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Written by rosalind renshaw

A formal complaint is being made about the alleged behaviour of an estate agent who first posed as a prospective purchaser and then wrote a damning review about another agent on a review site.

By yesterday afternoon, the review about Waterfords, which has offices in Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, was still up on the Allagents site, despite requests to have it removed.

In remarks that Waterfords boss Brendan Cox regards as malicious and damaging, the ‘purchaser’ complains that the agent showing her round a property was late.

In fact, the agent was delayed for a good reason: a pregnant woman had fallen over at a previous viewing and the agent stayed to help her after the accident and make sure all was well.

Cox also says that the agent who posted the review has awarded itself five-star ratings on Allagents.

Both Waterfords and the other agent, an independent with two offices in Berkshire, are NAEA members. The NAEA has now been told of the affair by Waterfords and asked to investigate.

The review, posted under the name ‘Sales Client’, says their experience with Waterfords was “very poor” and that the agent was “appauling” (sic).

The review claimed: “When we spoke to her she did not make eye contact, she also appeared to not even be listening when we were discussing our requirements. We do not want to purchase through this agent and if a property we like is on joint with another agent, we will be going direct to the other agent. I havent actually had a phone call asking me for feedback and this was weeks ago, so I do not know what feedback the poor vendors have had.”

Cox said that when the review first appeared, he was so concerned that he immediately investigated. He also said the review surprised him because the member of his staff named is exactly the type of person any reputable agent would be proud to employ.

He said that she had done the right thing in staying to help a previous viewer.

When he discovered that the reviewer was in fact another agent, he rang the woman to confront her. He said she had tried to deny it, but had admitted she had gone on the viewing, although she apparently could not remember whether she had written the damning review.

Cox pointed out to her that on her firm’s own entry on Allagents, highly complimentary reviews named her personally. He says that shortly after his conversation with her, these particular reviews were taken down.

However, other reviews on Allagents still give five star ratings to the firm, which is also a member of the Guild of Professional Estate Agents.

Cox said: “I am absolutely livid about this matter, and am 95% sure that this other agent’s behaviour will have breached the NAEA code.

“Unfortunately, Allagents is a public site and anyone planning to use an agent in our area and who saw the review would undoubtedly give Waterfords a very wide berth.

“It is completely wrong that one agent can behave like this towards another.

“My member of staff was completely professional in her behaviour, and it wasn’t as though we had any complaint from the vendor. As we have now sold her house, she is in fact very happy with us.

“Apart from the damage that this can do to our business, how can the general public rely upon this type of feedback when trying to make an objective choice about which agent to use?”

Cox added: “After many years in the business, I still do not know why some agents behave the way they do.”

This is not the first time that an agent has complained of other agents using Allagents to post up complimentary reviews about themselves, while writing bad reviews of their competitors.

Comments

  • icon

    I only found allagents.co.uk after googling 'Foxtons sucks'. I found so many reviews that looked like fake reviews for Foxtons, I thought I'd offer some tips to spot fake reviews:

    1. Usually always 5 stars (The first few reviews for Foxtons are all 1 star, followed by a series of 5 star reviews - coincidence?). Foxtons have virtually all 1 star or 5 star reviews, with little inbetween. Hmm...

    2. They never have anything bad to say. Even someone who was happy with the service will have a minor quibble. No such luck on Foxtons 5 star reviews. To be fair, also watch out for totally slating reviews with nothing good to say - could be fake from competitors. Although with Foxtons, who knows?

    3. Tone of the review - They can sound like marketing brochures with industry specific terms. They often read like a commercial and list features. Just imagine a normal person saying those words and if it doesn't wash - it's likely fake.

    4. Multiple reviews in a short space of time. Or many good reviews right after a bad one.

    5. Check other sites. Trustpilot and Ciao all have generally bad reviews for Foxtons. Watch that suddenly change if they see this.

    6. How many other reviews has that reviewer done. Granted you don't deal with estate agents often, but it can help to check their profile.

    7. Username will usually be something not well thought out like housebuyer1823.

    And no I don't work for Foxtons competition. I will declare however that I hate estate agents. They charge an utter fortune for nothing.

    • 02 August 2013 11:19 AM
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    I rest my case

    • 04 March 2013 10:19 AM
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    The company I work for are on AllAgents. Last week I gained two instructions one of 325k the other 400k. The vendors had 3 valuations. All valuation were the same within 5k and our fee was 1.5%. When asked why we we're chosen over our strong completion it was that the vendors had read reviews from satisfied clients on AllAgents and felt that we were the people they wanted to deal with. I have been an estate agent for 27 years and seen many 'gimmicks' other time to gain instructions bur AllAgent ain't no gimmick. Only agents who are worried about their service levels slate AllAgents.

