Realestate.com.au Email Enquiry Delivery Problems?

This morning it was reported to me by one of our staff members that enquiries that were made by buyers weeks ago on www.realestate.com.au have just been turning up in the mail.

Now in many offices it is not unusual for salespeople to be handling enquries days and even weeks later but that is not a problem we normally have. At first nobody noticed and we went about handling the enquiries as they came in. Then a couple of buyers complained that it had taken us to long to get back to them, but the problem was we had only had the enquiry turn up in some cases minutes before hand.

Checking the email and in the top left hand corner REA places the date of that enquiry and for the example of this I am going to use, the enquiry was made on  the 8th of May yet was only delivered this morning at 8:01am on the 20th of June.

When this was brought to my attention I checked the email headers (which I will paste in full at the end) which reveals  that the delay appears to be happening inside REA servers.

The first step in the process was server trea29.telstra.realestate.com.au receiving the email on  Thu,  8 May 2008 22:14:01 +1000 (EST)

But server trea29.telstra.realestate.com.au did not send it to server mhub02.telstra.realestate.com.au until Fri, 20 Jun 2008 08:01:39 +1000 (EST) and the  last delivery in the process which was to our server was done straight after that.

A quick check reveals we have been receiving these old emails for a few days now.

This raises a few questions:

Has anybody else experienced this problem?

I am no expert in mail transport, but have had some reasonable experience but can somebody go through the email headers below and confirm my suspicions?

How wide is the problem and who was effected?

When you unstick a mail queue the stalled emails should come flooding in within a very short time.  Why are they trickling through now over several days? Is it to slowly introduce the emails into the normal stream of enquiries so as not to raise suspicions?  It if was not for the date on the emails showing that the buyer filled it out 6 weeks ago I would never have even checked the email headers.

If I am correct why did REA not notice that emails had been stuck in internal mail queues?  That seems like a gross oversight to have emails missing for 6 weeks.  I will go through all the emails received over the past few days to see if there is a pattern.

Cut and Paste of Email Headers Below  (enquirers email address has been xxxx’d out)

********************************************************************

Microsoft Mail Internet Headers Version 2.0

Received: from mhub02.telstra.realestate.com.au ([203.58.57.129]) by nfnserver.NFN.local with Microsoft SMTPSVC(5.0.2195.6713);

Fri, 20 Jun 2008 08:01:29 +1000

Received: from trea29.telstra.realestate.com.au ([172.20.1.29])

by mhub02.telstra.realestate.com.au (8.12.11/8.12.11) with ESMTP id m5JM1K8Q076374

for <enquiry@nfn.com.au>; Fri, 20 Jun 2008 08:01:39 +1000 (EST)

(envelope-from www@realestate.com.au)

Received: by trea29.telstra.realestate.com.au (Postfix, from userid 105)

id 0B97737ACAD; Thu,  8 May 2008 22:14:01 +1000 (EST)

Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=”_———-=_1210248841283681″

MIME-Version: 1.0

X-Mailer: MIME::Lite 3.01 (F2.74; B3.07; Q3.07)

Date: Thu, 8 May 2008 22:14:01 +1000

To: enquiry@nfn.com.au

From: info@realestate.com.au

Reply-To: xxxxx@hotmail.com

Subject: realestate.com.au Enquiry: 104869853 – 19 Mandarin Court NERANG 4211

Message-Id: <20080619215144.0B97737ACAD@trea29.telstra.realestate.com.au>

Return-Path: www@realestate.com.au

X-OriginalArrivalTime: 19 Jun 2008 22:01:29.0890 (UTC) FILETIME=[07255020:01C8D258]

X-CT-RefID: str=0001.0A150203.485AD747.008F:SCFMA772278,ss=1,fgs=0

X-Spam-Flag: NO

X-Spam-Status: NO, hits=3 required=5 tests=CTENGINE_UNKNOWN,DATE_IN_PAST_96_XX,DNS_AVAILABLE,FIRST_UNTRUSTED_NO_RDNS,FS_UNTRUSTED_2,HTML_MESSAGE,RDNS_NONE,FS_CLASS_SPAM_3

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About Glenn Batten

Glenn Batten is the General Manager at First National Real Estate Nerang and Principal at the First National Real Estate Upper Coomera office and has over 20 years real estate experience and a passion for technology. Glenn has been writing from an agents perspective on industry issues and covering a range of topics on Business2 since 2007.

