Agent set to withhold payments to Rightmove over ‘portal juggling’

An estate agent has threatened to withhold his subscriptions to Rightmove and is taking legal advice as to whether the portal is in breach of its contract.

Chris Wood, of PDQ Estates in Cornwall, said he is taking the action because of the “ongoing portal juggling and policing issues”.

Wood told EYE that he believes Rightmove is “not policing its own terms and conditions in an even-handed and fair way”.

He said in an email to the portal that Rightmove is aware of these issues, “and has been supplied with considerable evidence”.

Rightmove recently announced that it was launching an inquiry into alleged ‘portal juggling’.

However, Wood told EYE that Rightmove had seemingly not progressed the matter and does not appear to be engaging in the process in a transparent manner.

He said: “I am taking legal advice as I believe that Rightmove is in clear breach of its contract.

“Furthermore, PDQ Estates (and many other Rightmove customers) will have been disadvantaged by agents who have seemingly been allowed to continue with these practices, using falsified statements to claim larger market shares and shorter marketing times than are in fact the case.”

Wood claims that some advertisers on Rightmove are persistent offenders of practices such as re-listing properties, listing properties that are not theirs to list, and keeping properties up that have been sold.

Another habit of some advertisers, he says, is re-listing properties with a new, lower price and marking them ‘under offer’ the same day – thus enabling them to claim that they have sold the property for all or most of the last advertised asking price.

Wood claims that Rightmove could be passively letting these agents break Consumer Protection Regulations, advertising and Property Ombudsman codes, and potentially the Fraud Act.

He has also told Rightmove that because agents such as his own business stick to the rules, they may have been disadvantaged.

Wood added in his email to Rightmove: “Accordingly, I believe there to be a clear case for compensation and damages.”

He added: “I am withholding this and future monthly payments until Rightmove honours our contract terms.”

A spokesperson for Rightmove said: “One of our directors has spoken with the agent and discussed his issue, and also offered to meet up in person to go through Rightmove’s Data Quality processes in more detail.”

Wood has now confirmed that a meeting is being arranged between himself and Rightmove’s head of agency sales, Jason Bushby.

Wood told EYE: “This is about issues of trust, transparency and fairness. The portals must be able to show that there is parity of data quality enforcement, and that they fulfill their contractual liabilities.”

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46 Comments

  1. Robert May

    Chris Wood has to be applauded  and respected for his continued efforts to raise standards in our industry. He puts the efforts of the professional bodies, trade associations and vested interest service suppliers to shame!

     

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    1. Frown Please

      Yes a nice effort indeed but unfortunately Chris, Rightmove don’t give a hoot if they lose your subscription. Mere pennies to them.

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      1. Chri Wood

        They don’t appear to give a hoot about any of their customers (except the larger ones) however, my advice is that this is a breach of contract and all of its customers may well have a case for claiming damages.

        Agents have two options. They can stand idly by wringing their hands while their competitors are allowed to mislead their way to greater market shares and profits or, they can grow a pair.

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        1. Frown Please

          In order for this to work effectively you need many onboard. Are there any others currently doing this? How many?

          How do I join the party?

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          1. Chri Wood

            Frown Please – Quite simply write to Rightmove as I have.

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        2. Zeus

          Rightmove will just make your properties invisible until you pay up, forget the letters and messing about if you really want to take action come off their site permanently.

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        3. smile please

          Chris, Are you able to name the biggest culprits?

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          1. Chri Wood

            There are many agents who are undertaking this practice from independent high street agents through to call-centre agents and at least one very well-known PLC. By far the most prolific offenders based on evidence that I have been sent (and that has also been made available to Rightmove) are non-locally based, call-centre agents.

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      2. Ric

        Frown…… how many of us “little ones” do they not care about, yet much of the time it is the smaller companies who give RM the most in terms of market share to display.

        If RM do not stop this behaviour then perhaps we should all start to portal juggle. If the odd one can get away with it, why not all join in…..RM a wash with duplicate listings, sold in a day etc etc.

        If RM do not stop this [portal juggling] now, they would have a case on their hands trying to stop us all doing it I would imagine as treating one differently to another is discrimination.

        So Chris, keep the evidence and at some point we should play em at their own game and direct people to OTM where the property portfolio shows a truer reflection on the market.

