Zoopla letter direct to agent’s client is confirmed as genuine

A letter sent by Zoopla to a house seller appears to be going viral among the estate agency industry.

One agent who told Eye about it queried its authenticity. Other agents have forwarded it to Eye after being sent it themselves.

The heavily creased letter appears to have been scanned, almost certainly after being shown by the vendor (whose property address we have removed but which is in Merseyside) to their agent.

The letter is addressed “Dear Homeowner” and headed: “You are missing out on exposure to millions of active property hunters.”

It says: “We are very sorry to see that your property is no long being marketed on any of our websites, mobile apps or partner sites. Marketing your property as widely as possible is vital to ensure that you get maximum exposure and the best price in any transaction.

“With over 95% of property searches taking place online and over 60% of active property hunters using our websites and mobile apps every month, we generate over 45 million visits and over 2.5 million enquiries every month for homeowners across the UK.

“Unfortunately your property is not not being marketed to or seen by a large proportion of the audience actively searching on any of the following websites and more.”

The letter then includes Zoopla, PrimeLocation and other logos.

It continues: “The vast majority of agents across the UK do advertise with us, to ensure that they give your property the exposure it deserves and that you get the best possible price.

“We recommend that you discuss this matter with your agent as soon as possible or consider using an agent who will market your property as widely as possible, including on the websites above. You can find a list of such agents in your area at www.zoopla.co.uk/find-agents.

“We wish you every success in the marketing of your property.

“Yours faithfully, The Zoopla team.”

One leading industry figure who was among those sent a copy said that if he had been the vendor’s agent, he would have been furious at the letter’s contents, because of the suggestion that the agent was not acting in the best interests of his client.

Zoopla has already confirmed that it is contacting sellers and landlords directly, and we carried the story here last week:

A spokesman for Zoopla confirmed to us that the letter doing the rounds is genuine.

He added: “We have a very broad consumer marketing campaign which communicates the benefits of Zoopla, and the other brands that we own and power, to consumers across the UK in various ways.

“Part of this campaign includes direct mailings from time to time to vendors and landlords whose properties are not on our platform to make them aware of the audience they are potentially missing out on, given the fact that two thirds of house hunters in the UK search via our platform and around half of those use our sites exclusively.

“The data used in this and other campaigns is sourced externally.”

There is no evidence of Rightmove having embarked on a similar campaign.

However, an agent has shown us an email from Rightmove sent direct to one of his applicants, selling him the benefits of Rightmove Students.

Rightmove has also, in recent days, contacted registered applicants directly with surveys.

Rightmove’s survey asks, among other things, about buying and selling ambitions and ends by asking users to rate and review Rightmove.

A Zoopla survey has also been sent out, but this time to agents, asking them to rate its service and value for money.

Zoopla letter revised

 

 

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68 Comments

  1. Ric

    #OTM2015 #exciting bring it on…..!

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  2. calleb

    So, we pay Z and R to undermine us??
    Even more reasons to withdraw from them both!

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  3. MF

    Trying to turn our own clients against us. Trying to get our own clients to succeed where their own sales force have failed. How under-hand can you get? The argument to ditch both of these blood suckers and fully back OnTheMarket couldn't be stronger.

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  4. phoenix

    It would appear that the gloves are well and truly off

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  5. EAMD

    Just to level the field a bit, if OTM offer to send out a letter to all homeowners currently on the market extolling the virtues of their new site and recommending they use one of their member agents are all their members going to object? Free marketing for them! From what I see Zoopla are trying to get sellers to use their member agents which surely just adds value to their membership fees. I'm an OTM fan and will be switching but this furore seems to be over a fair piece of marketing. If the agent in question isn't on the Zoopla platform then what's the problem? I'm sure that most agents out their send out marketing letters to properties that are on the market with their competitors encouraging them to change agents so why not let Zoopla do it for you?

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  6. PeeBee

    I received something similar in one of my properties about 4 months ago – but I didn't try to make an article out of it because I simply didn't think it was 'newsworthy'. Actually – I still don't – however The AM Collective will have a darn good shot at making it out to be a cardinal sin. Bu99er – yet another lost opportunity for my 15 minutes of fame… ;o)

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  7. El Burro

    The problem is EAMD is that Zoopla are recommending a seller to instruct another agent.