59 Responses to Realestate.com.au Email Enquiry Delivery Problems?

  1. Peter Ricci June 20, 2008 at 11:24 am #

    I can tell you this has caused me about 4 hours work. I have been trying to find out from many companies what the issue was and now I know.

    I had clients call me last night and this morning about this and I was at a loss, great work Glenn.

    This is a serious problem, many agents reputations are all about getting back to prospective buyers and tenants in a timely manner.

  2. Robert Simeon June 20, 2008 at 11:29 am #

    I have been emailing Dave Platter about this very same problem – I thought they were on another of their bogus traffic drives. Thus far I have received over 50 past enquiries some dating back to April. A pain in the backside having to check every enquiry now. Not to mention responding back to the parties and then looking like an absolute dope.

    Maybe REA is moving over from Dial – Up which is causing the problems 🙂

  3. Glenn Batten June 20, 2008 at 11:33 am #

    Ok.. so the problem appears real enough.. Now lets figure out how widespread it is. So far we have enquries in April and May.

    Maybe REA would like to explain why they did not pick this up for 6 weeks, and why they seemed to have hidden it from the industry?

    Lets hope REA do the right thing now.

  4. Glenn Batten June 20, 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    Wow.. this is just getting scary now..

    1 out of 4 servers .. thats a possible 25% email enquries effected.

    Thats 69 days to identify and rectify the problem.

    Assuming that they knew about it at least 24 hours before they fixed it, thats at least three or four days that they have remained silent on the issue allowing agents to embarrass themselves replying to enquiries up to two months late.

    So I guess I will ask what somepeople are alreayd thinking… what does everyone reckon is going to be a fair compensation and what do they need to do to make it right?

    The better release something quick as I have a feeling fairfax newspapers might be covering this story tomorrow 🙂

  5. adam June 20, 2008 at 12:11 pm #

    Tell the papers anyway Glenn. Why should someone like REA be exempt from scrutiny by the media when they messup ?

  6. Paul June 20, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    Hello,
    This morning we received 32 emails dating back up to 6 weeks. Our sales guys are ringing as many as we can and returning emails but the feed back we have gotten from the phone calls has been terrible. Some cant remember the initial enquiry and others have commented on how slack we are for not returning email enquiries promptly. I operate a large firm on the Mornington Peninsula and this has no doubt cost us $1,000’s of dollars and makes us look unbelievably slack!

    NOT GOOD!

    I wonder if realestate.com.au will consider a full refund for our monthly subscription costs for the last 6 weeks?

  7. Robert Simeon June 20, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    What REA needs to advise the *paying* clients is whether these are emails that are being replicated or are they emails that have been sitting on there server and only just now being sent ?

    Whatever the case this is not acceptable practice given that we are the ones bring their problems to their attention! And their silence is golden !

  8. Marcus Sintome June 20, 2008 at 12:13 pm #

    Just spoke to some of the big guys at realestate.com.au

    15 of their email servers have been corrupt for 4 weeks or more not sending out emails. Discovered yesterday afternoon, and their mail queues began sending all the email that was waiting.

    They are drafting an apology email to all of us today which we should recieve and be able to forward onto our clients.

    Quite a mess really, I’d not want to be them right now.

    There may be some double-ups if emails received go back longer than 4 weeks ago, so be careful.

  9. Dave Platter June 20, 2008 at 12:15 pm #

    Dave for realestate.com.au here.

    First of all, to everyone reading this who has had this problem, let me express realestate.com.au’s sincere apologies.

    We know it is painful, disruptive and costly to get email leads late and we’re very sorry. Truly.

    THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM
    As soon as they discovered the problem, the tech team went on high alert and they have now found the source and solved it. The trouble was traced to problems with several of the mail servers.

    NO LEADS LOST
    I’m also told that, thankfully, no email enquiries have been lost. I know that a late enquiry is nowhere near as good as an on-time one, but at least it’s something.

    Over the next 24 hours you should receive whatever email enquiries were delayed and stored in the email servers since this issue commenced. (Unfortunately, you may get some duplicates.)

    We know these emails are critical to your business. We are reviewing our current internal processes to ensure that this never happens again.

    MORE INFO
    I’m told that agents can get more info from their Account Managers or from the Customer Care Centre on 1300 134 174.

    Also, I’ll do my best at answering any questions posted here.

    Again, our sincere apologies for this problem.

  10. Glenn Batten June 20, 2008 at 12:16 pm #

    Adam,

    No need to tell the papers..

    Domain subscribe this blog as much as the REA guys do.

  11. Peter Ricci June 20, 2008 at 12:29 pm #

    Dave, it is good that REA have found the problem and rectified. I think all internal scrutiny should be on how long it took to find out the problem. I am sure REA will make sure that their server reports this to IT department earlier than the current practice that is in place.

  12. Neil June 20, 2008 at 12:42 pm #

    Dave

    “NO LEADS LOST
    I

  13. Chris Hinds June 20, 2008 at 11:49 am #

    From my discussions with colleagues over the past 24 hours it seems that this problem is widespead across the country. In our Ray White Brisbane CBD office we have just recieved enquires with the earliest dating back to April 10.

    After a quick call to REA yesterday it was revealed one of their four servers have been not operating for a certain period of time (i would say from at least April 10). They assured us that this problem was fixed 2 days ago but we are still recieving past enquiries today.

    This is not the first time this has happened either. I recall around 1 – 2 years ago this same situation occured but in the sellers market we were then experiencing we had buyers coming in from all directions and it was not hugely noticed. I have my assistants contacting these buyers this morning only to find out they have purchased and moved on because we neglected to return their enquiry.

    Perhaps I still can have some faith in internet marketing??? Over the past four weeks I have been advising my clients to direct their Vendor Paid Marketing into the Print Media as advertising on REA is no longer generating enquiry.

    Perhaps REA owns to big a portion of News Limited?

  14. Dave Platter June 20, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    Dave for realestate.com.au here again.

    I just learned that I made a mistake in my earlier comment.

    In fact, you will not receive any duplicate emails.

    You may, however, receive more than one email if, for example, a person’s first email got stuck and they decided to send another and that one also got stuck.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  15. Glenn Batten June 20, 2008 at 1:11 pm #

    I have had quite a bit of feedback on this offline including a couple of calls from Dave Platter at REA.

    I told Dave that the common thread of frustration/dissappointment/anger to me and by me was over two main issues.

    Firstly, that it took so long to identify. It has certainly being going on for a month but some have reported it going back as early as April 10th. Thats 10 weeks! Quite frankly, this sort of error should be picked up within minutes or certainly hours.. . Not Weeks and Months.

    The second is when they found it why didn’t they tell us. We would have all handled those emails differently.

    Dave mentioned that their standard operating procedures have been changed to ensure this does not happen again. As I pointed out, it is was that easy to setup proper monitoring in such a quick time, it should have been there in the first place. Somebody somewhere stuffed up.

    Dave advised that the problems seem to have occurred after an update but that only makes the problem worse. Any IT staff know that the time after an upgrade is critical as if it is going to fail, that is probably the time it will do it.

    Mistakes happen, computers fail and they will continue to do but this in my opinion has been caused by negligence by someone in http://www.realestate.com.au. How could a company if its size not have monitoring in place on its mail servers. Every agent I have spoken with has had somewhere between 50 and 100 emails effected so far. By my calculations that could mean as many as one million emails did not get delivered. Maybe more.

    Since finding the problem realestate.com.au seems to have been totally reactive regarding this issue instead of being proactive and that has been to the detriment to agents. Whilst notices are up on account logins today, account managers are taking and making calls and apologies have been given and more will be offered officially soon, nothing happened from http://www.realestate.com.au until this broke.

    The damage was always going to be big, but it could still have been minimised a little if agents were given a heads up instead of blundering blindly into it.

    I asked Dave if REA has considered the issue of compensation yet and he advised that is a matter to be taken up with the account managers and they will go to bat for us on our individual cases.

    Obviously if they decide to refund or partially refund for the effected months, it is cheaper to do that one on one for everyone who asks rather than right across the whole client base.

    I trust they have learnt from this.

    If I remember correctly News Ltd newspapers couldn’t help themselves when the Domain site went down and ran a story on it. I reckon the Fairfax guys have been waiting for their revenge!

  16. David Meadowcroft June 20, 2008 at 1:12 pm #

    I have had dozens of old enquiries come through, including 2 from buyers who actually bought the property they enquired on, but from other salespeople in my office. I am left to assume that when I didn’t reply to their enquiry, they called the office anyway – this translates to a substantial $ cost to me personally, but won’t hold my breath for any form of compensation – they know they have us (agents) in a position that we are hardly going to cancel our subscription.

  17. Neil June 20, 2008 at 1:31 pm #

    Just had a response from an email I sent to our REA Account Manager this morning. Was told that this problem was only brought to her attention at 10am today. So it seems agents were not the only ones left in the dark.
    Was also told that I am one of over 40 agents in the area who have contacted her today regarding this problem.

    She also mention new product being released later today.
    You

  18. Coastal Agent June 20, 2008 at 1:38 pm #

    I’ve received enquires this morning going back to early last month also and possibly missed out on two sales and have definately missed one great lsiting.

    Wouldn’t it have been pretty easy for the realestate.com.au eggheads to place a message on the enquiry form that the email servers weren’t working so to contact the agent by phone instead. Oh, of course REA wouldn’t give a stuff as long as they’re getting their monthly subscription fee.

    Good luck to anyone trying to get compensation! Personally, I think REA should reimburse every subscriber one months subscription over the mess and their own lack of action. Seriously, how long does it take to get an email server back online!

  19. Craig June 20, 2008 at 1:59 pm #

    “Wouldn

  20. Robert Simeon June 20, 2008 at 2:25 pm #

    I did receive a call of apology from Dave Platter who was under the impression that an email to all agents was/is in the process of being sent out advising of this monumental stuff-up.

    It just dawned on me why such an email is still yet to arrive hours and hours after this was identified. If it took months and months for recent emails to arrive given they are still using their state of the art technologies – this email will arrive in your inbox sometime between September and October this year!

  21. TomS June 20, 2008 at 2:54 pm #

    This is a good indicator as to how well agents manage their email leads in this day and age. No one noticed a 25% (or more) drop in leads for the 10 week period mentioned. Were any alarm bells ringing?

  22. Glenn Batten June 20, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    You could not help yourself Robert could you 🙂

    Along with Neil’s new product announcement of “Guaranteed Good Email Server” this will be the subject of a few jokes.

    There is a serious side here that REA will be contemplating and that is probably the reason for the delay.

    I doubt they will want to provide compensation right across the board.

    Why?

    Lets say for arguments sake agents demand compensation… and get it.. Lets say that everyone gets a 50% reduction for the two effected months. That equates to a 1/12 th reduction in base subscription revenue. That sort of reduction in revenue can seriously effect profits. That would effect company budgets and cashflows and an effect like that you would have to think would make them obligated to trigger an announcement to the market being a public company. In this day no public company needs a negative announcement like this. They will get bad press, I think that is just about guaranteed. They might be able to get News Ltd to drop or play down the story, but I doubt Fairfax will do that.

    Despite this I honestly think we deserve compensation and we should get it. We pay for lead generation and clearly those leads were not delivered so there is a matter of a lack of fundamental service, then the actual damage concerned. This is not a normal downtime or delay one could reasonably expect from the service. This is extraordinary and as previously stated I believe was due to somebodies negligence in either failing to check and respond to monitoring alerts, or failing to have them in place in the first instance. REA did not even notify agents in a timely matter so agents could minimise those damages. Remember even now the majority of the agents probably would not know about this issue still.

    I bet there are some major discussions going on around a few tables at REA right now. Lets see if they can come up with a solution that is a win win for us all.

  23. Robert Simeon June 20, 2008 at 3:04 pm #

    Tom – firstly we were under the impression that we actually were paying REA to do that!!

    Secondly, we are in a fast declining market where numbers have reduced dramatically.

    Of course blame the agents when it is abundantly clear that REA are still hiding and have not sent any form of online communication to the agents. Now that sends alarm bells – an online business with no customer service it appears.

  24. Anonymous June 20, 2008 at 3:11 pm #

    I’m going to probably be shot down for this but I feel the following needs to be said. Disclaimer – I used to work at REA. That’s all I’ll say. I have ambivalent feelings about the company now.

    I can imagine that a lot of agents will be feeling sick to the stomach at the loss of all those leads, and REA obviously would be too, but I feel it’s important to ask the following:

    How come agents didn’t notice that their email leads from REA had suddenly dried up? This could mean that either the volume of the leads wasn’t that substantial, or perhaps they are not perceived as important as a phone or face-to-face lead?

    I’d suggest that email leads are more passive than other forms, and if they were really keen on buying a property or selling with an agent they would want to phone or meet in person. Sure, it reflects bad on the agent that they didn’t respond, but if they didn’t receive a response from an one agent it would be the same for all the contacted by those enquiry forms.

    I’m not condoning what has happened. REA is majorly at fault on this, and needs to provide assurance it can’t happen again. However, be realistic about the real losses here. If agents were responding to all email enquiries urgently as a matter of course, wouldn’t they notice sooner that they dropped to nothing for a prolonged period?

    There seems to be a lot of indignation about this that possibly is residual anger for the position of power REA has. Companies are made up of fallible people – Everyone makes mistakes and technology can make us rely on it too much.

    Hopefully this will give REA a kick up the backside though. They certainly have rested on their laurels on the tech front – the site layout has not been updated in nearly four years and is way behind when it should be leading the way.

  25. TomS June 20, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    A small feature of REAs extensive feature set was unavailable for 1 in 4 emails leads. I agree, for an E-Business, not good. But this needs to be considered in this perspective. This was obviously no “show stopper” that some are making it out to be. No agents even noticed.

    There is a wider discussion here regarding Lead Management by real estate agents in the internet age. Where are the checks and balances, the analytics? Did anyone speak to a prospective buy who commented that they had sent an email enquiry that was followed up with a phone call? Did the agent then check that they did in fact receive the email from that person. And if not, follow it up with the portal in question?

  26. Anon June 20, 2008 at 3:55 pm #

    Had anybody actually heard anything from REA prior to recieving the “stuck” emails or were they just like the rest of us and had to find that out by looking like a fool to the lost clients?

  27. Glenn Batten June 20, 2008 at 4:11 pm #

    Anon.
    We are not talking all email enquiries so they did not drop to nothing. Just some of them. As to a percentage we dont really know.

    Tom S
    Who said nobody noticed? I can tell you every agent I know has certainly noticed their enquiry is down but till now much of that was believe to be the market.

    Lead management is certainly an issue with real estate agents but many agents do followup correctly and even the bad agents would probably respond inside 10 weeks.

    How can an agent have checks and balances on something they did not get? REA have admitted to me that they have taken calls on this before even going so far as to blame it (incorrectly as they now admit) on the agent’s own email server. How much did he spend on a technician looking for a problem that was not his? You also have feedback on this forum where buyers have sent multiple emails.

    I think the agents and salespeople commenting are placing it in their perspective. You have feedback that buyers have bought from other salespeople in the office, from other offices. You have feedback that buyers thought it was terrible service. I dont think anybody has suggested it was a show stopper but it certainly has had an effect and I think the people effected are viewing it in the only perspective they can.. their own.

    also … Just for a bit of disclosure TomS are you still an REA shareholder??…I seem to recall Robert outing you having a substanial holding a while back.. I think you first bought in at 32c didn’t you boast? What are they now.. $4.50??

    Your comments in the past have most often focused on REA investment orientated matters including quoting information out of the annual returns, promoting REA statistics and the like, providing quotes from the financial review. In fact isn’t it fair to say that you have been a one man REA propaganda machine on this site in the past?

    Before you condemn agents for approaching the issue from their perspective you might want to be a bit more open and transparent with your own perspective and bias.

    Its called disclosure and it is very important wouldn’t you think Tom!

  28. Robert Simeon June 20, 2008 at 4:35 pm #

    Important Message regarding your email enquiries

    It has come to our attention that there has been an issue in the sending of email enquiries generated from realestate.com.au to some of our customers. We offer our sincere apologies to those who have experienced delays or disruptions in receiving their email enquiries from us.
    Our technical team has now identified and resolved the issue, which was caused by a problem with the upgrade of our email servers.
    What does this mean for your agency?
    Firstly, no email enquiries have been lost, and only a small number of customers have been impacted. Over the next 24 hours you will receive all the email enquiries that have been stored in our email servers since this issue was identified.
    We understand that receiving these emails is critical to your business and therefore are reviewing our current internal processes to ensure that this issue does not occur in the future.
    We have created a communication template that outlines the above, that you may choose to send to your customers to help explain the delay in responding to their enquiry. If you would like a copy of this template please click here.
    If you have any further questions please call your Account Manager or our Customer Care Centre on 1300 134 174.
    Yours Sincerely,

    Jamie Pride
    General Manager – Australia
    realestate.com.au

    Warning – This email transmission may contain confidential information. If you have received this transmission in error, please notify us immediately on (61 3) 9897 1121 or reply by email to the sender. You must destroy the email immediately and not use, copy, distribute or disclose the contents. Thank you.

  29. Kathy Lewis June 20, 2008 at 4:44 pm #

    Our office has already lost one listing through this monumental stuff up. What else have we lost? I guess we will not know for some time. Also in a small town what will the clients who did not have their enquiry attended to say about our office. I am sure we will know this sooner rather than later.

  30. Peter Ricci June 20, 2008 at 4:47 pm #

    Robert, I think you didn’t read warning message, or you did and you are just a renegade!

  31. Neil June 20, 2008 at 5:00 pm #

    TomS said –

  32. Robert Simeon June 20, 2008 at 5:00 pm #

    Peter – um err !! A unique renegade I believe given that I was one of the first to notice these anomalies. Reassuring to read that in REA’s opinion that

    * No emails have been lost (just a couple of months behind)

    * Only a small number of customers have been impacted (not sure what they think small is as every agent I spoke with has been effected) We received approximately 60 emails!)

    Nice to see that their arrogance continues to reign supreme. As some would have it this is actually the agents fault. 🙂

  33. Deb Stephens June 20, 2008 at 5:04 pm #

    Our vendors will be very disappointed that enquiries have not come through when they discover they have lost potential buyers. We had many emails come through from the past six weeks this morning. One person sent multiple emails and accused us of ignoring her emails and insinuated we were unprofessional – which we obviously did not receive. Another we called back who said he went and bought another block of land (from interstate) because the other agent contacted him immediately and he heard nothing from us. Others we have called back have laughed, bought elsewhere again and said it it too late. I hope the public will be notified of this massive error in the mass media as it is making agents look like they are making excuses for not responding to emails and “being slack” when we have been not receiving the service we are paying realestate.com.au to provide to our Vendors ultimately – and they haved missed out in some instances.

  34. Greg Vincent June 20, 2008 at 5:05 pm #

    I find it bazaar that something that is obviously the fault of realestate.com.au can be turned around & made out to be the agents fault. Fair go.

    Agents battle everyday to raise people’s impressions of them in the marketplace. You can only imagine the hammering behind the scenes that the agents have recieved due to not being able to respond to an enquiry in the first place.

    No wonder a large number of the agents have been finding it a bit tough lately. It’s like someone turned the tap off or at least restricted the flow to like a Level 5 water restriction.

    No one has really mentioned the vendor, imagine if they’re in a hurry to sell & now that the agent goes back to those enquiries & they’ve bought elsewhere. They may have achieved a better price or perhaps a quicker sale.

    There’s also the expats that normally only communicate via email, I wonder what has happened to them ?

    As the stories of missed opportunities unfold I think you’ll find that there will be even more anger from upset consumers than there will be real estate agents. The agents are only going to add the fuel if there is no compensation.

    In this day and age we all know that people power can really turn on companies big time. That would be my greatest concern if I was sitting around the table of REA.

  35. Glenn Batten June 20, 2008 at 5:14 pm #

    Peter, I believe the instructions you refer to are only if he received it in error, which obviously he didn’t.

  36. Michael June 20, 2008 at 5:26 pm #

    As a company with two offices in Melbourne we have received over 60 emails today dating back to mid April. Of those contacted, all were dissappointed and all have commented that they thought we were just ‘slack’ in replying, some have bought elsewhere, therefore potentially costing us thousands of dollars. We are frustrated with realestate.com.au, this being one of several on-going problems we have experienced. I certainly will be looking for compensation in the same way they ‘police’ their clients.

  37. David Meadowcroft June 20, 2008 at 5:43 pm #

    Did I hear someone say “Class action”?

  38. Colin Bice June 20, 2008 at 6:24 pm #

    Just came to my attention all this.
    If you delve deeper you’ll probably find this goes back a lot further than you think.
    We found this problem last year.
    Tell you what to do.
    Vote with your feet.
    We do fine with all the opposition.
    It’s a lot cheaper and our sales havent suffered at all.

  39. SSSR June 20, 2008 at 6:54 pm #

    Colin, you raise an interesting point. You seem to be one of a very few brave agents who dont use REA and find that it hasnt hindered your business. A proactive agency and marketing plan can deliver results without REA by the seemings. I wonder how many other agents would be brave enough to step away from the security blanket to see if the results could be the same? All it takes is few to start.

  40. Greg Vincent June 20, 2008 at 7:22 pm #

    What a total stuff up. I just opened an email I recieved the other day & thought it was impeccable timing. Congratulations REA on your recent nomination.

    The 2008 Inman Innovator Award finalists.

    Most Innovative Media Site

    Frontdoor
    OpenHouse.com
    REA Group
    RealtyTrac
    Zolve

    The Inman Innovator Awards recognize companies that use technology and innovation to enhance the real estate transaction and experience for consumers and real estate professionals.

