The term ‘commission’ in the context of estate agency is set to be at the heart of a complaint to the advertising watchdog.
The Advertising Standards Authority will almost certainly have to determine whether a commission is a percentage of the sale figure achieved by the agent; or whether the term also includes a fee.
If the challenge goes ahead, as seems likely, the ruling could have important implications for a number of online agents and others operating a flat fee structure.
In correspondence we have seen, a high street estate agent is challenging Purplebricks’ latest ‘commisery’ TV adverting on the grounds that it says it does not charge commission.
The agent – who has asked not to be named at this stage but who we must make clear is not a ‘regular’ on EYE – is citing a dictionary definition which says that a commission can be a fee or a percentage.
In an exchange of emails, Purplebricks strongly disputes the definition, saying that it does not charge commission but a flat fee.
The dispute has so far been dealt with between the two businesses, but it is now set to go before the ASA.
The high street agent maintains: “If you look for the full definition in the English dictionary for commission you will see it defined as . . . a fee or percentage allowed to a sales representative or an agent for services rendered.
“The fee you (Purplebricks) charge for the services you provide is commission. This makes your advert completely misleading to members of the public.”
The agent is also questioning the claim in the Purplebricks advert to be offering the same full service as a high street agent.
He has told Purplebricks: “I would class my business as a traditional estate agent yet our service is completely different to yours.”
However, Purplebricks has replied to him saying: “We do not agree that our TV advert breaches the BCAP Code of Conduct.
“Commission is a payment that is directly related to the amount sold. Purplebricks does not charge commission – we charge a flat fee, regardless of the price of the property.
“We also offer our customers the same service they would receive from a traditional estate agent. Our Trustpilot rating of 9.4/10 from over 12,000 reviews and world class NPS score of +80 evidences how highly our customers value us.
“Also, all our TV adverts are Clearcast approved before broadcast and are rigorously checked against the BCAP code, a code which we take very seriously. We also support the ASA and if they were to contact us, we would work with them directly to resolve any issues.”
The latest Purplebricks TV advert is here:
The definition of commission to which the agent refers is here, under section 4