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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Online agency removes Trustpilot and Google reviews after complaint

Fledgling online estate agency Emoov - now owned by PropTech firm Mashroom - has removed reviews and endorsements from its website that actually related to the service when it was owned by another company. 

Emoov, set up and led by industry controversialist Russell Quirk until it entered administration in late 2018, has only been trading under Mashroom’s ownership since February this year.

However, the existing owners continued to show claims which related to the agency when it was operated by Quirk and his colleagues.

The Advertising Standards Authority stepped in when a complaint was raised by Andrew Stanton, the industry analyst who runs Estate Agency Insights and Strategies.

Stanton complained that claims on Emoov’s homepage included the question “Why Emoov?”. Smaller text beneath stated: “We’ve got you covered when it comes to selling your home. Rated the UK’s No. 1 Hybrid Estate Agent for the past 3 years*”. 

Further down the page, under the heading “Why our customers love us” was a carousel of Trustpilot reviews, some of which dated from January 2018. 

Beneath that the page featured the Trustpilot and Google logos accompanied by Emoov’s rating and the number of reviews it had acquired on those sites.

Estate Agency Insights and Strategies challenged whether the following claims were misleading and could be substantiated, given that Emoov in its current form had ben trading only since early 2019:

- “Rated the UK’s No.1 Hybrid Estate Agent for the past 3 years”; 

- the inclusion of Trustpilot reviews from prior to February 2019, and 

- the aggregated Trustpilot and Google review count and ratings, which included scores from prior to 2019.

Mashroom has given the ASA an assurance that such claims will be removed from its website; therefore the ASA has regarded the complaint as having been 'informally resolved.'

The chief operating officer of Mashroom is Naveen Jaspal, who previously spent eight years at Countrywide as sales negotiator, property appraisal manager and branch manager; she was a Purplebricks local property expert from 2014 to 2015 and then became head of training and development at online firm Yopa from 2015 to 2017.

Some hours after the ASA released details of the complaint, Jaspal issued a statement saying: “The claims made in the recent news were resolved last month, and we worked closely with the ASA to ensure that we complied fully with their request ... We are in the process of rebuilding a fresh new website, using the wonderful reviews we have received from 2019.”

  • Andrew Hill

    I disagree with the ASA on this one. The company was bought out of administration - the business therefore continues and should retain all benefits from the reputation generated by previous owners.

    Can you imagine if the ASA said "You can no longer sell X product because it was made by the company before the new director was hired"... Ridiculous. What's the point of acquisitions if you're not allowed to acquire the reputation of a company alongside other assets?

  • Andrew Stanton Estate Agency Insights Strategies

    Hi Andrew, I am not sure that Emoov Mark II would want to acquire the reputation of the previous incarnation of Emoov, or the Trust Pilot reviews that are currently displayed, belonging to the old or new Emoov. Which are still being displayed despite assurances to the ASA and myself a fortnight ago that they would be taken down.

    And I quote one of the Trust Pilot reviews dated 28th Oct 2018 (so previous Emoov) 'Emoov has failed to deliver the service I have paid for. As it stands I am 10K out of pocket ... the bidder thought we were not interested in their offer and bought another house. (They) did not call the highest bidder to confirm acceptance of offer as we requested ... Watch dog contacted regarding my complaint'

    6th Dec Trust pilot review 'Emoov has gone into administration … so don't bother using their website which is still live'.

    In fact under the new ownership as of 24th of Jan, Emoov II seems to be following in the footsteps of the original company,

    Trust pilot 24th Jan 2019 - 'Run by clowns, they feed you a bunch of lies. Horrible communication. Have no idea where the positive feedback comes from, very suspect. Do trust pilot delete negative reviews?'

    As an observation - it does seem strange that if you were looking to generate new business - you would populate your own website with such reviews, unless of course your business model was to lose money. Especially if you had the ASA breathing down your neck, maybe the ombudsman might take an interest.

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