Chris Wood defiant as watchdog orders him to remove claims about online agents

The advertising watchdog has ordered that claims made in a tweet about Purplebricks and in a three-and-a-half year old blog about online firms by estate agent Chris Wood must be taken down.

However, Wood is defying the instruction.

Wood, of Cornish agents PDQ Estates, was reported to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Wood used Zoopla data, unsuccessfully, to try to substantiate his claims to the ASA. The ASA interpreted the data differently after Zoopla said that the fact that Purplebricks’ listings withdrawn from its website did not mean that the properties had not gone on to be sold via other platforms.

The PDQ tweet, dated October 7, 2017, claimed: “Mid & W Cornwall Oct 16 – 17. @PurplebricksUK listings: sold 50.4% i.e. 49.6% of customers lost> £1,000 (C£64,000).”

The blog, on the PDQ website, dated December 15, 2014, said: “Cheap agents could cost UK consumers up to half a £Billion in wasted fees”.

The sub-heading stated “… the 60 to 70% of customers who didn’t go on to sell would have paid almost half a billion pounds to these firms for nothing”.

The blog stated “… the hidden costs of putting your home up for sale with an online agent do not appear to have been calculated by many journalists or consumer champions, and has been conveniently left out of these agents ‘savings’ calculations in their advertising literature.

“Put simply, if online agents had every property currently up for sale on Rightmove (1.2m homes) and sold a typical percentage of that stock (average industry norm’ for online agents is estimated to be circa 30% to 40% of stock) then the 60% to 70% of customers who didn’t go on to sell would have paid between £468,000,000 and £500,000,000* (half a billion pounds) to these firms for nothing.”

The asterisk at the bottom of the page stated “assuming an up-front fee of £600”.

In bold, italicised text, the blog then stated “Not much of a savings for the vast majority of their customers in my view”.

The next paragraph then stated “The traditional high-street agent, however, would have charged all those unsuccessful customers a cumulative total of around £0.00”.

An unidentified complainant challenged whether the claim that 49.6% of Purplebricks customers lost £1,000 was misleading.

The complainant also challenged whether the claim that cheap agents could cost UK consumers up to half a billion pounds in wasted fees was misleading and could be substantiated.

PDQ told the ASA that data from Zoopla showed that Purplebricks had instructed 132 properties, withdrawn 75 properties and sold 65 properties during that period.

PDQ said that meant that 49% of listings instructed by Purplebricks had been sold and 57% of the listings instructed had been withdrawn.

PDQ explained that the figures had changed slightly since the tweet. The firm calculated that based on the 57% of properties withdrawn, approximately £81,000 had been lost in fees following withdrawals without a sale based on a £1,080 average fee.

PDQ provided an updated spreadsheet during the investigation which it said showed the properties’ final or current status.

PDQ said the data showed that, out of the 100 properties listed during the period, 36 of the properties were listed as exchanged, meaning that 64% of PurpleBricks’ customers lost in excess of £1,000.

PDQ also provided a spreadsheet of all Purplebricks’ instructions between 2014 and 2018 in the mid and west Cornwall area.

The firm said that showed that around 33% of Purplebricks listings had been exchanged, while 55% of all instructions listed since 2014 were now marked as withdrawn.

PDQ provided a further spreadsheet of the number of instructions during 2016 to 2017 with different start and end dates. They said that showed that out of 63 properties that had been instructed, 51% had been sold.

PDQ provided further spreadsheets from Zoopla of instructed Purplebricks properties between 2015 and 2017.

PDQ had cross-referenced those properties with the information on the Land Registry to see if Purplebricks had eventually sold those properties.

PDQ cited published research, which indicated that Purplebricks had sold 51.6% of the homes that it listed within ten months.

They also showed that four of the properties on the spreadsheet were still listed as available or as sold subject to contract (not exchanged) on the Purplebricks website.

On the second challenge, PDQ said that the claim was based on all online estate agents from January 1, 2014 to November 4, 2014 who had advertised on Zoopla in 2014, when the blog post was first published.

PDQ said that all online estate agents advertise all properties on all online portals, so the Zoopla figures encompassed all of the properties listed by online estate agents in the given period.

PDQ said that during the given period, 14 consumers’ homes were listed and the final/current status showed that only five of them were exchanged.

PDQ added that the figures did not account for any property that may have been subsequently sold by an agent other than those included in the spreadsheet, so the final figure could be even lower.

The ASA upheld both complaints.

In today’s published ruling it said PDQ had made the claim about Purplebricks in good faith, based on Zoopla data.

However, the ASA said it understood from Zoopla that the properties cited as withdrawn only reflected withdrawals from Zoopla, “and could include properties that he been sold on other websites”.

