An estate agent says he was astonished to learn that an applicant of his had received an email from Rightmove selling him the services of a rival agent.
Rightmove yesterday said the marketing email should not have been sent but had slipped through the net. It said that its staff have now been re-briefed.
The email was sent on behalf of an online agent, telling the customer that he could save thousands on estate agents’ fees.
The email, from Rightmove Partners on behalf of Place Estate Agents, says: “You do not need to pay high fees to sell your home. We offer the best online advertising, customer service and local knowledge and you can save £1,000s when you instruct us.”
The client in question is, in fact, a fictitious one – although Rightmove could not have known that.
As previously reported on Eye, here, Trevor Kent registered a phoney applicant, J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock, on Rightmove two months ago.
The intention, says Kent, was to find out how well Rightmove was working.
At first, Mr Gruntfuttock heard nothing. But a few days ago, he was sent an email from Rightmove asking him for feedback about Trevor Kent & Co in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.
This was followed up by an email from Rightmove telling Mr Gruntfuttock about Rightmove’s removals services.
But now Mr Gruntfuttock has received an email from Rightmove extolling a 0.5% online agent operating on Kent’s patch.
The agent, Place, is run by a five-strong female team headed by director Sarah Cassidy.
It says on its site that it covers Gerrards Cross, Beaconsfield, Chalfont St Peter, Chalfont St Giles and Rickmansworth, plus the south-east of England including counties around London – Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and Buckinghamshire.
The form on Rightmove does not say that those registering will receive advertising material or be asked to fill in feedback forms on agents.
However, there is a pre-ticked default box that says: “Rightmove can contact me with relevant properties, offers and news.”
Place, a member of the NAEA and TPO, and which also displays the NALS and ARLA logos, is currently running an autumn offer, and this is what Kent & Co’s fictitious client received.
The offer includes a free EPC and photographs.
Kent said of Place: “They are five nice ladies, each working from home. I’ve no problem with them at all and they do sell the occasional one in my patch.
“However, I’m surprised that Rightmove are presumably selling my applicants’ details to a rival estate agent as possible sellers, on the basis that the applicant registered a home address in Place’s area of activity.”
A spokesperson for Rightmove yesterday evening said: “In response to requests from our estate and letting agency customers, Rightmove recently launched a new product, Rightmove e-leaflets.
“They offer our customers a greater level of brand exposure by targeting motivated home-movers with their chosen messages.
“The product was launched as a result of the success of a similar product for New Homes customers, which proved the effectiveness of e-leaflets in supporting customers’ marketing plans.
“Since launching a few weeks ago Rightmove has received positive feedback from customers who have signed up to the product, with many of them planning a regular email campaign.
“The e-leaflets are sent to Rightmove users who agree to receive news and offers from Rightmove, in relevant locations chosen by the estate or letting agency.
“Rightmove has final copy approval on the e-leaflets and has created a set of guidelines that all customers must follow.
“On this occasion, wording that would not fit the copy guidelines unfortunately made it through the approval process in error.
“Rightmove has since re-briefed all employees in the relevant team to ensure all future copy follows the guidelines produced.”
Part of the mailshot is pictured below, and here’s the link to the online agent: