The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint made against hybrid estate agency Pink and Cow.
The Portsmouth-based firm claimed on the homepage of its website that vendors could sell their home for '0.5%'.
Further down the page, text stated: “We’re in the perfect position to show buyers round your property” and “We’ll arrange high quality viewings and give you feedback at all times”.
Pink and Cow's 0.5% commission charge does not include accompanied viewings and a complainant therefore challenged whether the claims made were misleading.
The agency told the ASA that it offered a 'full online estate agency service' for 0.5%. It argued that an online agency service is different to that offered by a traditional estate agent.
It therefore told the watchdog that it believed the average consumer would assume that their service did not include accompanied viewings.
Pink and Cow's Property Information Form includes a checkbox for vendors to indicate if accompanied viewings are necessary - it states that if this is the case, the commission fee will rise to 0.75%.
The agency told the ASA that it does not market or advertise accompanied viewings and that it tries to deter customers from taking this option.
The firm said that the text: “We’re in the perfect position to show the right buyers around your property” was erroneous and was supposed to say: “We’re in the perfect position to show the right buyers your property”.
A ruling by the ASA confirmed that the watchdog did not believe that consumers would interpret an online or hybrid agent's claim to be able to sell a home for 0.5% to include accompanied viewings.
However, it decided to uphold the complaint made against Pink and Cow. This is because there were several statements on the firm's website which implied that the agency offers a comparable service to high street agents.
Examples of these statements included referring to itself as a “Local Online Estate Agent”, and claiming that it provided “the full, local customer facing service of a local estate agent” and “The Full Service”.
"We considered that these statements contributed to an overall impression that the service offered by Pink and Cow was a combination of both an online estate agent and a high street estate agent," says a spokesperson for the ASA.
"In that context we considered the fact that the 0.5% fee did not included accompanied viewings was material information which should have been included in the ad."
"Because that information was not included we therefore concluded that the ad was misleading."
Pink and Cow was then required to amend its website to make clear that its 0.5% selling option did not include accompanied viewings.
As of yesterday (June 6) Pink and Cow's homepage no longer includes references to viewings or the text: “We’re in the perfect position to show buyers round your property”.
However, it does state: "Don’t get stuck between the High Street Estate Agents and the Online Estate Agents. GET THE BEST OF BOTH! That’s Pink & Cow."