The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that two TV advertisements for Purplebricks cannot be shown again in their current form because they are judged to be misleading.
A complaint about the ads was filed by the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents, a trade body that recently admitted it had too few members to launch formally; even so, its complaint was upheld by the ASA while 37 other complaints – some from individual estate agencies – were rejected.
In summary, the CIELA complaints challenged whether the comparison in both ads between Purplebricks’ upfront fee and the commission charged by other estate agents was misleading.
The ASA came down in favour of the complainant, saying that “it was not sufficiently clear in the ads that the fee payable to Purplebricks was not conditional on the sale of the property”.
The authority went on to say that because of the infrequency with which people move house, they may have been unfamiliar with the concept of the upfront fee and paying a flat charge whether or not the property went on to be sold.
It, therefore, went on to find that the advertisements were misleading in that regard.
The ASA concludes in its judgement: “The ads must not be broadcast again in their current form. We told Purplebricks to ensure that when making a comparison to other fee models in their ads, they made it clear that their flat fee was always payable.”
Purplebricks Group chief executive Michael Bruce, responding to the judgement, issued a statement saying: “We are surprised by the ASA judgement on the flat fee wording because prior to air our adverts went through the proper approvals process, including the official clearance body Clearcast who have continued to support their original judgement with the ASA.
“Purplebricks is firmly on the side of the consumer, offering an alternative to the commission based model. As a leader of industry change some noise is inevitable.
“Purplebricks is committed to increasing levels of transparency within the industry, publishing its fixed fee rates on the home page of its website so all consumers from the outset have certainty as to the cost of selling. Purplebricks is far more transparent than traditional estate agents who do not typically publish their rates, allowing them to charge much greater and varying fees dependent upon a customer’s ability or capacity to negotiate.”
A lengthy statement from Charlie Wright, the industry software entrepreneur behind the complaint and the person who tried to set up CIELA, said the “entire estate agency industry of firms large and small have experienced the worst downward pressure on fees in decades as a result of the perception of what selling fees should be.”
He added that every conventional estate agency “from Countrywide and Foxtons down to the thousands of local one-man-band independent agents across the country” have suffered as a result.
The above article was sourced from estateagenttoday.co.uk and can be read in its original form here.