Hybrid agency Purplebricks and website allAgents have failed in their bid to reach agreement over the accuracy and source of a series of disputed customer reviews.
A statement passed to Estate Agent Today last evening by allAgents’ Martin McKenzie reads: “allAgents can confirm that at 2.30pm today, we withdrew from our talks with Purplebricks regarding the negative reviews hosted on our website and the suspension of their account. A more detailed statement will be released in the next few days.”
Meanwhile a much lengthier statement from Purplebricks, passed to EAT last evening, says: “The situation with allAgents has arisen because we were concerned that there were fake reviews on their website and so we performed an audit of the published reviews. Last week we sent a sample of these reviews for allAgents to substantiate and verify.
“The reviews included a range of characteristics that suggested to us that they were not legitimate; for instance, the LPE referred to in the review did not actually work in the area or postcode concerned, the email address did not match any known customer of Purplebricks.
“To date we have received no response from allAgents as to their legitimacy or verification. Nor have we been provided with any means of identification by allAgents such that we can authenticate that the authors were customers of ours.
"As the publishers of these reviews, we hope that allAgents will provide this information so that we can quickly resolve this matter and we can all move on. We have provided them with all of the information they need to do so. As we have said on many occasions, we have no problem with genuine reviews or reviewers, and actively encourage a wide-ranging, robust and extensive review process through Trustpilot, which now has feedback from over 31,000 customers.”
The dispute has been well-documented in the industry press.
In September AllAgents, for the first time ever, suspended an account - that of Purplebricks - because of what it described as "repeated threats of legal action forcing the removal of negative reviews from our website”.
Purplebricks disputed the accuracy of at least some of the reviews, which produced a very different picture of the agency than that which comes across from its reviews on the Trustpilot site.
However, in October news broke of talks between the two sides in Scotland. These continued and are believed to have ultimately involved input from Purplebricks chief executive Michael Bruce. These are the talks from which allAgents has now withdrawn.
During the course of the dispute, Purplebricks has claimed that it has repeatedly asked for information from AllAgents to prove the authenticity, or otherwise, of the reviews.
Meanwhile an AllAgents crowdfunding appeal - aiming at £50,000 for legal fees the site may incur if it again displays disputed reviews - narrowly failed to meet its target by under £5,000.