    • 03 March 2013 13:35 PM
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    Have you noticed that whenever there is something on here about allagents, allagents always try to make sure theirs is the last post made?

    It's almost an advertorial piece, and so obvious!

    • 01 March 2013 09:15 AM
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    @Mark Dealtry

    I agree 100% with you that the review site has got to be trusted, that's why we use Allagents

    No review site will gain consumer credibility unless it a controverial. Why would anyone trust a review site that had nothing but praise about agents when we all know that the industry is plagued with rogue agents!!

    Shelters head of investigations has personally put a testimonial on their site claiming that their reviews have " far more credence than that found on other sites." Those type of comments speak volume of its credibility (http://www.allagents.co.uk/testimonials/).

    Qualifications or Memberships to organisations does not mean that an agent will provide a great customer service. The only true way of really knowing this is for customers to share their experiences.

    Allagents is the rightmove of review sites and if they are doing agent league tables when your firm is listed, only means that agents will soon realise that they were wasting their time looking at other review sites

    • 01 March 2013 06:03 AM
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    Mark Dealtry "So, like it or not, consumers want reviews but they need to trust the provider."

    Wrong consumers want transparency and facts about performance and service. They know they cannot get this at the moment, but believe a review site is likely to be more truthful than a EA's own website.

    Of course Agents say it is all about reputation but consumers view EA's in much the same way as they see Mechanics.....hard to tell the cowboys from the professionals......until the job is done or being done.

    Only better regulation and / or legislation will really provide consumers with better confidence and insight into prospective agents performance and service levels.

    • 28 February 2013 16:38 PM
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    Consumer Focus recently issued a report "In my Honest Opinion" about the way consumers use review sites, pointing out that:

    60% or more of consumers trust online reviews more than they trust the company's own website, even though 67% have concerns about their trustworthiness.

    So, like it or not, consumers want reviews but they need to trust the provider.

    Just as estate agents have to deliver a service which balances the needs of buyer and sellers, so the review site have to balance the needs of consumers and businesses.

    • 28 February 2013 15:55 PM
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    Mr Cox can you adise whatb the mighty NAEA has done about it?

    Shall we guess, nothing perhaps, need to protect those subs?

    • 28 February 2013 14:15 PM
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    How about all the EA trade associations insist on key performance indicators to be kept and made available to potential clients on request by all EA's and LA's.

    These include % of achieved price to initial valuation
    Average time to sell

    This speaks more than bogus reviews or bogus testomonials

    Any KPI's found to be deliberatley falsified lead to them having sanctions placed upon them by associations or there membership revoked.

    No need for review sites, no bogus reviews, consumer protection esnsured, standards raised so any takers.....nope......thought not. Well then don't moan about a company making money out of the industries lack of transparency then.

    • 28 February 2013 13:50 PM
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    The only way to prevent/hide the lies is to encourage a few real people to post! really? are we too stupid to see through that? You must be an ex rightmove rep

    Blackmail Agents into a premium membership just to talk to CS?

    Leave spurious crap for all to see and then have the audacity to suggest the only way to stop all of the shenanagins is to get a few real people to post on there.

    There are plenty of self help books on sales and marketing, buy one!

    • 27 February 2013 22:33 PM
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    I think its clear that the critiques here will not be picking up any of their awards this year!

    Look if you can't deal with negative customer feedback then you should get a new career. We are a service industry and we try to win new business by telling clients that we will provide them with a service.

    Everyone can encourage customers to provide them with feedback, so if your not doing that then stop moaning because your competitor is and making you look bad.

    • 27 February 2013 18:54 PM
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    It's not obvious is it?

    • 27 February 2013 17:58 PM
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    Oh the irony! A website that is not transparent, encouraging others to be either "leaders" or "Followers" of transparency. What a load of bull. And transparent agent is a plant. So do what I do when All Agents rings me up. Ignore them. I'm always out when they call.

    • 27 February 2013 17:42 PM
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    A genuine reviewer would include their name and the sites should insist on it..

    • 27 February 2013 15:35 PM
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    @transparent agent aka plank of wood.

    No body here is suggesting that review sites are a bad thing. Almost everyone is saying that a site which is not policed, that doesn't rectify mistakes and invites reviews with no verification what so ever is.
    Give me your company name and I'll leave you a review. See if it works for you then.

    • 27 February 2013 14:38 PM
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    There is no business out there that can do be successful without being able to refer to testimonials or customer recommendations.

    We are a Transparent agent as well as a NAEA and I can honestly say we are winning more business through Being part of the transparent agent scheme than NAEA.

    Allagents are a god send to the industry. They are helping to improve standards with in the industry and that must surely be a good thing.

