Some of Purplebricks’ agents in Australia “literally went hungry” as they tried to make the business model work.
There were also instances of agents ending up in debt, and some losing homes and livelihoods. Some agents were left with depression and other mental health issues.
The extraordinary claims are published in Independent Australia, which quotes one former agent as saying there was an allegedly toxic internal culture that “increasingly forced agents to work people to the bone”.
The article quotes a former agent who said the company ran a “churn and burn” business model that treated people like a commodity.
The piece also says that the issue of responsibility for superannuation and other entitlements “is currently the subject of pending litigation by a number of former Purplebricks agents”.
The publication adds that a venture called Betterway Real Estate is set to launch shortly, headed up by former Purplebricks licensee and national sales director Luke Pervan.
It is said to have an upfront fee model.
Purplebricks announced pulling out of the Australian market in May, at the same time as founder Michael Bruce left the company.
It said that the prospective returns from operating in Australia were “not sufficient to justify continued investment”.
Purplebricks subsequently also pulled out of the US market, with the firm saying since that it had made mistakes in over-expansion into overseas markets.
Purplebricks yesterday declined to comment on the new claims made in Independent Australia.