Purplebricks Opens A Restaurant

Mike Cole

I should start by saying this is a hypothetical scenario and is not actually the case. It does, however, serve as very useful imagery to help me explain why the ‘Commisery’ adverts that have been such a success for them, are so inherently misleading.

Let’s say the Purplebricks restaurant offers a decent middle of the road meal but for half the price of a traditional restaurant. You’d be suspicious, right? You suspect the offering has to cut some corners to offer the meal for half the price, but as you don’t like the traditional restaurants, you want to give this a try to see if it’s not ‘too good to be true’. There is a catch, however… You have to pay for the meal as soon as you get to the restaurant. That’s the deal. And no refunds, no matter what. And it includes a 10% service charge/tip. 

Service standards

How good would the service be if the staff have had their tip already? What if the food was awful? However, you wanted to try it and try it you will. So you pay upfront.

In the restaurant are ten tables with guests having made the same decision as you.  Three of those tables receive their meal promptly. It tastes okay so they feel their gamble has paid off. The other 7 tables have now waited over an hour. In any normal situation, they would have walked out ages ago but they stay as they have already paid. The inclination is to keep waiting and hoping. Eventually, a couple more tables are served. The remaining 5 tables never get served and go home hungry and begrudging the money they have paid.

That is the Purplebricks offering.

Pay now, with no guarantee of success, no idea how long it will take and no incentive to deliver a service, let alone a good one. At best it’s 50/50 if you are paying for nothing. Even if you get a sale in part they may well have been because you hung around with them so long having already paid up front.

Earning commission is not a crime. It’s been painted as this seedy, unsavoury thing that people look down upon. Yet most people I know who are on commission based packages are driven, hardworking, motivated, prepared to back themselves to get a result. In fact the very people I would want trying to sell my property for me.

If you are offered a bonus at work to achieve better results, don’t you rise to the challenge and want to give your best? If you’re self-employed, you are basically 100% commission based. Your entire income is based on your own performance. So you must know how it feels and can’t consider it unsavoury. 

Estate Agency is one of the very few businesses where the company and staff only earn a penny if the transaction is agreed and then goes all the way through. A process that is taking 6 – 7 months currently. How many other people would work on a project where they only received a penny 7 months later? I’m aware there are faults with estate agents of course, but being paid commission is NOT one of them. 

Selling your home is a long and often painful process. Having someone on your side, who will only get paid if everything works out, seems to me a pretty good way to ensure that person stays on their game and provides you with a good service and support.

Online upfront payments are more than 50% likely to bring MISERY. If paying a commission for a service you will only ever pay if the job is done in full, represents Commisery, give me more. I’d like to pay for all the services I employ that way.

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