Rightmove sends ad for cut-price online rival agent to high street firm’s applicant

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:

http://www.a-place.co.uk/

place 1

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43 Comments

  1. Trevor Gillham

    How can it slip through the net? What a load of rubbish. They are too busy trying to think of new ways to rob agents. DOWN WITH RIGHTMOVE!

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    1. benjamin

      This is all our faults . If we Estate Agents stop advertising for a month in rightmove an Zoopla , they will learn not to mess around with us. They are betraying us and we are all silent and wont say anything. I will serve them a month notice from 1st Oct

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      1. Ric

        "Invisible quarter" all agents make their stock "invisible" for at least 3 months on RM………so no notice needs to be given, therefore no worries about "the other agent not doing it" as we can all just click em available again………BUT this in itself will have an impact without ending contracts with RM……..what RM users will then see during this time is NO property and will seek alternative means to find out what's OnTheMarket.com………….invisible day! a perfect way to effect RM traffic and show them the stock make them and we provide the stock!

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        1. Trevor Gillham

          "Invisible quarter" LOVE THAT !!

          I'm thinking about creating a page to see how many agents would sign up, we should start a facebook page actually. I just can't get over how they stitched me up so they can have some back. What is incredible is that as agents you could demolish this site overnight, rendering it useless! That's some power. Do I remember correctly that some peed of agents in Holland did this and the portal took legal action on them?

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  2. Paul H

    Should Rightmove not have made all agents aware they they were now canvassing the consumer direct, especially if those consumers are found by making contact through a property by a competing agent (such as this online agent).

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    1. wilko

      They made me aware ages ago. The fact is that if high street agents have 98% of the property on rightmove it should follow that 98% of the applicants that register with them are looking at "our" properties. Rightmove then SELL those applicants details (many who will be potential vendors) to the online agents so they can then tell them (via direct marketing) what a waste of money we are…..And to think there are still people who don't think that high st agents need to move their stock to a new site that doesn't allow this!!!

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      1. Paul H

        So I win an instruction then invest in top marketing for the property, go to the effort of making sure the brochures and property particulars are all legally compliant then spend money advertising it on Rightmove, then once an enquiry comes in for that property Rightmove sells that persons details to some upstart agent who then completely attacks my business model by proclaiming that the service I offer is a rip off etc. It’s bonkers!

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        1. wilko

          Yep spot on….been doing it for ages….I've had great success for my new homes developments by using RM direct advertising. Possible that I could have sold a few new homes to applicants that registered for one of your properties and I then sent literature to. Probably got the assisted sales as well!!….I didn't agree with it but found it great to have access to ANY set of applicants in ANY are that registered with RM. My biggest gripe is that (as a registered "applicant) on RM I find I am bombarded with direct e mail ads from online agents telling me what a waste of money high st agents are….and that's without Rightmoves preffered agents being onliners on the "request a val " tab ie valuation alerts.

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  3. Blue

    So it is only the wording RM think is wrong, not the whole ****** idea.

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  4. Robin

    Let me make a supposition – perhaps your telecoms provider decides to make use of all the mobile telephone numbers it collects as part of providing you with telephone services. It starts texting adverts to those numbers including adverts from your competitors – online or high street compettors, it matters not. Would you roll over and let it happen? NO – because there are many other telecoms providers out there you can move to and none of them would risk losing your business by behaving this way. The reason RM can get away with it is because they have a duopoly and there is nowhere else you can go. Except now there is.

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  5. ammik

    And for those still sitting on the fence where Agents' Mutual is concerned, remind me why you WANT to stay with Rightmove…

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  6. marcH

    Come on everybody. Wake up. How long before RMV and ZPLA take over the role of all agents, starting with the so-called traditional ones. After all, they have the raw material we need to sell our services (the properties we have won instructions for in competition with each other). OntheMarket is well and truly on the runway. Back it !

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  7. Trevor Mealham

    Then maybe Mr Gruntfuttock's favorite agent should abort a portal that did this to them.

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  8. wilko

    I have been using the canvassing and direct e mail service for well over a year now and have to say it works well(mainly for new homes developments). About 6 months ago I started to include the benefits of our offices to sell through and it has created a few leads. You have to remember that online agents favour this route to get their message across about how expensive high st agents are and the online agents are also the Rightmove choice of agent in every town if you check the val alerts…….This is why, more recently I've been banging on so much about the new site as it will be clean of this sort of stuff.

