The blog post from PDQ Estates was published in December 2014 and titled “Cheap agents could cost UK consumers up to half a £Billion in wasted fees”.
In the post, the firm warned that online agents left out their “hidden costs” from their advertising literature, and noted that online agents charge a fee even if the property is not sold, unlike traditional high street agents.
The complainant argued the heading of the blog was misleading, and also took issue with a tweet from Chris Wood, a director of the firm, which stated: “Mid & W Cornwall Oct 16 – 17. @PurplebricksUK listings: sold 50.4% i.e. 49.6% of customers lost> £1,000 (C£64,000).”
Despite producing spreadsheets of sales data based on Zoopla data covering Purplebricks’ sales in its defence, the ASA found against the agent on both cases, determining both the blog and the tweet were misleading.
It concluded: “We told them not to make claims about how much money customers had lost to their competitors, unless they had adequate evidence to substantiate the figures.”
However, Wood is refusing to back down. In a new blog published on the agent’s site, he says that he has taken advice from Cornwall trading standards office, and brands the ASA’s decision “bizarre”.