. How did they not find her suspicious when within a few minutes of seeing her name, I could pull up pages of evidence pointing against her?

Evidently, I didn’t want to rent from this lady after reading so many horror stories, so I decided to contact Nestpick, thinking that they would be more than supportive in this special situation.

One thing I have to say is that those reps on Nestpick that you can chat with on their website are absolutely horrible people. You might as well be talking to a wall. I mostly chatted with Dana and Leonardo , so if you ever get these reps, run far far away.

When I explained my situation, it was evident they could care less.

They stated things about how they were unable to refund my deposit (which was over 600 euros) until I physically moved into my apartment and then during the first three days, if things weren’t as I expected, I *may* be eligible to receive a refund. Well I understood that was just part of their company policy, you would think they would look into this case deeper and make an exception for my case, where the tenant is documented to be a known scammer. It wasn’t that I wanted to break my contract because I changed my mind about the room, but because the landlord I’m about to rent a room from is a notorious scammer.

There’s a big difference there, Nestpick!

Dana, actually at one point, just left the chat while I was talking to her. I know customer service isn’t as encouraged in Europe, but in North America, she wouldn’t even get a job at McDonalds with that attitude. I’d also like to point out that I wasn’t rude to these reps at any point. In fact, I had to try really hard to maintain my politeness.

Leonardo, at first seemed helpful, telling me that he’ll contact the accounting department and figure out a way to cancel my contract and help me refund my deposit. He said was talking to them now and will email me once it’s done.

Great! I though, except a couple hours later when I still haven’t heard from him, I found him on the live chat and asked him for updates, only to have him say that he never talked to accounting because their company policy was that refunds are only given after a person moves into an apartment, which doesn’t apply in my case. Like what?! You just told me you were working on processing my refund!

After lots of effort, one of the reps finally gave me the email of one of their supervisors, Linda. So I emailed her and she replied with this:

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 7.50.11 PM

Hmm seriously?! So her response to all the articles and websites documenting this tenant’s malpractice is that it should be fine since all those articles I found date to only 2012 so they’re “quite old.” Instead she suggested that I move in first, and then file a complaint if I have a problem with it within the first three days.

Well first of all, I can’t afford to move to a new country into an apartment I know is sketchy, then file a complaint, and then be without an apartment while I wait for this complaint to settle and to get my deposit back. It’s pretty horrible after all this discriminating evidence toward the landlord, she would still side with her.

Nestpick even stated on their website:
“This provides tenants with a wide variety of available properties to choose from and a secure way to put down a deposit for their next home, avoiding scammers and fraudulent landlords.”

So much for avoiding scammers.

At this point I was so frustrated that I decided the only option left would be to contact the landlord, who turned out to be as sketchy as every google article detailed. For example, she stated that no room was saved for me unless I pay her two months deposit which should be transferred to her before I moved-in. I explained that I already paid the deposit through Nestpick and that Linda even stated that the room was reserved for me.

Well apparently to her, the room wasn’t reserved until I paid the two months deposit no matter how much I paid to Nestpick. She then also mentioned all these random additional fees I had to pay although they weren’t mentioned in the original listing.

I then emailed Linda the Nestpick supervisor a couple more times, which of course SHE NEVER RESPONDED. At that point, I was going crazy and even contacted the City of Utrecht to see what my options were at this point.

After several attempts to reach out to Nestpick, I discovered that Linda’s phone number was listed in her email signature, so I called her and after a lengthy conversation, finally convinced her to cancel the contract and have my deposit be refunded to me.

So in the end, everything worked out, but not without A LOT of effort on my part to convince these people that a supposedly “verified” landlord on their website is actually a scammer, even despite all the MOUNTING PROOF I had from news channels and newspaper articles that documented her malpractices.

With that said, I will never use Nestpick again and I’ve passed this story down to all my friends to avoid this site as well. It’s a shame because the idea behind it is great, but at the end of the day, if a company mistreats their customers this badly and won’t stand behind them, then I will avoid them like the plague.

Anyway, I apologize for such a long rant as I normally don’t post articles like this! However, I definitely think sharing this Nestpick experience with you guys might be helpful.

I’m not here to discourage anyone from using Nestpick, especially since I’m sure there are loads of people who have had positive experiences through them in finding rooms. However, if you do use Nestpick, be aware not all of their supposedly verified landlords are safe.

Have you guys ever used Nestpick?

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17 Comments

  1. Matthijs
    June 25, 2015 / 6:25 pm

    Hello Michelle,

    I just dodged a bullet! Thank god I read your article, right before I tried to use Nestpick! I am searching for a room in Berlin, Friedrichshain district and have spread room requests all over the net. The only people ever responding where obivious scammers though, and this made me frustrated. I asked around on some Facebook pages for trustworthy websites and Nestpick was the most recommended. I was about to use it, but when I saw I had to pay the deposit on forehand I thought twice and found your article.

    As you are an expierenced traveller, are there some other real professional websites you would recommend to use? I am looking for a room to live in Berlin for six months, so an expensive hotel is already off the table.

    Your help would be much appreciated!

    Kind regards from the Netherlands,

    – Matthijs, a student on a desperate search for a room in Berlin for an amazing internship

    • Michelle
      Author
      June 25, 2015 / 9:13 pm

      Hey Matthijs! You also sent me an email so I replied to that with some helpful tips. Hope that helps! Good luck!! 🙂

  2. Ilayda Sarlak
    July 3, 2015 / 1:22 am

    Hello Michelle,

    I think your post is really helpful. I am currently looking for a room in Utrecht too and I have no chance to find a room without someone or me seeing it. I am planning to use nestpick on my worse case scenerio and I was wondering if you can post the link of the house you rented so that it can prevent aome further scams. Hopefully they’ve removed the ad or stopped working with that scammer.