The ASA concluded that properties which PDQ had said were withdrawn had been sold on other sites, such as Purplebricks.

While the ASA acknowledged the research [by Jefferies] that Purplebricks had sold 51.6% of properties within ten months, it did not mean that properties were sold after that period.

It considered that PDQ did not have evidence that 49.6% of Purplebricks customers in mid and west Cornwall had each lost over £1,000 in fees because they were unable to sell their property.

On the PDQ blog, which claimed that cheap agents could cost UK consumers up to half a billion pounds in wasted fees, the ASA noted that PDQ had provided further data from Zoopla to substantiate the claim.

However, the ASA said that the data related to only 15 properties, which was not enough to support a claim about the whole UK market.

The ASA said: “We told PDQ to remove the claims “49.6% of customers lost> £1,000” and “Cheap agents could cost UK consumers up to half a £Billion in wasted fees”.

“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, yesterday Wood told EYE: “The matter is now in the hands of Cornwall Trading Standards and I will not be withdrawing the blog.”

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32 Comments

  1. dompritch134

    Incomplete spreadsheets, Incomplete land registry information and misleading data.

    Oh dear Mr Wood is in another embarrassing situation.

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    1. Ouch18

      Obviously a purple bricks employee 

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      1. NewsBoy

        Ha ha!  Well spotted. Looks like another “all the bull but no idea” brigade!

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    2. PeeBee

      “Incomplete spreadsheets, Incomplete land registry information and misleading data.”

      So – substantiation that you are not privy to is simply there to be kicked under the carpet with a few words that only go to prove your ignorance and bias as the alternative doesn’t fit your agenda.

      And of course the copious information provided – as opposed to NO spreadsheets. NO land registry information and NO data as provided by your #fanboy_fave purple pals in respect of pretty much anything and everything they have ever claimed to date, dom-boy – but that doesn’t seem to faze you one jot.

      A reasonable person would think that strange.

      Even an unreasonable person would be too embarrassed to even attempt to justify your posts.

      But for dom-boy – just another cheap shot in a war where cheap shots are the Purple weapon of choice.

      #DOMmisery

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    3. PeeBee

      #DOMmisery – that feeling you get when some utter prat spouts absolute 5h!te and you don’t know where the ‘mute’ button is…

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  2. Chris Wood

    My formal response todays’ ASA ruling https://blog.pdq-estates.co.uk/2018/07/11/response-to-todays-asa-ruling/

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    1. dompritch134

      Hopefully a full retraction and an apology?

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      1. Chris Wood

        Clearly, you haven’t read PIEs’ full article or my formal response. 

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        1. NewsBoy

          Who is this Dumpitch berk? I can only assume he is one of the “no idea” lot?

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          1. mrtickle

            Newsboy – he has Purplebricks bedspreads and a poster of Purplebricks instead of a mirror. He only comments on PB stories. Do what I do and ignore him.

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  3. surrey1

    I don’t understand the PB defence that they would be sold on other websites and delisted on Zoopla. Surely if it’s sold/sstc, it lists as such on all sites?

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  4. Ouch18

    You keep it going chris well done.

    The sooner people are educated about these rip off merchants the better

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  5. Tim Higham

    As a conveyancer, I truly suspect the Law Society will issue a practice note obliging solicitors to warn clients about the pros and cons of online estate agents – just as we have the tell us to remind clients to have a survey – either when selling on, or in terms of their valuations (under and over). We shall see.

    What I do know is that whenever a client has sold with one, it worries me that they may not have best price, and when buying it also makes me wonder where the home owner has been cheap in their property management too.

    I never hear good feedback about the ‘well known’ online estate agents from clients.

    I have an online for sale sign in my village that has been there months now unsold. Commission paid upfront I suspect. I am trying to get a message through to them to use an independent (non chain) high street estate agent.

     

    For sure – I could never recommend my friends and family use an online estate agent. But hey, good luck if the lure of the cheap price is too powerful and you end up using one.

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    1. dompritch134

      I wish the law society would issue a note warning clients of poor conveyancers , who do not return calls, answer only by post and are there to only rubber stamp legal secretarys work.

       

       

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      1. surrey1

        No argument there.

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      2. Eagle60

        You would have to first call a conveyancer for them to return it.

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      3. Property Pundit

        Tell us all about PB’s preferred conveyancing partners and how good they are (Tip: Don’t read the twitter comments about said firms).

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  6. B Mills

    But how would he know, he’s been paid for his listing and never chased a conveyancer.

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    1. dompritch134

      I do not, nor have ever worked for PB. 

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  7. Mark Walker

    The 50/50 coin toss, played out around the corner from me https://twitter.com/KramReklaw/status/1014075569087107072

    £1,000 up the swanny, bless them.

