CHOICE membership

Lunatic landlord, does he contravene the ACL?

@meltam: Yes there was a time factor as I believed the property for rent would not last long, which in fact it didn’t, and I believe it may have been leased prior to my inquiries.

@meltam & @phb: I have checked the dates and the original contacts by my wife and myself were made on Monday 23rd and my Google Review was made on Wednesday 25th.

The time to take a quick email response would be no more than 30 seconds and from the glowing rhetoric they give themselves such an incident that has occurred would never have happened.

The thing with a Google Review is that it can be amended to suit the response it receives. The response I received was not to address the complaint but to attack my credibility by falsely claiming that I did NOT actually make the initial 2 contacts that were not replied to. The fact is that there was a 37 second message to a mobile (from my iiNET record) and also an online form was sent. They say they have no record of either, which can only be a lie.

On top of that there must have been some big porkers told to Google for them to remove the initial review, then also to remove another under a different account.

In my view this is not the way to address customer complaints, and it reveals a fundamental dishonesty, and the disgusting email I received at 8.13pm on 26 September reveals a person that should not have a licence to operate.

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I have complained some time ago to that outfit. I am not going to waste my time again, I think my website covers it.

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That is not surprising. It is an industry organisation

that provides research and well-informed advice to the Federal Government, Opposition, professional members of the real estate sector, media and the public on a range of issues affecting the property market.

Nothing in it about mediating or supporting consumers or even policing their membership to uphold standards.

While the real estate association refers to its state and territory members

The REIA’s seven members are the state and territory Real Estate Institutes, through which about 80 per cent of real estate firms and licensed agents are collectively represented.

The main role of each of the state and territory Real Estate Institutes is to support member real estate agents with information, products and resources that complement their business practices, which in turn provides greater industry standards and a ensures professional service for the public. A key requirement of state and territory Real Estate Institute membership is acceptance of a strict Code of Conduct and Rules of Practice. Acceptance of these professional standards sets state and territory Real Estate Institute members apart from other real estate agents.

Qld does not appear to be counted.

https://reia.asn.au/the-institute/members/

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This looks to me like a great escalation of a fairly trivial matter. There may be some tit-for-tat going on but we are seeing only one side of it so it is hard to say if one, the other, or both are being unreasonable. I don’t think I have even before seen a website built for the purpose of creating a campaign over what started out a comparatively minor matter. Is it appropriate that this forum is used to continue this campaign?

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It is about more than that syncretic, attached is my email to Harcourts today. It points out how this corporate entity chooses to ignore its own Values and Philosophy when it suits them, and potentially be in contravention of the ACL.
My intro on the forum was only to draw attention to the website where the full picture can be viewed along with evidence.
In any event, I consider the disgusting treatment I have received is hardly trivial, and my purpose in part is to turn the matter into a + by attracting similarly minded activists who may want an inexpensive website and hosting.

That might depend on how you would react if you received the following:

Dear @syncretic, “You are a pathetic individual and a bankrupt fool. You have nothing to offer the world other than your aggression and irrational argument you will die a lonely man. That itself is incredible satisfaction”.

You might ignore it and walk away, or you might get your back up. Neither would probably be rewarding for you personally, but trivial? In some cultures face is everything and this is clearly an unwarranted slur on @gordonc’s ‘face’ regardless of what instigated it. That being written it does seem to have gone a bit far. Everything relevant might or might not be known to us, including that

Would you post the letter of 1 October from Mr.Marcus Williams for context please?

One cannot force or coerce a business to behave professionally but one can out them when they are not. The original topic from whence this came was bad experiences renting and it fits as I see it. There are stories of black lists and so on, and this reads like a cowboy estate agency where one could do damage to one’s psych by engaging with them.

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Email from Marcus Williams attached.

I believe it shows a total disregard for the so called Values and Philosophy which can be found at: https://content.harcourts.com.au/philosophy-and-values

Of course there is also the actionable defamation that Carter published about me that was met by my Cease & Desist letter to his lawyer. But you won’t find that evidence unless you go to my website. Williams was apparently happy with Carter publishing that.

This may or not be relevant to this particular circumstances, but is is worth noting that there are grounds for having online reviews or complaints removed…which are likely to be seen as consistent with the ACCC guidelines.

