The fledgling group of independent agents which has already launched attacks on online agency operators in general and Purplebricks in particular has now turned its attention to consumer review website Trustpilot.
Earlier this week Estate Agent Today reported that the group - the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents, or CIELA - had retweeted an individual complaint about Purplebricks; the complainant gave the agency one star on Trustpilot.
Now CIELA has returned to social media, asking Trustpilot in a tweet yesterday afternoon why it had removed the review in question.
On balance Purplebricks’ reviews on Trustpilot have been strongly positive and the hybrid agency states on its own website that it has 13,551 reviews on the service, claiming it has a 9.4 out of 10 rating. It also links from its own website to Trustpilot.
However, the review which was retweeted by CIELA was one that was sharply critical of Purplebricks. It came from a Kerry Pearson and included claims stating: “I had two reps during the time they marketed my property ... We relaunched so many times I lost credibility on the market ... The buyer they have listed does not exist.”
Purplebricks has told Estate Agent Today that it does not comment on individual reviews.
In a statement to EAT, Trustpilot says: “We have clear guidelines to ensure that authenticity of the reviews on Trustpilot. The guidelines ensure that both consumers and businesses are protected. If a company reports a review on Trustpilot, that review is temporarily moved offline while our Compliance Team investigates and the reviewer is contacted.
“Depending on the reason for reporting, the reviewer is either asked to verify their review by providing documentation for their service experience and/or to edit their review and bring it within our guidelines (for example, if there were defamatory statements in the review or if the language in the review violates our ‘coarse language’ guidelines). If the reviewer replies, and the review is within our guidelines, it will be immediately moved back online.”
Meanwhile CIELA itself is to be formally inaugurated today.
It has announced that there will be a ‘pre-launch interim membership subscription’ of £35 per month, for which member agents will receive access to member-only discussion forums, participation in surveys, voting rights and the right to attend CIELA events, plus “marketing material to be used in pitches against corporate and call centre agents” and advice on compliance.
There will be the formal appointment of 12 regional officers and an unspecificed number of county and London borough officers before the end of March.
A trade press launch is scheduled for April 5; membership applications open on April 1.
The launch of the organisation is set for October 1 and a seven point manifesto has been revealed, similar to those points announced some weeks ago:
- To use the collective voice of all independent agents to show the public the true value of a well chosen agent.
- To directly confront and combat misleading claims by up-front, fixed fee, online agents and help unwitting homeowners avoid selling/letting for an undervalue, or worse still, losing up-front money to a company that will not sell their home.
- To counter the effects of glossy corporate agent marketing that seduces homeowners into instructing agents who will not work as hard as independents, and are less motivated to get the best results for their clients.
- To combat the industry-damaging effect of poor quality agents who do not comply with basic legal requirements, putting their customers at risk and harming the reputation of the trade as a whole.
- To help inform the public that the lowest-cost agent is the one who gets the highest price, not the one with the lowest fee.
- To use the combined purchasing power of all members to explore any opportunities to combat price exploitation by suppliers, in particular the large portals.
- To make it easier for all small agents to comply with the endlessly increasing amounts of red tape, legislation and regulation.