Purplebricks in the UK has declined to comment on a report that in Canada, employees were offered paid days off in return for made-up five-star reviews on Facebook and Google.
In Canada, Purplebricks has emphasised that it was an isolated and misguided initiative, which was a one-off last March.
According to Forbes the 200-strong staff in Canada were sent an email by the marketing department, in which they were told to ask their family and friends to leave glowing online reviews, “whether or not” they were Purplebricks customers.
The email said: “No need to fabricate stories, just an ‘I think Purplebricks is great,’ or ‘Purplebricks is the future of real estate’ would be fantastic!'”.
The employees then had to take screenshots of the reviews they “helped generate” as proof and send them back to the company’s marketing department.
“The staff member who accumulates the most reviews from family and friends will win a PAID DAY OFF!,” the email said.
The marketing department however discouraged staff from posting reviews themselves, as fake reviews “could get us into hot water!”
The email explained that when real estate broker platform ComFree was acquired by Purplebricks, in 2018, they “weren’t able to bring our stellar Facebook and Google reviews with us”.
A former employee told Forbes: “When I received the email I was disgusted that Purplebricks thought it necessary to cheat to get reviews. They asked us to get friends and family, who had never used the service, to post 5-star reviews online, focusing on Google and Facebook, and I was even more disgusted to find that so many of my colleagues went along with it. It’s deceiving to the public.”
Purplebricks Canada said in a statement: “[This] was an isolated and misguided initiative.
“It followed the name change from Comfree to Purplebricks and the refusal of Google and Facebook to transfer the reviews that were already on their sites; it will never happen again.”
“Purplebricks Canada recognises that it’s vital for all reviews to be genuine and authentic—and we work hard to earn positive feedback from our customers through our expertise and great service.”
A spokesperson for the company told Forbes that the email was “a complete one-off” and “an error of judgement.”
“We only offered this incentive once, in March 2019, and it generated only a handful of reviews,” the spokesperson added.
In the UK, Purplebricks this morning did not wish to comment.