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Purplebricks TV ads banned over misleading fees

John Fitzsimons
Written By:
John Fitzsimons

Online estate agent Purplebricks has been told to be clearer about its fee structure in its marketing, after the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint about the firm’s TV adverts, ordering that they cannot appear again.

The Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents (CIELA) complained to the advertising body, arguing that the ads – which declare that sellers can save themselves from “commisery” as Purplebricks does not charge commission – presented an unfair comparison between the fees charged by Purplebricks whether the property is sold or not and the commission charged by high street estate agents on successful sales.

Purplebricks defended the adverts, claiming that viewers would “understand from the ads that Purplebricks charged a flat-fee and that the service was therefore not free”, and that the comparison was justifiable.

However, the ASA upheld the complaint, stating: “We considered that they would likely understand that a fee was payable but not that the fee was always required to be paid upon commissioning Purplebricks’ services, even when a property had not been sold…We considered that it was not sufficiently clear in the ads that the fee payable to Purplebricks was not conditional on the sale of the property and therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.”

As a result, the adverts must not appear again in their current form, while the ASA instructed the firm to ensure future ads make clear that fees are always charged, irrespective of whether the property is sold.

The ASA did not uphold a separate series of complaints about the adverts, from 37 separate complainants, who alleged that they implied that Purplebricks did not charge a fee at all for its services.

This isn’t the first time Purplebricks has fallen foul of the ASA, with three previous rulings against it for misleading fee claims. The most recent came in July, when it was ordered to amend its website to remove or amend claims around how much customers could save with the firm.