Former Local Property Expert spills the beans on his time with Purplebricks

A former Local Property Expert and territory owner with Purplebricks says that his two and a half years with the company were the most stressful of his working life.

He has now given up estate agency altogether after 23 years in the industry.

Based in the west country, he says that while he had the name “Local” in his job title, in fact his area was up to 57 miles away from where he lived. “I had no experience of that area and had not even been there until I had to do valuations.”

He covered the whole of one city and says he was given additional postcodes to extend his territory, although he says he had not asked for them.

He said: “One day, I drove 320 miles doing viewings and valuations.

“I was bombarded with emails from head office from 7.30am onwards – often about that day’s viewing appointments.

“When my wife went into hospital to have a baby, I was logged to the hospital’s wifi, trying to write up a brochure, and once when I was reading my four-year-old a bedtime story, he said: ‘Daddy, please get off your mobile phone’ because I was constantly checking for emails.

“Over one six month period, I worked 90-hour weeks. I have never been so stressed – there was simply no work life balance.”

The agent, who has asked not to be named, had one freelancer working for him who carried out viewings at £10 a time, but because this dug into his own earnings, he often carried them out himself.

He says that on paper the earnings looked good but the reality was different: “I earned £36,000 one year, but after all the costs was left with about £22,000.

“I previously worked for a chain, and earned about £40,000 a year, but I had holidays and a company car, so it worked out far better.

“Being self-employed, I had a lot of expenses – for example, paying for membership of TPO and Anti Money Laundering registration, plus corporation tax. I also paid for Land Registry searches.

“As a LPE, I was paid £150 for a listing, and as a territory owner, £200. But if mistakes were made and there were complaints, the policy was to offer refunds, and this money came out of our own pockets.”

His wife was so concerned at his working hours that she wrote without her husband knowing to Purplebricks sales director Kenny Bruce.

She told him that her husband was working up to 19-hour days, sometimes finishing at 1am and then up at 6am, and never taking a holiday.

She told Bruce: “He joined your company in the hope that he’d further his career as an estate agent and start making a decent wage for him to not only survive and live from, but to also enjoy with myself and our three sons.

“He’s worked, mostly thanklessly, for corporate and independent estate agents over 20 years and found that he wasn’t getting anywhere.

“He wanted to take a risk with Purplebricks in the hope that this would change his fortunes; that he could work the way he wanted without the ridiculous office politics and have some flexibility for his family and home life.”

She said she wanted reassurance that her husband’s risk in going to Purplebricks, and all his hard work, would pay off.

She received an email back, saying that the future would be bright, because her husband would be awarded share options “which if you are patient should be worth as much as £70,000 within a few years . . . These are designed to be a pension for your family to pay off the mortgage when the time is right but it’s about all of us continuing to pull together and remain on the fantastic journey.

“This wouldn’t happen in a normal job and hence why the commitment is more than a normal job with good flexibility and reward whilst the share options mature.”

In fact, says the former Purplebricks agent, he was issued share options eight months after he should have been, and as soon as he left, they were revoked.

The share price also dropped to well under the price when the options were issued – “so pretty useless really”.

The former agent – who now works as a gardener and also does a night shift in a factory –says he was initially attracted to Purplebricks because the concept sounded exciting and he was ready for a change.

“At first, it worked out well and I enjoyed the freedom. The training they gave us was intensive but very good.

“However, as a way of earning a living, it was simply unsustainable. One year, faced with a bill for corporation tax plus an accountant’s bill, I had to take out an overdraft to pay them.

“We were also under pressure to get reviews on to Trustpilot, but there was no financial incentive to do so. Despite that, we were targeted to get about ten a month.

“We were also under pressure to belong to the NAEA, and again, that was a cost I personally had to stand.

“I suspect that it is a lifestyle and a way of working that could suit someone who is single, but not someone like me with family responsibilities.

“It was a torrid experience.”

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54 Comments

  1. GPL

     
    ……”a torrid experience”
     
    Says it all really.  
     
    Purplebricks exposed, NOT Estate Agents! …..more like a Chicken Farm.
     
    Commiserations indeed!
     
     
     
     
     

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  2. KhanSh

    Not wrong at all. It’s horrendous especially now with the changes to the financial support package you can work yourself to the ground and take home just hundreds of pounds.

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    1. AgentQ73

      What changes ?

