Purplebricks last night said it has asked reviews site allAgents on ‘many occasions’ for information that would allow the authenticity of certain reviews to be checked.
Stephen Parker, head of compliance at Purplebricks, said: “We continue to seek this information and once again request that allAgents engage with us, so that we can together work to ensure that in this instance there has not been any breach of integrity on the site or abuse of it.
“We hope allAgents will now provide the requested information without undue delay.”
Purplebricks also last night released to EYE a legal letter sent to allAgents.
The move follows the launch yesterday by allAgents of a fundraising bid to raise £50,000 to pay for legal costs in a challenge to Purplebricks.
allAgents is alleging that it has removed Purplebricks from its site after the latter threatened legal action, saying that 29% of the reviews were fake and that the authenticity of a further 23% were uncertain.
allAgents claims that Purplebricks will not give the results of its audit, but Purplebricks last night countered by saying it has been trying to get information out of allAgents to no avail.
Purplebricks said it has been asking for the IP addresses of those who have posted reviews on the allAgents site.
By this morning, allAgents had raised £3,370 via crowdfunding on https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-us-fight-corporate-bullying-from-purplebricks-1
The legal letter sent by lawyers for Purplebricks to allAgents is in full below:
We note that we still haven’t heard back from you regarding our Section 5 notice and request for information relating to the Purplebricks reviews that were posted on the All Agents site. Given the depth of explanation given, you are fully aware of your obligations in this respect.
As you know, before our client instructed us, our client tried to contact you twice on this matter and when they did not receive a reply to our request, were forced to contact you formally for the information required.
Whilst we have now given you numerous opportunities and all the necessary time to respond to our request, we are disappointed to have received no information at all, and no reply of any substance. It has never been our client’s desire to take things to the next level of legal engagement with all the consequent demands on time and money.
However our client considers that reviews play an important role in helping people discover the truth about products and services and are an aid in helping them make up their mind as to which products and services to choose.
You will no doubt appreciate and agree as the owner of a customer review site that the integrity of reviews should be a shared concern and therefore we are surprised by your apparent unwillingness to proactively engage with us to get to the bottom of this matter.
We and our client would have expected you to have the same objective: for genuine reviews to be available and for any that cannot be verified to be removed. Do you not agree that this is paramount for the integrity of all review sites, including allAgents?
Unfortunately they are also open to abuse, primarily from competitors.
Therefore whenever our client sees reviews that appear on review sites that they believe may not be from real customers, they must take this seriously. Our client’s claim is not about removing genuine and truthful negative reviews; it is all about authenticity.
By providing the information – specifically, the IP addresses we have requested – you will be helping us to ensure the validity, or not, of the reviews about our company on your website. If you can’t provide the information we have asked for, as per the Regulations, then you must simply remove the reviews from your website; and given the lack of information with respect to those reviews we would expect you to be happy to do so.
We struggle to understand why you will not comply with what is a standard request of website operators and provide us with this information, so that our client can authenticate that the reviews are from real customers. It is impossible that this is not also in your best interests, given that otherwise you become the de facto author and publisher of reviews that are not genuine.
We would also ask that you change the current message you have on your site explaining why there are no reviews about Purplebricks – which is not a fair or accurate reflection of the current situation. In addition we also find it confusing as to why you would prompt people to put Purplebricks into the search box.
We require your response in full by close of business on Thursday 5 October.