Haart sent out a direct mailing to homeowners with properties already on the market which appeared to be a hand-written note on a compliment slip and included a stamped addressed envelope.
The unsollicited note read “Re. Your home – Please call me as a matter of urgency quoting reference no. xxx, Regards Lesley Miller”.
It went on to say in the small print: “haart is a trading name of Spicerhaart Limited … If you have instructed another agent on a sole and/or selling rights basis, the terms of those instructions must be considered to avoid a possible liability to pay two commissions”.
The complainant objected that the ad caused undue distress and was misleading, because it did not make clear that it was marketing material – having called one of the numbers shown she realised that the estate agent was interested in selling her home.
The ASA upheld the complaint concluding that the mailing was “misleading and likely to cause distress”. The ASA says the handwritten appearance of the text was likely to give the impression that a note had been prepared specifically for the recipient.
Because it was not clear that the mailing was a marketing communication, the ASA also considered the text ” … as a matter of urgency … ” would be likely to cause alarm.
Haart has been told that the mailing must not be used again in its current form and in future it must make sure all marketing material is clearly presented as such.