A website for the online estate agency Hatched, www.hatched.co.uk, seen in March 2017, stated “Hatched, Hatched House, and gave an address in Pudsey, West Yorkshire.”
Homebuyers Property Services, who understood the stated address was not a legitimate business address, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Hatched.co.uk t/a Hatched said they had Local Property Consultants (LPCs) based in 16 different locations. These LPCs worked from home when they were not otherwise engaged elsewhere, and had office-based phones and company equipment in order to carry out their employee duties from the address.
Hatched confirmed an LPC lived and worked at the address but considered this was a business address.
They said the purpose of including the address was to provide customer service and sell property locally.
The ASA considered that, the first line of the address listed in the ad “Hatched” and the second line “Hatched House” suggested that the property was a conventional business premises that had been purposefully named to reflect that. We considered that the reference to the property as a “branch”, and a list of opening hours beneath the address, strongly implied that they had a conventional public-facing business address at that location. We also considered that unless there was information to the contrary most consumers would assume that Hatched’s employees were based at a physical branch.
However, we understood that the address listed was an employee’s home address, and not a physical branch. Despite the fact that they conducted business from their home addresses, we considered that most consumers would nevertheless expect from the ad that the address was a physical branch.
Because there was no information to indicate the address was not a physical branch or that Hatched’s staff worked from home we therefore considered the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Hatched to ensure their future advertising did not state or imply they had physical office branches in locations if that was not the case.