Forbes has obtained an email in which the company’s marketing department asks its 200-person staff to get their family and friends to leave positive online reviews, regardless if they actually used the company’s services. Purplebricks calls itself an “online estate agent” and charges customers a flat fee to list their homes on the site.
“No need to fabricate stories, just an ‘I think Purplebricks is great,’ or ‘Purplebricks is the future of real estate’ would be fantastic!” the email, reportedly sent out by a company marketing director in March 2019, reads. It goes on to say that the employee who gets its family and friends to write the most reviews will get a paid day off.
The email asked for reviews on the Purplebricks Canada’s Facebook pages or 5-star rating reviews on Google Reviews but told employees not to leave them under their own names or fake names since that would violate the websites’ terms and conditions. Employees were instead encouraged to get family and friends to write the reviews, take screenshots of them and send them in as proof.
“Great service, beautiful home photos, affordable price! What more can I say?” one review left in May 2019 reads on Facebook.
Purplebricks, which was founded in the United Kingdom in 2014, has been in the news a lot since then. It has established itself as a strong company in the UK but struggled to break into the American market and, in July, folded its U.S. operations entirely.
In Canada, Purplebricks acquired the ComFree Network from Yellow Pages Digital & Media Solutions for $50 million in July 2018.
Purplebricks Canada called the situation an “isolated and misguided initiative” and said that it will never do something like that again.
“The email, though sent in good faith, was a complete one-off and was an error of judgement,” a Purplebricks spokesperson told Inman in an emailed statement. “It followed the name change from Comfree to Purplebricks and the refusal of Google and Facebook to transfer the reviews that were already on their sites; it will never happen again. Purplebricks Canada recognises that it’s vital for all reviews to be genuine and authentic — and we work hard to earn positive feedback from our customers through our expertise and great service.”
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