    As, in my part of the world anyway, the vast majority of properties are marketed under a sole agency agreement they are encouraging a seller to break an agreement which could end up with them being liable for two fees.

    I suspect Trading Standards may have a word or three to say about that under Consumer Protection Regs if an agent or one of their clients lodged a complaint.

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  8. JAM01

    The contents of this letter mirror the points I made previously regarding tactics non-AM agents will be using against AM agents. And as this is not going to be an issue for AM agents, as was previously stated, I am sure this is not an issue now (other than it is the portal sending them out). But it is just an example of the pitches that will be going on after 1 Jan 15 and as much as AM agents state it will not affect them, the Vendors are not as educated in the ways of the market as agents and many will want maximum exposure on national sites. Trust me, I'm an estate agent!

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    1. MF

      And this is where the job of the agent comes in. The public must be educated and guided. Leave the marketing to the agent, the agent will sell your property, not the portal. It is an absolutely ridiculous situation we find ourselves in when the client is dictating to us how to do our job.

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  9. wilko

    I tend to agree with Pee Bees comment that this isn't as newsworthy as perhaps it is being made out. I had it a few weeks ago and wasn't surprised that Zoopla are trying this approach. In my view it is more a data protection violation as agents submit a property adresses to a portal, which is a bit different to an applicant coming to a portal to enquire about a property. It is very similar to R/M selling applicants so online agents can ask our applicants "why waste money on an estate agent when we can sell your house for £69". Anyone who favours the AM proposition must expect to get a lot of flack in the coming months from the main portals……..as has been said many a time "they aren't going to roll over and let their tummies be tickled"……In my view, as long as this is the type of approach they wish to fight OTM with, then the members of AM have little to worry about.

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    1. PeeBee

      Thanks, wilko – it's nice to concur on a single matter and who knows it could be the start of something wonderful… ;o) – but on reflection following the reading of the rest of your comment and that of 'Real Agent' below, maybe there IS something lurking in the depths. Quite a while ago I'm sure that you and I were in a discussion about some firm of 'Surveyors' who kept ringing for comps because their man on the job had seen a board up – but they never knew what NUMBER it was and that was their first and only question – because when you refuse to give it they hang up. Now at that time we pretty much concluded that they are building a database to sell to our competitors (obviously the good old days of doing a board count are long gone for the lazy lurkers in our industry, mon ami… ;o) ) but then you have to question WHY companies like these would be needed, when all the info is pretty much in front of you every time you click on Portal 'A', Portal 'B' or, from 1/1/15, Portal 'OTM'. And what is shown on the portal (which is all that is needed to mail out a "Dear Homeowner…", isn't it?) is only the tip of the iceberg as to the information we 'hold'… somewhere… Blimey – you AM lot have got ME almost thinking YOUR way! ;o)

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  10. RealAgent

    When I first saw this letter a few weeks ago my complaint wasn't about the fact that Zoopla were marketing their site. Thats up to them and its a free market, I'm sure most of us agents do it too. My problem is where they obtained the address from. Now it could be they employed a marketing firm to independently cross reference properties currently for sale that had previously been on their site, but honestly what are the chances of that. Instead what I believe they have done is taken the upload information that we have sent them and used that information to write to the owners of those properties. For me its that distinction that is the problem. If they have taken information from this source then it is a complete abuse of the trust we need to have in a firm to whom we upload properties. I think Zoopla need to confirm where they have obtained this data and I would call upon EYE to please find out.

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    1. PeeBee

      Hi RealAgent. You say "Instead what I believe they have done is taken the upload information that we have sent them and used that information to write to the owners of those properties. For me its that distinction that is the problem." I would agree one THOUSAND percent if that were to be the case – however aren't we talking about the portal writing to "Dear Homeowner" (as my competitors do the minute that my board goes up…) – and "Homeowner's" property is not currently displayed on the portal – so in theory the portal have NO upload information to draw on.
      "If they have taken information from this source then it is a complete abuse of the trust we need to have in a firm to whom we upload properties." Absolutely. Therefore, you need to ensure that wherever your information is uploaded it cannot be subsequently abused in this or any other way by other parties. Something that we probably ALL need to tick a box on…

