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Written by rosalind renshaw

Last night’s highly edited Mary Portas Secret Shopper programme on estate agents looks as though it tried but failed to deliver the hatchet job it so clearly set out to do.

But the ill-tempered programme was this morning slammed as a 'self-serving circus show'.

Having failed to deliver its punches, the cameras dwelt lingeringly on the creative hairstyle of assistant manager Philip Thompson, whilst his  excellent colleague, Veronica Gray, came over as the true star of the show: someone you'd completely trust to sell you a house.

Yet Portas was never going to be deviated from trying to deliver her main message,   that agents deliver a poor standard of customer service. Unfortunately for her, she had picked the wrong agent to try and make it stack up.

Simon Gerrard, managing director of London agents Martyn Gerrard, which featured in the programme, said that 98% of what he had said was not used.

He said that key points were ignored, including the fact that 70% of staff at his eight offices were either NAEA or ARLA qualified, and the remaining 30% in training.

He had also wanted to convey the message that anyone can set up in estate agency, because the industry is unlicensed.

He added that he had spent £3,000 on a marketing feature suggested by Portas (pictured with Simon Gerrard) but this failed to be included.

Gerrard, who runs the highly reputable firm his father Martyn established in 1964, said that all Portas was interested in was customers, property details and viewings.

He said: “However, the programme makers had to come away from their original premise – that we earn an enormous amount of money for doing nothing – because as filming went on, it became apparent that what a reputable agent does is in fact quite skillful and complicated.”

He said that filming had taken place two days a week over five weeks, and that he had taken his lawyer along to see the rough cut.

“None of my key messages got across,” said Gerrard, “but my lawyer thought we came over as professional. I hope the programme dispels the myth that all agents are the same, and that I came over as being receptive to new ideas.

Mary Portas programme on agents slammed as a 'circus'

“We’re always looking to improve our customer service, and some of the ideas she suggested should at least be looked at by agents. Possibly we have been a bit neglectful over property details and been happy to go along with the norm.”

He also said his staff had come over very well: “When they were sent for training to be tour guides at Kenwood House, they did brilliantly. One tour guide said they picked up in 15 minutes what it had taken him three years to learn.”


Estate agency consultant Richard Rawlings this morning said the programme was 'superficial and ill-informed', and called it cringe-worthy.

Calling Portas 'belligerent and ill informed', he said: "I was approached by Mary Portas' producer when they were researching the show. It was clear then that Mary's views on customer service with buyers were extremely naive. This was borne out in the show with her incesssant focus on viewings and in particular, the apparent need to be uber-informed about the minutest detail.

"She completely ignored the most important aspect of customer service to the paying client, the seller, and the fact that successful agents focus on getting numbers around property, not taking up a buyer's time by explaining how the boiler works.

"I spent about an hour sharing some really meaty and radical customer service initiatives with Mary Portas's producter, none of which they chose to use. Indeed, the consultant to the show was shown as Peter Cross. Who is he and what does he know about agency? Nothing. He's her partner in retail consultancy.

"I'm glad that Martyn Gerrard came out well in this staged and sensationalist attempt by Portas to perpetuate the unfortunate stereotype. Having been a judge on the Estate Agency of the Year Awards that assessed this particular firm's customer service submission, I can tell you that some of his excellent initiatives go far beyond Mary Portas's self-serving circus show."
 

Comments

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    Mary Portas wanted to prove that by making the process more transparent and improving customer service, it would benefit the bottom line. I believe she did prove that.

    You argue that 'showing' the flat only benefits the buyer? It benefits the vendor even more so! That's Customer Service that has a direct impact on Sales.

    When I put my flat up for sale I went about explaining all its vantage points to the agent (as I had done a meticulous refurb).

    Some features just aren't obvious until you 'live' in a space, and experience it's pleasures and conveniences. To my dismay, the flat was shown by a different agent every time, and I suspected it was being presented as 'here is the kitchen, here is the living room, and here is the bedroom', with the usual obvious observations thrown in. At least the pictures were great, and the agents (though always different) were courteous and gave me plenty of notice. So I was, overall, happy with the agency I picked.

    Most Agents seem to confuse pressure tactics with Sales, which is plenty of what I've been receiving as a prospective buyer.

    A buyer decides to purchase a property, not because of the pressure tactics, but despite them. I'm pretty used to blocking out the irrelevant sales pitches (it gets easy after a while as they are all the same), and trying to focus on how the property is relevant to me and my needs, despite the fact that hardly any of my queries about the property (for example it's heating, light aspect, etc, all things highlighted in the show) get answered (most agents will say they will ask the buyer, but hardly ever do, unless you're prepared to put in an offer). From my recent experience, the agency Mary Portas picked IS typical.

    This article highlights the fact that the sector is full of agents that are more than happy to keep things 'as they are', and sadly being very arrogant about it as well. Check out how arrogant here:
    on Marsh and Parson's blog site, which by the way, does not accept any comments (I tried posting a reply and it doesn't work)
    http://www.marshandparsons.co.uk/20110210338/mary-portas-tabloid-tv

    • 24 March 2011 10:14 AM
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    Mary Portas wanted to prove that by making the process more transparent and improving customer service, it would benefit the bottom line. I believe she did prove that.

    You argue that 'showing' the flat only benefits the buyer? It benefits the vendor even more so! That's Customer Service that has a direct impact on Sales. When I put my flat up for sale I went about explaining all its vantage points to the agent (as I loved my flat and did a meticulous refurb). Some features just aren't obvious until you 'live' in a space, and experience it's pleasures and conveniences. To my dismay, the flat was shown by a different agent every time, and I suspected it was being presented as 'here is the kitchen, here is the living room, and here is the bedroom', with the usual obvious observations thrown in. At least the pictures were great, and the agents (though always different) were courteous and gave me plenty of notice. So I was, overall, happy with the agency I picked.

    This article betrays the fact that Marsh & Parsons, like plenty of other Estate Agents, seem to confuse pressure tactics with Sales, which is plenty of what I've been receiving as a prospective buyer. The buyer decides to purchase a property, not because of the pressure tactics, but despite them. I'm pretty used to blocking out the irrelevant sales pitches (it gets easy after a while as they are all the same), and trying to focus on how the property is relevant to me and my needs, despite the fact that hardly any of my queries about the property (for example it's heating, light aspect, etc, all things highlighted in the show) get answered (most agents will say they will ask the buyer, but hardly ever do, unless you're prepared to put in an offer). From my recent experience, the agency Mary Portas picked IS typical.

    This article highlights the fact that the sector is full of agents that are more than happy to keep things 'as they are', and sadly being very arrogant about it as well.

    • 23 March 2011 17:21 PM
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    Thank you for your comment Peebee.

    I noticed that there was another article on Mary Portas on here.

    I have not watched the episode on estate agents but have seen the other episodes of Mary on mobile phones. Have to say that her approach is very different, whether it will work, is another debate!

    • 17 February 2011 16:19 PM
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    Kevin C: This you will find in EVERY industry; every walk of life, my friend, and certainly NOT confined to Agency. The problem is that buyers ans sellers in the main are making a decision with their hearts - and transactions which involve emotion need to be conducted in a totally different manner to a pure business deal - but retaining the business deal principles. There will ALWAYS be a proportion of disgruntled souls regardless - even in a win:win situation someone will come up with a good reason to look back and see fault. Because the emotions are involved, complaints fly - and because the press love a good 'human interest' story the details are published (...suitably dressed of course...) for all to see.

    You will NEVER see a news story relating to good customer service. EVER. It is against the Law, I believe...

    As regards yourself, you have entered an industry at probably its most challenging periods since the 1970s. If you can hack it now, then the prospects for a long and profitable (and extremely enjoyable to boot) career as excellent.

    Your challenge - to do everything you can to improve the public perception of your industry. It makes your life easier - and sets the bar higher. I, for my part, wish you good luck.

    Keep posting on here - I think your comments are going to be very interesting... ;0)

    • 16 February 2011 11:34 AM
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    Industry Observer: Sir/Madam/Perfer-not-to-disclose, in the spirit of healthy debate I shall invite you to re-engage.

