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Agencies & People

When is an estate agent branch a location? ASA requests website copy change

North East firm Signature by Mark Small is asked to change marketing copy on its website to clarify its differing types of service.

Nigel Lewis

estate agent

What is the difference between a location and a branch? That is a question asked by a member of the public who complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about a North East upmarket estate agency.

On its website agency Signature by Mark Small it says that the 15 telephone numbers on its website around the North East are ‘locations’ with telephone calls answered from offices.

Mark Small, Managing Director of the firm, says: “The ASA only asked us to make one slight change, they asked us to add on ‘we are on the end of the phone’. That was there only tweak which we did and they approved.”

Following the complaint, which claimed that the website copy was misleading, and communications with the ASA, the copy on the site has now changed.

The case highlights the ongoing hybridisation of the industry and, for example, Signature has a substantial branch in Whitley Bay (pictured) but its listed phone number for the village of Cramlington does not have a high street address.

Estate agent claim

The same complainant also said the agency’s claim to be the “the No. 1 Estate Agent at the Coast. 1st out of 653 North East Estate Agent Offices” was also misleading.

Signature’s website has now been changed to say: “Officially Awarded The Number 1 Estate Agent in the North East & 2nd in the UK for 5 star recommendations from customers for both Sales & Lettings”, based on its allAgents listing.

Developer Taylor Wimpey Plc has also been asked to remove or alter online claims by the ASA.

A complainant reported it to the watchdog for a Facebook posted by the company that claimed one of its developments in central London was a 16-minute walk from Waterloo Station, which the claimed was misleading. Taylor Wimpey has removed the claim.

October 31, 2018

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