An agent who used the new Jefferies research to tout Purplebricks vendors has been asked to refrain from sending out any more similar letters.
The request came from Purplebricks head office after iMove, in Crystal Palace, London, sent out the touts – described by Purplebricks as being of the type that brings the whole industry into disrepute.
The letter draws the attention of Purplebricks customers to the research note by Anthony Codling which claims that Purplebricks sell only 51.6% of properties.
It also draws attention to the recent fall in the share price of Purplebricks, saying that in light of the above: “We believe we will see a sharp shift back to the traditional model with no upfront fees due or payable until the consumer is happy with the service and the sale agreed price.”
It adds: “I would like to pop over to discuss how as an agency we are different but more importantly how to get you sold in the tougher market.”
The letter was signed by Ricky Barbara, of iMove, who then received a letter from Purplebricks head of communications Nicola Hamilton.
She said the Jefferies report “is not correct”, adding: “Jefferies act as the house broker for both Countrywide and LSL, our competitors. They have previously issued reports about our sales completion rate which have been incorrect and they have had to apologise for.”
She said there were several reasons why the latest analyst was incorrect, including that it was incomplete and out of date, and went on: “In sending your letter you are endorsing this report, which is inaccurate and misleading customers.”
The letter ends: “Please can you refrain from sending any similar letters? I require written confirmation from you on this.”
But Ricky Barbara responded: “I am not endorsing the public information published by Jefferies. However, I am drawing attention to it.”
According to Purplebricks it was the customers themselves who had objected to receiving the touts.
A Purplebricks spokesperson told us: “This is not the first instance of Jefferies research being used in tout letters and perhaps it is not surprising as they act for two of our largest traditional competitors.
“However, the research findings are flawed and misleading.
“Tout letters like this bring the entire industry into disrepute and break The Property Ombudsman’s Code, and as feedback from our customers shows, are counterproductive.”
One customer, Steve Fells, said: “I asked Purplebricks to raise this on my behalf. I found the letter totally inappropriate and a bully-boy desperate tactic from someone who wants to throw mud and put me under pressure.”
A second customer, Lisa Paisley, said: “I wouldn’t use an estate agent who did this because it makes me out to be an idiot.
“I was well aware of what I had signed up to with Purplebricks and I find letters like this annoying.”
At iMove, Ricky Barbara told EYE: “In our experience if a customer was concerned about us writing to them, they would usually contact us on the details provided on the letter.
“We have already had a huge positive response from disgruntled PB customers. We will be offering to refund their lost upfront monies against our ‘no sale, no fee’ commission once we have completed.”
The TPO Code says agents must not use unfair methods when touting, and must use truthful material.