    1. I am not dear. Play your cards right and I will continue this dialogue indefinitely, free of charge.
    2. Simply stating an opinion. No rudeness involved therefore. Clue is in the words "I think..."
    3. Your "explanation" was purposely twisted to include you. I draw to your attention your own comment - made AFTER the explanation - "If EAT is meant to be for estate agents - and I assume it is or else why not call it Property for The World and His Wife or something similar - then why should it be cluttered up with contributions from anyone other?" That would exclude YOU and ME, I remind you. The simple fact of the matter is that t'internet is public domain. You or I cannot stop anyone from posting anything they want on here - that is up to the Site Mods, who can issue authorisations or make it members only.
    IF, of course, you consider yourself to be an Estate Agent or Lettings Agent, then your very name is a fallacy. You are not 'observing' the industry - you are PART OF IT!
    4. You "care" about exactly what? Most of your posts are simply digs at the Agency profession which therefore attract retaliation.
    5. I miss no point. YOU, on the other hand... Please show me WHERE I have criticised people for using aliases. Quite the reverse. When, and only when, I take exception is posters who state that individuals who hide behind 'aliases' should not be taken seriously - using an alias themselves! As far as my use of "unneccessary rudeness" - you are entitled to your opinion. I am entitled to mine - and I committed it to screen. We shall just have to agree to disagree.

    How about a new alias, Industry Observer. I would suggest 'The Terminator'. Your strapline can be "I'll be back... No I won't. Well, Yes I will - maybe. Or maybe not."

    Laters... ;0)

    • 16 February 2011 11:20 AM
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    I am fairly new to the industry but I do believe that not all Estate Agents are liars and cheats. Shame some bad ones let the whole industry down.

    • 15 February 2011 20:19 PM
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    PeeBee

    1. Only for you though dear
    2. This makes my very point about unnecessary rudeness etc etc
    3. I explained why I was posting and posed the question actually who is EAT for/aimed at?
    4. I care – just not to waste any more of my time. In the Kingdom of the Blind and all that?
    5. You miss the point as so often, though I see as usual you make it with totally unnecessary rudeness. I was making the point about aliases because it was YOU who criticised people using them.

    You'll carry on without me OK though PeeBee - you like your own print and I should think your own voice too much not to.

    Cheerio

    • 15 February 2011 19:20 PM
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    Industry Observer:

    1. Told you you'd be back...
    2. I think pretty much anyone can put your points over more eloquently than you.
    3. IF EAT is meant for Estate Agents - then why are YOU posting?? You say yourself you are not...
    4. The fact that you do not care is more than evident, Sir/Madam/Prefer-not-to-disclose, in your usual posts. But thanks for the confirmation.
    5. "...Speaking of aliases..."?? Kettle...pot... - fill in the blanks you numpty. You really crack me up, pal.

    See you tomorrow - same time, same place...?

    • 15 February 2011 17:53 PM
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    Hi PeeBee speaking of aliases............

    Anyway your latest post makes my points for me far more eloquently than I ever could.

    If EAT is meant to be for estate agents - and I assume it is or else why not call it Property for The World and His Wife or something similar - then why should it be cluttered up with contributions from anyone other?

    Anyway I just do not care any more so adios.

    • 15 February 2011 17:34 PM
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    Industry Observer: Who mentioned a fixed fee? Not me! Fixed fees are a blight on the industry. Percentages encourage the Agent to work for their money. You might argue that agents would not push that extra mile for a tenner or even twenty quid. If it was one instance then I would agree with you. But on a HUNDRED sales - NOW YOU'RE TALKING MONEY!! Its the office electricity paid for the year if nothing else...

    Why also do you express the need for multiple Agents? One SHOULD be enough.

    "I for one have had enough of the useless and waste of space contributions that are nothing more than personal invective and will contribute no longer..." You should never say never. You WILL be back - if nothing else under another alias. I can't imagine you keeping schtumm about anything for too long...

    Oh - and as for your outrageous "No-one who isn’t an estate or lettings agent or has some other very direct involvement in the property industry should be posting here and I’d suggest keeps off..." - who the H3ll are YOU to dictate who does and doesn't contribute to this site or any other for that matter? In case you didn't notice, most of the population are directly or indirectly involved with the property industry - including buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants, and not least the HPC brigade and first-time-buyer wannabes who cannot engage but dearly want to. I believe they ALL have the right to be heard - sometimes they speak more sense than 'seasoned professionals'... When they get clever, however - that is when they risk people getting clever back with them. Agents get called all the w*****s, t***s, k**bs and knockers on earth on this site. Surely they have the right to give back? Or has your 37 years subservience been THAT much of a devastating to your spirit?

    Only 33 for me - looks like the next 4 will be the killers then...

    • 15 February 2011 12:42 PM
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    MrPerfect you mean Waldorf and Stadler and you are just as bad as PeeBee, Ace of Spades and the vast majority of posters whose contributions seem to consist mainly of abusive, intolerant or patronising comments or ill informed but desperately defended personal opinion.

    Include me in that if you like I don’t care, but at least I am in the property industry and have been one way or another for the past 37 years, lately lettings. No-one who isn’t an estate or lettings agent or has some other very direct involvement in the property industry should be posting here and I’d suggest keeps off or are kept off vehicles aimed at those who are.

    I for one have had enough of the useless and waste of space contributions that are nothing more than personal invective and will contribute no longer – life is too short and it will make not one jot of difference anyway to those in an industry which seems to find no fault with itself and just wants to be left alone to carry on in its own ways. This was evidenced in the Mary Portas programme and above all by the responses in this thread to it .There have been around 80 and of which only about 15 are worth reading as giving any sort of balanced, reasoned view.

    Portas who like it or not is an expert on business and customers was simply voicing what the public thinks. Maybe badly and from too narrow an angle but crumbs think yourselves lucky you estate agents she didn’t turn over far more uncomfortable stones in practices other than poor viewings.

    In case any of you in this industry have forgotten or are too young to remember UK home ownership really only started in any meaningful way in the mid 1950’s, gathered pace slowly and then took off in the 1980’s courtesy of Maggie. Almost all of that time, over 50 years, in any list of most unpopular businesses estate agents have always been in the top 5. Their bedfellows may have chopped and changed, at one time it would have been post war spivs, then used car salesmen, time share time sellers and then city traders. Now journalists, bankers and MPs feature near the top but fair play to estate agents you have never been in danger of relegation!!

    Can everyone else be so wrong, all those tens of thousands every year who have to go through the agony of using an estate agent as part of the buying and selling process? Estate agents are only one link in a very unwieldy chain almost designed to lead to delay and expense, but is 90+ (if I am genrous) of your customers' perception so off key that estate agents really do give a good service and value for money and do not deserve such harsh treatment?

    You decide but you really do need to look much closer to home rather than have knee jerk reactions to obviously valid criticism leading to comments that foolishly reject the blindingly obvious.

    By the way PeeBee your comment about a 1% marketing fee and then a fixed fee for the agent who eventually secured the sale. That’s a winner if the fixed fee is never more than 1% of price and multiple agents are allowed.

    • 15 February 2011 11:16 AM
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    Right on que, you have confirmed that my last post about you was on the money.

    Again, nothing of any relevance to say. It's boring, pointless and I really can't see what you think the best thing that could possibly happen is.

    • 15 February 2011 11:07 AM
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    Ah there he is, right on que, Aceofspades. Where there's one there's the other.

    You two remind me of those two old blokes on the muppet show, the ones who would just pop up and try and say something remotely funny.

    Its nice to see you fatties begging the moderators for help, pair of fats!

    • 14 February 2011 21:32 PM
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    AoS: Cheers, mon ami, for the kind words. The guy is entitled to his opinion, of course - he should simply put it forward in a less abusive manner and he will be heard a lot more clearly.

    Should the likes of you and others I hold in high regard on this site (or the Admin Team, of course...) ever start telling me to 'bore off' then I shall unhappily but respectfully do so.

    Until then, I shall continue asking questions; digging and nipping where appropriate! ;0)

    • 14 February 2011 16:53 PM
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    Accusing Peebee of always "reading from the same script"....my, how very rich indeed!

    If I want an intelligent, sensible and fair opinion of the topic in hand, I'll give Peebee's post a read.

    If I want to see boring, poo poo stirring drivel from someone who has nothing of any relevance to say, then Mr Perfect - you're the 'go to' man (or at least one of).

    We're getting too many of these posters of late - people with nothing to say about the relevant topic, just want to try and cause a stir - bore off.

    And for the record - PeeBee = "abusive"? Have a day off.

    • 14 February 2011 16:20 PM
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    So the verdict .......

    Some good, but more poor about the programme. A hint of bias showed from the begining by the presentor, the producers did edit and left out alot of good points which may have put a different light on estate agency in balance. It only enhanced the perception of poor estate agents by those that have never met a good one, or are blinkered. There again alot of people did vote Labour last year .... amazing!

    The lesson to be learned, NEVER EVER let a TV crew into your business no matter what it is.

