Trade Me property complaints rejected

NARELLE HENSON AND TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 17:55 16/06/2014

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Another battle has drawn to conclusion in the online property war between Trade Me and realestate.co.nz.

Eleven complaints made by Trade Me to the Advertising Standards Authority about realestate.co.nz advertising have been turned down. 

The complaints claimed realestate.co.nz’s advertising was inaccurate and misleading. 

The panel considering the complaint said some of the material ‘‘was not within its jurisdiction, one was not able to be considered and a number were settled’’ after realestate.co.nz amended some advertising.

None of the five remaining claims were found to breech the threshold of misleading consumers ‘‘as the claims had been inadequately substantiated’’.

Advertisements which made a direct comparison between Trade Me and realestate.co.nz were ‘‘supported by evidence which would be easily understood by the consumer,’’ it said. 

Chief executive of realestate.co.nz Brendon Skipper said: ‘‘We’re pretty pleased with the result because we do make sure that we’re not misleading and we’re actually going out to public with the right information.

‘‘The ASA has clearly made the decision that we are.’’

Trade Me head of commercial Jimmy McGee said the company was ‘‘a little surprised’’ about the decision that some of realestate.co.nz’s was not misleading.

‘‘We’re all for competition, but we think people need to make sure they are playing by the rules.’’

He pointed out that realestate.co.nz had agreed to make some changes to their advertising based on Trade Me’s complaints that consumers could be misled. 

Tensions have been bubbling between the online giant and some agents since late last year when Trade Me began switching agents from an "all you can eat" fee structure to one under which they pay a maximum of $159, plus GST, for each property listing.

The Commerce Commission commenced an investigation in February that was sparked by suspicions some agents might have breached the Commerce Act by boycotting Trade Me and threatening to shift listings to the industry-owned realestate.co.nz.

But Trade Me suggested some agents had gone further by also telling customers they could not use Trade Me to advertise their properties.

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