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      1. RealAgent

        Morning PeeBee, we are not required to upload vendors names or I suspect what Zoopla have done would be more blatant, but what we do have to give them is the FULL property address when we upload. We can take the house number off for public display, but they get all of the information initially. So that why I say I think that they have used this information and its that, that I think, they need to confirm or deny. At present unless someone would like to enlighten me, I don't believe we do have the option to restrict the information we upload to them, but I think that if my clients were aware that their address had been used by Zoopla, or anyone else for marketing purposes, then they would rightly be upset. This is wholly different from a portal using applicants registering with them to market to, these are vendors who have not registered with Zoopla, but whose addresses are only with them through us. Zoopla need to confirm how they have obtained this information.

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        1. PeeBee

          RA – yup, I know, and agree with what you say in relation to WHAT we upload but I again stress that in this instance (as was mine), that the portal could NOT have information courtesy of an upload as the property was not uploaded to that portal or any of its' virtual siblings. To the best of my knowledge, RM & Z do not share information but if you believe otherwise then as you say, the portals need to confirm or deny this to US, their paying customers.

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          1. RealAgent

            Ah ok I'm with you and yes you are right if they happened to write to someone that was on the market advertising through a rival portal then there is no problem with that. I was informed that they had written to the properties of an agent that had withdrawn his properties from Zoopla. So in other words they took that data he gave them and used that to contact the property address after the event. Its that I require confirmation or a denial to.

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          2. PeeBee

            …and absolutely fair comment if that be the case, RealAgent!

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  11. JWVW

    Withdrawing from any portal is a simple exercise – just tell your vendors that the number/quality etc of leads from said portal were of such dire quality/quantity that an alternative has been sought and found. Works every time. Just needs a little planning.

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    1. MF

      It does indeed work every time. The majority of our clients give a cursory nod, and that's the end of that discussion.

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    2. 1stTimeBuyer

      So you are suggesting blatant lying and dishonestly to the clients. Could you please be as kind as to post the agency / organisation you are tied with please. Naturally, you are at ease with them knowing this. Keeping up the public image of agents!

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      1. MF

        No, we tell them the truth. We explain that the vast majority of our leads (that actually result in business) came from one portal over the other during a two-year monitoring period, and that both portals are horrendously expensive, they seem to get the point. And they stick with us. Out of interest, would you care to clarify which of the 2 portals you are "tied with"?

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  12. GlennAckroyd

    It would be prudent to have a sole selling right/dual fee warning. However, agents do this all the time.

    I admire Zoopla's initiative.

    It also shows they realise that there is a fight on the horizon with Agents Mutual, and if agents have to ditch one portal, they are the most vulnerable.

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  13. Fencesitter

    At last, a bit of balance among the responses… Agents do this sort of thing all the time. How dare Z employ similar tactics! Watch out for a lot more of this, come January. Perhaps it's time for OTM agents to start rehearsing their response to vendors asking why they're taking their property off one (or other) of the two biggest portals in the country, in favour of one that nobody's heard of…

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    1. wilko

      "start rehearsing their response to vendors asking why they're taking their property off one (or other) of the two biggest portals in the country, in favour of one that nobody's heard of…"………Have a look at the JWVW comment above…….What is wrong with that? Doesn't need too much rehearsing, does it?

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  14. Woodentop

    Wouldn't it be funny if all agents now ditched Zoopla! That would be the end of the story.

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    1. 1stTimeBuyer

      Wouldn't it be funny, it all those selling houses dumped high street agents for on-line ones…???!!!! No it wouldn't, a bit of competition is good for the market. If Zoopla/RM are so bad, then I assume agents pay them for a service just out of the kindness of their hearts?!

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    2. wilko

      I think that at least 3,500 to 4,500 will leave Zoopla in the next 6 months…..then they will announce (shortly after) that they plan to take direct listings from sellers……assisted by them, of course, as the "online agent". It is inevitable, and RM and Zoopla are both itching to take the lead on this as it is the golden egg, long term. They haven't done it yet as they have been trying to squeeze as much "easy" money out of agents as possible, but with a £20million loss forecast for 2015 they will have to increase their charges massively to those that stay with them or go along this route……why allow online agents, like emoov etc to get a foothold when Zoopla can do it themselves and become a "super agent?" (as in size) .

