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Pensioner Feels Cheated

Hi John:

I am a pensioner based in the UK who approached Purple Bricks to sell my home in 2019. My decision was swayed by the glowing reviews on 'Trust Pilot'.

Also, the T.V advertising saying 'One Fixed Fee' and the 'You will be totally sold we sell more houses than any other agent, and quicker'. These claims are totally without any real foundation.

They do not talk about the hidden and extra charges payable upon completion included in the small print after you have signed up. They miss out the detailed valuation and they do not make it clear that by clicking on the photographs of your home you have already waived your right to a 14 day cool off period (the terms are placed firmly at the bottom of the e mail after the photo and designed to mislead).

They advertise that they market the property on all major online portals, but then they do not. The online diary system does not work properly, and the online platform for communication with clients does not work properly. I pointed out the technical faults but PBs customer services did not respond. Their whole contracting process is geared towards getting money out of you and nothing more, they are not bothered about providing the service.

They also transfer the 'debt' or the fee to a third line party Duology - without making this clear and contravene consumer law in the U.K. and I believe the financial services act, but I am not a lawyer so not sure. After noting many other complaints/reviews, I see that the property ombudsman TPOS, usually only negotiates a rebate after a long drawn out battle. I expected TPOS to show similar bias in my case too so I have also involved Trading Standards, as TPOS state they do not give legal advice, but seem quick to advise complainants that the PB has a statutory duty in law to be paid and that they can only negotiate a contract. This conflicts with stating that they do not give legal advice, so I have also involved Trading Standards. I believe I was misled at the point of sale, that the sales process was also misleading, the method used to negate my rights to a cooling off period was devious. The online platform is not efficient, but they try to say it is just down to 'one-off' technical problems or 'user error'. After my formal complaints I was sent emails by their directors and a deadlock letter where-in they attempted to provide proof that stage 3 of their own online sales process had been followed. They simply cut and pasted generic terms into a follow up email before the deadlock letter, saying that this was the e mail I had been sent after signing up, then attempted to back that up by providing IP addresses proving an email was sent to my IP address at the time. In both cases they could not forward the original email as it did not exist. The timing of the supposed follow up email after I had signed up on line was before I signed up when I checked this out contained in their deadlock e mail so could not have been the timing was wrong, thus proving they lied and attempted to cover up and fool me with this faked attempt to provide evidence. This demonstrates dishonesty at a high level in the company, as they attempted to cover up the fact that they had attempted to deny my statutory rights in consumer law and then cover up for that.

As for the claim that they sell more houses and faster than any other agency, currently this is under investigation. My research on over 8 local and 3 non local postal codes demonstrated after searching Zoopla and Rightmove houses actually sold over two years in the U.K in those post codes, in my area NO HOUSES SOLD BY PURPLE BRICKS IN TWO YEARS in 8 postal codes locally and in 3 postal codes. In Essex I found only one home been sold in two years, demonstrating that they are the worst performing agency. I cannot be bothered to research every postal code in the U.K but would strongly recommend that anybody checks this out before accepting their claim of efficiency. Maybe they sell more houses than any other agency on Mars!

Local estate agents tell me that they dread any chains where PurpleBricks are involved as there is always a breakdown of communications that can destroy the whole sales chain, usually originating at the Purple Bricks part of the sales chain. Trust Pilot have been asked twice to review the way PBs work and algorithm to skew the way reviews appear on the site and in Google ranking. There is reference to this on Wikepedia and WIRED. Certainly after a T.V review in the U.K by 'Rip off Britain' and 'Watchdog' now on You Tube, you can see a whole list of negative reviews associated in response. Neither programme seemed to recognise however that the claim that PBs are more successful than any other agent is without foundation, and I think further investigation into this is merited.

Not only would I never use or recommend Purple Bricks ever again, I have lost all faith in the review site 'Trust Pilot' and will never believe reviews I see on that site again.