    The power of the media is more powerful than most realise. Once the horse has bolted, no matter which way it ran, the damage is done. You can't take back the written or spoken word once said ...... the jury will ignore that comment (in your dreams).

    • 14 February 2011 14:13 PM
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    Mr not-so-perfect yourself: Like I said - let's see who gets abusive first.

    I am genuninely pleased to give you the opportunity to for once in your life succeed at something.

    I therefore thank you for giving me the opportunity to accomplish something worthwhile, and for making me realise that this being the case, you are not just a foul-mouthed, single-track numpty who likes to be abusive for the sake of it.

    BTW - if this is some kind of freaky, reverse psychology, Valentines message, then sorry but I'm spoken for.

    You're just not my type. I like my men to be... erm... female, actually. And pleasant.

    • 14 February 2011 10:31 AM
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    PeeBee

    I read every thread on this site, I read every comment and take them for what they are. A few posters rub me up the wrong way with their aggressive responses to others posts, you are chief among those who I consider to be repulsive.

    You bore me!

    • 14 February 2011 07:11 AM
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    I am sure I am not the only one slightly irked by programmes like this that HAVE to deliver a certain outcome in order to be deemed a program. Perhaps we can turn the cameras on them and see what they are made of.

    Let’s all remember that the makers live in a ground hog day environment where they can replay their day until they get the outcome they are happy with. It’s called "editing" and that is difficult to do in the real world.

    We can only imagine the sort of tricks and traits of Journalists and Programme Makers in order to fulfil their own agenda to get their pay cheque.

    I am sure if we have a delve around on the cutting room floor and if only we could be a fly on the wall with Mary Portas and her cronies plotting and scheming and hatching their plan; the outcome would be... well I can only imagine it would be an even bigger crock of pointless sh... than this, "self-serving circus"!

    What irks me most though...is that public perception is allowed to be moulded enmass by a pre-conceived idea with the views of one pointless person.

    Until the public gets to see what the programme makers didn’t want them to see then this programme was a massive waste of time for everybody. A bit like Mary Portas herself...

    • 13 February 2011 20:51 PM
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    I am sure I am not the only one slightly irked by programmes like this that HAVE to deliver a certain outcome in order to be deemed a program. Perhaps we can turn the cameras on them and see what they are made of.

    Let’s all remember that the makers live in a ground hog day environment where they can replay their day until they get the outcome they are happy with. It’s called "editing" and that is difficult to do in the real world.

    We can only imagine the sort of tricks and traits of Journalists and Programme Makers in order to fulfil their own agenda to get their pay cheque.

    I am sure if we have a delve around on the cutting room floor and if only we could be a fly on the wall with Mary Portas and her cronies plotting and scheming and hatching their plan; the outcome would be... well I can only imagine it would be an even bigger crock of pointless sh... than this, "self-serving circus"!

    What irks me most though...is that public perception is allowed to be moulded enmass by a pre-conceived idea with the views of one pointless person.

    Until the public gets to see what the programme makers didn’t want them to see then this programme was a massive waste of time for everybody. A bit like Mary Portas herself...

    • 13 February 2011 20:51 PM
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    Mr Perfect: Thank you for sharing your opinion, which you are perfectly entitled to have.

    Am I allowed to respond? Or is that just a cue for me to be abusive?

    One further question. "The problem with PeeBee is that he keeps singing the same old tune" Sorry - but WHICH ONE of my tunes do you take particular exception to? You see, I have several - all of which I comment on here on EAT. Perhaps you could narrow it down for me?

    I welcome further discussion with you. Let's see who gets abusive first, shall we? If I remember correctly, it was YOU that kicked this off by the unneccessary use of abusive language that you claimed represented the thoughts of the buying public - of which I am a member and I neither want nor need it used in my name, thank you... If I choose to swear, I will choose my own words and targets, and the time and place to use it.

    Or was that just you forcing YOUR opinion onto others...

    • 12 February 2011 20:03 PM
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    Norfolk & good

    I agree with you with regards to seeing things from another perspective and that a one sided debate would be boring. The problem with PeeBee is that he keeps singing the same old tune, if someone else dares have an opinion that differs from his he gets abusive, he obviously doesn't grasp the concept that he doesn't rule the world and everyone and I mean everyone is entitled to a say.

    Peebee you are a terrible bore, every thread you comment on comes from the same script, you bore me!

    • 12 February 2011 11:10 AM
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    I like PeeBee's contributions.

    A one sided debate ? Nah ! too boring.

    The point is to learn from views other than your own, to see things from another perspective. It's not a head nodding exercise.

    • 12 February 2011 10:00 AM
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    Mr Perfect: WELL IMPRESSED with your psychic gift. You commented that someone else was bored by me - NINE MINUTES BEFORE they posted to that effect! Nice one, sunshine... join a travelling fair. THEN you won't have to deal with Estate Agents!

    (By the way, three lines of my 'boring' response were your own words. Speaks volumes...)

    Pity you didn't rread it right to the end - the conclusion was the best bit!

    For your information, I do not believe I bore Mr Rawlings. I am a more thorn in his paw, I would suggest.

    Jack of Hearts: "What's PeeBee doing on here when he is not even an estate agent ?

    He's even said it himself in other posts." WOW - honesty! Is that so alien to you that you have to mention it?

    "Maybe it's time for PeeBee to come clean and tell us who he is and what his agenda is. Otherwise any of his comments should be taken with a pinch of salt." Yup - EVERYONE who posts with an alias obviously has a secret agenda and should be ignored. Sorry, who said that? Oh, yeah - Mr Anonymous himself! I repeat my words above - Speaks volumes!

    • 12 February 2011 01:35 AM
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    youtube.com/watch?v=c4yffKvkt_s

    • 11 February 2011 22:37 PM
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    What's PeeBee doing on here when he is not even an estate agent ?

    He's even said it himself in other posts.
    I agree with others on here that it's time we ignored PeeBee's long and boring posts. Problem is he litters the place with them - he obviously has far too much time on his hands (maybe he's not got any work to do of his own!)

    Maybe it's time for PeeBee to come clean and tell us who he is and what his agenda is. Otherwise any of his comments should be taken with a pinch of salt.

    • 11 February 2011 18:07 PM
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    Oh peebee, your response bores me, I didn't bother reading it all as you bored me so much!

    Looks like you've bored someone else too, if your not an EA what exactly are you ?

    • 11 February 2011 17:58 PM
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    I think as Estate Agents our answer to critism from applicants is that they are not our paying clients. We cant get away with this any longer, customer service must include purchasers on the same level as our vendor clients.

    I would suggest that the poor reputation of Estate Agents has mainly been caused by the bad services experiences of applicants because we dont see them as customers.

    On another note, surely the talents of the sales person are better utilized getting the instructions in the first place rather than causing embarrassment to our profession at viewings.

    • 11 February 2011 17:37 PM
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    "Please PeeBee do you really not have anything better to do than undermine this site?"

    Well, Mr Rawlings - that is a matter of opinion. So far you are the only one to take unbrage with my statements on this storyline - which I would expect no less of course. When you say "undermine this site", are you sure you are not concerned that I may be undermining something or someone else? If so, I can assure you that I have no need - the job is being done for me perfectly adequately, Sir...

    LIKE THIS: in your post I am responding to you state "...I was actually pleased not to have been mentioned in the credits as I do not wish to be associated wth Mary Portas' views."

    YET, in your RAT you say: "I spent about an hour sharing some really meaty and radical customer service initiatives with Mary Portas' producer – none of which they chose to use, and..." (here's the killer blow) "...despite my being promised a listing in the credits, the consultant to the show was shown as Peter Cross."

    WHICH IS IT, MR RAWLINGS?? Like Selling and buying under the same roof - you can't have it both ways...

    I have LOADS to do, actually - but as my passion is the housing market and all things related, I make time to join debate where and when I feel fit.

    If the editorial team feel I am undermining their site, then they will undoubtedly email me and ask me to refrain - to which I will abide by their request. The views I write are mine and mine alone. I do not represent any group or company who stand to gain from what I say - except maybe the buying and selling public who rely on Estate Agents to realise their dreams and simply want the job done with minimal chew.

    I find it strange that, as two people who profess to strive for a common aim - for the good of the homebuying and selling industry and process - we seem to disagree on pretty much everything!

    I guess we will be having further dialogue on this subject... over to you.

