The managing director of Hatched online agency is accusing Purplebricks, eMoov, Tepilo and House Network of advertising their rates exclusive of VAT contrary to the Committee of Advertising Practice’s guidance to include the tax.
Adam Day is now calling for all online estate agents to take heed of the CAP guidance. He says that despite the guidance, and advice circulated by The Property Ombudsman, many agents are still ignoring the call to include VAT in advertised rates.
Now Day has written to the Advertising Standards Authority highlighting the issue and those flouting the ruling. In response, Day says he has been told by the ASA that its compliance team is now investigating the matter.
“We’ve included VAT in our prices for over 18 months now, ahead of any rulings being passed. We did this in order to be completely transparent and fair to our customers. After all, they can’t claim the VAT back, so the price they see is the price they should pay” says Day.
He accuses those agents deciding not to include VAT within their prices of doing a disservice to potential customers by misleading them with a more attractive headline price, only for the customer to be hit with another £100 charge.
“When I started Hatched, it was always my intention to create a new type of estate agency that was as transparent as possible. I know that my peers within the sector are also striving for complete transparency, coupled with the ultimate customer experience” he says
“But I’m afraid they are letting the customer down on this. If ‘online estate agents’ as a sector wish to change estate agency for the better, then we all need to be raising the bar, and this includes when quoting transparent fees inclusive of VAT.”
He says he regrets being obliged to involve the ASA “as I thought, having made the first move 18 months ago, others would follow.”
Yesterday we carried a story about a high street agency complaining to the ASA about online agent EweMove - not about its VAT, but about its claims to be a 24 hour service.