A branch search on its website returned the contact details of several local offices, including a telephone number and email address for each.
Listings included those headed “Norwich” and “Norwich Golden Triangle” which exist, but others including “Eaton and Cringleford”, “Wymondham and Hethersett”, and “Costessey” and “Sprowston” which do not physically exist.
Another estate agent, Hammondlee, put in the challenge to advertising standards.
In its defence, parent group SpicerHaart Estate Agents said each of the challenged locations is in close proximity to Norwich but that both of its city centre offices had sold properties in the listed locations.
The Norwich city centre office covered Costessey and Sprowston, with the other office covering Cringleford, Eaton, Wymondham and Hethersett, said Haart.
It added that the email addresses and phone numbers stated for each of the locations were different to those of the relevant physical offices “to ensure initial enquiries were directed accordingly.”
In relation to the telephone number stated in the advert, Haart acknowledged it did not have any physical branches in locations associated with that area code. However, Haart acknowledged that they would no longer use language including Haart of …the challenged locations.
ASA said the fact each of the listings appeared with separate phone numbers, email addresses and buttons saying ‘`visit branch page’ contributed to the impression there were more than two offices.
The ads breached CAP Code rule 3.1 on misleading advertising, confirmed the ASA.
In October, Spicerhaart won a claim that a rival firm, Essex Countryside, used a misleading advert assuring consumers it offered both the cheapest way to sell a home and guaranteed the best possible price.