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Agencies & People

Blurring of lines between traditional and online operations prompts ASA complaint about agent

Alteration to Howard Cundey's website follows complaint by customer who spotted their property wasn't being advertised on portal despite advertising that suggested that it would be.

Nigel Lewis

A leading estate agent in London and the South East has revealed to The Negotiator why one of its own clients referred it to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The complainant, who has not been identified, said they objected to an online leaflet published by the company which suggested clients had ‘four ways to sell’ which included listing properties on Zoopla.

But Howard Cundey’s client spotted that their property for sale wasn’t listed on the portal, which they believed to be misleading under the ASA’s Code of Conduct, which states that marketing communications “must not materially mislead or be likely to do so”.

After being approached by the ASA, Howard Cundey has agreed to remove any references on its website that suggest its properties are advertised on Zoopla, even though the company does list its properties on the portal after being “delighted” to return to in December 2016 after a two-year hiatus.

But the problem was created largely because Howard Cundey traditional agency business has stopped listing on Zoopla, but it’s cut-price online/hybrid business continues to list on the portal.

“We started marketing the property in question under HowardCundey.com in October 17 and our sales literature stated we were on Zoopla and this was correct at the time,” says Tim Foulkes, Senior Partner at Howard Cundey (pictured).

“On January 18 HowardCundey.com stopped advertising on Zoopla and we informed all our clients of this information and we are pleased to confirm that our client in question is now sold subject to contract through us. We updated all of our sales promotion literature but obviously our client had the original sales promotional brochure.

“Our online offering Howard Cundey Live has always been on Zoopla and that includes sales lettings and commercial.”

The company still has a webpage entitled Four Ways of Selling, but it no longer mentions portal listings as it did a few weeks ago (see below). The firm’s main website lists on Rightmove and the CountryLife website, which is powered by OnTheMarket.com.

The agency was established in 1968 and is one of the few independent and established agents of its size left in the South East of England still owned by its founders.

 

 

June 13, 2018

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