Rightmove CEO Peter Brooks-Johnson has apologized for the company’s much-derided payment deferral plan. The apology was specifically targeted at a London-based agent that criticized the portal’s Covid-19 plan.
“We don’t always get things right but I like to think we can see it when we get things wrong and we do something about it,” Brooks-Johnson said.
Brooks-Johnson’s comments were directed at Alan Goldin Estates, which asked the CEO to “readdress his approach to estate agents in the future” and called on Rightmove to review its highly criticized payment deferral plan.
Rightmove initially offered smaller agents the option to defer payments by 275 pounds ($319 U.S.) per month for six months. The plan received sharp criticism, leading Rightmove to pull that offer and replace it with a 75% reduction in agent fees for four months. But that was enough to allow competitor Zoopla to swoop in with its own offer in an attempt to poach Rightmove agents.
The Covid-19 crisis has laid bare agents’ frustration with Rightmove, particularly the portal’s ability to raise prices for agents, many of whom are struggling as the housing market tightens. Citing Rightmove’s low overhead costs, agents say the company generates massive profits on their backs, leading some to launch campaign groups against the company.
A survey by Facebook group Boycott Rightmove of almost 1,000 agents found that the top complaint was Rightmove’s prices. About 30% said they were unhappy with the portal’s customer service.
Agents have also launched a site, Say No to Rightmove, which offers a space to share reactions about the deferred payment scheme. Rob Sargent of the The Acorn Group, which runs the site, has said that Rightmove should offer agents a payment holiday until the Covid-19 crisis runs its course.
“The aim of the site is not to boycott Rightmove completely, but convince them to see the truth,” Sargent told Property Industry Eye. “Their long term survival depends on us, and by not extending a full payment holiday to agents, they’re shooting themselves in the foot, as well as dooming many agents to closure.”