When is lead generation underhanded?

We were box dropped with this DL flyer today at home:

 

Cool! A free home appraisal. Why not give it a go, so I pumped the URL into Firefox. I dutifully ‘click here’ on the home page and arrive at a form to fill out. Straightforward, name, email, phone and address of my house. But cynic that I am I click the Privacy link rather than the submit button. Hmmm, you have to read the policy most of the way down to find:

“By providing your personal information you consent to us and our sponsors and service providers using your personal information to provide you value added services. Based on your preference, this includes contacting you by telephone, mail or e-mail to discuss products and services. You also consent to us, our sponsors and service providers, offering you products and/or services which you may agree to purchase, and this extends to goods or services from us or any third party.”

OK, so by submitting the form I’m agreeing to be spammed by phone, email and mail, by homeguru and a whole bunch of other people (‘sponsors and service providers’) – none of whom are named. So how can I agree to that – I don’t know who they all are. How can I reasonably consent to something when I don’t know what it is?

Interestingly the How it Works page says:

“HomeGuru will search its database and match your requirements to property information and a qualified real estate professional in your local area.” Which kinda confirms that we’re going to get a call from a local real estate agent busting to help us sell our house. So clearly lead generating for the agent – presumably they’re paying for the referrals.

If you  dig all the way to the bottom of their terms of use page, in the absolutely last paragraph you find:

“HomeGuru has sourced and reproduced information published and compiled
by Australian Property Monitors Pty Ltd, ACN 061 438 006, ABN 42 061
438 006, PO Box 1300 (Suite 6, Level 2, 32A Oxford St) Darlinghurst
2010 NSW (Publisher).”

Suddenly everything makes sense. APM is a business that collates property sales information and sells, you guessed it, property valuation reports – they get a big run on the Fairfax sites. In fact their web site has Fairfax digital all over it.

Registrant    Australian Property Monitors
Registrant ID    OTHER 061 434 006
Eligibility Type    Other
Registrant ROID    C3001750-AR
Registrant Contact Name    Admin Contact Fairfax Digital
Registrant Email    domainnameadmin@f2.com.au
Tech ID    2784822163
Tech Name    Tech Contact Fairfax Digital
Tech Email    hostmaster@f2.com.au
Name Server    ns2.fairfax.com.au
Name Server IP    203.5.59.241
Name Server    ns1.fairfax.com.au
Name Server IP    203.26.177.241

HomeGuru.com.au has something different:

Registrant HomeGuru Pty Ltd
Registrant ID ABN 59117524982
Eligibility Type Company
Registrant ROID C2220423-AR
Registrant Contact Name Nick Torpy
Registrant Email domains@massmedia.com.au

So the HomeGuru site is produced by massmedia.com.au, a Sydney-based web dev company (APM is also Sydney based)

Conclusion. Either a) homeguru.com.au is a little enterprise that is essentially making  money by onselling APM reports and agent referrals. Or b) it’s actually APM with a little smoke and mirrors marketing – creating a new brand, spamming the letterboxes of the suburbs with a standard bait campaign – promise ’em a freebie (probably just a little subset of data from one of the normal paid reports) in return for building a mailing list.

A little poking around brings up this YouTube video.
Ahha, homeguru is a lead generator for real estate agents. Presumably
an agent pays for the marketing campaign in their area and receives a
database of everyone who responds.

My problem with all this is that it’s bordering on sneaky. The print brochure makes no mention of APM, or a paid property report. It has headlines like ‘Your free online property report awaits!’.

The web site is the same. The registration form makes no mention that by signing up you’re giving permission for a whole bunch of nameless businesses to contact you. Well, you would know, if you clicked through to the privacy statement and read every paragraph carefully all the way down.

And finally, if this is actually an APM ‘front’, why not just be up front and say so instead of hiding behind mirrors.

Interestingly, if you Google homeguru you get an AdWords ad:

 Homeguru.com.au
Accurate, Up-to-Date Sales Data,
Rent Returns, Growth, Title Search
MYRP.com.au

MYRP is a Queensland based business doing the same as APM – collating property sales data and selling it as valuation reports etc. One would have presumed they are a competitor to APM. So, do they own homeguru (and are buying data from APM) or are they doing a naughty and buying the names of competitors on AdWords?

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