I worked at a dedicated desk at Spaces (Near North Chicago) for about five months, then signed for a private Regus office at 605 N Michigan Ave.
Both buildings were nice changes of pace for me, as a freelance writer who wanted more human interaction. But in that short time, several problems occurred:
- After two months, Troy Trevino (Area Sales Manager Chicago) asked to renew my contract. I felt I had just moved in. It was January. He wanted me to sign for a May renewal, for another 6 to 12 months.
- That renewal had a $50 rent increase. I asked for reasoning. Troy replied, "I can reduce that a bit for you..." It felt like working with a car salesman. No explanation. Only weird, baseless haggling. Regus seems to sneak in rate increases/fees, taking advantage of busy lives.
- In February, I moved offices. I asked Troy Trevino twice if the new $308 rent would increase later. It was comical watching him avoid the question, looking down and mumbling, half shaking his head and walking away. (I'm thinking, okay whatever, I'll decline if they increase it again.)
- Troy Trevino only gave me two pages from the "House Rules." I later found the actual contract is 12 pages.
- Regus charged an unauthorized "restoration services" fee when I moved offices.
- This one's my favorite. Regus has a coffee machine at 605 N Michigan. It costs $30 per month to use. I told Troy and Iwona (the nice receptionist) that I don't drink coffee. Don't charge me, please. Every invoice since then has included that $30 coffee charge. I finally got it removed for one invoice. But guess what? After the Coronavirus hit, the coffee charge was on my invoice again.
Finally, the Coronavirus.
I understand everyone is in the same boat, but Regus failed to address the virus in any civilized, human way. There was no outreach. Instead, Regus opted for silence and to keep locations open. My lawyer said it's because if they close doors they must stop invoicing.
Regus eventually made "offers" after many tenants scolded them online.
I asked for a brief rent pause. This is my biggest expense as a freelancer and Regus can't uphold their part of the contract. Regus replied with this offer: Extend my agreement for three months. In exchange, they'll cut the next two month's fees by 50%. I mulled this over, and came to the conclusion that Regus is, in fact, attempting to profit off a global crisis.
Let's break that down. My rent is about $300 per month. They're saying that if you pay us $900 more in the future, we'll save you $300 now. Even during normal times, that's a horrible deal. That's almost the exact definition of profiteering.
I'll end with advice for other Regus tenants (given by my small business lawyer):
- Block credit cards from Regus.
- Write online reviews to warn future tenants and get Regus' attention.
- Go to the press. I've contacted WGN and the Chicago Trib. Journalists are writing stories about the good/bad companies of the Coronavirus.
- Don't accept an offer that extends your lease.
- Keep an open, communicative mind, even if Regus doesn't.
- DON'T PAY REGUS until they agree to one of YOUR offers.
- It's probably not cost-effective for Regus to sue for non-payment. The lawyer said they'll probably send you to collections. She said you're often better off dealing with collections. It may ding your credit, but that's fixable. Collections agencies negotiate. They may accept a few hundred bucks to settle.
- Document every potential way Regus breached the contract.
Overall, Regus facilities are nice. Unfortunately, Regus seems to embrace an archaic billing system, along with predatory sales practices and minimal customer service.
Pair that with the absentee approach to the Coronavirus and it's clear that I'll never pay for a Regus office again.
Please stay away from Regus. Spend your money designing a beautiful home office or to support a smaller coworking spot. Good luck to all current Regus tenants! My email is mail (at) joewarnimont (dot) com if you'd like to reach out.