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        1. Robert May

          Agent_Peebee the digital detective, has a shared drobbox file of data going all the way back to June when Ben Cade spotted a curious listing patten in his area by passive intermediary, bypass the agents only rule agent.

          The evidence gathered now exceeds 1GB and covers a range of business models.

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        2. Property Paddy

          RIC

          Re: “If RM do not stop this behaviour then perhaps we should all start to portal juggle. If the odd one can get away with it, why not all join in…..RM a wash with duplicate listings, sold in a day etc etc.”

           

          Bl0ody Brilliant idea !

          If every small agent did it the same week, RM would have a corporate heart attack. And may be, just maybe they might do something about it.

           

           

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          1. Property Paddy

            Actually I’ve just thought a bit more on this.

            It’s a terrible idea !

            I am not rogue, dishonest or even down right dishonest, like these portal jugglers clearly are.

            So sorry for my last comment.

            Please dislike immediately

            We cannot stoop to these low measures, ever !

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            1. Ric

              We are not going for 2 wrongs don’t make a right…….

              We are going for 6,000 or so wrongs will make it really wrong……

              Its not about stooping, its about stopping those low measures and sometimes you have to fight fire with fire……

              Or we could all swap notes at our insolvency meetings about how we went under with our heads held high.

              This is simply about showing RM if they allow one to carry on regardless of the evidence being provided then they must be okay with us all doing it…..

              More so, what a messy place RM will be and we are simply using it like the OnlineOnly lot which is seemingly okay. We can point punters to OTM for a nice crisp clean experience…… The very thing portals keep saying end users want.

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    2. Robert May

      Thank you so much for the dislike; Chris will appreciate that even more!

      I find it funny how some people try  so hard and  spend so much cash and still fail to receive  a second of positive recognition or sniff of respect, yet with a single simple act of  courage and integrity Chris has eclipsed the sort of snake oil trader  that  seeks to deceive and those who are complicit or condone their wrongdoing.

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  2. Frown Please

    Ps why the meeting with Head of Sales rather than data quality/management?

     

    Sounds like you will get the discount right move speach.

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  3. Chrispy

    So Chris thinks that because his competition are bending the rules he should get compensation? Good luck!

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  4. The Outsider

    Sending the big guns down with printouts of pie charts for you.

    This **** just got real!

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  5. smile please

    Good luck Chris, let us know how it goes.

    Be interesting to see if this stops the rouge agents.

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    1. Russell Williams

      and the maroon ones too  😉

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      1. smile please

        Doh! or is that dough? 😉

         

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    2. Chri Wood

      And well they might blush 😉

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  6. liversby

    Admire you Chris. I think you should lead a support campaign. It would simply be better and fairer if these stats were removed entirely.

    Last month I sold 2 separate properties skillfully, prior to any marketing in the good old fashioned way! I launched them to Rightmove as STC properties from the off.

    Guess what, INTEL stats dont recognise properties launched STC so dont count them! This is madness! I suppose Rightmove dont like to count stats where you have not NEEDED  their assistance!!!!

    It means the figures are wrong. My market has 3 very close competitors, me being one and it is a nightmare the amount of manipulation taking place. I don’t manipulate and frankly it brasses me off.

     

    I’m just constantly doing a good job for my customers. I had 40% market share before all this manipulation became available – NOW 20%. So agree Chris Rightmove doesnt help, firstly its a great leveller of agents, secondly allows manipulation and thirdly allows online agents on. Starting to think EVERYONE should be thinking of OTM again and taking their offering of an alternative more seriously!

     

     

     

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    1. Chri Wood

      Thank you and I am sorry but not surprised to hear you have suffered a loss and you are not alone. Many agents across the UK are being disadvantaged.

      If you have suffered loss as a result of Rightmove or Zoopla failing to implement their own data policies take a stand. Many agents have legal assistance policies with the Federation of Small Business etc. Use them.

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  7. badger

    A local agent on my patch who sold two properties in the April, owners moved – in October both properties were relisted with those previous photos, details, etc.  This distorts stats and is fraudulent.  Hey ho

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  8. Mark Walker

    I am no expert on the Fraud Act, but I have read the CPRs and Rightmove IS in clear breach of these and is setting itself up for a fall.  It would be Rightmove’s PPI moment.

