Major West Country estate agency Stags has to review its selling fees details after a complaint from the public.
The 21-branch firm was referred to the Advertising Standards Authority after the complainant said they were unhappy that its mandatory fees for listings were not stated clearly or prominently enough, and that some prices exclusive of VAT.
An ASA spokesperson says it contacted the firm’s head office in Exeter and the estate agency has now agreed to ensure that its fees are more prominent and that all prices are advertised as VAT inclusive.
“On that basis, we closed the case informally,” the ASA says.
Stags has over 2,000 houses for sale and rent throughout its network of 21 offices in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset including the key regional towns and cities of Truro, Plymouth, Exeter, Barnstaple, Taunton, and Yeovil.
The company’s mis-step transgressed the ASA’s Code 3 ‘Misleading advertising’ rules that cover anyone advertising in print or online across the UK.
This includes that ‘marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information’ and that this includes ‘the price of the advertised product, including taxes, or, if the nature of the product is such that the price cannot be calculated in advance, the manner in which the price is calculated’.
TPO is also clear on the matter, highlighting in its code that: “Where the fee is a percentage it must be quoted inclusive of VAT… all fees and additional costs must be included in your Terms of Business. They must be fully explained, clearly and unambiguously stated in writing, along with an explanation of the specific circumstances in which those fees and costs will become due before the client is committed to the contract.”