The Advertising Standards Authority has banned a property investment firm from using a letter claiming that it wanted to buy homes without going through an estate agent.
The ASA has been investigating a complaint from someone who received the letter, which appeared to be on personalised headed notepaper, and appeared to come from an individual called Raymond J Chinnock.
The letter, sent directly to homes last November, stated: “You may remember that some months ago I wrote to you expressing my interest in the possibility of purchasing your property.
“I explained that I was looking for property in and around London as an investment and that I was endeavouring not to use the services of an estate agent, hence my direct approach!
“I would just like to state that I am still keen to buy something in your area, and would greatly appreciate hearing from you on this matter. Hoping that you may be interested in a private sale it would be a pleasure to meet you for an informal discussion …”.
The mailing was signed off with “Once again please forgive my direct approach. Yours sincerely, Raymond J. Chinnock”.
The ASA says there were two problems - firstly this was in fact an advertisement for a property investment firm that was not identifiable as marketing, and secondly the letter was sent without having been checked whether some recipients had opted out of direct mailings.
Now the ASA has banned the advertisement and told the company behind it - Chinnock Housing Ltd - that it must in future make clear when material was marketing, and it must also check against so-called ‘suppression files’ which list households that must not receive direct mailings.
After being contacted by the authority, Chinnock Housing Ltd said it was a property company originally led by a Mr Chinnock who had since retired.
It admitted that it wrote to people asking if they wished to sell their property, having obtained names and addresses from the Land Registry.
It claimed it did not think of the mailings as advertising material and was not aware of the need to run their marketing databases against relevant suppression files.
* The Advertising Standards Authority has also received a complaint about online agency 99Homes.The complainant challenged a claim from the agency that properties would remain on its website until they were sold. The ASA says: “We found that this was not the case, and that properties were removed before they were sold. We told 99Homes Ltd to remove the claim that properties remain on their site until sold, unless that became the case. As such, we considered the matter closed.”