A website for Moveli, www.moveli.com, an estate agent, seen on 15 May 2018. Text on the home page under the heading “Meet your agent” stated “Moveli connects you with friendly, professional estate agents who have years of experience selling property in your local area, probably even on your street”. Text on a page headed “Sell with us” stated “Moveli agents are seasoned professionals who’ve been selling property in your area for years”.
Text on a page titled “[AGENT NAME] BATTERSEA & CLAPHAM SALES AGENT” stated “With over 16 years experience selling property in Southwest London, [the agent] is a seasoned professional when it comes to achieving the highest price for your home. Being a local dad living 'Between the Commons' for over a decade, his intimate knowledge of the Battersea & Clapham property market and the area itself is a great advantage when negotiating with prospective buyers”.
Further down the same page was a testimonial from “Mrs L D” which stated “[The agent] tenaciously held on to our Buyer, who was in a chain, for many months. He is very knowledgable [sic] about the market and completely trustworthy. I was so pleased with the service he gave me and I have no hesitation in recommending him”.
Courtenay Estate Agents, who believed that the estate agent had been working for Moveli and in the Battersea and Clapham housing market for one month only, challenged whether the testimonials relating to him were genuine.
Alpinum Ltd t/a Moveli said that the testimonial from “Mrs L D” was a genuine testimonial from a past client of the agent’s at his previous employer, and provided a signed copy with the reviewer’s contact details. They said it was important that they only included parts of the testimonial that related to the agent himself, as the product or service being advertised, and that if the review related to an aspect of the service that was only made possible due to his previous employer’s involvement, it would be wrong for them to publish it.
Moveli said that because the agent now worked for them and continued to provide the same style of service to his clients, consumers relying on that testimonial when deciding to choose him, and by extension Moveli, would not have been misled. They said it was normal for websites to feature product reviews from people who bought the same product on a different website and that their agents had the right to publish testimonials about themselves and people’s opinions of them on the Moveli, or any other, website.
Moveli said they would ensure that any reviews from past clients were explicitly about the agent in question, their character and the style of service they personally delivered.
The ASA considered that consumers would be likely to infer, without qualification to the contrary, that the testimonial featured in the ad related to the agent’s work while employed by Moveli.
We understood, however, that the testimonial related to his previous employment at a different estate agent. We noted Moveli’s argument that the difference in employer did not render the testimonial misleading because he would continue to provide the same style of service at Moveli. However, we consider that the positive attributes referred to in the review, such as his ability to hold onto a buyer, were likely to be affected, at least to some degree, by the business in which he was working, and it could not be assumed that they would be the same when he moved employer.
We concluded that, because the testimonial did not relate to the agent’s employment at Moveli, they were misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.46 3.46 Testimonials must relate to the advertised product. (Testimonials)
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Moveli not to claim or imply that testimonials about their employees related to their work at Moveli when that was not the case.