The bitter war of words against Purplebricks waged by the fledgling Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents reached a new intensity last night with the release of a scathing attack on the hybrid agency’s recent consumer report.
In the report Purplebricks attacked “Britain's antiquated method of buying and selling homes” by describing it as out of touch, out of date and leaving millions out of pocket.
The comments were attached to a survey of 1,003 people conducted for Purplebricks in January: it found that many of the public regarded traditional agents’ fees as “unnecessarily expensive”.
CIELA founder Charles Wright says he and his organisation challenges the validity and reliability of the data upon which Purplebricks’ report relies, questions the sample size and its representativeness of the public.
“This report is profoundly offensive, not only to estate agents, but especially to all the consumers who had money taken by Puprlebricks even though they didn't sell their home” says Wright.
“The sheer nerve of an organisation who is taking millions of pounds a year from people who don't get a successful sale to suggest estate agents don't pass on offers to their clients is breath-taking in its hypocrisy” he continues.
He say 80 per cent of the industry is comprised of small-owner managed businesses who care deeply about their customers yet earn nothing if they don't achieve a sale.
“They are unsung heroes helping people navigate one of the most difficult and important processes as people's lives require a move. Purplebricks' behaviour represents the very worst of cynical, disingenuous, corporate behaviour” Wright adds.
Another CIELA founder member, estate agent Perry Power, said in the organisation’s statement that “Purplebricks ... surveyed a tiny fraction of the UK with cleverly worded questions to get the headlines they want.”
Power accused the agency of scare tactics, adding that “we don’t see them admitting to only having a 30 per cent completion rate yet still taking consumers hard earned money, do we?”
The CIELA statement claims that Purplebricks “purposely withheld information about their completion rates and actively pulled the wool over consumer’s eyes with too-good-to-be-true prices and empty promises.”