Purplebricks fined by Queensland Fair Trading over misleading fees

Real estate disruptor Purplebricks has been fined $20,000 fine by the Queensland Office of Fair Trading.

It was over misleading customers about how it charges its fixed fees in agreements with clients between November 2016 and June 2017 that did not properly disclose the fee terms.

It avoided possible court action after it entered into two enforceable undertakings with the OFT for alleged breaches of the Australian Consumer Law and the Property Occupations Act.

“Between November 2016 and June 2017, Purplebricks Australia Pty Ltd, entered into agreements with consumers who were not made aware of the terms of the fees charged.

“Consumers were also misled about additional services offered by Purplebricks, despite the agency advertising ‘low, fixed fees’ for their services when selling property,” the OFT said.

Purplebricks launched its fixed-fee offering in Australia in September 2016.

The Queensland consumer watchdog said it had received “several complaints from consumers alleging false and misleading representations on the Purplebricks website and advertising regarding their fees, particularly that the fixed fees were payable regardless of whether a property was sold, or their services were cancelled”.

Purplebricks was ordered to pay a penalty of $20,000 and enter into two enforceable undertakings for a three-year period to ensure claims about the agency, its services and its fee structure are not misleading.

The OFT said that Purplebricks has already amended both its advertising as well as its contracts and processes to ensure consumers are fully aware of the fee structure before signing an agreement.

Purplebricks Australia CEO Ryan Dinsdale said Purplebricks had positively collaborated with Queensland OFT.

“Understanding that in many cases traditional real estate agents do not publish their fees and terms of business, our rates are prominently disclosed on our home page and we will always act on feedback to ensure we display everything as clearly as possible.

“Accordingly we have agreed to make some adjustments to wording to improve clarity and understanding,” he said

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