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  9. griffiths residential .com

    I think I know now who to drop if I go with agents mutual

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    1. Robin

      Come on, grif.res. – don't say IF, say WHEN! OTM will only be able to succeed if the majority of agents are willing to go cold turkey with RM and/or Z and they need your support NOW.

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  10. Woodentop

    This is what comes of agents not keeping control of their business. RM & Z both are as bad as each other in how they treat their customers … estate agents. Stop feeding these parasites and buyers will follow you where ever you go. They have no loyalty to these companies which will only continue to exist if agents support them which is complete madness.

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  11. Herb

    The soon 'On the market' starts the better, mind you agents who are not confident in themselves will still like to pay RM and Zoopla rather than an agent owned site

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    1. wilko

      Quite right and they will continue paying rightmove to "SELL" their applicants to online agents who will then contact them directly to say how bad they are and that they can do the job for £69.!!!

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  12. White Knight

    We operate a substantial Estate Agency business that started as a one office operation several decades ago. We also like to champion independent Estate Agents of all sizes and have absolutely no agenda other than what's good for our industry. However, we are constantly encouraging and reminding all our colleagues and competitors locally, regionally and nationally, that the major portals only have "leads" as a result of our stock. These "leads" are ours as a collective and not generated by the portal. If the rank and file of UK Estate Agents de-list from either of the major portals, just how many leads will they have left to sell!!?

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    1. wilko

      The selling of "our leads" is very important as, at present the leads that "we" generate account for 98% of the total leads / applicants that give all their details to RM. You can see the numbers of applicants that are registered at the bottom of each search. You too could buy those leads off RM and e mail all of them offering your service. If you are a professional high street agent who doesn't rely on slagging your competitors but says what a great service you offer then I don't think that is too bad. If an online agents buys all the "midlands" registered names and then bombards them with literature, online or otherwise, that says "don't use a high st agent as they are a waste of money" and "we do exactly the same as other agents but at a fraction of the price" then all high st agents that continue to use rightmove (and Zoopla) are essentially handing their business over to the onliners on a plate…..and Rightmove have found a way of making £millions doing it.

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  13. Paul H

    I wonder how much it will cost Easy Chris to pay for these leads?

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    1. wilko

      Not sure of the cost, but he can say "ill buy a million applicants in the south east" …just for starters, and then direct mail them with "sell your home for free" "why pay agency commission?" and other nonsense. Eventually, like all persistant marketing …it will get through to the public and lose us all the business. The fact that I seem to be the only agent to comment so far that has used this RM service is indicative that the high street agents aren't buying their applicants back from Rightmove to sell their services and are thus paving the way for RM to sell the applicants to online agents that are trying to establish themselves by rubbishing others.

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    2. MF

      Well, as they are "partners" of RM, they'll probably get a good discount…

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  14. MF

    Possibly for the first time ever, I don't think I've read a single comment here today that I don't agree with. This is absolutely disgusting. We pay a fortune to list OUR stock on these portals. How DARE they use OUR data behind our backs in the quest for even more profit. Absolutely no morals and a complete contempt to those it calls "members". Their arrogance knows no bounds and so this will continue until enough agents have the guts to ditch them. At the very least, take your stock down from them for a day or two…. I am always reading that RM and Z are too big now – they can't be toppled. IF WE DON'T PLACE OUR STOCK WITH THEM, THEY WILL BE TOPPLED. They are of no use to the public without OUR property listings and the public will drop them in an instant. At the end of the day, the public will always follow the property – they have no other choice.

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  15. MarkRowe

    The difficulty will always be trying to get ALL of the agents to act at the same time and if we did ALL eventually agree, trusting each other to follow it through at the same time would be quite a feat!

    Lets be honest, the majority would drop Zoopla over Rightmove when it comes to the Agents Mutual proposition, so this only makes Rightmove's position stronger as they have only have one main competitor, Zoopla!

    A simple transfer of stock…

    In order for this to work properly, it would have made sense to say that both portals need to be dropped, that way the stock disappears from both sites, Agent Mutual's proposition would then automatically and quickly become the strongest and their job simply would have been to get every agent (or the majority) to the point of agreeing the switch over date… Thus eliminating the competition all together?

