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ASA rules Purplebricks misled consumers on fees

For-sale-sign-estate-agent-700.jpgThe Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against estate agent Purplebricks Group, about the “misleading” way it presented it charges in an online advertisement.

The complaint, brought by a rival estate agency, Hunters Property Group, stated that Purplebricks didn’t clearly show there was additional £300 fee to pay for viewings, on top of its £849 standard charge.

This, it said, could mislead consumers about the potential savings they could make using this service.

Although Purplebricks had already amended the way it displayed information about these additional fees, the ASA ruled that this was insufficient.

Purplebricks says it will appeal this decision. A spokesman said: “We are extremely disappointed with this ruling change and the process adopted.

“The complaint which came from a rival estate agency, was resolved four months ago in partnership with the ASA. We mutually agreed minor changes to our website.

“We were surprised when only a day after reaching this agreed position and announcing it publicly, the same rival estate agent appealed this decision and their demands were met by the ASA.

“We believe this is unprecedented and unfair. We will appeal this ruling.”

At the centre of the dispute is the fact that the information on the viewings fee only appeared customers using their website hovered over an icon next to the details of their standard fee.

The ASA says: “We did not consider that providing that information only in a hover over box was sufficient to offset the headline price claim.

“Because the ad did not make clear that the viewing service had a separate fee, paid in addition to the standard £849 fee [or £1,119 in London] we considered the ad was likely to mislead.”

In addition the ASA ruled that a comparison tool used by Purplebricks on its website, to show how much consumers could save was misleading, as it didn’t include this viewing fee.

It adds: “As a result of the initial interaction with the ASA, Purplebricks has added text below the comparison tool stating ‘Viewing services is an option £300’. While we welcomed that change we did not consider that the text was sufficiently prominent to override the overall impression that the headline savings claim, generated by the tool, would be achieved by all consumer.”

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