EYE NEWSFLASH: Reviews site allAgents launching crowdfunding appeal to raise money for legal fight against Purplebricks

Reviews site allAgents is this morning launching a crowdfunding appeal to raise money for a legal fight against Purplebricks.

In September allAgents suspended the Purplebricks account in an attempt to prevent a legal action, with Purplebricks claiming that 29% of reviews on allAgents were bogus.

allAgents says it has subsequently received several more letters from Purplebricks’ lawyers threatening litigation.

allAgents said this morning it will reinstate Purplebricks’ account when it has received enough crowdfunding support to fund any legal costs that might ensue.

allAgents’ director Martin McKenzie told EYE: “The last thing we want is to go to court.

“We’ve done everything possible to prevent legal action – apart from yielding to Purplebricks’ demands that we acknowledge the negative reviews about them on our site are fake.

“They’re not fake, they’re genuine grievances from Purplebricks’ customers.

“This is about free speech, and Purplebricks are trying to quash it by bullying us into submission. We’re just a small business and they have a £60m cash pot at their disposal.”

He went on: “We’ve been inundated with messages of support from both the reviewers and people in the industry.

“Some suggested we set up a fighting fund, so that we can keep on battling for free speech.

“Ideally, this money will never be needed, we hope that Purplebricks will finally accept these are genuine reviews. Then we can reinstate their page on allAgents and return the money to our supporters. But if they don’t, we’ll use it to fight Purplebricks in court.”

He said that Purplebricks say they have audited the reviews on the allAgents site, claiming 29% to be fake and a further 23% lacking sufficient detail to authenticate.

McKenzie said today: “We requested a copy of this audit so we could investigate these claims. But Purplebricks’ lawyers declined, saying their client  ‘did not want to be put to further unnecessary costs.’

“We’re puzzled by this comment, as they claim to already have done the work.

“Furthermore their lawyers’ letters keep coming. Again, we call on Purplebricks to provide us with the results of this audit.”

allAgents is now hoping to crowdfund £50,000 to cover its legal fees. The money will be held with allAgents’ legal team.

Purplebricks has been approached for comment.

allAgents has also put up a new message on its site: https://www.allagents.co.uk/purplebricks/

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-us-fight-corporate-bullying-from-purplebricks-1

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42 Comments

  1. smile please

    First ever time i will be happy tp pitch in for crowd funding!

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  2. Marc Cottrell

    Sign me up!

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  3. Ostrich17

    Surely legal costs would be covered by business insurance in this case?

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  4. Herb

    25,000 agent offices in the UK

    £2 per office!

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  5. Herb

    The public need to know the truth about PBricks before they gamble their £800 on red or black

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  6. DonShore93

    I have every sympathy with allAgents, but I’m afraid that neither they nor any other reviews site is relevant any more. Agents must realise that anything but Google reviews will raise questions about credibility (along the lines of ‘Why are you using *** reviews site, not Google?) – and, more to the point when looking at driving new business, the independent review sites are virtually invisible in search compared with Google reviews.

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    1. aSalesAgent

      I have to disagree DonShore93, we still get the odd instruction off the back of our allAgents reviews.

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      1. DonShore93

        I’m sure you do – but how many more would you get if you looked as good on Google?

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  7. MrsE

    I sincerely hope that Purple Bricks annihilate All Agents!  We have had reviews put under our Company name that were fake and from a disgruntled staff member.  We contacted All Agents, provided proof and politely asked for them to be removed; we were completely ignored.  As we are a small business, we cannot afford to take legal action and it is difficult as the Company is registered in Scotland.  In my opinion AllAgents simply thought there were being clever and could say and do what they want, without the fear of retribution via legal action.  They have messed with the “Big Boys” and as AllAgents have rightfully pointed out they have a £60million pot to play with and I sincerely hope that they use every bit of the £60million pot to take AllAgents to the cleaners!  Serve them right!

     

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    1. DonShore93

      None of the independent review sites come out of this saga looking good – so it’s just as well agents don’t need them any more. Why would a potential fee-payer give credence to a review site over Google reviews?

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  8. AgencyInsider

    Now this is going to be REALLY interesting.

    A company (allAgents) that is not liked by many agents is asking for money in order to take on a company (Purplebricks) that is not liked by many agents.

    What’s that saying? Ah yes. My enemy’s enemy is my friend. That’s the one.

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    1. Chris Wood

      Good old Wikipedia:
      The earliest known expression of this concept is found in a Sanskrit treatise on statecraft, the Arthashastra, which dates to around the 4th century BC, while the first recorded use of the current English version came in 1884.[1][2]
      The proverb is sometimes phrased as “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” or “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”

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  9. cyberduck46

    Time for those of you who believe that AllAgents reviews are all genuine to put your money where your mouth is 🙂

     

    A simple test for you to do would be to post a negative review about one of the other agents and see if it gets rejected.

