Three complaints against eMoov have all been upheld by the advertising watchdog.
The complaint, from a consumer, concerned statements on the eMoov website.
These said: “Looking to sell your home? Half Term: Sign up now & receive £220 off.”
The website also stated: “We’re local everywhere. We’ve sold in 98% of UK postcodes.”
The ad included a comparison table with the Brixton branch of Foxtons estate agents, which included various features such as number of listings, asking price and selling fee.
The table stated: “Compare us to traditional estate agents. Foxtons customers would have saved £13,449 … emmov National … Selling Fee … £595 … Foxtons Brixton … Selling Fee £14,044.”
The complainant challenged whether the half-term promotion was misleading, as they said the same money-off promotion had been offered earlier.
The complainant also challenged whether eMoov really had sold in 98% of UK postcodes, and whether Foxtons customers would have saved £13,449.
In response, eMoov said they had run two other promotions with the same money-off offer.
The firm produced a data sheet which it said supported the claim of having sold in 98% of UK postcodes. eMoov said most customers would understand the word ‘postcodes’ to mean ‘postcode areas’.
eMoov said the claim that Foxtons customers would have saved £13,449 was in fact lower than what they would actually have saved. eMoov had deliberately erred on the side of caution. The calculation was based on figures in late 2015 when the average asking price for a Foxtons Brixton property was £585,167 based on a 2% commission fee.
In fact, Foxtons’ terms and conditions showed the lowest rate was 2.7%. Based on the lower commission fee, savings would be £14,717; based on the higher fee, savings would be £19,821.
However, the ASA did not accept these arguments.
It said that the half-term offer was the same as two others. It had followed one promotion which had closed at the end of the previous month. The Advertising Standards Authority said that eMoov had in effect extended the closing date.
The Committee of Advertising Practice Code states that closing dates must not be changed unless circumstances out of the promoter’s control made it unavoidable.
Consumers who had taken up the initial offer may have hurried into the promotion, believing it was about to end, when they could have waited until it was more convenient.
On the claim that eMoov had sold in 98% of UK postcodes, the ASA said that consumers were likely to understand that these would be general postcodes, covered by the first part of the postcode, eg SE5.
However, the data provided showed broad areas, such as SE.
The claim that Foxtons’ Brixton clients would have made savings of £13,449 was not accepted by the ASA.
It said that that the comparison in costs was based on the national fees charged by eMoov and those in London charged by Foxtons. However, the quoted average asking price for Foxtons was significantly higher and impacted on the commission fee.
The ASA said this disparity exaggerated the likely savings that could be achieved by using eMoov.
In addition, the fee quoted in eMoov’s figures represented its lowest-fee option and excluded optional add-ons.
For these reasons, the ASA said that eMoov had not demonstrated the savings claim was representative of the amount that consumers could save by using eMoov rather than a traditional high street agent.
The ASA told eMoov not to repeat the advert, and not to say that customers could save specific amounts of money compared to high street agents in the absence of adequate substantiation.