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    2. KhanSh

      The ‘guaranteed’ commission many have relied on for years at PB has been taken away and replaced with a huge list of very high targets and any financial support is now subject to meeting them and if you aren’t meeting them you’re ‘under performing’. LPES are now working 70+ hours a week on the possibility of being paid enough to survive at the end of the month, if PB only provide them a few valuations or the quality of valuations is low and they don’t get instructions, they don’t get paid. Regardless of the hours and hours put in travelling across the counties for appointments and cost of their time.

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    3. Chris Wood

      How can you be underperforming and forced to attend meetings and hit targets if you are genuinely  self-employed?

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    4. Ohmygod

      If they are setting targets then is this not an IR35 issue which I understand they are being investigated for currently?

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  3. GPL

     

    This is a shocking comment from Purplebricks in relation to predicting the future worth of Employee Share Options as “ a Pension Plan? “

     

    ……”She received an email back, saying that the future would be bright, because her husband would be awarded share options “which if you are patient should be worth as much as £70,000 within a few years . . . These are designed to be a pension for your family to pay off the mortgage when the time is right“.

     

     

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    1. ArthurHouse02

      Shocking but not really surprising. Purplebricks have been found time and time again that they mislead customers, so why would they not mislead employees?

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    2. Typhoon

      A bit like the Wolf of Wall Street

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  4. Moveaside01

    What! No pot of promised gold at the end of the ‘Online Rainbow’? Who’d of thought?

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  5. smile please

    Sorry no sympathy. Do people not have any common sense?

     

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  6. Ric

    Sounds like this person had 20 years experience previous to being an LPE..(based on 23 years in the industry). Did they not learn anything when they jumped High Street to Underground.

    How can anyone with 20 years experience think “hey… PurplePricks will be the answer”

    Honestly.

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    1. Delmor6758

      The LPE’s in my area ( Fife ,Scotland ) are all individuals who have failed in the industry to build a career with corporate agents ,franchises ,and independents.

      They have done the rounds and their failures mean that they are not in demand anymore.

      All of them have been in and out of the industry ,doing different roles ,but lacking top class sales skills to create a successful and financially rewarding career.

      Then PB come along.

      They will take on anybody with a hint of EA experience.Even if that experience is of serial failure.

      The LPE can boast of years of experience to the public,and don’t have to explain ,the years of failure.

      The product they are now selling is cheap.

      They are rewarded for failure.They can over value ,no need to promote the property ,no need to service the client ,and indeed no personal lack of income if the property fails to sell.

      Then there’s the promise of an income they have never previously earned.

      Very few ,ever attain it,once the costs of being an LPE are deducted.

      But they don’t establish that until after they have joined.

      PB is the last chance saloon for the failing ,financially desperate ,estate agency butterfly.

      That’s Why they apply.

       

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  7. Leespoon

    Personally this story makes me kind of sad…. I too have 23 years in the industry and, although I have not considered PB, I really feel for this guy and his family. I despair too that our industry has lost another great servant…

    When will the big players get together and produce the public information that will put paid to these industry destroyers?

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  8. charlie.wright

    This is such a sad story. They seemingly treat their staff with the same contempt as their customers. Just an awful company from any angle, whose notoriety has only been achieved on the back of the public’s misunderstanding of what agents do.

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  9. AgencyInsider

    I feel sorry for the guy and his family but really cannot summon up a huge amount of sympathy. He must have seen the industry reaction to PB and the serious questioning of whether the model could work. It was also pretty clear that political uncertainty would taint the market and with his experience he should have known that this would reduce instructions. At such a time, to move to an income based mostly on listings was. at best, a huge gamble. And if you gamble you must be prepared to lose.

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  10. jeremy1960

    Not sure what’s worse, admitting to working for burple *ricks or admitting that your wife wrote to the boss?

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  11. Chris Wood

    A sad story but one I’ve been told a few times in confidence over the past few years. The ASA had the wool pulled over their eyes by Purplebricks when it investigated agents not being local. They were presented with compelling evidence to the contrary but chose to ignore it. Here is first hand evidence they were wrong and must revisit the claim. It seems clear that LPEs apart from not being ‘local’ are also effectively employed but working as slave labour rates of pay. NTSEAT regarded them as employed, TPO as Self Employed. Both cannot be right, both classifications have major implications for this PLC and its directors. HMRC and The DWP will, I am sure, be taking a close interest for starters. The ASA and NTSELAT must now revisit previous decisions and, where appropriate, make apologies/ reparations.