Websites which accept reviews or posts also have terms and conditions in relation to what content can be posted and rules governing the posts. This forum, like others have such and posts, reviews or complaints can be removed if they don’t meet these terms and conditions/rules.

Many organisations also have policies in relation to complaint management, which may include how to deal with those which are for example, real/proven, frivolous, vexatious, misleading or fake complaints. This may include identifying such complaints and taking action to protect the interests of the business where required. It is worth noting that some example complaint management processes are available online of some businesses/organisations.

These processes also usually have information about how a business/organisation responds to any complaint.

It could be possible that Harcourts removed the complaint for what they believe are reasonable grounds. However, from the information provided their response to your complaint could not be seen as satisfactory and is something which should be addressed by Harcourts.

Also, is there more to this issue than not being contacted (such as additional correspondence or past history with Harcourts) as the response may be seen by many as being a little excessive based on the provided information?

There is no previous history. I believe I have a good idea of how it all happened with poor business practices (which they still haven’t rectified) and I won’t bore you with all the details, trouble is that Carter won’t man up to it and instead tries to cover it up and tries to intimidate me

All that is part of the escalation. The original problem is pretty minor. What happened after that? We know only one side of it. Both sides are making it personal and taking it personally. So is it a serious consumer rights issue or a name-calling squabble that has got out of hand? Maybe others have more information to say what is going on but I am not making any assumptions.

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Does anyone post on this forum with both sides of the complaint?
My email to Harcourts has requested their side to it, I doubt if I will get it.
If Carter were to give his account, from past experience I know it would be untruthful.

Agree the core of the topic, which is important, is difficult to respond to, due to the heightened emotions evident.

Harcourts as a National leading Real Estate Business should have the maturity and experience to respond constructively irrespective of who has said what?

The personal tactics of extending the debate to the creation of targeted web pages is a significant action. It’s unclear if there is a remedy requested or simply a pointed complaint with no further objective.

Is the Choice Community being dragged into passing judgement and taking sides in this instance?

Perhaps the situation sits outside consumer law, a real concern, despite it being of significant interest, given many consumers consider rental agents holding all the power.

I’d find it easier to buy into a discussion about how to have better consumer outcomes in respect of renting.

The original invite for the discussion was a simple criticism of a failure of a Harcorts office to respond within a day or two to several enquires re a rental property. I guess they are free to offer that level of service, assuming the facts are reliable.

If it was critical to me Harcorts or any business respond promptly, I’d have tried harder to make contact. If as a business Harcorts had frequent poor reviews, would they be a business I would choose to contact? Indeed if the rating it is factual, they have simply lived up to expectations. Five out of five stars!

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The point is that they don’t “offer” or represent that they offer a low standard of service at all. In fact they represent the opposite and say they are, “the Sunshine Coast Regions most successful and awarded real estate agencies”, along with all the stuff on the URL below.

I can provide a small sample of their ineptitude (there are lots). I you go to: https://caloundracoastalproperty.com.au/directory/terri-florence/
Terri Florence was the person my wife rang and left a message. Not at the number listed but another number she uses. If you click on the chevron up comes an email addressed to investment@century21coastal.com.au.

Carter accused me of using that email (which I didn’t) and told me that it goes to Century 21, “we are Harcourts so that’s why we didn’t receive it” he said.

This was over a week ago, if it doesn’t go to Harcourts, why is it still being published?

The bloke, in my opinion, is a fruitcake.

And no, I am not requesting anyone to take sides, I am just presenting the matter for the reasons I have previously stated and the ACL implication.

And instead of Carter having some sort of satisfaction upon my death, I now have the satisfaction that he has to deal with my website which I will endeavour to get it to the front page of Google for particular key phrases in due course.

I often half jest with my neighbours when we are dancing around individual needs that I have 22 of them to deal with. It’s a polite suggestion that no matter how difficult things might become, I simply desire that we get on.

I don’t write letters to the local paper, or call in the council, or drag out the local bush fire brigade, or share bad stories of one with another. Life is too short to start a war with one lest it escalate. I don’t feel like I need to take on the world if I can move on. Politely some should just be ignored, or humoured in some minor way. It’s likely some think the same or worse of me.

Critically, I try to avoid making any issue to be about the individual.

P.S.
I really only have 12 adjoining neighbours, including the local council with a reserve and the state forest lease holder who also controls the fire permits. The other ten exist opposite on the other side of a thin strip of bitumen that leads past our front gate.

