Channel 4 Dispatches has raised an important matter. We were contacted by the filmmakers and stressed the point to them that too many consumers are unaware that these practices are illegal and therefore fail to complain.
The key issue at the heart of this matter is consumer education. We hope programmes such as these assist in raising awareness and educating consumers so they understand their rights and can identify when and how to complain.
TPO independently investigates consumer complaints against registered agents to resolve disputes but it does not have the power to prosecute. That power rests with Trading Standards, who we work closely with.
We will be seeking assurances from the firms featured in last night's programme that the action they have publicly promised has been implemented to ensure every consumer is treated fairly in accordance with TPO's Code of Practice. While the Code provides a comprehensive set of standards to protect consumers, effective industry regulation is the only way to stamp out this sort of behaviour.
While TPO has no jurisdiction over financial advisers, we would emphasise that if any individual feels they have been disadvantaged by the actions of an estate agent they should contact TPO in the first instance to seek guidance on what steps they can take to make a complaint.
To view the C4 Dispatches programme, visit: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od