Estate agency Butters John Bee has been told by the Advertising Standards Authority not to re-run an ad because of an ambiguity over its description of an ESTAS award and over seven day viewings.
The ASA was responding to a complaint about a Butters John Bee leaflet, submitted by a rival agency, McGarrible & Co.
The latter disputed three claims in the leaflet, suggesting they were misleading and asking whether they could be substantiated.
The claims were that Butters John Bee had “more sold signs than any other agent ... soldsignaudit 29.6%”; and “Gold Award Winners as 'Best in North West' at 2016 ESTAS National Estate Agency Awards”; and “Only agent in Crewe with viewings 7 days a week”.
The ASA did not uphold the complaint about the Sold signs: Butters John Bee told the ASA the research had been carried out by an independent market share report company called For Sale Sign Analysis. This firm provided evidence to the ASA and the authority dismissed the complaint.
Butters John Bee also told the ASA that the leaflet stated that the firm’s Crewe office was Gold Award Winner as ‘Best in North West’ at the 2016 ESTAS.
However, the ASA said: “We understood that ESTAS had three awards which related to three different regions within the North West, and that there was no award for the ‘Best’ agent in the North West overall. While we noted that Butters John Bee had received a gold award, it was for one area within the overall North West region, not all three. Therefore, given how we considered consumers were likely to interpret the claim, we concluded that it was not representative of the award they had won, and was misleading.”
On the final point of the complaint, Butters John Bee said its Crewe branch employed two weekend viewing representatives and that included visits throughout Sundays. Through their team’s local knowledge, employment of and contact with staff members from other firms, they believed that no other estate agency in Crewe offered the same service.
However, the ASA said it wanted comparative information about other agents in Crewe and whether they operated viewings seven days a week. The ASA said: “We noted Butters John Bee’s understanding that they were the only estate agent in Crewe with viewings seven days per week, which was based on their own local knowledge and from employees of competitor firms. We did not consider, however, that such an assertion was adequate to substantiate the claim made which should have been based on objective, comparative information that showed the days that all their competitors offered viewings.”
The ASA’s judgement concduded: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Butters John Bee Ltd not to claim that they were the only agent in Crewe with viewings seven days per week and to accurately reflect the nature of awards they had received.”