That response is somewhat like of having a problem with a Harvey Norman franchise where the head office usually does not want to know about it and knocks it back to the offending franchise unless/until they have little choice in the matter because of related legalities or exposure it could be brand damaging.

Note Harcourts is a franchise and they might be replicating the long arm away that HN has been more or less successful with. Without stepping into the middle your issue would indeed be between an independent business and yourself, despite Harcourts name on the shingle at Caloundra. Harcourts only interest is their franchise income and reputation, so any local issues can be dismissed as being between, say, a franchise paying operator and a disgruntled customer. Most companies side with their income producer until they have no other choice during a dispute.

As with any franchise the quality of experience varies by franchisee, even when reasonable expectations are that there is consistency under the branding.

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No-one is saying anything about the ACL issue, i.e. the duplicity between the Published Values and the Actual Behaviour, which I had thought would be the main issue for this forum.
Published Values

Are “values” sufficiently nebulous as to be outside the ACL?

Also, it doesn’t seem as if you have entered into an arrangement with this company for the provision of any goods or services.

If you politely complain about something and the response is a torrent of personal abuse, that is rubbish customer service, no argument from me, but: Move on? Find a company that you want to deal with?

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Agree with @person.

Posted corporate values have little to do with the Australian Consumer Law. It is something the business or orgsnisation aspires to or encourages with its employees/agents. There may be cases where the values flow through to advertising or agreements when a service is engaged or product is purchased. In such case, what the agreement or advertising says is relevant to the ACL.

For example, a corporate value may be that a business maybe something like maximise benefits to a customer through maximising the vendors sale price. The agreement or marketing material with the real estate states that they ‘promise to get the best price for the customer/vendor’. One then decides to accept the services based on this only to find out later that the agent had a conflict of interest (say sold the property to a close friend) and knowlingly negotiated a sale price less than market value (viz. didn’t maximise the potential price for the customer). Then this may have ACL implications as they potentially have not upheld their side of the agreement/what they advertise.

Just because a corporate value may say something…such as ‘Being Courageous’ it doesn’t mean that under law they have to abide by these values for general contact with an organisation. If they don’t uphold their corporate values, over time such may impact on their reputation within the industry they work and that of potential customers.

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Anyone who leaves a 1 star review because they waited 2 days is the problem not the issue. Google and Facebook are both very quick to act when businesses complain of vexatious reviews. The reviewers own review history is usually the major factor in having reviews. As a small business owner I can’t stand people who react in such a childish manner.

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That’s correct because of the service I received. However my moving on is not relevant to the ACL issue I have raised in this forum.

What intrigues me is the level of BS that comes out of corporate announcements that are not fulfilled when it is inconvenient to do so, and as such the following is how I see it.

The ACL covers misleading or deceptive conduct or conduct that is likely to be misleading or deceptive, and it extends to all situations in the course of trade or commerce.

Clearly in this case the “Harcourt values" are representations about its business activities while intending to and in fact engaging in trade or commerce with consumers. The whole exercise is to polish the outward appearance of Harcourts so as to induce consumers to deal with the company or its franchises.

In my case, the representations did not come into fruition and there is a multitude of other cases where consumers dealing with Harcourts have found the representations not coming into fruition, which causes the consumer to wish he or she had never dealt with Harcourts in the first place.

Harcourts are not alone in this sort of activity, and there are a number of other real estate brands that are responsible for a considerable amount of consumer dissatisfaction. It seems that this has become the normal way of doing business in this particular industry.

The bottom line is that it is illegal for a business to engage in conduct that misleads or deceives or is likely to mislead or deceive consumers or other businesses. The ACL imposes a standard on the market place, and the relevant question is, was the consumer led into error?

The facts are :
• Harcourts’ representations (the Values and Philosophy) are made in trade or commerce;
• consumers are entitled to believe and be induced by the representations;
• when engaging with Harcourts some of the representations don’t come into fruition;
• as a result, depending on the circumstances, consumers that suffer a loss or damage are entitled to claim relief under the ACL;
• that relief include damages, injunction, rescission of contract (such as a rental lease) and other measures.

The matter can also be aggravated by Harcourts not bothering to even try to fix the problem it has created and just walks away from it, and it is my understanding the aggravated damages can be also awarded under the ACL.

I would be grateful if anyone can point out where the Harcourts conduct is an exception to the above.