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      1. 1stTimeBuyer

        What a load of cobblers. Would that be in the best interests of the business, **** no. Let's have a wager, they won't in the next 6+ months.

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        1. wilko

          "they won't in the next 6+ months"
          Won't what……lose 3,500 to 4,500 offices and their properties from the site (over 1 million properties a year)?……….
          Try and recoup some the c £20 m by increasing subs from customers that have stayed with them, either by not going with otm or being online, so not being allowed………. Or Change their direction and start taking direct listings with Zoopla becoming the potential online agent?

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  15. 1stTimeBuyer

    Brilliant bit of marketing, ingenious! This is going to get interesting to watch. That's not to say I wouldn't be to pleased a client receiving one of those letters, although if I had come off Zoopla /RM because it is in the interests of my business and clients, then I wouldn't be worried to explain that. The question is, if those agents who come off get so upset, perhaps it is because they are the ones being underhand to their clients, or why would it be such a big issue?

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    1. RealAgent

      It's not really ingenious is it. We have been writing to properties marketed with our competitors for years but the difference is they don't give us those addresses in the first place. Where does this stop "Dear Homeowner" 1stTimeBuyer has just uploaded your address to us as we understand you are selling your home, would you like to use our mortgage provider, how about our conveyancer, oh I will tell you what if you are paying them more than £65 would you like to be introduced to someone how will list your property on our site for £50?!" Nothing to do with underhand removal of property, everything to do with abuse of trust!!

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      1. RealAgent

        obviously that should have been * WHO!

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    2. PeeBee

      1stTimeBuyer – having read many of your comments I find it strange to say the least that you are what your posting name infers you to be. You seem to have a rather unhealthy interest in 'online' Estate Agents, and "competition in the market". Tell me – exactly WHAT benefit do you see for First Time Buyers (like yourself…) come out of an increase in market share towards Online Estate Agents over the 'traditional' model?

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      1. 1stTimeBuyer

        Hi PeeBee (interesting name, I'm curious?)… To clear things up a little, correct, I am a 1st time buyer (currently still looking) but also have a general interest in the property market, also website development being a former hobby so find sites such as RM/Zoopla interesting. When signing up, I had no idea what name to use (don't use personal on public sites), and that popped into my head. As for on-line agents, personally, I would 'never' use one. I much prefer the personal face to face contact, but that isn't to say, they are not a good thing for some people, and a good alternative for traditional agents, also the extra competition, although minimal may overtime support keeping costs down for the buyer/seller). As for RM/Zoopla etc, I love them. They are not purely designed by agents, for agents to make even more money, but a mix of useful and helpful info for buyers and sellers, in one location come day or night – unlike it seems AM will be.

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  16. wardy

    Dear Mr & Mrs Vendor.
    We have decided to withdraw our advertising from the zoopla website. We have found the leads generated by the site to be of poor quality. We also feel that the sites price estimates and time on market information undermines our efforts to gain you the highest price possible.

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    1. Benay

      Dear Wardy and Co, thank you for your letter, it is nice to hear from you at last, we were wondering if you were still in business. The time on market feature on Zoopla is great, it reminds us just how long we have been on your books without a single viewing. Its funny how comes you are slagging off the valuation info from Zoopla your valuer said it was spot on when he first came round to value the property, What's changed?
      Any hows we have had Paul H and Co around, he's a nice young man, he went on (at some length) about a new property website he has invented, we were very impressed by his enthusiasm. He has taken your board down and left it just behind the wall.

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      1. wilko

        Sorry Benay, I know you have an axe to grind but this comment really does bring to mind the words straws and clutching.

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      2. wardy

        Ohhh deer Benay….really?

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        1. Benay

          No not really, only round here Zoopla are the chosen one and there's you lot dissing them. Can someone please let me know who we are having a downer on and then can we stick to it?