    • 11 February 2011 15:53 PM
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    Dear oh dear. I'm sorry if some people feel I was being churlish or childish. The thought never crossed my mind and I was actually pleased not to have been mentioned in the credits as I do not wish to be associated wth Mary Portas' views. My only thought was that having tapped me for over an hour and gleaned dozens of estate agency related customer service ideas (after all that's what I do) she chose not to use any of them and simply persued her own ignorant agenda. Please PeeBee do you really not have anything better to do than undermine this site?

    • 11 February 2011 14:22 PM
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    Mr Perfect, as an Estate Agent I have to make sure that every word about a property is what a 'reasonable person' may be expected to understand. So whilst you may feel that your superior intellect is being insulted, please allow us to show our vendors property in the best light to those unfortunately cursed with common sense and more brainpower than you.

    And the descriptions are just that, a DESCRIPTION of the picture. They are there to accentuate the photos and draw attention to what the camera lens does not show.

    • 11 February 2011 10:09 AM
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    Mr Perfect (a TRUE Misdescription if ever there was one...):
    "...we (the buying public) are well and truely p****d off with the estate agent patter, we can see the kitchen has a worktop, you don't need to tell us "range of low level unit with worktop over" yes, yes, we know where a worktop belongs..." Speaking as a member of the "buying public", I CERTAINLY DON'T need your foul mouthed smarta$$ buffoonery allegedly speaking for me, Sir. Mores to the point, I would dearly love to see your face when you turn up to a viewing and find that there were NO worktops over the units!

    You'd be the first to complain that you were not told! Numpties like you would demand compensation to boot, for wasting your time due to inaccurate details...

    And NO... I AM NOT an Estate Agent... Just as well if the job entails having to deal with grippers like you!

    • 11 February 2011 09:44 AM
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    Would you take business advice from someone who looks like Ronald McDonald's long-lost sister?

    • 11 February 2011 09:10 AM
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    "i generally stay silent when showing people houses. For the simple reason that viewers have brains. They dont need me to tell them if a room is bright or dark. I want the viewers to focus on the property not me on an ego trip. Its not like selling a pair of shoes, the hard sell might work when the money is handed over that moment but people have 3 months to change their minds when buying a house and the hard sell always backfires."

    • 11 February 2011 07:23 AM
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    Missed the point ! and why Rightmove is so Popular.

    Buyers do NOT rely on agents copy to get their impressions of a property. First, they use search criteria, then photographs, floorplans, google mapping, street view etc. Only if these have hit the spot might they read the copy.

    What will they believe ? evidence ? or hearsay from someone they mistrust ?

    There is a difference between a listing and a really good listing, a brochure and a brochure that sells.

    Want to be more effective ? give buyers (and vendors) what they want. More, bigger, better photographs. Quality accurate (and legible) floorplans.

    This is the age of technology and information. Punters want their information at their fingertips and in a palatable format, they don't want a Victorian novel.

    • 11 February 2011 06:45 AM
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    Yes, the show had its shortcomings, but what many commentators seem not to have realised is that Portas was speaking the words of your customers and potential customers. Such comments thus become irrelevant. It doesn't matter what you think.

    What the programme showed was the thin end of the wedge - poor customer service is nothing compared with some of the outright crookedness I've come across. If the vendor is your customer, then serve that customer, not the developer who's offering the 'finder's fee'!

    If the business can't regulate itself, then it must be regulated by law.

    • 10 February 2011 23:32 PM
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    I loved it, the very best part was watching Martyn Gerrard's face as Mary suggested estate agents tell the truth, he looked like she had just told him he had lost his winning lottery ticket.

    Twisted and contorted, all that was missing was a quiver of the lips and tears rolling.

    The thing is, she did have some valid points, we (the buying public) are well and truely pissed off with the estate agent patter, we can see the kitchen has a worktop, you don't need to tell us "range of low level unit with worktop over" yes, yes, we know where a worktop belongs, we never imagined the owners would have buried it in the front garden!!

    • 10 February 2011 22:33 PM
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    What an ill informed individual Portas is!! There are lots of shortcomings of certain estate agents that could have been highlighted. Intentional over-valuing to gain instruction, not keeping vendors informed what is happening, charging up front fees and then providing poor customer service and not being bothered because you already have a 'fee' etc etc. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!

    • 10 February 2011 21:43 PM
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    We have to remember it was only a TV show, some of the things that were said were stupid, but if they hadn't of put those comments in, then they would have had a TV Show in the first place. For example, how many secret filmings did they not show of agents acting professionally and answering questions correctly, NONE, because they were looking to dig the dirt.

    There are a lot of Excellent, Good, Average, Bad and Terrible agents out there, its just a shame bad agents drag the industry down.

    • 10 February 2011 17:44 PM
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    Portas Fan

    If the agent knew the property had been burgaled then he should have told the applicant when asked although it's very rare that an applicant will ever ask a question like that. Not defending anyone here but surely any house is prone to being burgled.

    That guy saying he had 17 viewings on that property that day was just stupid but surely you would have to be an idiot to buy a property based on an agent saying that. You will only put in an offer on a property if you really like it and wanted to buy it so perhaps it may push someone to put in an offer sooner but only on a proeprty they are actually interested in, but you would still have '90' days to change your mind. So i'm really not sure that it's a hard sell by saying you have interest, in fact i've had applicants upset because I did not tell them we had other interest and then when another offer was accepted they were not happy to have not been told that other people was also considering putting in an offer.
    You can't really win as an agent and we just need to get used to it!

    • 10 February 2011 17:35 PM
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    Rich - You have demonstrated one reason why the public have little/no faith in agents.

    Lies and diversion chat should never replace the true story. Perhaps the 'true story' is a little much, but an honest story is what is needed.

    "Has this house ever been burgled?"

    "Not that I am aware of"

    Terrible.

    • 10 February 2011 17:21 PM
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    I liked her when she was making charity shops look pretty. I think thisis probably the last we see of her after this series. You can only use the pain in the arse buyer routine for so long until people tell you to live in the real world.

    She should have opened up next door for a few months, gone bust because she focused on pretty details and told the real story.

    • 10 February 2011 16:56 PM
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    Peter Simpson

    With due respect, you pay for others all your life whether they be shoplifters, unemployed, bad debtors, rioters, corrupt MPs. Any business needs to cover its costs. If the house buying process in the UK was dragged into the modern world, costs would certainly fall.

    Guy - if Tesco start selling houses it won't be cheaper in price, just look at their profits.

    Vendors on the whole do not make good guides of their own house - it's far too close to their heart. Viewers will not bring objections to vendors for fear of upsetting them. Objections are the very things that can help us to make a sale. If you can't overcome the objection you have at least learned valuable information about the customer and you'll know when their ideal home comes up.

    For those of you who think the bubble has burst, we had our best year ever last year and this year has had an amazing start. We aren't in the FTB or mansion market, we bubble around the middle.

    We need to satisfy clients and customers. Details can be sharper and less verbose however our contract is with the vendor to achieve the best possible price in a reasonable (shortest) time. Agents know that generally best offers come first so it can be well worth arranging back to back viewings (17 is OTT) on a really hot property.

    Although I worked in sales, when I met my partner I inwardly cringed that he was an EA and it was something I never planned to do. 5 years later I love the job - sales, counselling, problem solving, negotiating, diplomacy. Neither of us 'grew up' in Estate Agency.

    We've helped old folks on removal day. We even helped them once they had moved. We've fostered dogs and done all sorts of little things unrelated to sales. We have so many people popping in to say Hi, even those just back for a visit to see friends. We can't be all bad.

    • 10 February 2011 16:16 PM
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    Mr Simpson if vendors didn't insist on free meals, no sale = no fee I would be happy to charge for every phone call, advert, piece of paper etc etc. Those that take time to sell through no fault of the agent, (there are more properties to sell than buyers), its not the agents fault, it's the vendors reluctance to pay, but who is covering the cost and from where? Light come on yet? Yes it gets your goat when we sell a property in days, but would you prefer we hang onto the property so that we could charge more later. I note you didn't comment on solicitors, surveyors, mortage lenders fees based on commision of product .... I left out double glazing, car salesman and all, making money on commission. By the way do you have shares ..... ask your broker to not charge you a commission fee on the same principle.

    • 10 February 2011 16:14 PM
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    Peter Simpson- I have fairly put my thoughts regarding the show last night, which I hope you can respect. Honesty.

    One thing I did not add is that many agents already offer a great service, but are being pulled down by the bad ones and tarred with the same brush. As an industry, we need the bad ones (who are not so frequent these days) to pull up their socks.

    My point is that you have made the same mistake as I did in my post. You have labelled ALL agents the same - I am assuming this was an error? It certainly is not the case.