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  12. surrey1

    Puts pay to the fantasy that they make their savings through lack of premises. Just burning through other people’s cash and slave labour.

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  13. RichardHill61

    Is it a real story if they remain anonymous?

    Still nothing like a PB story to get al your backs up!

    Don’t worry the market is no longer rising so they aren’t either!!

    Seize the day!

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  14. Wevegotbuyers39

    I too have a tale of woe with PBs… I tried to get a job as an Expert at Purple Bricks… but they wouldn’t pay me £80K up front for the year on my promise that I’ll list 200 houses!

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  15. Letting agent 101

    I could write a book on my time at PB in the letting division.   Maybe I will one day!

     

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    1. DarrelKwong43

      they have a lettings division?

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  16. Property Pundit

    The sooner this shower disappear from the business, the better. Living wage? Forget it, not even minimum wage as demonstrated with this chap. If you’re loyal, dedicated and hard-working either truly do it for yourself (set up on your own) or join a company that will appreciate and remunerate you accordingly. Lesson learned here.

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  17. Cheesybiscuits

    Time is money. PB’s greed is their own downfall so very little sympathy for this chap.

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  18. PaulC

    I have literally been told this story by three separate LPE’s

    Almost word for word (aside from the wife letter writing)

    All of them have zero work life balance.

    All of them while technically earning good money. In reality are working for less than minimum wage.

    All of them told the futures bright blah blah blah.

    Their mental health has all been damaged

    Their time spent with love ones robbed from them.

    I expect a mass exodus across the UK in unless things change.

    And it’s difficult to change given the existing pyramid structure they have created.

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    1. HD23

      Heard the same from two people I know that worked there. Working all hours, vendors calling them at gone 11pm in the evening, earning good money to start with then once costs started mounting, was just not viable.

       

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  19. Woodentop

    PB working model from day one was never ever in anyone’s wildest dreams ever going to be a success, like all the other on-liners is non-viable. Is this right? …….. show me one single on-liner that has not failed, massive losses financially and with jobs, people who have been used as self employed cannon fodder … Not even have the decency to give them some security with employment, with their new found revolution. Burn them out and just replace with another mug who falls for the hype. Cheap on-line only does not work, period. After years not one has been able to make it work. Time someone stopped the scandal, it is destroying peoples lives.
     
    No doubt the Bruce boys with their fat cat salaries will be pleased to receive an investigating reporter knocking on their door for answers! “Tell me Mr Bruce, when will your company make a profit, how many properties do you really sell, how many LPE’s have you burned and what are your total losses……… and how much do you earn?”

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  20. Property Pundit

    There’s a chap on LinkedIn this morning proudly showing off his award for ‘best lister for Q1 for housesimple with a total of 243 listings’. Nowhere in the post or the congratulatory comments underneath does it mention the fact that housesimple having been running a ‘Sell for Free’ campaign in Yorkshire throughout the first quarter. How has this chap got paid?

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    1. Woodentop

      243 !!!!!!!!!!! I’d love to see the standard of his work, there are not enough hours in the day. Another one who must be burning the midnight oil…. 3 properties a day and no days off for 3 months!

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    2. smile please

      Have you seen the photographs and descriptions of Housesimple, you would need to give away free listings 😉

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  21. forwardthinker

    I’m really sorry, but I cannot sympathise.

    23 years in the industry? Such a poor decision and anyone with any ounce of clout in this business will have been able to foresee that.

    In saying that i’ve known other experienced professionals who have done the same, but the usual who have been around the mill looking for the next best thing to earn with an easy life.

    It’s not an easy business. Knuckle down, work hard and you’ll make a success of it where ever you are, but think long term.

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  22. smile please

    For a bit of sport i have a poll running on twitter.

    Which is worse. Employers receiving a letter from a wife concerned about her husband’s work / life balance or the husband being emasculated?

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    1. Eagle60

      Dated, very dated.

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  23. dannymagix79

    I had interviews with them and didnt take it further, when i was told that we don’t chase sales let them take their natural course.  Other people were on the other side of my laptop during the interview as they were doing something else and heard that and saw my face fall.  They are not a full service agent and any agents who join them have given up on everything that may have made them a good agent in the first place, they also promise on the training course to “knock the high street out of you” (That quote was direct from Mr Bruce to me during the interview!)