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    2. danny

      I think the key words there are "we have decided to withdraw" ,not you …we . I dont like the power of the portals but they do 1 thing very well i.e get masses of people looking at them every day.One or t'other will their destination of choice for their onward home moving journey. Ive always been taught in business to listen to the needs of my client and I recently said I did an excersize with my clients, turns out they find portal advertising to be valuable to them therefore I will continue to pay for it as, believe it or not I dont consider it to be bad value for money. Let me know how writing to your clients to tell them about what you think goes ….

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      1. 1stTimeBuyer

        Needs of clients… and like a breath of fresh air!!! Not something you hear very often. It's more about power, money I pay etc. One funny thing though, I've not heard anyone say they'll reduce client fees if as some say, they'll be spending less on advertising. Funny that!

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        1. PeeBee

          1stTimeBuyer I note you responded to my earlier query, thank you – and no doubt I'll have more to comment on that slightly later but today's a busy one… so watch this space! Anyway – to the comment above. The "needs of the clients" SHOULD be ALL that this is about but it is being twisted and stretched so out of proportion by the warring factions that it will never recover. It's gone a bit like Christmas – most kids now think it's all about getting presents from Santa Claus and nothing to do with the deep religious meaning that is there for the benefit of all. But back to your comment I think you also have to define what, in YOUR eyes, are "the needs", and who, in your mind, is "the client". To US, the client is the seller. Their needs are simple – to sell their property for the best price in the shortest timeframe. In relation to your comment about fee reduction, how much money do you actually think you are referring to here? By how much do you think an Agent would be able to reduce their fee to a client, by somehow apportioning this 'saving' across their register? I look forward to your responses…

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          1. wardy

            I may increase them, after all bronze membership for AM will actually cost more than I'm currently paying Z.

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          2. PeeBee

            This, wardy, is part of my point to 1TB. For many Agents this move to support the pretender to the throne will mean an INCREASED spend – at least until the die is cast whether OTM will succeed as THE portal of choice for customers. Personally I formly believe that many companies will NEVER leave all their eggs solely in the OTM basket and will ALWAYS use one or other of the current 'big 2'… and will simply play one off against the other for best rate. Great – IF it works. I think that the portals are now showing their teeth (as I predicted they would many moons ago…) and let's face it any business will fight for it's place in the market so it should come as no surprise to anyone. What I DO find strange is that so far no Agents who have pledged allegiance to Z have posted their comments – maybe they're just sitting watching… and expecting the calls from the vendors receiving these letters…

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          3. PeeBee

            Hmmm… Today's lead story (Part 2 of this article…) has gone down with all comments. Either someone's been a naughty boy or girl – or the animal has bared its' teeth in anger at its' masters… ;o)

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          4. RealAgent

            Not sure where this comment will appear in this thread but PeeBee. My thoughts are the latter, lawyers request proof and frankly no one was going to get that. I would have thought that most PLC's would have just disisted in writing to vendors of properties on the market given the way it could have been interpreted or misinterpreted as the case maybe. They may have even perhaps have come out with a frank denial it was happening. Zoopla's response is interesting.

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          5. RealAgent

            Yes ok, having read it again, they did do the latter…..my other points remain.

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        2. MF

          That's been answered before, as either well you know, or you just aren't keeping up. It went along the lines of: we haven't increased client fees in response to hugely increased advertising costs….

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          1. MF

            Sorry – that comment in response to the "first-time-buyer"

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  17. Jonnie

    Right, in a way im struggling to hide my indifference, but……………..I said earlier these boys and girls at Zoopla (and RM) have recently started responding to http://www.onthemarket.com and it wanst so long ago that they (OTM) were ignored no matter what they said, so, we now have Zoopla writing PR type responses to stories on this little website here where OTM haven’t even said anything and now, tadah! They have Eye taking stories down and doing apologies – Jonnie

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    1. Benay

      "The lady doth protest too much, methinks"

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    2. Ric

      You would think Z have something to worry about!