    "What exactly do you contribute? Nothing. What do you take? Too much!"

    If that is your though, I urge you to sell/buy property privately, there are plenty of sites out there. That way, you save the money that agents are "unfairly" taking and you never have to deal with them.

    It's pretty simple really. May I ask, if you dislike agents so much, why do you fish around on a site such as this? Why don't you simply cut them out of your life completely? Nobody is putting a gun to your head to make you use them.

    • 10 February 2011 15:40 PM
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    It is naive to dismiss the programme as rhubarb. Naturally, it is the instinctive thing to do, which I can appreciate.

    Portas spoke a lot of sense last night. Many of you have had a dig at her, but not commented on the catalogue of (inexcusable) errors that drove her to that position.

    1) No smile or sincere greeting when walking into the office. In fact, no real acknowledgement.

    2) Total lies and jargon

    3) Exposed as having no knowledge of the property and not utilising USPs. Alot of questions were very basic. Yes, they were carefully selected to make better TV, but EVERY agent should know these answers.

    They are just a handful of things, which are shocking.

    I know what many of you will say, but forget that the "seller is your client". Without the buyer giving their money to you, your client does not sell, you do not get a cut. The buyer is making the purchase through your company - they have to be treated as your customer. This dinosaur mentality has to go. I challenge you to find another industry where the buyer is not given the full service and customer care they deserve.

    Here's a little tip for the weekend. Go into your local Waitrose into the Wine Department. Their 'wine specialists' will give you an attentive, detailed and excellent customer experience, helping you make an informed decision. I guarantee, it'll be better than many agents.

    When you are spending thousands on a property, it is your right to expect a top level of service...the best you have ever had.

    It is arrogant to think that the public opinion of agents can continue as it is.

    • 10 February 2011 15:32 PM
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    Peter Simpson: Okay, pal - let's do it your way. Everyone pays their bit.

    In order to show willing, seeing as it was your idea and you should never ask someone to do something that you wouldn't do yourself... you get yourself along to your local Agent and sign up to a "No Sale, Fee Payable" deal.

    If you are REALLY lucky then they might give you a Contract which involves a Marketing Fee of only 1% plus VAT (simply to cover costs, expenses, overheads and profit on costs etc...), with a Success Fee on top. That way, they win only if YOU win.

    How does THAT sound?

    • 10 February 2011 15:15 PM
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    Hmmm... Reading Mr Rawlings' "RAT of the Day" on his website: "I wonder if you cringed as well. ...but primarily at the condescending and belligerent Portas herself."

    It continued, partly as a dummy-spitting exercise because he was given no mention in the rolling credits as an Advisor for the show (importance of a Contract, Mr Rawlings - get a signature before committing!!) - also to continue his crusade for his new "shiny thing" called Buyer Representation. I wonder if this RAT is the "highly childish and spiteful email" that Kate heard plopping into her Inbox if she is signed up for these...

    But that apart, I find myself in the unusual position of not knowing whether Mr Rawlings has actually gone up in my estimations, or further down.

    WAS HE RIGHT? Did his words sum up the person (although as I do not know her personally maybe I should say the CHARACTER she portrays on-screen...)? Yeah - I think there is no risk of Misdescription there; no flowery AgentSpeak - just plain English, the likes of that which Ms Portas advocates. No arguing with the 'Things We Have Noticed' whatsoever in my humble opinion.

    SHOULD HE HAVE SAID IT? Now this is where the opinions travel different paths. "No he shouldn't", if you are treading the same shingles as Industry Observer; "HELL YES!" if you think that bullies should be stood up to in order to check their actions. Me - I'm in the middle, would you believe. She deserved it - but I think that Mr Rawlings made the comment for his own agenda, and not for any other purpose. Were it solely in defence of the Agency - and the man - that bore the brunt of Ms Portas' self-fulfilment with reasonable dignity and almost textbook professionalism on the part of Mr Gerrard, then I'd be in Camp 2 in a heartbeat. As it is, it could easily be viewed as a sensationalist swipe just to gain some self-promotion - which is exactly his view of the subject lady. Interesting...

    Now Mr Rawlings himself is no stranger to the FiM brigade. Only a week or so ago he upset a few on this site with his comment that many posters' opinions were poorly regarded. A dangerous statement considering the number of posters who write under aliases - and he then went on to state that certain posters' anonymity undermined their credibility (as did their "bitchy and personal comments" - MIIIIAOOOWWWW!! Kettle...pot...)

    Gerrards - brave move - lose:lose situation but someone had to do it and I guess you came out of it better than many I could mention. Nothing mentioned at all in your Contracts of Employment relating to 'Personal Grooming'? Time for a Variation of Terms, I would strongly suggest. The programme was bad enough evidence of 'bed hair' and numptystubble - your website photo of Philip is a REAL nasty!!

    No doubt I will get some flak for this. Mr Rawlings; Industry Observer - come take your best shots!

    • 10 February 2011 14:42 PM
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    I completly agreed with the show - use an online agent as 90% of people go to rightmove to now view properties and a house sells itself. Why pay £2-3K when you can pay as little as £400 and they do the same job.

    • 10 February 2011 14:40 PM
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    So Keith - what you mean is I have to pay for your mistakes in selecting poor properties to sell, so my fees are subsidising your bad business decisions.

    Has it ever occurred to any estate agent to be selective about the properties they take on their books or don't you care?

    Don't the normal rules of business apply to estate agents - isn't that the point Portas was making - estate agents are bad business people, provide poor customer service and charge excessive fees for doing not a lot.

    The programme had it right - you're expensive tour guides who take customers on viewings.

    Every other business costs by the job and if the job doesn't make a profit or meet certain business criteria, it's turned away.

    Estate agents are parasites that only do well when the rest of the economy is producing money and the housing market is buoyant.

    What exactly do you contribute? Nothing. What do you take? Too much!

    And when some points out what everyone else is thinking, you're too arrogant to take notice.

    • 10 February 2011 14:32 PM
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    Well - one thing this comments section does is confirm the out of touch nature of estate agents.

    You lot need to take a long hard look in the mirror before you talk about how the programme portrayed you unfairly.

    Still, when you work in an industry that couldn't see it was in a bubble, and still can't see that the bubble has no burst - aptly demonstrated by the agent who 'claimed' to have had 17 viewings in ONE DAY on a property - are the general public surprised at the reaction?

    Bascially estate egent is like recruitment agent, it's a job you do when you can't get another one. I am well aware of the 'trickery of TV' - but some of the scenes in that show I have experienced in real life.

    It's just like the 80's and 90's, in the 80's the estate agent was king....in the 90's he was a pauper.....and now we're going through the same cycle, we've had our silly bubble and now we're into the crash position.

    Any estate agent worth their salt would have worked out that with so few FTB's due to the lack of credit that the market couldn't sustain itself.....and it hasn't....but that hasn't stopped me hearing several agents talk of "now the property market has recovered" as a reson for buying.

    Only fools make the same mistakes over and over and over again...

    • 10 February 2011 14:05 PM
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    Neil

    Ooops! How I managed to turn £20m at (say) 1.5% commission into 1.5 million will bug me for the rest of the day (at least).

    Yes, a commission of 300k is much more credible I guess - and by the time you accept that he's not the only person involved (that branch looked to have about 7 employees) - it's not as great as I first thought.

    • 10 February 2011 13:57 PM
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    Wasted an hour of my life last night and another 15 minutes reading most of these comments. Nothing new, nothing will change. If I remember correctly the most difficult part was getting the sale to exchange and chasing solicitors. Bring back Hips!

    • 10 February 2011 13:52 PM
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    What an irritating patronising woman, if she comes within a mile of my office she'll get the sharp end of my boot. As for "Jedward" if youre that good and earning the money, you can at least afford a haircut, a shave and a decent looking suit in order to look professional at least.

    Typical sensational ill informed tv journalism, but what do you expect?

    Simpson - you dont understand that the business is based on no sale no fee, and the costs are horrific, and have to be shared by those who do sell.

    • 10 February 2011 13:43 PM
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    I totally understand that an agents role is acting on behalf of the seller and that too much information might 'put off certain buyers'

    Mistake

    • 10 February 2011 13:27 PM
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    Its not surprising given that the vast majority of readers of this forum are Estate Agents, that the comments are all rather subjective.

    How nobody feels that some of the misleading descriptions shown in the mystery shopper footage were just ludicrous is astounding.

    I totally understand that an agents role is acting on behalf of the seller and that too much information might , but to attract viewings using creating writing (making spurious claims) and euphemisms wasn't cheap and pointless is rather beyond me. Forgetting to mention a motorway, who is that really going to benefit when a buyer turns up and finds that is their view!

