Protest emals have been flying since The Property Ombudsman (TPO) announced that it is hosting its annual conference on Rightmove’s webinar hub next week on June 18th at 10am.
At first glance the initiative appears to be a good idea. Under the current social distancing rules industry gatherings are a no-no and therefore a virtual version of its annual gathering is the next best thing.
The gathering will include words from outgoing ombudsman Katherine Sporle as well as an exclusive chat with new incumbent Rebecca Marsh, her only public engagement for the organisation prior to starting the job in October.
But unfortunately TPO hadn’t realised that agents who are fee-paying TPO members but who don’t list on Rightmove won’t be able to attend the event.
This particularly annoyed TPO members who have recently left the portal and felt they were being excluded from the party.
But the ombudsman has now persuaded Rightmove relax its webinar membership rules and sent out an email apologising.
“We would like to reassure you that all TPO members are welcome to join the Conference webinar. If you are not a member of Rightmove but would like to join the webinar, please send an email to [email protected] stating ‘add me to the conference’ in the subject box and we will send you a link enabling you to register,” it says.
North London agent Murray Lee (left) has written to Sporle to protest the ombudsman’s decision to use Rightmove to host its conference in the first place.
“I am afraid that I think your decision to partner with Rightmove on your conference was unwise and insulting to agents who have, for far too long, suffered in the hands of Rightmove,” he wrote.
“You may not be aware of course but, at present there is a “say no to Rightmove” campaign, https://www.saynotorightmove.co.uk/ which I, and many of my counterparts are supporting
“On this basis, I have decided not to attend, all be it virtually, out of protest.”
Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman
“We are sorry to hear that some agents felt they were initially excluded from TPO’s conference webinar, this was unintentional and absolutely not the case. The online event has always been open to all agents.
“We were not aware that there was a problem with registration until after the link was sent out, at which point we sent a follow up email to ensure everyone had access.
“There is no business relationship between TPO and Rightmove. TPO collaborates with all the portals on an on-going basis, particularly on compliance issues.
“Rightmove has supported TPO in the past with technical assistance at our Annual Conference by providing live streaming to the entire industry sector. This year, given that we have to hold a virtual conference due to the Corona Virus pandemic, they have assisted us with registration and support for a webinar (facilities which we do not have in-house). The webinar is open to everyone in the sector at no charge.”