     

    Surely this is just a publicity stunt.

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    1. DonShore93

      A better test might be to post a [fake] positive and see if it gets accepted. We were visiting an agent in S London not long ago and when the subject of reviews came up they pointed to an intern at a desk in the corner and said “Oh, we’ve got reviews taped, she writes all of ours”.

      And people wonder what the Sunday Times constantly attacks reviews sites.

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    2. PeeBee

      “A simple test for you to do would be to post a negative review about one of the other agents and see if it gets rejected.”

      Sorry?  WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT??

      Oh, yes – you’re the clever ducky who was last seencking off left, right and centre that it is other Agents posting false reviews on AllAgents and not, in fact, real, disgruntled PurpleBricks customers – aren’t you?

      So – in order to prove your quackpot theory you try to engineer the evidence.

      Not a smart move, ducky.  Smacks of desperation and utter disingenousness.

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      1. cyberduck46

        >Sorry?  WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT??

         

        Because AllAgents need to demonstrate on the balance of probabilities that all reviews are legitimate.

         

        If you can post a false review on AllAgents then it will show you that it is indeed possible and therefore probable (if you have any understanding of these things) that at least 1 of the PurpleBricks’ reviews are false.

         

        You’d be taking a risk supporting AllAgents’ case if it’s easy to fake reviews.

         

        Of course once you’ve tested their system you should ask for the review to be removed. The reason for posting being that after they had asked for your hard earned cash you thought it was reasonable to see how easy it is to post fake reviews.

         

        An even better test would be to fake a review on your own agency and see what AllAgents do if you ask them to verify it. Now PurpleBricks wouldn’t have thought of doing that would they?

         

        End of conversation. Last contribution to this thread so don’t expect a response if you have another question.

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        1. PeeBee

          “End of conversation. Last contribution to this thread so don’t expect a response if you have another question.”

          The usual M.O. from the undisputed Master of Retreat…

          …cyberthrush46

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    3. DonShore93

      I have another suggestion – leave a negative review of PurpleBricks on Trustpilot and see what happens to that!

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  10. GeorgeHammond78

    As much as I hate PB, allAgents deserve everything coming their way. For years they’ve allowed totally spurious, unaudited, reviews from feckless individuals (or competitors) denigrating honest agents – most of whom have not had the financial wherewithal to challenge allAgents.

    However, why are PB even bothering – seems like a total waste of energy. As DonShore93 says allAgents are not relevant; its only those within the industry who know about them, the great British public focus entirely on google.

    As for crowdfunding, a fool and his money………..

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  11. cyberduck46

    For those of you really thinking of contributing:

     

    1. libel – “a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation”

    2. burden of proof – “Burden of proof on the defendant. In the common law of libel, the claimant has the burden only of proving that the statement was made by the defendant, and that it was defamatory. These things are generally relatively easy to prove. The claimant is not required to prove that the statement was false.”

    3. A statement quoting another person cannot be justified merely by proving that the other person had also made the statement: the substance of the allegation must be proved. (Are you listening Chris Wood?)

     

    There are other defences but do your own research before you invest in this.

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    1. Marc Cottrell

      3. Think you mean ‘are you ‘reading’ Chris Wood …if you want to be pointing fingers.

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  12. KByfield04

    So, as a commercial entity, the first question has to be- why on earth aren’t AA funding this entirely themselves? They apply pressure to most agents to sign up to a ‘premium’ account (admittedly just around £30 pcm) but even if they have just 10% of agents on this that’s @ 2500 offices so £75k a month. That’s a pretty healthy income.

    Like many agents out there, I have a love/hate relationship with AA. We were effectively forced to up our profile on the site a few years ago when researching our online reputation we discovered 1 (lonely) scathing review about us- ranking us (as a result) as one of the worst offices in the UK. AA refused to verify the review advising they had already done so but would/could not identify who the review was from nor which property it related to. In turn, they refused to remove it. As such, we had no choice but to call on our clients far & wide to review us on there driving up our rank and profile. If only I’d had lawyers to send them lots of letters instead eh?! I know there are many agents out there who will identify very closely with this story of events.

    If their review verification really is as robust as they say it is, then really they should simply be saying to PB ‘take us to court, we know we will win’. As a site that invites 3rd party reviews they are surely not liable/accountable unless they are aware that their system is being manipulated but choose to do nothing. Hmmmmmm!?!

    Personally, if we are going to crowdfund a class action lawsuit against PB as an industry I would rather see us as agents raise funds to investigate ALL of PB’s reviews and all of the places they post them- and if foul play is substantiated to go on to fund a major lawsuit.

