One of the victims of a notorious estate agency price fixing cartel has spoken out against one of the offenders.
Christina Davis has gone public about her late mother, Ann, who had paid £11,421 in commission to Michael Hardy Estate Agents; the agency sold Ann’s property on 2010.
Later it transpired that Michael Hardy Estate Agents was one of the firms involved in an illegal price-fixing racket.
Between 2008 and 2015 the Michael Hardy firm, together with three other estate agencies, entered into an anti-competitive agreement to fix a minimum level of commission fees for residential sales services in the Berkshire area.
Shortly before last Christmas news broke of fines - totalling over £605,000 - levied by the Competitions and Markets Authority on three of the firms involved in the scandal. This followed a year-long investigation.
Earlier this year Neal Mackenzie - a director of Michael Hardy & Company (Wokingham) Limited, Michael Hardy & Company (Lettings) Limited and Geocharbert UK Limited - was disqualified by the CMA from being a company director.
Now Christina Davis is speaking out, she says, so that other victims can come forward.
Christina has told the Bracknell News: “For several months it tore me and my beloved widowed Mum apart. I clearly recall my Mother's dismay at being unable to negotiate a lower commission rate for selling her house.”
She continues in the local paper: “As a family we had many disagreements over the sale and I told her not to agree as it was too much money but she just wanted a quick sale. Had she of known what was happening she wouldn't have gone through with it.
"I just want to open the flood gates for other vendors and make him apologise for what he did. I ask Mr Mackenzie, you said you made a mistake but, it was in fact illegal action over the course of nearly seven years? Where is your offer of refund, to those that suffered from his dealings and the cartel, after all millions of pounds must have been made during the seven year period. Are you happy?"
Estate Agent Today asked Michael Hardy Estate Agents on Friday for a comment - none has been received.
Barnaby Styer, director of Michael Hardy, is quoted as telling the Bracknell News: "The findings of the CMA are well documented as is the fine that was paid by Michael Hardy and two of the other three agents involved. Neal Mackenzie has resigned from his role as Managing Director and has publicly acknowledged and accepted the consequences of his mistake 12 years ago.
"It would not be appropriate to go into specific details of an individual transaction, which has been passed to our lawyers. However, it is my sincere belief, based on Ann’s comments after the sale completed and her numerous visits to our office post completion, that Ann Davis was very pleased with the service she received on what was a particularly challenging transaction.”
However, Ann Davis's daughter claims she was "oblivious to the illegal price fixing cartel that she had fallen victim of."
You can read the complete local paper story here and EAT’s story on the cartel scandal here.