Trustpilot, the review service quoted frequently by Purplebricks as evidence of its apparent popularity, is declining to comment on the adverse publicity suffered by the hybrid agency on two BBC shows last week.
The agency’s share price slid around six per cent last Wednesday after Radio 4’s You And Yours and BBC One’s Watchdog quizzed Purplebricks’ co-founder Michael Bruce on the use of savings claims after they were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, and on whether Local Property Experts informed vendors that deferring payment would require them agreeing to a loan deal with an outside company.
The share prices recovered by the end of last week but debate continued to rage into the weekend on industry platforms and on social media.
Estate Agent Today asked Trustpilot whether it had any comment to make on the furore.
A spokesman said: “It’s not appropriate for Trustpilot to comment on media stories regarding Purplebricks, or indeed any other business. We operate our reviews platform according to strict, publicly available, guidelines for both business and consumer users. Trustpilot has a large compliance function that works to ensure these guidelines are adhered to and any suspected violation can be reported to us and investigated to ascertain the relevant facts. We take adherence to our guidelines very seriously.”
Separately Neil Woodford - the so-called ‘star investor’ whose funding helped secure the initial push for Purplebricks two years ago - has praised the agency’s financial successes but has not commented on its recent investigations by the BBC.
In a trading statement from his company Woodford Patient Capital Trust relased on Friday - two days after the BBC shows - Woodford says: “The largest contribution to returns came from hybrid real estate agency business Purplebricks, which began its association with the portfolio as an unquoted business before pursuing a stock market listing in late 2015.
“Growth throughout this period has been nothing short of exceptional, as the management team have successfully executed their ambitious plans to dominate the UK’s nascent online estate agency industry, while at the same time, significantly disrupt the traditional estate agency model.
“Its rapid progress in the UK has emboldened the management team to replicate their business model in other territories, launching in Australia last year and announcing plans to establish a US presence earlier this year.
“In the period under review, shares in Purplebricks more than trebled in price, reflecting the success that the business is demonstrating in the UK and increasingly overseas. I am also confident there is more significant growth to come for the business in the years ahead.”