    I think the programme perfectly highlighted some complacency from within an industry where properties have 'sold themselves'. Poor quality sales people talk too much, don't listen and then when asked a question that throws them just a little, mumble utter tosh that makes them look completely ignorant.

    I didn't think he sales guy profiled was a quality sales person. Perhaps he's been lucky that the properties have sold themselves? Spouting condescending rubbish is as good as disrespecting the client. Not knowing the local school when you only have to cover a small patch is insulting.

    I think agents need to 'justify' the cost of their service a bit more. Otherwise online agents just might be able to attract a little more business from customers who decide that the limited service they are actually receiving is just not value for money.

    *Obviously this doesn't apply to EVERY agent as I'm sure some are genuinely fantastic at what they do. 79% of the public not trusting estate agents suggests that most are not of sufficient quality.

    • 10 February 2011 13:23 PM
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    So the general giste is if you sell my house and I pay a £5,000 fee, that subsidises the sellers whose houses don't sell as quickly or at all.

    What rubbish. I expect to pay for what you are doing, not for someone else who may have a poorly maintained or poorly presented property that takes months to sell. That's not my problem but yours and your fees to them should reflect that.

    • 10 February 2011 13:00 PM
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    I feel sorrry for poor Mr G, obvioulsy a quality man, sadly having to leave his business in idiots hands.

    Such a good brand made to look a joke, going west as the new south.

    • 10 February 2011 12:49 PM
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    With every other episode in the series she has tried to change a companies brand, shopfront & website etc, but this was just an all out attack on the industry.
    Some of her ideas about honesty and no gimmicks makes sense but most of the other stuff are just not practical and she showed a complete misunderstandning of the buying process!
    If we did it her way, we would be saying when asked what we thought about the property that it's a bit small, smells of damp has a crap layout is overpriced and has had little no to no interest since being on our books for for the last six months!
    Our job is to market property and try to show it in it's best light but without out lieing but how many of us would still be in business if we just stated all the negatives!
    That's not how you gain trust that's how you look stupid!

    • 10 February 2011 12:28 PM
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    I am frankly puzzled at the reaction to this programme.

    This is TV - the format means that in one hour a problem is identified, a solution implemented and a positive outcome achieved. Of course Mary Portas focused on the process of selling a property; promotion and selling is her area of expertise.

    I thought Martyn Gerrard (MG) showed that good agents are working hard to provide great service to vendors and applicants alike. They recognise that doing so will deliver sustainable success and are open to new ideas.

    MG's blog entry this morning (http://www.martyngerrard.co.uk/company-news/mary-portas-secret-shopper-our-customer-service.php) suggests they have taken a number of positives from the experience although I'm sure that the editing process to remove the points they felt were important leaving peak-time entertainment would be frustrating for anyone. That's the risk they took.

    As we saw on the programme many customers have a pretty low opinion of our industry reinforced by the secretly filmed viewings. A vitriolic reaction to this programme will not help change this. Making constructive use of the points raised would be a start.

    I look forward to 'west facing is the new south facing' joining the lexicon!

    • 10 February 2011 12:14 PM
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    Lord, give me strength!
    ALL on the 'show' looked stupid and acted stupidly.
    Not worthy of further comment.

    • 10 February 2011 12:14 PM
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    Bottom line, it was a programme made to entertain which ever way the producer/presenters wanted to go.

    Some rediculous and poorly presented parts, some informative bits to, but tell me any industry that cannot be nick picked to ones advantage? It was clearly biased and showed a lack of understanding. So called retail expert forgot that that £8k fee in 5 days isn't profit, it happens to cover the expenses of all those other properties that take months (gulp years) to sell, called balancing the books the first basics of business. Self proclaimed experts can be a menace when given a media platform to brag on.

    Estate agency (or any other business) will never shake off public perception while programmes like this are made. It also doesn't help when there are poor agents (as in all walks of life). How about making a programme about all the success stories ... that wouldn't be entertainment!

    What did come over for those with a bit of grey matter to see was a vain attempt "to have ago at estate agents" ,,, and FAILED. Regrettably those without will believe anything they read regardless of there actually being good agents. The power of the media.

    • 10 February 2011 11:52 AM
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    To Kate-"As indeed did the highly childish and spiteful email that plopped into my inbox this morning from Richard Rawlings"

    Do share it could be more interestiung that many of these posts!.

    • 10 February 2011 11:30 AM
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    Good morning PeeBee wondered when you’d surface. Only 32 posts so far so will keep my powder dry until later but for any readers tuning in now for the first time this morning and about to rush off to a viewing where you will take 6 phone calls while talking to a prospective buyer (or even seller!!) may I respectfully suggest you focus on the excellent comments posted by Jan at 9.17, James at 9.28, Guy Arnold at 9.53, John Aitken at 9.40, Mike Wilson at 9.55, Anna Key 10.20 and Kate at 10.33

    You may safely ignore the rest which are sadly all too predictable and personalised in their comments so instead I suggest you get the balanced and sensible view from those. And of course mine later!!!

    I am not an estate agent I am allegedly a lettings expert. But I have bought and sold around 10 houses in my life and also witnessed the house buying agony two kids have had to go through in the past few years.

    • 10 February 2011 11:10 AM
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    Having worked in the industry for 5 years, I have to say that I do not share many of the reactions stated here.

    Agents need to improve our service, we are distrusted for a reason and any catalyst to do so is a good thing. We need to raise standards - be more honest with details, more informative in appraisals and viewings, more selective in our hiring, more comprehensive in our training, more diligent in making sure data on our websites and portals is up to date, better at responding to phone calls emails and people coming through our doors ....

    Sure, sellers pay our wages, but they only do so because we provide a service to buyers.

    Yes, this is entertainment and likely any journalism selective, biased, made to tell a story - but overall I thought Simon Gerrard and team came out of it very well.

    • 10 February 2011 11:02 AM
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    I agree with Kate, who made Richard Rawlings the authority on Estate Agency. What a bitter man he is sounding today. Richard, come of your high horse. My father always used a saying, those who can do, those who can't teach. Richard, take a long look at yourself today, your e-mail this morning just shows what petty jealousy you are showing. Maybe when they spoke to you they realised how 'old school' you are.

    As for the programme, just like a training seminar we could all pick up a few positive points. How many times have you walked into an estate agents and not been greeted properly (for that fact most retail shops do not greet their customers correctly). West is the new south, brilliant. Popular, prestigious, early viewing recommended, we are all guilty of using these meaningless words.

    As for the change in details that Martin Gerrard agreed to, look at their web site today. Obviously they decided it did not work as all the details I saw today had the usual words and none of the recommendations that were given in the programme, I think that speaks volumes for what they thought of Mary!

    • 10 February 2011 10:54 AM
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    I felt Mary with her 'Prestigious Dress Sense' was clearly out to make an example. Agents are an easy target after all but aside from the sensationalism of her approach I felt Simon and his staff came across very well.

    I don't many firms in the UK that would allow this type of analysis on their business as they know their underlying short comings.

    Maybe agents should take note, aside from the programmes biased angle there are lessons to be learned here. Time to demonstrate that the formula of a good quality agent does is not:

    Erect Board+Upload to Rightmove+1 viewing = £3,000.

    Mary missed the point of the agent acting for the seller, much of the hard work and cost to the firms is keeping together a disperate chain of 12 once the offer has been accepted.

    Be nice to see agents relegated in the league table of 'most hated' and elevate Traffic Wardens to pole position.

    • 10 February 2011 10:51 AM
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    Hmmm... would I give my business to an Estate Agent created in the image of Ms Portas I wonder?

    Lets analyse the possible 'benefits':

    Do I want my buyer to be given as pleasant a ride as possible so that the process may run smoother? Yes - of course I do. PROVISO that the buyer does not get the cushions and I have to sit on bare boards, that is...

    Do I want my property to be described in plain English; no AgentSpeak; Cons as well as Pros? Okay - as long as the one I look to buy receives the same treatment I'll run with it...

    Do I want the Agent/Accompanied Viewer to know the far end of a f@rt and which way the wind will blow it in order to point out to prospective buyers that the tree at the bottom of my garden is, in fact, one of a type that is most probably going to start sucking the lifeblood out of my foundations within the next decade and will therefore need root surgery to avoid possible underpinning? Erm... I'll come back to you on that one, if you don't mind...