  41. Peter Ricci June 20, 2008 at 9:59 pm #

    To all the first time bloggers on this site to comment, welcome, we love this feedback and we welcome your opinions on many other matters that are posted here. This site has been developed since the year 2000 to serve agents and consumers about the impact of technology on the real estate industry. So to all of you, thanks and keep the comments coming.

  42. Craig Adams June 20, 2008 at 11:36 pm #

    I’m a Melbourne based agent who until today had a very close relationship with REA and I’ve been very happy to this point. That relationship is based on my interaction with my account rep who is more than happy to assist, follow up and if required train our staff.

    It’s fairly obvious from talking to both her and other agents in our area (yes we talk!) that questions were being asked by REA sales staff on behalf of their customers weeks ago. These requests for investigation seem to have been treated with light regard by those up the tree within the IT team until the email explosion occurred yesterday.

    Our business will survive and we wait for a speedy and thorough REA response but I believe the internal reaction to the incompetence and deafness from within could be swifter.

    Rule 1. Listen to and talk to your external customer
    Rule 2. Listen to and talk to your internal customer who is probably the contact with the external customer
    Rule 3. Go back to Rule 1.

  43. Bill Shields June 20, 2008 at 11:53 pm #

    I can confirm this for the corporate groups ljhooker.com.au and stockdale & leggo and PRDnationwide. We’ve been getting irate enquires from offices. I also have emails from offices stating that REA were blaming us.

    Given the challenging real estate market conditions at the moment, this is shocking timing.

  44. Rick Wraight June 21, 2008 at 9:11 am #

    No one has mentioned delayed emails from realholidays.com.au [ REA’s holiday accommodation web site]
    Yesterday we recieved 20+ delayed emails dating back to May 16th for holiday accommodation…..the total potential rental figure was around $30K…..most enquirers we immediatly phoned to find they had booked elswhere….including a couple from the UK for a 3 months holiday booking who told us they will then purchase a home in our town.
    Unfortunatly not with our office as they have booked elsewhere and are already in dialogue with that agent[ Domain subscriber] about a number of properties for sale.!!

    Amazingly it took REA 6 weeks to discover the fault…..risk management?…..public company?…share holders?…report to ASX of possible class action?
    REA will have to do more for us than that pretty weak apology.

  45. Shane June 21, 2008 at 11:22 am #

    That’s quite a stuff up. I get upset when our server is down for half an hour, but losing so many email enquiries must really hurt. To say that none of the leads were ‘lost’ is ridiculous, if the customer has gone elsewhere, the lead has definitely been lost!

  46. Glenn Batten June 21, 2008 at 1:18 pm #

    It’s only natural for them to down play it in the hopes it will fade away, but so many people have been effected I think if they try and ignore them it will backfire in their face. They have to face up to their responsibilities.

  47. adam June 21, 2008 at 1:25 pm #

    My bet is they will ‘deaf it’ or make a cursory offer of compensation and wait for us all to forget about it. Lets face it, with their attitude in the past, they are thinking to themselves ‘Where else will the agents go?”

    OH, and I wonder when we will get rate increases this year for their tired, old looking, user unfreindly and decidedly NOT Web 2.0 system ?

  48. melissa June 21, 2008 at 2:15 pm #

    I made several enquires on realestate.com.au and wondered why there was no reply. I’m glad to know it wasn’t the agents themselves that were at fault – they have a bad enough time as it is. I lost out on a home I was interested in and very annoyed about it. I should say that I did finally receive replies to my emails but only yesterday. Too late for me and I must admit I thought the agents were at fault but thanks to this blog can now see it wasn’t the poor agent. I think buyers should be told of the grave mistake and hopefully the media will say something so you guys have a break for a change.

  49. Robert Simeon June 21, 2008 at 3:26 pm #

    An apology on their website homepage accepting responsibility would be an intelligent start.

    What has many talking about is just how a perceived IT savvy business can allow 2,000,000 plus email enquiries to sit idle on a server for weeks and months without anyone noticing?

    This is without a doubt the most embarrasing online stuff-up in Australia’s history. And I am sure that collectively the real estate industry will hold them accountable for their lack of action this won’t be swept under the server.

  50. Greg Vincent June 21, 2008 at 5:34 pm #

    To be able to claim some sort of compensation is it prudent for agents to keep these emails as a reference or would REA be hoping that the emails are now seen as useless by the agents & hope that they are all deleted ? I’m no barrister but isn’t it going to be hard for an agent/client to claim any compensation without the physical proof ?

  51. Glen June 22, 2008 at 12:30 am #

    Checking out the investor site of realestate.com.au it looks like the person we should be questioning is Chris Vulovic – their “Chief Information and Operating Officer”.

