There have been three new developments concerning under-attack Purplebricks.
In the first, well-known estate agent Trevor Kent has complained to the advertising watchdog about a Purplebricks TV advert.
Kent, a former president of the NAEA and high-profile media pundit, is challenging Purplebricks’ claim that they are “not just online estate agents”. He is arguing that in fact they are only online agents, and that for Purplebricks to suggest otherwise is misleading.
Kent’s complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority is as follows: “In their television advert featuring the father of the bride in a wedding reception scene berating the new son-in-law, the actor says that ‘Purplebricks are ‘not just online estate agents’.
“My complaint is that this is an inaccurate description of their services.
“They ARE an online only estate agent because the public would rightly expect non-online agents to have traditional branches open to the public.
“Purplebricks do not have such branches and thus I contend this advert is misleading to the public.”
In the second development, reviews site allAgents has upped the ante in its war with Purplebricks.
allAgents has now called for an independent audit of Purplebricks’ 96% approval rating via reviews on Trustpilot.
It follows last week’s research note from Jefferies which claimed Purplebricks’ sales success rate was just over 51%. On Radio 5Live at the weekend, Purplebricks’ UK boss Lee Wainwright said that Purplebricks sells 78% of its listings, explaining this was measured by homes sold subject to contract.
allAgents has been involved in a long-running legal dispute with Purplebricks over the validity of negative reviews posted on the allAgents site. Purplebricks says that a number are fakes, while some others cannot be authenticated.
Yesterday Martin McKenzie of allAgents said: “By their own admission, Purplebricks fail to sell 22% of properties, which means one in five customers didn’t get what they paid for.
“Their 96% approval rating on Trustpilot is highly questionable when you have this number of customers who may well be aggrieved. But when it’s almost 50%, that’s just impossible.
“Purplebricks refuse to disclose the number of properties they sell, and use their Trustpilot score to claim to customers and the City they’re somehow more popular than Disney. This just doesn’t add up.
“It’s high time Purplebricks’ Trustpilot reviews were inspected by an independent source, in the same way their financial accounts are.
“We carried out our own internal investigation into the Purplebricks reviews on our site after they repeatedly threatened us with legal action.
“We stand behind our reviews – they’re genuine customer complaints. We’d be very happy for our Purplebricks reviews to be independently inspected, too.”
In the third development, aspirant trade body CIELA has been told that its new complaint to the ASA about Purplebricks will not be investigated but referred straight to the ASA’s compliance team.
The complaint alleges that on a Purplebricks online calculator which gives savings customers can make vis a vis traditional agents, there is no wording to say that the fee is payable whether the property sells or not. CIELA said this breaches an earlier ruling.
The ASA has now told CIELA: “We will refer this matter directly to our compliance team to take action; the compliance team does not report to complainants or publish the details of its work, but please be assured that it will address the problem.”