    My brief involvement with CIELA saw first hand just how aggressive PB are at the slightest hint of a perceived issue but, if you know you have done nothing wrong, then these are spurious bullying tactics which should just be called. After all, isn’t this what we all pay our professional indemnity for?

    AA brought us a few leads in the early days but haven’t done so now in ages, the site has failed to evolve, as has the service, and it is now just another place for the odd review- with the exception of the the handful of agents that seem to have AA sown up with so many reviews there leader board positions are insurmountable.

    If anyone wants to head up my suggestion then send me the crowdfund link- I’m in! But I’m not touching this- it’s AA’s fight and theirs alone and should either raise their profile or sink the site. Ether way- that’s what they deserve.

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    1. DonShore93

      One of the problems with most – if not all – reviews sites is that the reviews are written as a single ‘hit’. There’s nothing on the site to link the review to a ‘real’ person.

      Most Google reviews – unfortunately not yet all – are written by people who have more activity on Google, be it through G+ or Youtube. This, on top of the fact that they win hands down on visibility in search, means that Google wins hands down if you want your reviews to drive business.

       

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  13. paulnewboy26

    Keep up the fight, if nothing else it makes superb negative press for PB and the markets wont like that….

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    1. cyberduck46

      Trade press?

       

      Assuming there is actually any national press coverage then what will it say when Estate Agents fail to support GetAgent? Or if they do support the action, then they lose the court case?

       

       

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      1. paulnewboy26

        ha! trade press today……….the nationals / watchdog etc will love this all day long. They wont be picking up on agents not supporting it, they will want more purple blood.

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        1. cyberduck46

          You might be right if the last watchdog is anything to go by.

           

          But even they are not untouchable. Journalists get a certain amount of leeway but I think they’d need something a bit more substantial than the last feeble effort if they’re going to be allowed to damage the company any further. Claims about information not being on the website when it clearly was and had been approved by the Property Ombudsman were just scandalous.

           

          Still all they’re interested in doing is looking like they’re giving the company a hard time. Switching from one allegation to the next without actually acknowledging when they’ve got something wrong.

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          1. BrandNew

            Have they sold your house yet?

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            1. cyberduck46

              Do you mean SSTC?

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      2. PeeBee

        “…what will it say when Estate Agents fail to support GetAgent?”

        Don’t you mean AllAgents, ducky?

        Simple slip of the bill, I guess.

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        1. DonShore93

          No, he means: https://www.getagent.co.uk/ – yet another site that is hoping-against-hope that it can take on the almighty Google.

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          1. PeeBee

            Sorry but I disagree – I think in this instance you will find his quackery is directed at the company that is the subject of the article.

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            1. DonShore93

              You’re right

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  14. Curious george

    This is an awkward one for Purplebricks now. Maybe someone will correct me, but I am sure there was around 100  reviews in total that they had, compared to 27,000 or so on Trustpilot.

    Surely rather than bullying allagents, the smarter thing for them to do was to  just ask their 600 or so local experts to each ask a customer for a review??

     

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    1. DonShore93

      The action was undoubtedly driven by the US launch – imagine the scene: a posh lawyers office somewhere in LA on launch day, everyone congratulating everyone else, when an intern pipes up with ‘Who in darnation are these allAgents people who are coming up every time i search for PB?”

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  15. AgencyInsider

    So far this story has been read over 2,600 times. I just looked at the fundraising site and it has about £3,600 pledged from 11 donors.

    Creditable enough but by the look of it there is hardly a massive rush to support the cause.

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    1. cyberduck46

      Every agent who has ever referred to the PurpleBricks’ GetAgent reviews needs to put their money where their mouth is.

       

      Come on. Get your hands in your pockets.

       

      Chris Wood, who has tweeted the appeal to his followers but has been too scared to stand by his own allegations needs to put at least £20,000 up.

       

       

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      1. Robert May

        you do know this is about allagents not getagent?

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        1. cyberduck46

          I did tell you when I was referring to you as Richard that I’m not very good with names 🙂

           

          Yes, AllAgents, not GetAgent.

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      2. dompritch134

        His buddy tom winnifrith has donated.

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  16. Breaking Dad

    I hope PB take AA to the cleaners, my company has loads of dodgy reviews some of which appear to have been scraped from Google, and they never respond to our complaints in relation to the fakery.

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  17. ama18

    Good on Allagents let’s hope they hit their target! It’s beyond comprehension that Purplebricks can bullishly promote their 5 star reviews on Trustpilot to the city, yet threaten to sue any other review website out there that posts reviews about it without advising what reviews they believe are fake!

    Surely this has got to be investigated by the authorities!

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