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  8. Thomas Flowers

    Good work Chris,  it is shameful that it has taken Australian regulators to actually fine PB for ‘misleading’ statements in their marketing.

    During the market crash of 2008, how many clients paid for failure to secure a completion?

    How many 10,000s of people are now paying for failure to secure a completion through PB or give up on their moving plans altogether?

    How many 10,000s are now paying two agency fees?

    This is where there has been a real disruption to the market as there has, and will always be, competition from cheaper estate agents.

    PB is a gamble, as with all gambles, they must equally and prominently display properly verified % odds of losing that average fee of £1,168 by the like of CMA – less withdrawals, fall-throughs, market breaks and other agent sale/completions.

    Has PB already voluntarily introduced their own statistical duration period by charging at what was their maximum 10 months extended loan repayment contract as the cut-off point, regardless of sale/completion or other?

     

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  9. qubes1832

    Great work Chris! Keep it up!

    P-bRICKS – if you wanted to ‘shut him up’; how about you release some ACTUAL figures and proof of listings, sales, exchanges… hell – ANY actual figures?!?!?

    Rather than the usual BS press release stating performance ‘Well above our expectation’… YAWN!

    Half a £Billion is probably accurate, if not shy of what you are scamming the public from. I tip my hat to you Chris for having the b@lls to do what a lot of agents wouldn’t!

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  10. AgentQ73

    Well done Chris, just another 10+ and you will be close to PB record with the ASA.

     

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  11. Chris Wood

    Thank you to those who have supported me on here, via email and phone. It’s not just me, others are quietly working away on the background without any reward other than they believe they are doing the right thing.

    Thanks also to the brave ex and current LPE whistleblowers who have and continue to provide so much helpful information and to property and tech industry leading figures who, for obvious reasons, have to maintain absolute anonymity.

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    1. Property Pundit

      Ha! A thumbs down for this post! Probably from the person that went to the ASA – we have a good idea who you are!

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    2. BrandNew

      Chris

      If any of your LPE friends wanted to crowdfund legal fees to challenge their employment status through the courts then I’m sure a lot of us would be prepared to contribute.

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      1. Chris Wood

        Thank you. However, I am in touch with the GMB union (who ran the Hermes tribunal) and, at their request, I am passing those LPEs’ who wish to inquire about their legal status and responsibilities on to them.

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  12. cyberduck46

    I always said there was a lot of misleading going on by some of the posters on here.

    2021 views so far and general support for Chris Wood from those commenting demonstrates the level of hypocrisy.

    > The ASA upheld both complaints.
    > In today’s published ruling it said PDQ had made the claim about Purplebricks in good faith, based on Zoopla data.
     
    No it didn’t! This claim was made by Chris Wood who by the look of it then went on to submit what looks like a lot of irrelevant data trying to substantiate his claim. If Chris Wood’s claims had been made in good faith he would have admitted guilt and agreed an informal decision.
     
    The fact that he can make claims about Online Agents based on a sample size of just 15 properties is scary. The fact he thinks Cornwall is representative of the UK is too. How can anybody trust anything he says again?

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    1. propertykevin

      At least he’s provided some evidence to substantiate his claims, whether that evidence is relevant/sufficient you could argue is debatable. I haven’t seen or heard PB provide evidence to substantiate ANY of their claims re completion figures quoted by 3 different parties which they all claim to be in excess of 80%, and some over 90%. Where’s the evidence to support those claims? You want to talk about hypocrisy, I see the same people on here and on other forums continually backing and supporting PB on those claims even though absolutely no evidence whatsoever has been provided to substantiate them. Pretty sure they’ve also blatantly lied in their advertising several times and been found out by the ASA. Those in glass houses………..

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    2. Chris Wood

      I suggest you a) read the ruling in relation to ZPG etc. more carefully Mr John Lawson b) take account that Trading Standards have been looking at this case for a few weeks and c) realise that the cleaned data still shows <50% list to sold (ape-ing Jefferies National figures) against a company that claims 88% nationally but steadfastly refuses to validate those figures.

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    3. Property Pundit

      Posted today on another forum by this lunatic:

      After showing me that letter he tried to get me to pay him $500 an hour for “experience, advice and insight”. Thought it was a bit fishy at the time and am thankful I didn’t take him up on this seeing that he thinks Cornwall is representative of the UK as a whole and that he believes 15 properties is a suitable sample size to make claims in regard to how much online estate agents are costing consumers.‘ 

      Why don’t you post as John Lawson on here?

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    4. Chris Wood

      I would again advise you that you take great care of what you post or say about me or my business in any form Mr Lawson.

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