    Do I want my property - my pride; my joy - to be treated like a 'product' on a shelf? The Agent to be the 'Greeter' - "Yes Madam - Aisle 22 - but on the way please come and have a look in the bathroom cupboard...it is CAVERNOUS! Just the place to store all the towels we have on special on Aisle 14 - next to the small but light dining alcove..."

    Okay - I've made up my mind. Ms Portas - don't give up your day job.

    Whatever that is...

    (IF, however, you decide to do an expose of hairdressers, then go see the one who sorts out Philip Whassname's. Now THERE is a company who need to focus on upping their game...!!)

    Anyway - must dash. Need to find a "prestigious turning" as I am pointing the wrong way... ;0)

    • 10 February 2011 10:45 AM
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    I think the end was the best part though, i think the protesters went into Hamptons, and at least the staff had a laugh with them, when they briefly walk into Foxtons they were shepered out, Maybe they didn't want anyone to see them 'chop choping' those contracts

    • 10 February 2011 10:34 AM
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    Reading these comments makes me cringe. As indeed did the highly childish and spiteful email that plopped into my inbox this morning from Richard Rawlings.

    I watched that programme last night and did not think particularly badly of Portas' behaviour. Indeed it was pretty much the same as her other programmes which didn't offend me either.

    Whilst her suggestions aren't ground-breaking I don't think they are meant to be. Being honest and straightforward works for your vendors as well as it does for your buyers. Creating a description that dissapoints potential buyers does your vendor a disservice and is something that agents should not be afraid to tell vendors, the same way we're not meant to be afraid of giving them the honest truth on their price.

    Property misdescription legislation is there to ensure you don't mislead buyers and misrepresent the property. Not to write a boring description. The point is accuracy and honesty and there's plenty of ways to be complimentary without using generic 'agent speak'.

    Telling someone that west facing is the new south facing is idiotic. Pointing out genuine features of the property, especially if the vendor has asked you to is doing your job. You don't have to be patronising about it, it's part of selling highlighting the benefits but being honest about the downfalls and if possible offering solutions.

    Finally, I'd like to point out that being NAEA or ARLA registered does not automatically make you a brilliant agent. and why would the focus not be on customers if you want to improve your customer service?

    Frankly I think the disgusted comments, articles and emails have made me more ashamed of being an estate agent than anything Mary Portas said last night.

    • 10 February 2011 10:33 AM
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    I think the key elements she missed were these

    The estate agents' customers are the SELLERS. She seemed to think that the BUYERS were the ones who should have "better customer service". She put the estate agents into a series of "retail" programmes without noticing that key difference. Therefore it was NEVER going to make sense to anyone apart from the most superficial thinkers.

    Furthermore, she failed to grasp that anyone CAN find a buyer online or via Gumtree or whatever. I doubt I need to tell anyone reading this that the time that the agents earn all that high fee (remembering of course that fall-throughs have to be covered by sales that complete) is in the run-up to exchange. Holding a chain together in this day and age is NO fun at all. That was all swept out of the way, since Portas had failed to grasp who the true customer was. It was all about partics and viewings.

    • 10 February 2011 10:30 AM
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    Mike - I don't imagine that even in the rarified atmosphere of the London market, Martyn Garrard will be charging 7.5% commission! If they are then let me know and I will up sticks and move my business down there from North Yorkshire. On the other hand.............

    • 10 February 2011 10:26 AM
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    Mary Portas clearly understands retail marketing but she was uninformed about her subject last night beyond that old chestnut - the cliched agency-speak on details. She was childish, rude and arrogant but the agency were naive to think that they could come out of it smelling too much of roses anyway! That does not make good television. At least they got a free hour's tv exposure and it seems that, as far as estate agents are concerned (I am thinking Foxtons here) there is no such thing as bad publicity! How many people outside of North London had heard of Martyn Gerrard before last night? They have now! And they were a relatively harmless lot compared to the stereotypical wide-guy estate agent type she could have chosen for her hatchet job.

    Not one of her best programmes to date - cringeworthy was an apt adjective.

    • 10 February 2011 10:22 AM
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    did we ever get to the bottom of what the f*ck is a prestigious turning???

    • 10 February 2011 10:20 AM
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    I said I wouldn't watch it but tuned in after all. I don't think MG came out badly at all. I was somewhat irked that the £8000 for 5 days work message didn't get balanced by the cost of overheads including staff and marketing. I'm sure that would be one of MGs cut bits.

    I disagree that houses sell themselves. If you are lucky they do. If you know your area well, you know what other people have done locally, if you can help them see what they can do, with an idea of the costs involved, then you can increase your sales.

    We certainly make sure we know the facilities of the local area before a viewing and probably have the time to, not being a London agent.

    Totally disagreed about highlighting negative points in details - much better to talk to people when they phone for a viewing to find out what is important to them otherwise we'll never get viewings. You can talk about the property in detail and you will soon know if it's worth them viewing it. Having said that, there are some ridiculous phrases used in details by some agents.

    I thought it was a lame show all in all

    • 10 February 2011 10:19 AM
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    My congratulations to the Gerrards on a business they are rightly proud of. Of course we can all make improvements but far from being a fool for doing it (as someone suggested below) I think their courage should be commended. If more agents stood up in public and said "We work hard in a difficult competitive environment with often unreasonable clients to do a very skilled job" it might just start to have an effect on the public's perception.

    Shame on whoever branded them fools for doing it - those of you who hide in shame at your profession rather than standing up proudly to defend it are the ones largely responsible for the poor public perception. Stand up and fight for your reputation!

    • 10 February 2011 10:13 AM
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    Yet another failed attempt to produce a sensationalist television programme.

    Bring back Roger Cook!

    • 10 February 2011 10:04 AM
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    Clearly the woman loves the sound of her own voice. Is this really the best Channel 4 could come up with. Who should I see about reimbursing me with time wasted watching this farce?

    • 10 February 2011 10:02 AM
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    Someone made a comment about the clown with the gelled hair ... on the program they said he sold £20 m of property last year - the commission on which would presumably be in the order of £1.5 m.

    I'd be surprised if he is not being head hunted this morning.

    As for the specific agency and the business as a whole, I thought they came out of it okay. Unfortunately the business has got enough wallies and bad apples in it to give the whole industry a bad name. Most agents I've worked with have been pretty on the ball and worked hard. As a vender you have to accept the fees because of the daft 'no sale, no fee' model you have all adopted means you don't make money on every instruction.

    If you were all so awful no-one would use you. In the final analysis you do not SELL houses - you offer them for sale. I've never bought a house because an agent pointed out some feature or other. I've bought houses for my own reasons.

    Until a portal emerges that takes private vendors - which has as much clout as RightMove - you're all safe. Even with a big private portal - I bet only 1 person in 20 would try to sell their house themselves.

    All you can ask from an estate agent is that they are honest in their dealings with you (as a vendor) and that they work efficiently.

    • 10 February 2011 09:55 AM
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    This article is normal from any profession trying to defend itself.

    I have no doubt that many Estate Agents do a great job, and that Mary Portas, like all TV, cut and thrusted to sensationalise and make good viewing.

    BUT: ask any member of the public about their opinion, in general of Estate Agents, and they are just above Politicians!

    'Estate Agent Speak' is a joke.

    All research will tell you that transparency generates Trust, and Trust makes money ... in the LONG TERM.

    Come on Estate Agents: don't bury your heads in the sand: there's too much competition from the Internet.

    Mary made some VERY positive ideas: based on real customer needs. Build on them and make them work!

    As soon as someone gets this right, they'll clean up the Estate Agency business.

    Just pray that Tesco don't start selling houses properly before you get your act together. As soon as Tesco realise the opportunity here, they'll blow you out of the water.

    wake up and smell the coffee!

    Best wishes, GUY

    • 10 February 2011 09:53 AM
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    Watched the show last nite- guess what, NO surprises there .
    Could have written the script before hand for her and saved her the time.
    It was inevitable that Esate Agents were going to get a kicking as that no doubt makes for "good " viewing.
    The reality is not all companies offer the same level of service and good hard working agents get lumped in with those who are badly trained and poorly motivated.
    Found that the off button came in handy aftre 1/2 hr-

    • 10 February 2011 09:52 AM
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    i generally stay silent when showing people houses. For the simple reason that viewers have brains. They dont need me to tell them if a room is bright or dark. I want the viewers to focus on the property not me on an ego trip. Its not like selling a pair of shoes, the hard sell might work when the money is handed over that moment but people have 3 months to change their minds when buying a house and the hard sell always backfires.

    • 10 February 2011 09:45 AM
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    As a professional buyers agent most of our time is pre viewing to make sure what is on the agent details match what is actually there, most times they don't match up in some critical way.

