Monday, April 15, 2013

So what's the status of the RECBC investigation into MAC Marketing's media manipulation stunt?

Yesterday we told you how it appears the infamous 'Chris Lee' has resurfaced as a sales agent at another MAC Marketing project: MThree in Coquitlam.

'Chris Lee' is fake name for the MAC Marketing sales assistant who, along with MAC administrative assistant Amanda Lee, presented themselves as house-hunting sisters to CBC-TV and CTV-BC. They claimed their parents would be in town from China for the Lunar New Year to help them purchase a condo.

It was, as we now know, an orchestrated lie undertaken by a number of MAC Marketing employees to deceive the media and the public.

There are still many unanswered questions about what happened that day.  All the public was ever told about the fiasco was this Facebook posting by MAC Marketing Solutions president Cameron McNeill...

...that and a short email sent out to media outlets by MAC. When he received a copy of that email, CBC-TV reporter Matthew Black tweeted:
In an email to CBC, MAC Marketing owner Cameron McNeill writes he implemented "appropriate actions" vs employees who duped media and that he accepted the resignation of a "MAC senior manager." But, McNeill won't comment on specifics, citing privacy concerns. Statement from MAC Marketing doesn't elaborate on what "decisive actions" it took, or who was fired/resigned after duping media.
It's disconcerting because there were a number of MAC Marketing employees involved in the whole media sham and no one knows the actual extent of their roles. 

In addition to the fictitious 'Chris Lee' there was her 'sister' Amanda Lee:

there was Nic Jensen:

there was the MAC sales rep who quarterbacked the fake couple through the display suite to deceive the TV cameras:

and, finally there was the MAC sales director who possibly set up the photo shoot, Melanie Briggs. CBC-TV reporter Matthew Black advises Briggs was supposed to be in attendance at the media op but was a no-show. Was she involved in the pre-planning of this deception?

All the players in attendance before the TV cameras that day purposefully lied to and deceived the media/public.  This raises huge questions about their character and ability to carry out their jobs in the real estate industry. According to the British Columbia edition of the Canadian Real Estate Association's Realtor Code of Ethics:
The REALTOR® Code of Ethics of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is universally recognized by real estate professionals and consumers alike as the measure of professionalism in real estate. The REALTOR® Code is intended to define the high standard of performance the public has a right to expect from those licensed to display the REALTOR® trademark.

As REALTORS®, we accept a personal obligation to the public and to our profession. The Code of Ethics of The Canadian Real Estate Association embodies these obligations.

As REALTORS®, we are committed to:
• Professional competent service
Absolute honesty and integrity in business dealings
• Co-operation with and fairness to all
• Personal accountability through compliance with CREA's Standards of Business Practice
To meet their obligations, REALTORS® pledge to observe the spirit of the Code in all of their activities and conduct their business in accordance with the Standards of Business Practice and the Golden Rule — Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Article 15: Advertising Claims
Claims or offerings in Advertising must be accurate, clear and understandable.
The actions of all the MAC employees at the media op that day were in clear violation of the real estate industry's Code of Ethics.  They blatantly acted to deceive the media/public. Based on this how can the public have faith or confidence in future real estate transactions with them?

When the story about MAC's deceptions originally broke, the Real Estate Council of BC (RECBC) announced that they were investigating MAC Marketing for false/misleading advertising for which  MAC faced fines of up to $20,000 and the individuals involved faced having their licences to sell real estate suspended.

So what's the status of that investigation? CBC-TV reporter Matthew Black tells us that he:
"wrote RECBC last week and was told their investigation is still ongoing. They couldn't say when it would conclude saying it depends on 'the volume of complaints' being looked into and 'how involved' the investigation needs to be."
Which brings us back to the promotional photo which shows MAC's sales team for the upcoming MThree development in Coquitlam. The photo caption doesn't list names but it sure looks like the sales team includes the MAC employee we know as the fictitious 'Chris Lee' and MAC sales director Melanie Briggs:

If this is actually 'Chris Lee', how can she be allowed to return to work while under investigation by the RECBC?

And what of Melanie Briggs?  We still don't know the extent of her involvement, if any, in this debacle.

MAC Marketing president Cameron McNeill has declined to hold a press conference to fully explain what transpired in this fiasco. Because of that the public still has numerous unanswered questions.

In any other field, employees would be placed on administrative leave while under investigation for breaches of a code of conduct.  Apparently this standard doesn't exist in the real estate industry.

Doesn't the public have a right to know if they may be dealing with RECBC members who are under investigation for misleading the public, especially when they may be purchasing thousands of dollars of real estate from them?


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  1. Fantastic investigative journalism as usual, Whisperer!

    On another topic, now is starting to look like an interesting time to buy some silver! Comex at $22.10! Still carnage out there, so many margins being called so fast I'm not sure any sort of technical support level could possibly hold, but once a bottom is found there will probably be one heck of a bounce.
    Thoughts? I've got some dry powder...

  2. From working in a related industry, RECBC are apparently dealing with a backlog at present, and I have heard anecdotally that they are looking at almost half a year to process a complaint due to volume.

    I would be surprised if any company would voluntarily suspend an employee for that period of time, whilst proceedings hadn't even begun.

    1. The volume of complaints is irrelevant. This is a high profile case, which any institution with public visibility would prioratize and escalate. I don't think "realtor did not re-fold toilet paper after using during open house" deserves the same level and urgency of scrutiny as "duping media and thousands of viewers on national tv".

  3. With 15,000 licensed realtors part of GVRB today, has the BC REal Estate Council grown its staff to accommodate these new numbers?

    P.S. It's deplorable that Cam MacNeill didn't do anything...we all know why and now he's proved it by continuing business as usual with the same staff that were part of the original stunt. Maybe Cam should retire -- seems that the decision came from the top and he never took responsibility for it.

  4. Cam McNeil is laughing all the way to the bank. Laughing at how much that suckers and dupes in the public and the media can so easily be manipulated. Plus he is busy working on ideas and scams to lie and deceive as many suckers in the lower mainland to buy into a crashing real estate market

  5. Cam McNeil didn't do anything to punish the person responsible because he would have to punish himself. He didn't fire anyone because if he did he would have to give everyone a lot of hush money not to expose him. If anyone believes otherwise I have some land to sell...

  6. Cam McNeil and his associates are a bunch of douchbags. There, I said it.

  7. The reason HE can't fire her is two fold. 1. He knew all about it, and if he fires her he has a huge wrongful dismissal on his hands. 2). He didn't know about it, but still can't fire her because who she'll drag down further up the chain, whom he's trying to protect.

    Either way he's screwed. He's hoping for two things... Either she quits on her own.. Or one of the cranes at M3 drops a load of cement on top of her on her way to the show room. Making Sales Realtor kill of the week. (vis-a-vie Zoombie kill of the week from Zoombieland)