My wife and I have been looking around the Springs area for houses. We’d pop into Open Houses and look around, see what we liked about the houses we’d seen, talk about whether or not we’d change something… you know, browsing. Until recently, it’s mostly been a little bit of a past time, something to do on a weekend afternoon. We did a lot of this when we lived in Denver, too. However, we’ve recently committed to the Colorado Springs area for the foreseeable future and our searching and open house attendance has become more focused.
We’ve noticed something, though, that turns us off more quickly than you can imagine: It’s the realtors we encounter asking us to sign in. Keller Williams, in particular, takes this practice to an unethical level and adds “for the sellers”. Now I realize in a country that invented the NSA, I shouldn’t balk at giving my contact information out to everyone who asks for it, but let’s say I’m old fashioned and I don’t want to wind up on some scumbag’s mailing list? As a rule, I don’t give my contact information out to anyone. I’m sure as hell not going to give it to some lying sack of crap just because he’s hanging out in an empty house on a weekend. (My guess is he didn’t have the chops to make it as a used-car salesman). Furthermore, if he had just been honest and told me he wanted my contact information so he could follow up with me… well, I probably still wouldn’t give it to him, but at least he would have been honest with me, and I wouldn’t think our local Keller Williams offices were run and staffed by sleaze balls.
Recently, said lying sack of crap asked us to leave his open house when we wouldn’t sign in “for the sellers”. Dude, the lady behind the checkout counter at Michaels asks for our email address, too; and she doesn’t tell us we can’t buy our hobby supplies if we don’t give it to her. Clearly, they’re more highly evolved.
We left the open house, and I penned the following letter to the local Keller Williams office. I got no response. None. So what’s apparent to me is that Keller Williams in Colorado Springs endorses the practice of lying to people and that their customer service is non-existent. Here’s the letter I sent to Paul Goldenbogen, team leader of Keller Williams in Colorado Springs, about his real estate agent Mike Jacobson. I’ve redacted the address of the incident here.
Keller Williams Partners
Attn: Paul Goldenbogen
1307 Aeroplaza Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80916
I’m writing to inform you about the experience my wife and I had today with one of your agents, Mike Jacobson. Mr. Jacobson was holding an open house at [redacted]. When we arrived, your agent asked us to relinquish our contact information “for the sellers.”
As a rule, we do not give out our contact information. And furthermore, we know this “for the seller” excuse we hear from agents – in particular, Keller Williams agents – is a lie. I know you do not give home owners the contact information you collect during an open house. I understand your agents are looking to pad their contact lists. If your agents were honest enough to say that, it would calm the concerns that your agents are unethical.
Our being unwilling to give out our contact information is a fundamental right to protect our privacy. If we were looking for an agent, we would voluntarily give that person our information. And if we had an agent, we would tell our agent to contact your listing agent.
Upon finding out we were unwilling to give our contact information, your agent, Mr. Jacobson, asked us to leave the open house. Previous agents have been wise not to push the issue or the lie; Mr. Jacobson didn’t have that discretion. That’s your prerogative.
However, given that we have been lied to consistently by Keller Williams agents about such little things as what happens to our contact information, we have no faith that Keller Williams agents will behave ethically in the future when dealing with big things, such as purchasing a home.
It seems as if it’s Keller Williams policy to lie to prospective home buyers. We respect your right to do business however unethically you see fit. That said, because we will not participate in the farce your agents are performing, we think it best not to attend any further Keller Williams open houses, or deal with your agents or business in any way.
Now personally, if I got a letter like this from someone asking if it was my company’s policy to act unethically, I’d be rather prompt in a reply assuring that person that unethical business practices are not policy. As it is, I’ve received nothing from the Keller Williams office in Colorado Springs. Not a word. I even sent a copy of this letter to the Keller Williams corporate office and received a response from them. But nothing from the Springs office.
We’ve decided we’re not interested in dealing with Keller Williams in any way now. If we see the Keller Williams logo on a sign for an open house, we skip it. No thanks, we don’t need the hassle or the line of BS.
The practice is spreading. Typically it has been me that’s been the first to walk away from something like this. But as often as we’re harassed about contact information, now Wendi’s ready to walk, too. We know that realtors collect this contact information for their own personal lists of contacts. As I pointed out to Goldenbogen, if we were looking for an agent, we’d ask for his contact information. If we already had an agent and were interested in the house, we’d have our agent contact the selling agent.
It’s not really an “open house” if the price of admission is our privacy. That’s too high a price to pay for anything.