    For us it's all about the feel of a property if you are comparing like for like, I think agents feel if a punter likes a property they will ignore the fact it's £50k over budget or only has 2.5 bedrooms not the 3 doubles the client asked for, and that is poor service.

    But I also think purchasers don't do enough viewing as well, as it's a numbers game to find the ideal property we start with details for about 180 properties on paper, narrow it down to about 60 best fits, view these, narrow that down to 20 actual fits, then down to about 7 or 8 for the client to view with us on a viewing day, 95% of the time in the 7 or 8 will be the ideal property for the client, but that's a lot of leg work and time we have put in.

    Purchasers take note the only way you know if a property matching the spec ie price, location size etc will be the one is to go and see it, you can't rely on agents details, they are subjective a lot of the time, and how many properties have we all seen that look very different to the pictures, and I don't mean look worse as we all know that trick, but many times the pictures don't do a property justice, but you will never know unless you view the property.

    Alway keep an open mind, take agents details with a pinch of slat, it's really just a starting point.

    John Aitken

    www.HomeSearchLondon.com

    • 10 February 2011 09:40 AM
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    Mary Portas is from a retail background, she knows nothing about estate agency and that showed, the week before she changed that phone company by getting them to have an office re-fit, i could of suggested that.

    I don't think the programme will change peoples views on estate agents, I am all for honesty, but at the end of the day estate agents are there to sell properties, nobody is ever forced to buy.

    I cant agree with some of the comments here, I dont think MG embarassed themselves, perosnally i thought it was going to be alot worse and their business model isn't exactly terrible with a 3 Million turn over. And although that agent did need a haircut agreed, he has obviously sold a lot of houses which is his main job.

    • 10 February 2011 09:35 AM
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    Well said Harriet...couldnt agree more.
    MG is a leading figure in the NAEA and whilst they might be a damp squid (The NAEA) he strives for better practises in this industry. He took control over Mary and wiped the floor with her. Some good points though, especially about being better informed on the property being sold. As for PHil...what gel do you use as I need some filler to repair a dent in my car?

    • 10 February 2011 09:34 AM
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    I think the firm came across extremely well. Mary Portas clearly failed to achieve what she set out to do, which was slam estate agents and the industry.

    The result of the show, in my eyes, was that she could only find minor indescretions about how to show someone around a house. I can assure you, that in all my years of estate agency, no one has ever bought a house, because of the way I have showed them around it. (certainly not because I have pointed out Glass Bricks!) Give the buyers some credit please!!

    It is generally the largest purchase most of us will make in a lifetime, and therefore extremely unlikely that an agent can actively affect a purchasers decision to buy on the viewing. You either like a house, or you don't.

    I would like to point out that we are not in the 1980's anymore where 'wide boy' tactics were used. The Property Mis- descriptions act is so stringent now that agents brochures have needed to be come 'boring and factual' for fear of getting wound up in red tape. No we are not 'regulated' as such, but I think we need to give slightly more credit to the general buying public, who simply don't stand to be treated badly or unfairly by any industry.

    In my opinion Mary has jumped on a band wagon long since dispersed... Welcome to the 21st Century. If people didn't feel comfortable with what Agents do, then there wouldn't be an industry- they would all do it online themselves. Clearly it is no- where near as simple as Mary makes out....

    It's an extremely tough industry, which employs huge numbers of people, many of whom, as seen on the show, are quick to learn and take on new ideas and not to mention talented people who have chosen this profession over others.

    • 10 February 2011 09:31 AM
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    I found it all too inevitable and formulaic. It was inevitable that she was going to focus on buyers because it’s the most tell-friendly, and supports the stereotype which is what light ent progs like that rely on.

    But I found her simplistic view of the dichotomy that all sales people suffer, frustrating: how to ensure their commissions when selling a product that has its drawbacks.

    Her lack of focus on the views of the vendor (the REAL customer) on her approach was telling. Knowing how some sellers are about ‘painting over the cracks’, figuratively and literally, I’d doubt many would like he approach of being upfront about a property’s drawbacks.

    I doubt a car manufacturer would be happy to put ‘you need to know: poor fuel economy, a bit noisy at high speeds’ on their literature and nor would anyone expect them to.

    But maybe it’s up to the OFT to legislate that this be on all particulars…

    • 10 February 2011 09:28 AM
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    Tis funny that all estate agents throughout the UK appear to be jumping up and down right now, yet the public's reaction to the programme last night (for example on Twitter) was one of total agreement.

    To be fair, I've used 'reputable' agency brands in the past (whom I would never use again) that we're almost identical to the absolute numpty ridiculed on the show last night (the one with the 'I can't take you seriously' hair).

    I think what the programme highlighted is the lack of effort that often goes into charging fees as high as £8000. And didn't the agent acctually admit that properties sell themselves and he only did 5 days work for £8000! I'm sure that many more intensely qualified industries would appreciate that kind of pay!

    Car salesman dont need to be qualified, but ask them a question, they know cars. That fool said west facing gardens are the new South. Come on. He was total BS at its best. Prestigious turning anyone?

    In the end he needed Mary Portas and the OWNER to give him advice in doing a better job. Oh dear! Neither are qualified estate agents apparently.

    Jon's comments are correct. The public are your customers, and continue to treat them like this to the detriment of your business. I'm sure the good estate agents are better than the drivel shown last night, however I also fear that last nights portrayal was indicative of the industry if generalising.

    • 10 February 2011 09:28 AM
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    People may want honesty but if you start to criticize an aspect of a house then you'd wonder what else was wrong with hit. You don't do that when you are selling a product and a house is just another product. There was too much emotion from Mary in this programme, it is a house, a product and the estate agents are sales people. I don't think this firm came across as anything other than sales people doing a job....get the punters in, push up the aspects of the house that they seem to be interested in.....and there you go. People don't like estate agent for the same reason they don't like lawyers, we have to give them a lot of money and we don't think they do very much for it. Well come to Spain and you have to give over 5% to an estate agent and 1% of the purchase price to a lawyer...it is just the way it is.

    • 10 February 2011 09:23 AM
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    I found it unsatisfying.
    Mary looked out of her depth.
    The agency looked shallow, apart from MG.
    SG looked a bit silly.
    I liked the point about honesty though. It's hard to argue with.

    • 10 February 2011 09:22 AM
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    Agree that the program was a circus but what is Martyn Gerrard doing having that unshaven wild haired clown in their office? (I mean Philip Thompson not Mary Portas by the way)

    • 10 February 2011 09:21 AM
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    With all due respect, I thought she made some great comments and I think that you need to remember that the public at large are your potential customers.

    Look outside of the box and you will see that people prefer honesty rather than being on the end of pre-prepared sales patter.

    I thought halfway through the programme that she had bitten off more than she could chew but by the end I honestly thought that I would now look for any agent with an honest approach rather than the same old EA approach.

    • 10 February 2011 09:17 AM
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    The programme was set out to make estate agents look like idiots. Unfortionatly Mary, the only person who looked a fool was YOU. I do however feel that Phil Thompson should have a slight haircut. Overall - Hilarious.

    • 10 February 2011 09:14 AM
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    Lets all remember that the client is NOT the purchaser!

    • 10 February 2011 09:12 AM
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    Richard, they made over 3 million in commissions last year so hardly ineffectual and poor staff. The only one that came out as looking daft was Mary....she has not a single clue about selling houses only about making charity shops look pretty.

    • 10 February 2011 09:09 AM
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    I am not an estate agent but switched off half way through as she was winding me up. It isn't about selling a house, it is about reading the person. Someone wants light you push that, someone wants a good school you push that, it is called SALES. Taking them to an historic house to watch the guides was pathetic. Agents have multiple listings and cannot possibly know everything but they are able to "read" people. She seemed surprised they had no qualifications. Does a car salesman have qualifications? Does a clothes assistant? Began to wonder if she has ever actually worked in sales and I won't be watching her again. Saw her on Graham Norton and she was over egotistical, controlling and really rather unpleasant.....

    • 10 February 2011 09:06 AM
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    Old Martyn G must have been distraught to see a firm he obviously loved and created right pulled apart as his ineffectual son and very poor staff, embarrassed him and the business and EA. Shame.

    But even a good agent would probably have been hit by her, she was never going to say “Oh this is good I don’t have a show”! She’s certainly no Harvey Jones.

    Simon, a fool for doing it, a fool on the show and worse now making a bigger fool of himself trying to make him self look OK. Give up.

    • 10 February 2011 09:05 AM
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