EYE has heard from the managing director of an estate agency business that has a branch in its small group that is suffering from an acute lack of sales stock. With an inevitable fall in pipeline the firm is faced with having to manage its costs, and it recently turned to Zoopla to discuss the options for lessening their portal expenditure.
It will be remembered that in April 2020, when the Covid crisis took off , Zoopla initially offered its agency customers a free three month period of use, later extended to five months. This was subject to the customer signing up to a contract period of between 12 and 36 months, with normal payments being made after the free period expired.
Andy Marshall, Zoopla’s chief commercial officer said at the time: “In offering five months free portal usage to our agent partners, we hope to alleviate some of the financial pressures that many are facing.
“We are committed to supporting agents and helping their businesses to keep functioning in partnership with us at this difficult time.
“Ultimately, we aim to help set agents up for success and to thrive once we emerge from the impact of coronavirus.”
So our reader was fully expecting that Zoopla would offer a sympathetic ear to their current plight. But they were sadly disappointed as the portal informed them their contract must run for its full twelve months owing to an auto-renew clause in the contract that the agent says they were not aware of at the time of signing.
It transpires that in signing up to the free period last year they were also signing up to a clause that instigated a ’12 month auto renew’ of the contract and introduced a limited time-window for subsequent cancellation. Miss that window and the contract runs another 12 months before Notice can be given.
As our reader says: “Obviously you should always read the small print…but I think they have taken advantage by adding this clause in when we were all running around like headless chickens when the offer was made. I am sure I am not the only person to miss this.”
The agent contacted EYE to, “make agents aware in case, like me, they are trying to figure out how to navigate the stormy times ahead.”
A spokesperson for Zoopla told us:
“Auto-renewals with the ability to cancel after an initial term are common practice for many subscription services. The terms for auto-renewed contracts were clear when our customers re-signed with us and are now standard across all contracts.”
For context they also pointed out that:
The terms for 2020 plans were updated from rolling contracts to auto-renewed contracts in line with common practice for many subscription services – both within our industry and beyond
As with every Zoopla contract or agreement, customers were given full visibility of the amendment before signing