Purplebricks, the most high profile of the UK’s online estate agents, has accused estate agency review site allAgents.co.uk of allowing fake, negative reviews to be posted on its website about its services. It has threatened legal action if the reviews aren’t removed from its site. allAgents has moved to defend itself by crowdfunding its potential legal costs if Purplebricks’ legal action goes ahead.
Following the accusations, allAgents suspended the Purplebricks account in an attempt to prevent a legal action, however it does not appear to have worked. allAgents says it will reinstate Purplebricks’ account when it has received enough funding to support any legal costs that may ensue.
allAgents has received negative press before for allegedly providing estate agents with products which enable them to manipulate reviews. However it has since taken precautions against this behaviour, as far as possible. It’s website states: “We have both automatic and manual checks in place for authenticity, each reviewer’s information is checked and then every review is moderated by a team of experienced industry moderators before it is published. On average, 1 in 5 reviews fails the moderation process and are not published on allAgents.”
Michael Bruce, one of the co-founders of Purplebricks, says they asked allAgents to investigate the reviews on its site and remove any which were fake. The company said they audited the reviews on the allAgents site, claiming that 29% were fake and another 23% lacking enough detail to authenticate.
However allAgents says that they requested the audit and were refused. Director Martin McKenzie says: “We hope the fund will never be required. However, until Purplebricks provides the results of their audit or accepts these reviews are genuine, by providing an undertaking to allow us to continue hosting their reviews free from the fear of litigation, then it will need to exist. This is about far more than just allAgents, this is about free speech.”
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