     

    Unfortunately during the current market my work/life balance is poor having to work all hours, but at least that’s MY choice!!

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  24. Malcolm Egerton

    “We were also under pressure to get reviews on to Trustpilot, but there was no financial incentive to do so. Despite that, we were targeted to get about ten a month.”

    Where is the CMA when you need them?

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  25. PeeBee

    Here is a Trustpilot review that I doubt was one of those targeted from their employees/not-employees.

    It’s worth a read.

    Written by an ex-LPE.  Written ABOUT Purplebricks.  And managed to give them all of one star:

    https://uk.trustpilot.com/reviews/5ca0c684a843690a301651c1

    Funnily enough, PB haven’t bothered to respond…

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  26. Ex-Agent

    The pressure that PB place on LPEs is ridiculous, how they can claim they are self employed is unbelievable. It is a relentless task! I know lots of ex and current LPEs who joined PB because they genuinely believed in the model and that it could save customers a fortune, good agents who really care about customer service hoping they can make a difference. After 2 weeks training, (which is essentially an indoctrination process into the PB cult), they go out on the road and love what they do, hold their heads high and have nothing but good to say. Then things start changing after a few months, sellers not selling and they are powerless to do anything. How are they able to generate interest in a property when they are not allowed to speak to prospective buyers or leads, even if they could they wouldn’t have time! The properties start to stack up, the complaints start to come in and it consumes their lives as there is no support from Head Office. There is no doubt these people work hard but how can one person manage 40 live properties and 40 STC on their own, I have heard of some who have double that! Post sales are less than useless as I am told all they do is send an email to solicitors asking for an update which is then forwarded on to the LPE. I know of one former LPE who worked there for about 18 months, working 7 days a week and all the hours under the sun (most will work/be available 12+ hours a day), no holidays and the few days they took off to spend with their family was spent on the phone as there is no help from anyone. Interestingly they had said that of the 40ish people that went on their training course less than 10 were still with the company when they left.

    I really do feel for these people as they have been sold a dream of building a patch, having work/life balance and generating a decent income, none of which are possible. Some will say they are naïve and deserve everything they get but I don’t agree, the ones I know are good people who want the best for their customers but the workload makes it impossible.

     

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    1. AgentV

      We have a business which works almost the complete opposite way to everything you have said. We charge only on successful completion of the sale, and provide a very high level of personal service. The cost is less than a third more, once you take into account the PB extra charge for viewings, and deferring the fee. I am sure every LPE would be a lot happier working the Full Service model we have.  
       
      BSOS23PC

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    2. The Future Is Tech

      You are spot on with all of that. Ex agent, you are clearly an ex PB LPE, good luck to you on your next venture.

      Great proposition, a lot of great agents but the best of the best recruits are leaving down to all of the above.

       

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  27. WiltsAgent

    It will be interesting to see what Purplebricks run out of first, LPEs or money. Also proves the myth that LPEs are self employed. Plainly they are not and should be afforded all the rights and benefits of a normal employee. Strange that no authority has taken action against them, doubly strange when a government IT minister was recently glad handing them on Twitter and arranging to visit the head office of a ‘genuine disrupter’. If nothing else it gives you idea of the standard of the current crop of politicians.

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  28. real_estate_truth

    It’s a shame as they had something at Purplebricks. Michael and Kenny Bruce get credit for starting a company (well done), but now are destroying it.  No experience running a global company and their Board of Directors are doing nothing about it. Commisery needs to be retired and Bruce brothers need to walk away and focus on their horses and football.  They’ve lost good people in all markets. We sold our shares at a loss.

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    1. man perero

      No real experience of running a profitable or well regarded business ever ,  never mind a global one!!

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  29. J1

    If one is working that many hours one should be self employed earning real commissions and making the effort worthwhile.

     

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  30. conoco9

    I would NEVER employ an ex PB LPE into my business. The ones around here are generally average negotiators who were not good enough to be managers or listers, then brainwashed into thinking world domination. Its a short journey for them I predict.

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  31. IHS

    Purplebrickssucks.com shows what the American market thinks of them

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    1. Robert May

      ^^^^^  see this ^^^^^^^

       

      Makes Chris Wood look like an  evangelist for them!

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    2. smile please

      wowie! – That is amazing, the yanks dont mess around do they.