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  18. Jonnie

    …………..and, in other news, I see that our boy @easychris and his multi billion pound top banana branded outfit with 10,000 possibly interested / registered or red hot landlord leads (depending on the level of grilling @peebee is giving him at the time) has managed to attract a whopping 285 landlords to his 'disrupting' self serve thingy model mainly but getting a room full of very enthusiastic but clearly not al that temp sales staff to hit the **** out of the Gumtree ads…..over 100,000 of them, so far that has cost the £1m of small investor money about three and a half grand per listing. A business genius in anyone's book – Jonnie

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    1. Ric

      haha….. steady Jonnie! there is every chance easierquickerfastercheaperproperty.com may have more property stock than Z soon…….. well equal stock as I suspect easychris may be touting "we are the only agent on Z"…….I must say I feel slightly ashamed though as I have just purchased an easyjet ticket! I wonder if the pilot will do a shout out to "all those thinking of letting" in the middle of the flight…..

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    2. easy Chris

      not bad from a standing start with virtually no advertising but you'd much rather see a glass thats half empty,sticks and stones……..

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      1. Jonnie

        Alright, just for the **** of it Chris, when you paint the world orange and unleash the advertising what will it go up to, don't duck it mate, what does the business plan say? Also, it isn't much good, I think gumtree have over 100,000 properties to let, what percentage of them are you going to have? I hear you are bashing the **** out of them to get going………..And just to be sure I don't expect an answer mate, I know you don't have one or the ability to provide a straight one if you did. _ Jonnie

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      2. Ric

        I've lost all respect for everything you stand for easybuthardtogetananswerfromChris………… Im still waiting to hear who is going to recompense my wasted journey to London to find the property was twice as far from the airport as what your website told me………earn some respect and give me an answer? who is to blame?

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      3. MF

        Not bad from a standing start??? I thought you had "thousands" of landlords signed up before you even launched? You're getting me totally confused easychris. And why aren't you advertising?

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        1. easy Chris

          thanks @MF as noted alot of times on this forum ,we have registered landlords in the thousands , not the same in your terms of being instructed by,the 280 live listings makes us within 2 weeks a top 5 "online" agent. To put into context how many new instructions would a new shop get ?? How many have some of our new online competitors got in the same time frame.
          Advertising is planned but as with all new sites we have to iron out the wrinkles first. Expect to see it very soon,give you something else to chew on 🙂

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          1. MF

            Well I don't understand how a little known company, that hasn't started advertising yet, has managed to get thousands of landlords registered even though they have nothing available to let. But hey, the very best of luck to you sir.

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          2. wardy

            If I had over a million in crowd funding and opened 20 new shops, I would expect many more instruction than 280.
            I'm sorry chris, you're just cannon fodder now.

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  19. Paul H

    "We are very sorry to hear that your property is no longer being listed on any of our websites, mobile apps or partner sites…..We recommend that you discuss this with your agent as soon as possible or consider using an agent who will market your property as widely as possible including on the websites above."

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    1. RealAgent

      I think that says it all Paul.

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      1. Jonnie

        Boys, if you think you can win a customer over from me solely on the back of me not being on Zoopla you are as daft as a box of frogs – Jonnie

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        1. RealAgent

          I wasn't suggesting that, I may be wrong but I assumed the post referred to the denial that properties being removed from Z were targeted for canvassing letters.

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          1. Paul H

            I was simply cutting and pasting an extract from the Zoopla letter above mate. Slice it and dice it however you like it but Zoopla are sending out these letters to the clients of agents who are no longer listing their property with Zoopla. So I assume that now I have left Zoopla this letter will be sent to my clients?!

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  20. Ric

    Dear Z, as you clearly spend some time reading PIE! Any chance you can remove the listings from the Homes&Property website which are no longer with the agent whom advertises with you!! …………Many of the properties shown are no longer with that agent and in some instances have sold and completed with my company………………..Don't remove them straight away though, as I want to show the listings to some of the vendors who are still with the advertising agents, as the prices are wrong on so many, a bit more info why NOT to be with a Z agent……… however other than, incorrect listings and out of date info…. great website!……….. I hope you didn't pay too much for it!

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  21. steven latham

    I have found the Zoopla group to sell my clients data to the LSL group via their vissihomes company.
    They take your clients full address including house number via our portal software which uploads properties to zoopla's site then vissihomes sell this information to LSL (reeds rains) so they can then target your clients . I have recently reported this to the relevant bodies as this is a clear breach of contract and data protection information. Zoopla have admitted this practice has now stopped but if anyone else has experienced this please email me steven.altham@concentriclettings.co.uk

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