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    1. smile please

      That would be lovely! – All those years we have been paying in getting refunded, where is a ‘No sale. No fee’ solicitor when you need one???? 😉

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  9. Simon Chan

    Good for him. Shocking the person trying to clear up RM is a customer from Cornwall of all places but good for him.

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    1. Robert May

      It’s good, they’ve got schools and all sorts down there these day. Most of the Dragons have been sorted too!

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    2. Chri Wood

      It’s amazing what us minorities can accomplish when we put our mind to it

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  10. Property Paddy

    Dear RM, what a mess !

    You need to sort your house out now. You cant have small independent agents being knocked about by the bigger concerns (or onliners with too much time on their hands) ******** up your system. You need the small independents more than the rest put together.

    And Z take note too.

    We may be small but we are many.

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  11. easternagent

    Well done Chris Woods.  Just this week we have had an independent, who is closing one office, move all his listings form one office to another where they all now appear on R’Move as ‘added on **th March 2106’ thus clearly inferring that the property is a new instruction.

    This came to my notice when I was extracting some Intel figures for the year to date to suddenly find that this agent had listed 19 properties in three days, compared to everyone else’s 2 or 3!  Thus clearly misrepresenting their market share completely.

    Rightmove’s Intel system would now seem to be useless for the next 12  months as these erroneous figures will be included in any analysis that is done through Intel.  So not only are all my own competitor analysis figures skewed but also, one assumes, any figures that Rightmove publish in the national press will also be equally unreliable.

    That is most certainly not what I am paying several thousands of pounds per month for.

    I have this week spoken to R/move re this matter and they say that de-listing then reloading a property within a short timescale is picked up by their systems and should not happen.  What their system does not appear to be able to do is identify listings being moved around branches.  I have been told my concerns have been passed to their  Data Quality Control department for investigation.

    Watch this space but perhaps more importantly watch your competitors.

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    1. PeeBee

      “I have this week spoken to R/move re this matter and they say that de-listing then reloading a property within a short timescale is picked up by their systems and should not happen.”

      Maybe one day they will come clean and replace “should not happen” with ‘DOES HAPPEN ON A REGULAR BASIS’ in their ‘Standard Response #93’ letter

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    2. Chri Wood

      Good for you but do not be fobbed off with the usual ‘our sata systems are robust and we take this seriously’ excuse. The Property Ombudsman is now interested in this case as agents who undertake this practice are also in breach of their rules (as well as the law). See my post below.

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    3. Robert May

      Hello Eastern Agent if you are able to/ are happy to supply a postcode I am looking for new areas to test an automatic detection  and reporting system.  Using an outcode or multiple outcodes the idea is to provide a dashboard report of portaljuggling by your competition  which can be automatically flagged up with the portals  the redress schemes, trade, local and nation press along with NTSEAT (who seem to be … erm…lacklustre  on CPR’s)

      No worries if not invariably any agent who boasts obviously exaggerated % performance figures gets investigated.

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  12. PeeBee

    Chris – I take my hat off in awe of your mighty cojones, amigo! ;o)

    The article contains a line that I would like to highlight.

    “Rightmove recently announced that it was launching an inquiry into alleged ‘portal juggling’.”

    “RECENTLY”, in the context of it being reported as ‘official’ here on EYE on the sixth of JANUARY.

    That is ten weeks ago to the day.

    Go back further, you find the original article dedicated by EYE to the subject, on 14 October 2015.  From the article:

    “A spokesperson for Rightmove told us that Rightmove’s reload detection technology stops agents trying to re-introduce a property, and that “greatly reduces the number of cases”.

    The spokesperson said: “Trying to reload properties as new is not something that we tolerate and our data quality team take it very seriously.

    “At Rightmove, we continue to ensure that users are seeing the most accurate information and that agents are operating on a level playing field.

    “That’s why we created our reload detection technology and are constantly looking at new ways to make it even better.” ”

    FIVE months later – look where we are.

    The evidence base is growing on a daily basis.

    And the carpet in RM Towers must be looking like Ben Nevis.

    Here’s my challenge to all.

    The most number of re-listings of a single property I have managed to find so far – out of something like TEN THOUSAND to date – is FIVE.  That’s called a #quintrujuggle.