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  32. real_estate_truth

    Wow, just visited that website! The yanks are forward and heard the Bruce brothers hired lots of friends and family who did not have the right qualifications. Where are the regulators?  This was on the site, two kids who were friends with Kenny and Michael providing them positions abroad on investors money. “Management really sucks! They are kids with no experience. In my office Tom Kirk is only 27 years old and he oversees all brokers in the State of California. Tom was dropped into the position in May 2018 and doesn’t even have a real estate license. I don’t think he ever sold a house. It’s a waste of time talking to him because he sounds like his mouth is full of marbles.” “Emily Egerton, my California Regional Manager is only 26 years old and it shows. She is delusional and thinks she is some hotshot, ball-busting manager. Actually she is really immature and does things like organizing stupid contests to see who can get the most five-star reviews from customers. The best group of sales people get a free dinner and the person with the most five-star reviews gets a crummy bottle of champagne. Petty prizes for so much stress. Most of the five-star reviews on TrustPilot are basically fraudulent. We were told by Emily to get reviews from home sellers at the early stage, usually long before a sale took place. The pressure to get us to get reviews and the pressure we put on the home sellers to write them was boiler room style, not professional at all. Purplebricks is such a shady operation.” “Kenny Bruce put his in-laws on payroll, Jenny and Colin Hough in the US so he didn’t have to pay for a nanny. Rarely showed up when they were not watching his child or vacationing.” “Michael Bruce hiring his brother in-law in the UK to run a team and bringing over unqualified Brit’s to Aus and US. If it wasn’t for partying, it was so he could entertain showcasing his new found fortunes while the LPEs worked in the fields.” They lost half their teams in the US and Aus.   Learn how Kenny Bruce Spends Money: http://purplebrickssucks.com/local-property-experts.html

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  33. Woodentop

    48 posts and not a word from the duo Dom & Duck the crusaders of ALL apparently good, about PB. Strange that!

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  34. LSagent

    To be fair, the Tom Kirk mentioned in that comment is a total self absorbed *****

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  35. Woodentop

    Using PB’s own data and rounding up in their favour, average LPE listing is 5 per month, when it is good market. But then again they are re-listing the instructions as new, so fair to say that figure is actually over ambitious.  
     
    Anyone care to work out what an LPE earns off 5 listings?  
     
    At best £200 per listing less all expenses ….. they are working for nothing! They’d get more on the dole.
     
     
    PB is all about shouting COMMISERY, I wonder if they are talking about their own staff? 
     
    PB Blog: Our latest TV advert heightens the feeling of commisery to epic proportions – with dramatic desperate and hilarious moments of regret of people who have paid needless commission when they could have chosen Purplebricks to sell their home; and experienced no commisery or commission like you get with high street estate agents. 

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  36. Michael

    Purplebricks and Uber have a few things in common. They are both proud ‘disrupters’ of the way things have been done for decades if not centuries. They both appear to promise people who work for them (yet are not protected as employees would be) that its a wonderful way to get rich quick … so perhaps appeal to the slightly naiive.

    Going forward Uber have stated their aim as to get rid of their greatest expense … the drivers …. just as soon as they can. A target is appx 6-7 years in some UK cities as driverless taxis come on stream.

    Purplebricks have not, to my knowledge, made any such claim but as other aspects of their model do tally with Uber I am sure they will want to reduce people costs and must be actively looking at ways to do so. It is already very frustrating to be in a chain with Purplebricks as they do not provide anyone to do sales chasing … and having read this unhappy story I see why that does not happen.

    I predict that PB will look at ways to assist sellers in valuing and pricing their own homes and then writing their own set of details based on templates. It should be quite easy to cut out the majority of people who work ‘for’ PB in the not too distant future, if PB remains in existence.

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    1. Woodentop

      I think you might find that COMMISERY may take over any plans PB have to cut staff.

       

      A LPE average listings @ 10 x £200 PM max earned gross (using PB latest listing figures) = £2,000. This is generous as commission is £150 plus extra?

       

      Salaried minimum working wage is £8.21 per hour (40 hour week = £1,421 PM)

       

      The LPE claimed a 90 hour week (others claim 70+ hrs)  if a salaried minimum working wage hourly rate = £3,201 PM or £38,422 PA gross but COMMISERY stunted it @ for those doing 10 listings PM = £24,000 PA.

       

      Oh yea good one PB with the COMMISERY for your LPE’s no wonder they are leaving and were sucked in with on target income and had to be self employed.

       

       

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