    Best,
    İlayda

  3. Santi L
    July 18, 2015 / 4:01 am

    i’m so unlucky I didn’t read this article before booking!

    My landlord is trying to get the deposit via.bank transfer and not via.nestpick also. He really wants it immediately so I figure out he might be a scammer. If you can tell me more specific details how you get the money back please add it. For example which rules you apply to get the refund. I and many people would be really greatful.

    Thank you for sharing your experience!

  4. July 19, 2015 / 8:29 pm

    It’s really good that you have published your story. The more of us tell about our bad experiences, the more likely they will be to change their way of doing business. You might be interested in my blog as well, it’s also about Nestpick but especially about Medici-Living:

    http://www.medici-living-erfahrungen.blogspot.de/

  5. Johny
    September 6, 2015 / 11:10 pm

    Hi MIchelle,

    You should check a website called Uniplaces! I know it really looks like Nestpick (probably because nest pick basically copied them), but it is way safer and the staff is incredibly helpful!!

    Cheers!

    • George
      May 14, 2016 / 11:21 pm

      Hello Michelle!

      If you are going abroad, you should check out the website called Erasmusinn. They are also a startup company like Nestpick but are funded by Americans! I used them when doing an exchange Istanbul.

  6. Clara
    November 3, 2015 / 10:11 pm

    Hello Michelle,

    So glad I get to see your blog before going on Nestpick !
    As Matthijs, I would like to know if you have some tips to avoid scammers and find a good place in Berlin on professional websites ?

    Thank you in advance for your help!

    Kind regards,

    Clara

    • Santi
      November 22, 2015 / 2:29 am

      Another reason is that they care only for the money rather than solving the problems.

      After I spoke with my potential-scammer landlord for so long. I asked nestpick I’m okay if the landlord cancelled the booking. The landlord sent an email stated that he understood my concern about him asking for transfer of money and all the deals were fine. It was in English even though he couldn’t at all understand english. So it was nestpick forcing him to do so.

      2 days befor moving in, my booking got cancelled. Nestpick told me via.email that landlord was actually a scammer, he still kept asking for money from nestpick.

      This clearly shows that they knew for long that the landlord was scammer but all they did was like there was nothing going on. I lost my time finding a place myself. I spent a lot of money staying in hotel to find an accommodation myself.

  7. Maréchal Louise-Amélie
    March 9, 2016 / 8:12 pm

    Hello Michelle,

    I’m about to book a flat for 5 month in Berlin by Nestpick and after your post I surely have some doubts. Could you please tell me if the flat you wanted to rent had the label “certified by nestpick” because some doesn’t and when they actually do this means that people from nestpick have actually been to this flats and even took pictures of it themselves, which seems pretty secure for me, specially that they say taht even if it doesn’t match what was promise they will refund you and pay for you 3 nights in a hotel.

    Thanks,
    Louise-Amélie

    • Michelle
      Author
      March 10, 2016 / 6:14 am

      Hey! Yes the flat I chose was “certified” which was why I was willing to pay the deposit. However it was more the issue of the landlord not being verified…they stated that they called the person to confirm their identity but they didn’t seem to put much effort into that considering how a quick googled search of the landlord’s name led me to find lots of articles about how shady/scammy the landlord is. The landlord’s name wasn’t disclosed until after I paid the deposit so I couldn’t have researched it myself. That was the bigger problem than whether the actual room exists or is in the condition it said it was in.

      Unfortunately I can’t say what it will be like in your situation. I did get my money back from Nestpick from the scam landlord but I did have to fight with them for a few days and the customer service was really horrible. If at all possible, I recommend you visit the place beforehand!

  8. unknown
    April 26, 2016 / 12:30 pm

    Bizarre that Fabian Dudek the founder of Nestpick has been able to raise more than 11 million euro’s for his startup by telling made up stories to investors about how successful the concept is. If they would have taken more time to investigate all his claims they would have found out that these claims were false. This story is going to be something for the movies like the wolf off wall street.

  9. George
    May 14, 2016 / 11:24 pm

    Hello Michelle!

    If you are going abroad, you should check out the website called Erasmusinn. They are also a startup company like Nestpick but are funded by Americans! I used them when doing an exchange Istanbul.

  10. Pete
    June 14, 2016 / 7:07 pm

    Yeah Nestpick are terrible for customer services. In my case the place was not as described, the landlord said that it wasnt their problem is NestPick described the flat incorrectly, and that I should take it up with them. But all emails and phone numbers I used to book are not valid.
    I had to resort to emailing a different country than the one I am in.
    All i got was a automated reply asking for my feed back!!

    Avoid like the plague, stick to AirBnB, you at least get great security and customer services

  11. Mel
    January 11, 2017 / 6:36 pm

    Hi Michelle!

    I know this article was written a while ago and not sure if you check it anymore but I’m hoping you do and can help me out… I’m planning on moving to Amsterdam in a few months, and was wondering how you ended up finding a place without Nestpick? Did you go wth a different agency, or end up just staying in a hotel and finding a place to look after you’d actually arrived there?

    Thanks in advance!
    Mel

  12. Michael
    March 18, 2019 / 9:24 am

    Thanks for writing this article. Good to know before trying to use Nestpick

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