Franchise network agent Northwood GB, which was acquired by rival Belvoir in June last year, has been reported to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for making an unsubstantiated claim in a circular it distributed to clients, even though the information is widely available elsewhere.
Northwood had stated within it: “Did you know that between Christmas Day and 1st working day in January last year Rightmove had a 195% increase in their visits to their website”.
The complainant challenged whether this claim could be substantiated and, after the ASA contacted Northwood, was told the circular had been withdrawn and the matter was resolved informally. Links to the circular on the company’s Facebook page have also been taken down.
“We told them to ensure in future, they held robust substantiation information for any claims made in their advertising,” the ASA said.
Northwood’s reluctance to substantiate the claim is odd, given that the ‘195% increase’ statistic has been repeated in several local newspapers including the Hampshire Chronicle, and is therefore likely to have been based on a Rightmove press release.
Also, Northwood is not the only agent in the UK to have repeated the ‘195% increase in visits’ claim. Hamptons International (see left) and Chestertons have used the same information on their websites, as has Welsh agent Peter Allan, Lincolnshire-based HE Lettings, Mann Countrywide in Rainham, Surrey Lets, Roy Brooks and dozens more.