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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

'20 OnTheMarket members back me' says agent who quit portal

The estate agent who last week sent an open letter to OnTheMarket, saying it had lost her both business and money, says she has been “overwhelmed” by support. 

Lisa Arcari, who operates the single-office My Place in Cornwall agency in Wadebridge, says in the week since writing the open letter that she has been contacted by 20 other OTM member-agents from as far afield as London, Birmingham, Oxfordshire and Kent. 

She says they all support the comments she had made in her letter, addressed to the board of OnTheMarket. 

“One agent said I’d stolen his thunder because he was considering the same thing - going public with a complaint - while another said he’d had a brush-off from OnTheMarket when he complained about a lack of leads. We’ve all had the same experience” she has told Estate Agent Today.

“The agents all receive letters saying OnTheMarket is getting 5.4 million visitors a month but none of them seems to be seeing that translated into real business for them. During the summer my office should have been flying, but it wasn’t” she says.

Arcari says that on one occasion when complaining to OnTheMarket about a lack of enquiries she had allegedly been advised to ask those clients already on her existing database to visit the portal. “What on earth was that supposed to achieve?” she asks.

Arcari also says that “within a day” of reverting back to using Rightmove and Zoopla she could see an increase in enquiries. 

In her original letter Arcari said that she had been taken in by OTM’s sales pitch. 

She also accused the portal of not responding to complaints, and explained how she could not see the benefit to members like her of OTM’s proposed international sales service. “Over the past few months, my membership of your organisation has lost me money and lost me business” she wrote.

OnTheMarket has been asked to comment on Arcari’s latest comments but the portal earlier responded to her open letter with a statement saying it was sorry “this individual agent” was dissatisfied but said it did not comment on contractual relations with its members. 

“Since launching less than nine months ago OnTheMarket has established itself as a serious player in the property portals market” said the OTM statement.

However, Arcari says it’s now time for other agents to stand up and be counted. 

“We’re all in the same boat and problems, especially for small agents, are mounting. There are literally dozens out there with the same view. It’s time for them to say so” says Arcari. 

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    Well, if other agents are feeling the same way, let's hear from them.

    An interesting move from OTM now would be to say to any agents who aren't happy that they will release them from their contracts. Either agents stand behind this project or they don't, and if you read Springett's press releases you'd think this lady is a one-off whacko.

    So come on Ian Springett, prove that you have the support of your members and offer an amnesty to those agents who want to step away. If your 'Mutual' is as strong as you say it is, you'll lose a few agents (who must be causing you a headache anyway)?

    Maybe EAT should run a petition along these lines?

  • Michael Barrett

    Dear all,
    I am also deeply dissatisfied with OTM. We have received very few leads from them whereas Rightmove leads have been through the roof. I have attempted to leave OTM but am bluntly told that I have signed for five years. The sales pitch said they would fix their rates for 5 years but that we were not tied in. I'm having our legal guys look at the contract.

    Kelly Evans

    Plant is a plant. There's no agenda here, is there? Your anti-OTM stance is clouding your judgement. You say you're getting no leads, many others say they are. Who to believe?

     
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    Well Kelly I would love to speak to a company who has actually got a reasonable level of deals from OTM, there overall stats don't make for good reading, a deal is a deal just as much as a plant if not watered will DIE

     
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    There are many people in the same position, and no number of massage sessions on there traffic figures will alter the fact that they have a fraction of unique traffic compared to even Zoopla, I too signed up for the long run on the promise that one of the big two would be unhinged and OTM would be a number two runner, whereas not only have they made Rightmove stronger, they are so far off the mark the level of enquiries we receive is tiny and we have had virtually no deals done in 8 months, joining OTM now would be a killer for any agent, it was never about the money, it was about the power Rightmove had, fail No.1 owners surveyed don't know the brand OTM and if you are acting in the best interest of your client you sure as hell cant tell them that OTM will do the job in replacement of either RM or ZPG Fail 2, the letter of intent they are now using to sucker people in should they reach 7500 office just wont happen by the new year unless a mass of agents start behaving like blind lemmings, highly unlikely Fail No. 3 I could go on but the fact is OTM will damage your business, whilst Springett continues on his fantasy at your expense !!! Would be interested to know what your legal guys make of the contract, which in my mind fails on unfair terms and failure to provide a service fit for purpose...

  • Daniel Roder

    Uh-oh. Beginning of the end for OTM? Is that death knells I hear ringing?

    To be fair, I've always been pretty on the fence when it comes to OTM, but this doesn't make for great reading.

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    We're not on OTM, but thought it was a good idea that they were going to challenge the RM / ZPG duopoly.
    Instead they announced the "...only one other portal rule...." which, even if successful, would have only ever replaced one duopoly with another. Not sure of the legal implications for them if they remove this absurd rule at this late stage.....but if they could, they might get some traction instead of having a beauty contest with ZPG.

    Rob  Davies

    This is a great point. They were created to challenge the duopoly of RM and Z, but there plan all along has been to just replace this duopoly with a new one, with them in second place rather than Z.

    Given Zoopla's recovery and OTM's struggles, definitely doesn't look like that's going to happen. All the while, of course, Rightmove have quietly been growing and growing, allowing the competition to have playground spats while they get bigger and stronger. It's ironic, really - OTM was set up to challenge the dominance of Rightmove and yet they've only made them stronger.

    The one other portal rule and the no-online agents rules were two absolutely rookie errors from OTM, errors they are unlikely to recover from.

     
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    Would love to know Lisa's cost per lead on OTM compared to her other portal - must be massive!

  • Simon Shinerock

    Even IS would accept that the only possible justification for the one other portal rule was that it could propel OTM into second place in one year, it won't and all it will do is hold a bunch of misguided follower agents to long term ransom, well you make your bed....

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    Maybe we could ask the Editor to investigate the question of the legalities of the contract. This is perhaps the most important question on people's mind.

    Dropping the one other portal rule then it would mark an ignominious end to the career of the CEO.

    However now they have this rule in place, I just don't see how they can change it or fail to enforce it without devastating consequences.

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    @simon

    They claimed they didn't believe in a duopoly in principle. Yet their rules are designed to create a duopoly - just with them in it. So this shows you the type of principled organisation it is.

  • Simon Shinerock

    There is no doubting they have standards, they are just double standards. The thing is the board won't be upset for long if it fails because when you get to a certain age your short term memory starts to go so not all bad then :)

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