    I think the main reason why agents are against it is because itd being used as a tool by competitors and so they are being effectively pressurised into using it.

    One thing is for sure, Their rankings and agent league tables make it so much easier for customers to compare for the very first time.

    Why would any honest agent not like what Allagents???

    • 27 February 2013 13:14 PM
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    Popular sites (well not so popular judging by the reaction they ignite) like rightmove and zoopla took years to build. Take it out of the property industry and you look at the likes of facebook, tripadvisor, google you name it took years to come to the fore.

    Guess the point is, good things take time. Allagents have been around for years, and have had enough time to get it right. They haven't. I doubt the owners if they would respect us enough to give their identity (who wouldn't if you are truly passionate and believe in your business??) know anything about the day to day goings on at an agency branch, and judging by the quality of the website, the user experience of consumers. A good example of how NOT to do things, but the concept of review websites if applied correctly I believe can do a lot of good for the industry. Hope one of the others gets a crack at the whip, like agency because more than one exists dont mean they are all the same.

    • 27 February 2013 11:49 AM
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    Oh No! They are not getting agents to put allagents stickers in their shop windows are they? Our shop windows are a very powerful advertising medium (look at Rightmove). Why do we keep giving them away for nothing?

    Like others have said, allagents frequently don't respond to emails or calls to their mobiles. They don't seem to care about fake reviews being posted, and frankly they don't seem to even care about their own reputation.

    HOWEVER, none of the other review sites seem to be doing particularly well, despite seemingly offering a pretty decent and professional service. Why is this?

    • 27 February 2013 11:27 AM
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    I like reference line. If there was ever a time to promote the site its now. Don't miss the boat Mark.

    • 27 February 2013 10:48 AM
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    Your wasting your time calling them as you only get to speak to the sales team who apparently not able to discuss issues with specific reviews.

    To get direct access to their "customer service" department is by upgrading to their premium support package

    • 27 February 2013 10:46 AM
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    Agreed, Mark. We use Referenceline and happy with service provided. As you say, how do they get away with being so difficult to communicate with? We are all regulated to the nth degree, why not these parasite websites?

    • 27 February 2013 10:11 AM
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    @Help Yourself
    Which do you think our "profession" deserves - respect or notoriety? I think you'll find it's hard to merit both.

    • 27 February 2013 10:10 AM
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    This type of news is only helping Allagents gain further credibility with the public. If they never had agents critise them here then they would not get the consumers trust. It's a bit like martin Lewis's website.

    I have watched this website grow dramatically over the last 12 months and with more and more agents putting their logo and stickers in their windows, its verging on being as big as rightmove

    • 27 February 2013 10:10 AM
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    There are several issues here:

    1. Agents should know who is leaving feedback, so anyone who isn't a genuine client can't "game" the system.

    2. Agents should be told about complaints before they are published to have a chance to put things right. Any genuine client will welcome this, so it's in everyone's interest.

    3. Review sites must respond immediately when problems arise. Reputations are vital - and fragile. EAT constantly reports the lack of response by AllAgents.

    4. You wouldn't get your drive done by a trader with no trading address, no contact name, no email address and just a mobile phone number. Why should a review site be any different?

    Mark Dealtry
    Referenceline.com

    • 27 February 2013 10:03 AM
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    Review sites?
    Wake up!
    They are all nonsense.
    If you subscibe to them you can lose control of your brand to malicious people.

    • 27 February 2013 10:01 AM
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    Yes, the site is a joke and hopefully few people look at it. They sent us an email telling us we were second in our local area, when we are not even registered with them and there are no reviews. Credibility further dented by the list showing us as second also including 2 agents who closed down several years ago.

    • 27 February 2013 09:50 AM
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    When will people realise that this website is not the way forward. It is open to abuse and can never be properly policed, meaning it's a free for all for agents like Waterfords to be slandered for no good reason.

    Allagents is a disgrace!

    • 27 February 2013 09:38 AM
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    Dear every estate agent out there,

    If you would like our profession to get the respect and notoriety it deserves then we all need to get some dignity and stop larking about doing childish acts of sabotage. Be professional, invest time doing a professional job and fees and income will rise too.

    • 27 February 2013 09:18 AM
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    allagents have zero credibility as a review site. I have just been added to the site without my approval all though the details of the company are completely incorrect.

    I would be interested to hear a follow up on the story a few months ago where the agent threatened legal action against them.

    The number one agent in my area (on the site) is due to appear in court soon for fraud.

    • 27 February 2013 09:14 AM
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    Agents do get frustrated about ALLAgents BUT you are the only ones looking on it, im guessing they have NO public awareness, how the hell would Mr and Mrs Vendor ever find them?

    • 27 February 2013 08:30 AM
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