How the good folk at Kjølberggata 29B, 0653 Oslo, Norway (dba variously as "Central City Apartments", "kampenhotell.no", "REISE BYRÅ BALA SUMAN BALASUNDARAM" etcetera) attempt to scam me went ; what dealing with Oslo police is like as a bonus on the side.
The set-up is very simplei, like any scam set-up ever should be : there's a multitude of supposed "hotels" registered at the same address.
First, the mark (in this case, yours truly) is shown the show-piece. This is called the bait. In this case, the bait consisted of online pictures of what'd constitute a proper apartmentii along with verbal assurances : two bedrooms (one double + two single beds), two bathrooms including one tub, livingroom, appointed kitchen (ie, functioning fridge, stovetop, oven, pots and pans, cutlery and crockery), washing machine etcetera. You know, how people live.
Then, the mark parts with some money. In the case of this Oslo merry band of scammers, we're talking of no less than 13`300 (that's over thirteen thousand) of their dubious local currency, which in practical terms comes to about 1`500 euros, because that's the sort of scammy exchange rates the scamcity of Oslo offers the innocent tourist. And yes, I did ask to see the item before paying. The girly at the desk regretted that they can't show one right off, being all occupied at the moment (around 10:30 in the am) but she will for sure and certainly have it ready for me at their usual check-in time. What was I going to do, turn it down ? I went by the reputation of seriousness and divine perfection them "Nordic system" folk seem to enjoy in the rest of the world -- you want to ask me why I trusted some Norwegians enough to pay money, you might as well ask the naive investors in Argentina's bond issuance the exact same thing. Because we didn't know who we're dealing with, what!
Finally, the scammer delivers the switchiii. In this case, the switch was something else to behold! Permit me to describe its more bloodcurdlingly strident notes : from the parking lot one opens a door, which is a plain wooden door upon which someone hand-affixed plain 0.4mm sheet metal through an artesanal procedure, leaving the contact points clearly visible. The dubious security benefits of the anointed item (as well as the slightly dog-eared corners) aside, it got heavy, resting precariously on the original hinges intended for the original item. That atrocity behind us, there's a seemingly endless maze of artificially lit, low-ceiling corridors, with random ramps and happenstantial single-stairs at random intervals narrowing the damned thing ever further until, just as one's claustrophobia's about to turn them around, the door is hit upon!
Oh, ye magic door, that opens to... well, without exageration of any kind, the door to my Norway apartment opened upon a two by three meter room, reeking of something between stale feet and mildew, and otherwise unoccupied. Empty, except for one stairwell. What the ?!
But wait! There's a door, here, to the right. The tired mind of the traveller hopes beyond insanity, "who knows, maybe this is the mildew garage entryroom, ancient Norwegian tradition, give peace a chance". So we go into the door and end up in a... I have no idea what the fuck the item was, to this day. Let us attempt description : another three by two meters room, this time covered in old, institutional tile, like you'd expect to see in a sovok-era Internativ or perhaps a sanitarium leftover from the electroshock therapy days. The wall opposite the door protrudes in the middle, separating the lavadero in two : on one side a curtain isolates a shower cabin, well fitting the environs. Right next to it is the toilet. On the other side there's a faucet coming out of the wall about at the right height for filling a mop bucket. Next to it is the sink. There's no towel, and no towel rack. There's a soap dispenser inside the shower, across the room, but nothing by the sink. Welcome to Oslo.
Before returning to reception I climb the stairs. There's a single garret, the supposed kitchen to one side, the fridge well frosted over, and I doubt ever cleaned, ever. There's a table and four chairs by the single window. In between these, two double beds. There's a loft, accessible by a stairwell, where two beds are wedged improbably in six or seven square meters of space. Besides the window across the room, there's no means of ventilation -- no AC, not even a fan, and the air is stale. The roof peaks right above the outermost bed, guaranteeing a most cosy continuation of the situation for the misfortunate inhabitants. The roof follows the stair, there's about a meter of space between the floor of the loft and the climbing roof, mostly blocked by a sad wooden railing missing one pillar. There's some cheap "tropical" wallpaper occupying a small portion of the roof covering the loft stair, and what appears as an amateur's project at making a box of plywood with pillows atop choking the landing.
The good folk have no bellhop ("how do you say in Englisch ?"), and attempt it to pass it off as some sort of cutesy gimmick. The girls that ended up having to drag all my suitcases over about a quarter mile worth of spider nest interpreted in steel (various ramps, but without proper bottom, so you can't even roll the damn things) did not see the humour. Neither do I. I confront the receptionist, "what the hell is this ?!" she does not know. I bid her call her manager. The manager is systematically avoiding me as much as possible, but when it becomes obvious it won't be possible she limply assures me that "she does not know". I point out to her that I am most displeased, and leave.
At this point we've not slept in about two days, so we take a nap. It is interrupted by a derpy girl with a walkie-talkie, who wants to know "what the problem is". I show the sorry fridge to her, she asks if "she can maybe send somebody" ? I dismiss her with a curt, "suppose you send somebody before rather than after someone complains". I leave word with the reception that I will be checking out in the morningv, and that I expect a refund. The girly "doesn't know", the one line the scammers running this shameful outfit had bothered to actually drill into their henchmen. Indeed, statistically speaking people behave better, from the scammer point of view, when confronted with "not know". It's the most effectual of all possible scammer lines.
