Countrywide firm ‘would not reveal fees’ – landlord

A landlord who tried repeatedly to get a letting agent to disclose its charges has taken his business elsewhere.

The landlord, with a property in Newcastle-under-Lyme, wanted to draw up a shortlist of agents.

He emailed most of the agents in the area to ask for fees information and says that only one – Bridgfords, part of Countrywide – refused to do so.

Instead, the firm insisted that it would need to meet him.

In the email exchange, which spanned June 2 and 3 and which Eye has seen, the lettings negotiator responds to the landlord’s initial request by asking to meet him either at the property or in the branch.

The landlord answers by saying he needs details before organising a meeting, “as I wouldn’t want to waste your time”.

In a subsequent email, he said: “All of the other agents have sent me their fees without requesting a meeting. I’m not prepared to meet an agent who will not disclose their fees beforehand. I’m not making my decision based on price … but it would be useful to compare prices to draw up a shortlist.”

The negotiator does offer the landlord a phone call with the manager, but the landlord responds: “I cannot understand for the life of me why you will not tell me your charges. Please do not reply unless it is with your fees.”

The correspondence then concludes.

We asked Countrywide for a comment and Margaret Longden, managing director of Bridgfords, said: “We strive to provide the best service and encourage potential landlord clients to meet with our lettings agents to discuss their individual circumstances and requirements.

“We see this as a benefit to potential landlords since it enables our letting agents to fully understand the landlord’s needs and provide informed advice about the right service for them based on those needs.

“Whilst we do have set landlord packages with set fees, we take pride in being able to tailor our service to meet the individual needs of landlords, and the fee can be tailored to reflect the level of service taken out by the landlord.

“If a landlord is unable to meet with one of our letting agents we are able to send them our standard fee structure.”

* Changes have been announced to the board of Countrywide. Sandra Turner has quit and Jane Lighting and Richard Adam appointed as non-executive directors.

Lighting was chief executive of Channel 5 Broadcasting, while Adam will also become chairman of Countrywide’s audit and risk committee from August 1. The changes come ahead of Countrywide’s new chief executive, Alison Platt, taking up her role on September 1.

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11 Comments

  1. phoenix

    Cant see an issue with this.
    Don't get me wrong, some prospective clients that ask for fees simply want that information and nothing else. The majority however are asking as a pre-curser to obtaining advice and in that context a face to face meeting where we have the opportunity to discuss the clients requirements and our proposition is surely what we all spend our marketing budgets on to achieve? My policy has always been to NEVER quote fees over the phone.

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    1. ammik

      What's your firm's website address phoenix?

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  2. IHS

    Aren't they supposed to state their fees on their web site etc anyway or am I missing something?

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    1. CLG

      That's only tenant fees.

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    2. phoenix

      I'm referring to quoting fees to LLs over the phone. Tenants fees must be disclosed on all advertising, including websites.

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      1. ammik

        If fees are on your website etc, why not quote over the phone?

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        1. ammik

          Just to add to this, we have landlord fees in the window. You can get instructions from it as you're seen to be more transparent than the agent that hides it all away.

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  3. gbh11

    The point of them arranging a meeting is so that they get all of your details (sink the teeth in and never let go) and they are trained in all circumstances to convert that meeting in to a listing. Countrywide are so heavily targeted that the staff are turned in to robots! After years of working on both sides i am convinced that is not the best way to do business.

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  4. wilko

    Lets all be very honest with this, however people dress this issue up, the only reason that an agent wouldn't discuss the fee on the phone/e mail is because their honest response to "what are your fees" would be "as much as we can get away with madam"!!

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  5. Blue

    Nailed it Wilko.
    To a client it smacks of slippery double glazing salesman.

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  6. John Harding

    I speak to landlords on a daily basis and this is not the first time I have heard this about Countrywide. I say its good for me as an Independent agent because I can use this to my advantage during my initial letting appraisal with landlords.

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