Fylde coast estate agent speaks out over Purplebricks' claims

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A leading Lancashire and Fylde coast estate agent has spoken out after a rival came under fire from BBC Watchdog.

Kevin Allitt, managing director of Oystons, said claims by online estate agent Purplebricks that they can save customers’ money were a “false economy” for people trying to sell their homes.

Kevin Allitt

Kevin Allitt

This came after BBC Watchdog revealed that Purplebricks was repeating claims that had previously ruled as misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

In 2016 Purplebricks was told that it must stop telling customers they could save an average of £4,158 by using the company.

The claim was the company’s sixth to be banned by the ASA in the last 18 months.

Last night’s episode of Watchdog on BBC1 found that the group had been repeating the claim in promotional emails.

The programme also revealed Purplebricks’ deferred fee arrangement is actually a loan agreement.

Company agents had failed to tell vendors about this in three out of five cases, the programme discovered.

“The statements from Purplebricks are at the very least misleading, that much is clear from the Watchdog investigation,” said Mr Allitt, whose firm has branches in Blackpool, Preston, Cleveleys and Fleetwood.

“With Purplebricks you pay whether they sell or not. With us it’s no sale, no pay. We have the confidence to say that. We have years and years of experience.

“Their deferred payment scheme is like asking people to take out a loan.

“Their website says there’s no commission. But of course there is. It’s a false economy.”

Purplebricks immediately removed the reference to a £4,158 saving, which they said was included in their standard email format to customers, and “apologised for the oversight”.

Purplebricks founder and chief executive Michael Bruce said: “We seek to satisfy and surpass our regulatory obligations at all times, and where we find circumstances where we have fallen short we seek to rectify these situations at the earliest opportunity.”

Mr Bruce told Watchdog the loan was a “facility agreement” and customers had to click online to agree to the terms.