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Is realtor responsible for error in her marketing materials?

A reader with a sharp eye wants to know whether a local realtor who sends postcards to prospective customers is responsible for typographical errors on the cards even if the passage in question was lifted from another source.

The reader we’re calling Annie receives cards from local realtors all the time either featuring houses for sale or houses just sold along with a solicitation for the reader’s Business should she be buying or selling a home sometime soon. The most recent card, however, featured something that was a bit of a departure, a review of a local restaurant presumably written by one of the restaurant’s satisfied customers.

“Beautiful photos of houses and very detailed descriptions of houses and then a Restaurant Review that referred to the place as great for ‘causal’ dining when they clearly meant ‘casual,’ or at least I think they did,” Annie wrote. She joked that if it wasn’t a typo she was a bit concerned about what the dining at this place “caused.”

The text on the rest of the card contained no typos. Only the restaurant review written by someone else.

“If the error was in something the realtor wrote, I would think twice about doing business with someone who didn’t take the time to proofread her own work,” wrote Annie.

Given the volume of Marketing Materials many of us receive, I suppose ruling out consideration of those featuring typos is a way of winnowing the herd. In pre-internet days my son ruled out at least one prospective college when the brochure it sent him contained several typos. It didn’t hurt that he had never heard of the school so it remains unclear to me what he would have done had the brochure been from one of his top choices, but you get the point.

In the case of the realtor’s card, however, she did not write the passage that contains the typos so Annie wants to know if it’s wrong to hold her responsible for the mistake. “Her name is on the card,” Annie wrote. “Shouldn’t she have taken the time to make sure everything on the card was correct even if she didn’t write it?”

The realtor’s motivation for including the restaurant review might have been to send a message to prospective customers that local eateries were attempting to get back to some sense of normal after a long period of limited business during the pandemic. She might be applauded for wanting to do something to drive business to some of those establishments trying to get back on their feet.

Annie is correct, however. The realtor is responsible for the accuracy of everything on her marketing materials. The right thing would have been for her to ask the writer of the review if it was OK to correct the “causal” spelling when she sought permission to use the quote.

Is the mistake enough to refuse to do business with the realtor? That’s up to Annie. Were it me, I’d look at her track record of selling and buying houses, give her some points for her kindness, and then decide whether sometimes it’s OK to recognize people’s fallibility and overlook a rare error.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Simple Art of Business Etiquette: How to Rise to the Top by Playing Nice, is a senior lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School. He is also the administrator of, a blog focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need to have answered? Send them to [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter @jseglin.


This post first appeared on The Right Thing, please read the originial post: here

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Is realtor responsible for error in her marketing materials?


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