The Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents says Purplebricks is still not complying with a ruling made by the Advertising Standards Authority last October about one of its internet advertisements.
Some five months ago the ASA upheld CIELA's complaint against Purplebricks, finding that its "commisery" advertisement breached the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP) Code Rules 3.1, 3.2 and 3.33.
The ASA said Purplebricks should amend its advertisements to "ensure that when making a comparison to other fee models in their ads, they made it clear that their flat fee was always payable."
Last month CIELA filed a renewed complaint claiming not all of Purplebricks’ ads conformed with the adjudication.
Now it has released a statement saying that on February 4 it was told by the ASA: "Having considered your complaint, we have determined that it is not necessary to reinvestigate the issue, in light of the previous ruling. Instead, we will refer this matter directly to our Compliance team to take action; the Compliance team does not report to complainants or publish the details of its work, but please be assured that it will address the problem."
CIELA claims that as of yesterday Purplebricks' website still failed to mention that the agency’s flat fee was payable regardless of whether there was a successful sale.
A Purplebricks spokesperson told Estate Agent Today last evening: “We are in constant dialogue with the ASA and will always work with them to rectify any issues.”
Meanwhile review website allAgents, which had a celebrated dispute with Purplebricks in the second half of last year, has ignited the argument by calling for what it describes as “an independent audit of Purplebricks’ Trustpilot reviews.”
allAgents has been involved in a long-running dispute with Purplebricks over the validity of negative reviews posted on the allAgents site, with the agency threatening legal action in the past.
“By their own admission, Purplebricks fail to sell 22 per cent of properties, which means one in five customers didn’t get what they paid for. Their 96 per cent approval rating on Trustpilot is highly questionable when you have this number of customers who may well be aggrieved. But when it’s almost 50 per cent, that’s just impossible“ claims allAgents’ Martin McKenzie.
The latter reference follows the analysis undertaken last week by City consultancy Jefferies which found that, when following the fate of those properties listed on Purplebricks in November 2016, only 51.6 per cent of them had sold within 10 months.
McKenzie continues:‘“Purplebricks refuse to disclose the number of properties they sell, and use their Trustpilot score to claim to customers and the City they’re somehow more popular than Disney. This just doesn’t add up.
“It’s high time Purplebricks’ Trustpilot reviews were inspected by an independent source, in the same way their financial accounts are.
“We carried out our own internal investigation into the Purplebricks reviews on our site after they repeatedly threatened us with legal action. We stand behind our reviews, they’re genuine customer complaints. We’d be very happy for our Purplebricks reviews to be independently inspected too.”
On Sunday, Purplebricks’ UK chief executive Lee Wainwright told listeners to a BBC Radio 5 Live programme that 97 per cent of customers were happy with his agency’s service, making it more popular than Disney or Amazon.