Agents are up in arms at a Rightmove restriction temporarily preventing access to parts of its listing back-end.
Agents received an email at the start of this week saying: “Due to consumer and data protection requirements which we have had to bring in over the weekend we can only allow access to RM+ ‘Add & Edit properties’ and ‘Lead reports’ between the hours outlined below.”
Those hours are 6am to 10pm Monday to Saturday for Add and Edit, and 6am to 10pm weekdays only for Lead Reports.
Several agents have contacted Estate Agent Today identifying two problems caused by the restriction.
The first is that staff based at home or overseas in different time zones regularly work outside domestic office hours to customise their listings on Rightmove. This specifically applies to agents not using the main Rightmove feed and who chose Rightmove Plus to allow this.
The second problem is that the restriction appears to have been introduced without notice last weekend - and even some local account managers appear not to have known about it until they received complaints from irate customers on Monday.
Angry agents have told EAT that the portal's diagnostics should have been able to identify those customers who regularly update overnight or on weekends, and that they at least should have been notified in advance.
Rightmove’s email to agents earlier this week says: “I recognise that this brings disruption to your business, for which I can only apologise. We are taking these measures for the security of our customers, consumers and business. This is being reviewed constantly at the highest level within our business and I will keep you appraised on any future changes. Again, my sincere apologies for the disruption this causes to you and your business.”
Estate Agent Today contacted one agency - Benham and Reeves in London, which has an overseas base handling some of its back office activities, including updating Rightmove.
“It’s incredibly disappointing and frustrating that we weren’t told in advance, and that we found out only when our staff tried to access the back end of Rightmove and couldn’t. If Microsoft took Outlook down, they’d tell customers - why weren’t we told about this by Rightmove?” asks Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves.
He continues: “I totally understand and accept that security is vital and Rightmove has a duty to do what is necessary, and if we were told in advance we would accept this and plan for it. But we weren’t and that’s been very poor customer service.”
Rightmove’s data protection work is not part of a legal requirement, and rival portals Zoopla, OnTheMarket and Boomin have not introduced similar restrictions.
A Rightmove spokesperson told Estate Agent Today last evening: “Rightmove has invested in developing multiple security systems, having a dedicated security team and ensuring there is continuous monitoring in place by both internal and external security experts to help keep agents and their customers safe online.
"We’re aware that agents are increasingly being targeted by phishing emails in an attempt to get them to give up login details for their online accounts. We regularly send agents advice around this, along with help to ensure they use strong, unique passwords for all of their online accounts. We recently introduced a new system which automatically checks an agent’s password, and prompts them to change it if it has been involved in a previous breach from somewhere else online.
"We’re now going one step further to help protect agents’ accounts, by introducing limited access to some parts of Rightmove Plus, at times when agents are unlikely to be working. Before we introduced this proactive security measure for agents we carried out extensive analysis to help determine the times of the day and night that would have the lowest impact on our customers.
"We will be continuing to invest in measures like this going forward, to help protect both agents and their customers.”