The Advertising Standards Authority has investigated a complaint made against an online estate agent.
The “Sellers” page on www.expressestateagency.co.uk stated “Our Enquiry Line is available 24/7 to deal with all calls, night and day, so we never miss an offer or enquiry”.
Trivett Hicks Estate Agents, challenged whether the claim was misleading because a member’s partner had phoned at 11.10 pm to discuss making an offer on a property but was told that the sales team were not available until the morning.
Manchester-based The Express Estate Agency (EEA) confirmed that they did have a 24-hour/7 days a week enquiry line. They said the ICS Group (ICS) operated the phone line and provided evidence to show that EEA did have a contract in place with the ICS for a “24/7 365 days call handling service”.
They said the line offered potential buyers and sellers the opportunity to speak to one of their front-line consultants. They said if a buyer was interested in one of their properties, the consultant would give them basic information regarding the property and then take the client’s details so they could set up a viewing with the vendor.
Similarly, if a seller called, a consultant would offer the caller basic information about the service provided and the processes involved, before forwarding the caller’s details on to the EEA’s Senior Sales Team.
EEA provided evidence showing that potential buyers had made formal offers to their consultants which had been recorded by ICS. These records summarised any formal offers including conditions or justifications for the offer, and showed offers being taken at a variety of times, including those outside of normal office hours.
The ASA understood that EEA had a contract in place with ICS for a 24-hour/7 days a week/365 days a year call handling service. It also considered that the evidence the advertisers provided clearly showed that the consultants were able to accept formal offers from callers outside normal office hours.
The ad watchdog considered that this evidence was sufficient to substantiate the EEA’s claim that “Our Enquiry Line is available 24/7 to deal with all calls, night and day, so we never miss an offer or enquiry” and therefore concluded that the claim was not misleading.
The ASA investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation), but did not find it in breach, so no further action was required.