    The title is rather ironic. From Wikipedia: Dramatic Irony is “when words and actions possess a significance that the listener or audience understands, but the speaker or character does not.”

    Glenn

  52. AJ June 22, 2008 at 1:47 am #

    Bill Shields –

    Your market monitor product is interesting… particularly the wording… reads like your company scrapes agents websites of listings (publicly available) to do comparative stats for your customers… ?

    http://www.inhabit.com.au/am-MarketMonitor.htm

  53. Coastal Agent June 22, 2008 at 7:11 pm #

    It’s interesting to note the number of people giving comments along the lines of ‘the agent should have realised weeks ago’. Has anyone ever tried to resolve anything with REA support people? Typical IT people I found; nothing is ever wrong on their side of the equation, it’s just that everyone else is stupid.

    Account reps then? They found it surprising that we’d experienced a severe lack of enquiries, maybe we should take a ‘feature all’ setup??

    Now that it’s established that it was an IT problem and not the agent, or the lack of spending a couple of thousand dollars a month extra the simnple fact is that no one will be able to tell for sure just how much REA’s stuff up has cost agents, owners, buyers and landlords. Certainly REA should be coming up with an ‘across the board’ solution before everyone becomes totally dismayed with them but I won’t be holding my breath. Some advice for Shane Dale at myhome, make sure your email servers stay up!

    An earlier post I made resulted in someone suggesting that REA had no idea that the server was down and that they should invest in some monitoring software. All I can say is that our small business server 2003 tells me when a service stops and we’re just a real estate office. If a market leading website delivering email leads to agents doesn’t have some monitoring of it’s web services, where are the other holes in the system and when will they crash??

  54. Peter Ricci June 22, 2008 at 7:29 pm #

    “The agent should have realised weeks ago” is a comment that has annoyed me for a while also. There is one big reason why this was made all the more difficult for agents.

    This is because all email enquiries did not stop – agents I have spoken to all continued to receive email enquiries and it is clear from Dave’s comment that this problem only effected one or more of the number of servers.

    If the enquires ceased altogether then I am sure it would have been picked up earlier by both agents and REA.

    This would have been a very long weekend for REA and I am sure this will never happen again (or I would hope that it wouldn’t!

    But it does seem that sloppy monitoring and security are becoming the norm for even the biggest IT companies.

  55. Glenn Batten June 22, 2008 at 9:02 pm #

    The people trying to sweep it under the carpet are in the minute minority and none of them seem to have a subscription. One even seems to have a substantial financial stake in the company (plus even more of a connection to the company still not disclosed?). They have their opinion but it must be taken in context.

    What makes the whole mess even worse is that REA releases a note to all clients stating that only “some” clients were effected.

    That is like a slap in the face especially when they admit this first occured when they upgraded the servers. So not only is their monitoring procedures useless, but so is their upgrade procedures.

    Anybody who has ever upgraded anything on a server knows that is the time you check, check and check again. If anything is going to fail, that is the time. Most large companies will do upgrades on test servers first before they upgrade mission critical computers and thats the crux of the problem… their mission critical computers failed and they did not notice for at least 6 weeks, and probably longer. They failed to check properly.. and that’s unacceptable.

  56. craig pontey June 23, 2008 at 11:42 am #

    Another fine mess……I dont hear a peek out of REA anymore…I think that World domination is too much on their minds…..they seem to have forgotten us poor old locals who assisted from the beginning oh well thats life…….

    Craig Pontey

  57. Robert Simeon June 23, 2008 at 2:49 pm #

    I see that this made http://www.crikey.com.au today in the “Tips and Rumours section.”

    “Realestate.com.au apparently has had server troubles. In fact the emails to agents (that they pay a lot of money for) from interested buyers around April and May just didn’t work properly. The backlog has only been clearing in the last day or so. Lots of VERY unhappy agents and the class action word has already been mentioned as there is potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost commission.”

  58. Rosalie Day June 24, 2008 at 1:19 pm #

    We have just received e-mail inquiries which date back to April 2008. We are very concerned that realestate.com.au have lost other inquiries which could potentially have costs us $1000s in sales & rental inquiries. Does anyone know if realestate.com are going to offer a refund of fees, which should be the minimum as it does not go even close to the potential losses we have suffered.

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  1. Summary of the Realestate.com.au email fiasco | Business2 Real Estate Agent News and Information Technology - June 23, 2008

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