Agents warned to avoid marketing group.
Article originally published SEPTEMBER 6, 2005 –Reviewed and approved.
By Neil Jenman
As a consumer advocate, I am often threatened by agents because I am trying to stop consumers from getting ripped off. But this is the first time I have been threatened because I tried to protect agents from getting ripped off.
Michael Smith is a salesman with a company called Real Estate Marketing Group Pty Ltd. (REMG). Michael does not sell real estate. He sells a marketing (lead-sourcing) service to estate agents.
On Tuesday, August 30, 2005, Michael Smith said (to me, Neil Jenman), “I tell you one thing, you push it too far, the people involved will take certain action that will not have a good result on your name, if you know what I mean, because I have certain information about you which I have heard through the grapevine myself, that isn’t very nice as well.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Just be careful,” he warned.
“So, in other words, you will hurt me?” I asked.
“Not me personally,” Smith said.
Why is Michael Smith saying such things? And who will hurt me if I write about his company?
Well, it all began on Thursday, August 25 at a meeting for the First National Real Estate network in Victoria. Several agents were complaining about the Real Estate Marketing Group. They all told a similar story.
According to the agents, Smith had made spectacular promises about being able to provide “listing leads” (home-sellers) to the agents. Several First National agents paid Smith up to $25,000 each for what they believed was a one-year exclusive contract covering their post codes and a guarantee that Smith and REMG would provide a minimum of 100 qualified leads.
But it was not to be.
Once he had their money, the agents claim that Smith’s promises turned into excuses. One agent says he has received the names of a mere two home-owners in almost three months – and neither of these owners wanted to sell.
On Friday, August 26, Ray Ellis, the CEO of First National, issued an urgent notice to agents about Real Estate Marketing Group. “Members who have used their services have been greatly disappointed and have lost a lot of money,” Ellis warned.
I called Michael Smith and asked for his comments. He began by telling me how much he agreed with my philosophies. As we spoke, his mood changed.
“Listen Neil, you don’t know the clients that we work for, you know a handful, okay. We have got hundreds of others that are satisfied.”
When asked for the names of his hundreds of happy clients, Smith said it was against the law for him to mention the names of his clients. The Privacy Act. Of course.
I suggested he contact his happy clients and ask them to email me and express their delight with Real Estate Marketing Group.
“But what if they don’t email you back in time? he asked.
“Then I will just say that Michael Smith told me he has hundreds of happy customers and that I asked him to get some of them to contact me, and none of them did. I will just tell the truth.”
On that note, the conversation ended.
At the end of the week, having heard nothing, I emailed the Real Estate Marketing Group and mentioned the hundreds of happy clients.
On Friday, September 2, one of those pompous lawyer letters arrived. I was given the “opportunity to forthwith apologise”.
Yes, I am sorry. I should have spoken up sooner. Maybe I have been spending too much time trying to get money back for consumers. Perhaps the actions of Ray Ellis, the boss of the First National network have reminded me that some agents are decent people and, occasionally, they need someone to stand up for them.
No matter what might happen.
So, please don’t hurt me, Michael.
PLEASE NOTE: Our focus is upon helping consumers. Abuse from agents on our web site or Facebook page will be deleted, ignored or well publicised – it depends on our mood.
But one thing will never vary: We will never stop doing what we love most – helping polite and honest consumers get the best deal possible in real estate. And, of course, if any agents are serious about taking care of consumers, we’ll help you too. Thank you.