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.