In the morning, another girly that "doesn't know". I send her to fetch her manager and this objectionable indian shows up, assuring me that while he isn't "the manager", nevertheless "he takes care of things", whatever the hell this doublespeak means in their confused heads. I point out to him that he's running a scam, and either he refunds me or I will be going to the police. He attempts to dissuade me from the latter course, while persuading me that in fact "I got what I ordered" according to some interpretation of what I ordered he wrote down in pencil in his own (non-managerial, but taking care of things) notebook or somesuch, as proof of which he proffers the usual scammer fare, including that "they've been doing business for over five years". I have little doubt they have -- owing to the bovinity of the general population, five years is just about the average scam lifespan.
In conclusion : beware of Norwegian merchants. In my experience, they will attempt to sell you a twenty euro rookery for two hundred twenty, and then pretend rookeries are where it's at ; and similarily with groceries, and whatever else. They call this "the Nordic system", and owing to the general bovinity of the general population, most eager to believe anything while absolutely disinclined from testing anything, they've been getting away with it for well over five years. If one absolutely must deal in trade with a Norwegian, extend no credit and no trust, and always thoroughly inspect any items before any kind of payment. Like you'd do with Nigeriansvi, exactly.
I check out, and leisurely stroll to the police station, this large brutalist building next to a park. As I go in, I notice a pile of people huddled around a mechanized sorting unit ; but then I also notice a more conventional clerk sitting to the side. I explain I wish to dress a criminal complaint, he explains I'm to go out the double doors and go to the right. It turns out there's a corridor there I had missed on my first pass ; it leads into a waiting room dominated by a round couch, the kind with a pillar in the middle. I get a number, and look around. I notice they have a fellow going about, discussing their concerns with people. Most everyone's there for some kind of paperwork, one fellow even presented his driver's license to have it checked for validity (which the fellow did, went through the automatic "security" doors, asked some colleagues, came back with an answer). The poor Northern patrolman Mancuso is evidently very dedicated, and visibly worried he might fuck something up. That'd seem the overarching, perhaps his only concern : not to fuck anything up.
He's polite, he laughs confusedly at some joke one of a pair of African men made, in a transparently tedious, highly elaborate social game. It's so very important to be laughing with the Norway policeman, for the African fellow, almost as important as it is for you to not be sent off by some girl you don't know. People, right ?
Eventually, after he's most politely given me five minutes to study the environs, he comes to inquire (in Norwegian) what could he do for me ? I ask if he speaks English, which he in fact speaks just fine. I tell him I'm there to dress a criminal complaint, he inquires what for, I say fraud, he says ok, when your number comes up you go right through that door, to the window on the left. Noticing I'm looking dejectedly at my #55, while the counters display a #46, he assures me I'm probably next. He'd know, he likely saw to all the others.
In another five minutes my number's up, the woman behind the glass wants to hear the details, then gives me a form to fill :
I return it once done, she checks my passport, assures me that I'll receive confirmation by email and well... that's that.
The confirmation just arrived :
Now that the issue has an official case number I will of course be contacting the building authority (there's absolutely no way that atrocity has any kind of permit, it's not even up to post-war soviet building codes, I simply can't imagine Norway's somehow magically left in the 1800s, rebuilding the Warsaw ghetto through private initiative or somesuch nonsense), the tourism authority (I'm sure they'll be happy to hear why exactly their tourism's been dwindling for the past few years) and an assorted buffet of other regulatory authorities my lawyers dredge up.
Because yes, I have lawyers, I have resources, I do things like these. Most people don't, for most people an "I don't know" or two coupled with "you should be happy with whatever it is we dole out" or "we've been doing it like this for x interval" or whatever other Mommy state nonsense is arch-sufficient.
Don't be one of those people.———
- Speaking of which : judging by the fact that norid has centralcityapartments.no registered as a private person, whereas kampenhotell.no is registered to a freefalling corporation (Eagle Group AS -- its losses for 2017 overwhelm the sum total of all profit it made during its entire corporate history, 2017 being the last time it reported), I suppose it's entirely possible they didn't start out as a scam. [↩]
- Such as you've seen time and time and time again, because as it happens the needs of a traveling harem are not that random nor really impredictable. [↩]
- The reason scamming is not legitimate economic activity lies exactly in this splitting : the item shown the customer, the bait, is engineered strictly to the standards and requirements of showing, with no consideration given to the actual cost and hardship of providing the item in question in the regular course of business. Meanwhile the item actually delivered is engineered with a view to regulatory authority. The switch is not constructed to pass the examination of any customer, but as closely as practicable it is constructed to pass the examination of some third party later trying to examine the claim of the scammed customer, perhaps going by some broad "what could have been said or meant", "what might be deemed acceptable in a general form" etcetera. From this split the scammer then attempts to extract some value, like any scammer ever ; and in doing so he damages the market -- both by artificially increasing the standards other providers have to compare themselves to, and by artificially increasing the workload (and therefore, error rate) of whatever authority stuck deciding the claims of various claimants. Also like any scammer ever. [↩]
- Place of captivity for teenaged cunt looking for her gangster escape, back in the glory days. [↩]
- My original intention of spending "a month, maybe two" in that Nordic paradise thus well reduced to "we're leaving the very next day". [↩]
- Though not with, for instance, Egyptian Arabs. [↩]