    Who wants to be forever known as the chap/chappess that spots the first #sexjuggle ?

    The floor is yours, people…

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  13. Chri Wood

    FEEL FREE TO USE/ ADAPT

    Dear Rightmove

    You are failing to enforce your data quality and appear to be allowing my competitors to post misleading data with impunity. My competitors are then using these posts to claim larger market shares, appear more successful/popular than they are and, that they sell properties more quickly and at closer to the final advertised asking price than is the case. My business is suffering financial loss as a result of these illegal actions.

    These agents are breaking Consumer Protection Regulations and may also be in breach of The Fraud Act 2006. By seemingly permitting this to be allowed, Rightmove appears to be complicit in these activities and is disadvantaging INSERT BUSINESS. This is in clear breach of your terms and conditions and you are thus, in breach of our contract. Accordingly I am taking legal advice with a view to seeking damages from Rightmove and am witholding my subscription monies until you honour the terms of our contract.

     

     

     

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    1. Tuf Luv

      Dude I miss RM. LOL. Rednecks whose profit margin has their own Twitter account. Jeez every thirty days I used to ask them any chance of donating last years earnings to the kids. I guess they had it earmarked for a blood diamond that caught their eye. Word em up Chris because there’s about seven billion people on this planet and I have like four friends in real life. RM ain’t one of them.

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    2. Frown Please

      Russell Quirky had to log in to dislike that

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      1. PeeBee

        Couldn’t be him – according to the man himself, he “doesn’t read comments on PIE”.

        He’s also dumped the guy he paid to read them to him.

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  14. inthefield

    Chris, fair play to you. I can’t believe I only just read PIE now. I’ve missed one of the most important days!

    i will be copying and pasting that letter tomorrow. From what’s been said in these pages of the last couple of months the online receptionists are among the worst culprits and seeing as though RM said that they wouldn’t let them onto the site in the first place this really is rubbing salt into the wounds.

    Even though you and most of us in here are “small fish” I would bet that RM are taking this threat seriously now as it could easily hit the main press and be very uncomfortable for them.

    Well done again Chris.

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    1. Robert May

      One of the things  I’ve noticed is how deliberate the attempts to circumvent the portals’ ‘Agents only’ rule are;  it is becoming apparent that firms purporting to be estate agents are passive intermediaries who are simply blurring  and confusing the line over what service they are actually offering.   In my opinion any listing agent who is allowing vendors to manage their own listings on the portals and gives vendors a login to manage their listing can not be considered an estate agent and should be removed from  any portal that has an Agent only rule.

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      1. inthefield

        Quite Robert. I think if RM looked at removing those button pressers then it would gain a great deal of respect from the real agents that put them where they are now.

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        1. smile please

          It does seem odd that they allow the button pressers (i like that phrase),

          If the online agent route really does take off there maybe say a dozen large players.

          If you have a massive 10% share of the uk housing market are you going to pay to advertise on a portal? – No you will be driving traffic to your own site and as you have so much stock you will not need RM

          It is in RM’s interest to keep thousands of high street agents. Other wise they will start to lose the monopoly they have.

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  15. NM

    Purple bricks have made amends to the below property 23 times

    http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-53432332.html

     

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    1. PeeBee

      NM

      WELL SPOTTED!

      Unfortunately the link you provided – to the RM listing – doesn’t show the embarrassing history.

      Luckily, however, it’s there for all to laugh our socks off on Zoopla here:  http://bit.ly/1PeGc1R

      Could this shocking example of #pricejugglibng be a record?

      The floor is open…

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  16. PeeBee

    In an email received from Rightmove I have been advised that a certain Call-Centre Agency is “…currently undergoing a change in profile type/layout on Rightmove, meaning that unusual amounts of stock will have been moving between profiles recently.”

    It continues “Taking this into account we have also run checks on the number of properties added and removed by the agent recently to identify any unusual patterns or results. I can confirm that we have been unable to identify any activity which would constitute a breach of our Terms and Conditions of Membership.”

    SO – there you go, chaps and chappesses – feel free** to re-list UP TO SIXTY “new” properties in one day and re-remove a large chunk of them within hours…

    … ‘cos it seems THAT’S ALL RIGHT WITH RIGHTMOVE.

     

    ** I wouldn’t recommend it, though – we are watching you… ;o)

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