Even who doesn’t have a second of the latest season of Bought blind have seen, thanks to social and less social media, was able to perfectly follow the path that the ‘couple in a million’ walked. Was the destination worth the hellish journey past rude Facebook comments and negative reviews?
Filip Struyf (41): “Our house has everything we wanted. We are very happy there and so are our children.”
Caroline Carpentier (43): “Absolutely! The only downside was that the episodes, and the social media storm, came barely a week after we moved. It has slightly overshadowed our luck, but now we are right at the top.”
Not bothered by the obnoxious neighbors?
Struyf (laughing): “When we moved into the house, they immediately gave us flower arrangements, and recently we gave a big drink to the neighborhood – it was a very nice evening.”
Carpentier: “Our daughters are already very good friends with the neighbors’ grandchildren, and there is even a passage between the two gardens. Marie, our youngest, always says: ‘Béa (Vandendael, the ‘Blind Bought’ broker, ed.) have found the best house for us, because we have met super nice friends.’”
Is there more time for quality time now that you wanted so badly?
Struyf: “Now that we are closer to our business (Tarzan & Jane indoor playground in Heusden-Zolder, ed.) live, it is easier to go to work. Practical, but it also meant I had to learn to draw a line. I am now strict about my free time.”
Carpentier: “At school we were told that our daughters have changed completely in their relationship. We have calmed down and so have the children.
“Our 20-year-old son Thomas also enjoys living in his studio. He is not yet ready to leave the nest.”
Many wondered: why did you participate in such a large budget Bought blind?
Carpentier: “We simply lacked time to look for ourselves. And as you could see in the program, it is difficult for me to assess the possibilities for an existing home. I don’t see how to transform rooms. This made the search very difficult.
“We didn’t know the area either; what are the good neighborhoods When I talked about tape development – I only said it once, but suddenly it was the only word in my vocabulary, so to speak (laughs) – I was not so much concerned with the proximity of other people, but rather with the fear of a bad neighborhood. I was really panicking at the time, and then sometimes you make simplistic statements.”
They opened a sewer of negative reactions on social media.
Carpentier: “We are really shocked at how many people have gone into their pens to send their opinion out into the world. At some point we stopped reading to protect ourselves. But I understood those reactions: I was also shocked at ourselves – that is: from myself, Filip was more…”
Struyf: “…diplomatic (laughs). I’ve often thought the same thing, but luckily I’m quieter when I’m nervous.”
That reluctance quickly earned you the nickname ‘sloef’ on the internet.
Struyf (laughing): “Right. It wasn’t fun to read, but everyone who knows us got a good laugh out of it.”
They were less lenient with you, Caroline.
Carpentier: “I was accused of being a bad mother. Whereas all we wanted in that house was for the children. I want to keep them in our nest as long as possible, but people interpreted it as if I was trying to buy their love. Suddenly I began to doubt my qualities as a mother.”
Did you respond to such comments?
Carpentier: “A time when it got very personal.”
Struyf: “We received a message on our private account on Facebook.”
Carpentier: “Someone accused me of not having experienced anything in my life and ended with: ‘I wish you all the worst that could happen to you.’ You don’t say those kinds of sentences. That person had no right to say that, I have had to fight hard to be where I am now.”
But your past life was not covered thoroughly in the program.
Carpentier: “We deliberately asked that. We decided to join the program, my first husband’s loved ones chose not to hear that story on TV. But it meant something to me when people told me it was about the money when caring is the most important thing to me. After his accident at work, I took care of my critically ill husband for four years. Day and night.”
You were invariably called ‘millionaire couple’ in the media. Could this explain the negative reactions?
Struyf: “We simply had that budget and we responded eagerly to it.”
Carpentier: “If we had been presented as a ‘hard-working couple’, the reactions would have been much milder. The other participants were also disappointed on their first visit.”
At one point, the negative reactions were also about your work.
Struyf: “On Google, the one-star reviews poured in with the explanation: ‘Too few bathrooms and dressings’. Those people deliberately wanted to harm us, I thought that was really low.”
Carpentier: “That they want to hurt us, up to that point. But we also have a lot of people who do their very best every day. They have nothing to do with our participation.”
You fight back.
Struyf: “Our lawyer advised us to send these people a letter.”
Carpentier: “And not, as many have said, to demand compensation, but to make them aware that what they did was really not possible, not even legally. We wanted to deal with that calmly, but then someone went to the press with that letter.”
Struyf: “That made it a thousand times worse.
“There is always talk of bullying among children, but adults do it just as much. It’s so easy to hurt someone on social media.”
You were assisted by a psychologist the whole time. Was it necessary?
Carpentier: “I really needed that. Everyone underestimates how intense such a program is. With the stress of moving comes the fact that you don’t know anything. It was much more difficult than we could have estimated in advance.”
Struyf: “We registered with great confidence, but after a while we began to have doubts.”
Carpentier: “And not only to the experts, but also to ourselves. I wondered if I had said I wanted a dishwasher in the kitchen. If you call after that, you get a vague answer. Suddenly I was awake to such absurd things.”
It doesn’t seem much calmer than pulling up the housing market yourself.
Carpentier: “Absolutely not. You think you don’t have to invest time in it, but all those family photos and personal conversations take a lot of energy.”
Struyf: “And that vlogging! (laughs)”
Carpentier: “Sometimes it seemed easier just to drive to the store and choose a bathroom yourself.”
In De Morgen, our journalist wrote that you were ‘sacrificed on the viewers’ altar’. Did it feel that way?
Carpentier: “Maybe after the first episode. My reactions were magnified, but that’s just how television works. With such a program it is of course about the viewing figures, we already knew that. But I don’t think the show makers could have foreseen that we would be treated this way, otherwise they would have handled it differently for sure.”
Struyf: “When Janic (Kazaltzis, ‘Blind Bought’ host, ed.) with the experts in The Cooke & Verhulst Show joined, Béa said she found our reaction ‘childish’. We thought that was a bit childish, because she knew very well how happy we were with the end result.”
Carpentier: “My first reaction was of course exaggerated, but after a night’s sleep we called the production to say that we still had full confidence in it. Béa’s reaction hit hard. But that doesn’t mean we’re not grateful to them.”
Would you like to participate again?
Struyf: “Absolutely, but we are so happy in our new house that it will probably never be necessary.”
Carpentier: “Unless we ever have to live in a smaller house, of course.”
As long as there is enough walk-in closet!