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    1. MF

      Those that comment normally say they will leave Z, however we already left RM a few years ago. Are we the only ones who find that Z generate enough leads? (We are based in London.)

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      1. Trevor Gillham

        Was just thinking, with RM working round the bag door and biting the hand that feeds them (We are talking fillet steak here) That must mean that they have 100% exhausted ideas to screw agents on the main site.

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      2. PeeBee

        MF – the fact that you are based in London probably has a massive bearing on where you can and should be advertising your customers' properties. I take it that when you say 'Z' generates you enough leads you also include PL (but you don't specify which of these sites brings you best return for your investment)? So, then, if you are so clearly 'leaded up' with your current portal, I have to query why you have previously been so emphatic about the OTM proposition…?

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        1. MF

          Yes, PL included, though the majority of leads come from Z. My enthusiasm for the OTM proposition is borne out from my frustration at having my subscription with Z set at rates that cost me far more than the £5 per property that Alex Chesterman claims his portal costs what he calls, "the average agent". Being a small family run business (and quite content to be so), there are months in the year that we advertise no properties at all, yet still we must keep forking out to be a so-called "member" of Z. And yes, I know that Agents Mutual will not be much cheaper for me, but I do have hopes that they will eventually introduce a subscription option that recognises low-volume companies like mine. And if their presence manages to bring down the current subscription rates of Z and RM then that will be a very good thing. And if we get to a time when Z and RM are no longer needed, then so much the better.

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          1. PeeBee

            Hi MF – thanks for the response. I think we've touched on this before (if not you it has definitely been raised by someone…) – I am sorry to restate that in my opinion it is a given that AM will never agree to this type of arrangement for Gold or Silver Membership. You'll need to become a 'Bronze' Member to get that kind of flexibility – but I don't know whether it means you will have to cancel/re-join every time… which to me seems a huge faff on and would put me straight off. Of course, the monthly cost would also be higher… less for more – like the thought process behind that! You'd need a Members' Vote to change the rules – I'll wish you luck in advance on that one!

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  16. Trevor Mealham

    Just watched the video. Two big fibs.

    1. Budget models dont generally save people money, instead normally cost sellers more as they can't reach as many buyers as a collective of networking agents can

    2. Budget agents CAN NOT offer all the services traditional models can bespoke offer.

    To the foolish investor who put £200k in. Lets hope you can get a refund.

    The model will eventually fall when vc's realise budget agency has lost them money or when big portals see more traditional agents leave in protest.

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  17. marcH

    @TrevorMealham 7.29pm posting – are you opining on that other hand-me-the-sick-bag subject : easyproperty's crowdfunding?? Btw I agree 100% with you.

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  18. danny

    I'm just going to deal with fact not emotion .. I sell my clients houses for a living . They want to be shown on Rightmove and Zoopla, they want me to to be doing campaigns to possible buyers so I can sell their house in return for payment . Agents mutual is simply an advertising medium… And one no-one has ever heard of it so far. Quite frankly I hope all my competition pulls out of Rightmove and Zoopla because I'm in business to make money and it would make it much easier for me to do so. I'm bored with the how they do this and that. They sell tools that you can choose to buy or not buy… Simple as that . Sometimes I read this stuff and feel like I'm in kindergarten , it's business people … Grow a set

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  19. PeeBee

    Erm… am I missing something here? The "applicant" registered with RM. The site has a facility to provide those who register with "relevant properties, offers and news." – this is a facility which the applicant can opt in or out of. Mr Gruntfuttock clearly wanted details of these additional services, otherwise he would have opted out. Do I agree with these "e-leaflets" – NO. But then I don't agree with three of my local competitors writing to every new listing on a weekly basis from pretty much the day the board goes up inferring my vendors have made a mistake, in addition to their constant canvassing for properties to sell to non-existent applicants "Mr 'F' and Miss 'P'" or whichever letters come out of today's hat…

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    1. Paul H

      "But then I don't agree with three of my local competitors writing to every new listing on a weekly basis from pretty much the day the board goes up inferring my vendors have made a mistake,"…Yes but you don't pay your local competitors for a service.

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      1. PeeBee

        You've lost me a little on that one, Paul H. The 'applicant' simply registered his details with RM, from the published account. NOT the Agent direct (although this is ONE of my pet peeves in that many people actually see RM etc AS the Agent and not simply an advertising medium we employ…). RM give people who register the option of accepting or declining 'extras' – which this 'applicant' supposedly didn't opt out of. Technically, then, the email tout WASN'T 'unsolicited' in the way that I would argue those that my (and I'm sure YOUR) competitors deploy, Paul H – by post direct to "The Homeowner". Question is, Paul H – do you know for certain that your alternative portal will be different – and how will it be different? Sorry – that's technically two questions. ;o)

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        1. Paul H

          "You've lost me a little on that one"…You were comparing chalk and cheese PeeBee by comparing your competitors writing to your clients/customers and Rightmove selling the details of your clients/customers. You pay Rightmove for a service, but you don't pay anything to your competitors or do you?!
          "Question is, Paul H – do you know for certain that your alternative portal will be different – and how will it be different?" What I do know is that it will not contain third party advertising and everything I hear so far tells me it will not run in the way that Rightmove currently do, in that they will look after the interests of it's paying customers (the agent) and not it's share holders and their ever increasing demand for profits.

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          1. PeeBee

            I hope you're understanding is correct in relation to the new offering. Now… in respect of the first part of the above… unless you know different from my understanding of what has been reported, RM have NOT 'sold' any applicant details to anyone – they have included the applicant in an email campaign which a third party advertiser has paid for. That being said, RM do state the following in their Privacy Policy (for what use it is… like anyone ever reads these things…) "Where you have consented to being contacted by third parties, we may make Your Information available to them." Look – I'm NOT saying it's right – we agree on that at least. But I'd bet my last shekel that someone receiving an email like that from RM or anyone for that matter would quickly file it in the Trash – and that it will be far less effective than a constant stream of touting letters hitting the front doormat… What's your view on that?

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          2. PeeBee

            Paul H – I've just jumped back up the page to a conversation you and 'wilko' are/were having & note that wilko states that the information IS offered 'for sale' and that he has used the 'service'. So in one breath I'll apologise for questioning your stance – but then I've got to question the double standards being used here that it's apparently perfectly okay to do it UNLESS you slag off your competition OR you're an online/budget model agent…?

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  20. PeeBee

    TK – I'm sure you're reading… a question or two if you don't mind. I keep reading that you are "astonished" with RM for this. The previous article proclaimed your "anger". Does this mean that you are thoroughly cheesed off with RM et al? What's the next step – drop the duopoly and join 'The AM Collective'? They've already hijacked your article – so you might as well succumb to their irresistible call. Or are you a closet objector? I've never read anything to suggest one way or another…

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  21. Paul H

    “ I'd bet my last shekel that someone receiving an email like that from RM or anyone for that matter would quickly file it in the Trash – and that it will be far less effective than a constant stream of touting letters hitting the front doormat… What's your view on that?”…It still don’t make it right PeeBee, I do not believe that rightmove should be selling these details and certainly not to the competition of it’s paying customers, which brings me on to…..”I've just jumped back up the page to a conversation you and 'wilko' are/were having & note that wilko states that the information IS offered 'for sale' and that he has used the 'service'. So in one breath I'll apologise for questioning your stance – but then I've got to question the double standards being used here that it's apparently perfectly okay to do it UNLESS you slag off your competition OR you're an online/budget model agent…?”….I do not agree that anyone(especially any agency be they online or high street) should have access to this information, but you can’t blame an online agent or Wilko for this, it is Rightmove that is at fault here. As you keep saying PeeBee – a portal should be there to search for property, if so then I should imagine that do not agree with them also sending out these emails to your clients?

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    1. PeeBee

      I've TWICE said I don't agree that it is right. How many more times? BUT, I have also said that the applicants are using the portal to search. YOUR argument here seems to be that they are already the applicant/client of the Agent, and are then being dragged away by means more foul than fair by the portal. That simply isn't the case, Paul H. You say "I do not believe that rightmove should be selling these details and certainly not to the competition of it’s paying customers" – which is fine but the competition you refer to are ALSO "it's paying customers". Sorry, mate – but if you want 'customers' to be 100% loyal to your brand and none other then you really need to be on NO portals at all – just see how your own website does for you…

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