Gomez Advisors, whose critiques and rankings of Web sites have been widely cited as the Internet economy emerges, is under fire from a firm that got a middling grade in a recent ranking of homebuying sites.
HomeSeekers.com Inc. of Reno claimed last week that the recent Gomez survey, in which it was ranked ninth of 20, was fraught with errors, misrepresentations, and selective omissions. The survey which ranks homebuying sites by ease of use, customer confidence, on-site resources, and relationship services, as well as offering an overall score was released April 19. It gave HomeSeekers.com an overall score of 4.74. The highest score, 6.53, went to Realtor.com.
A spokeswoman for Gomez, declining to address the specific complaints being raised by HomeSeekers, said some firms are bound to be dissatisfied with survey results. Not every firm is going to be happy with their ranking, but we are standing by our objectivity to produce scorecards from a consumers point of view, she said.
Pamela Johnston, a spokeswoman for HomeSeekers, said the situation underscores a lack of credible information about sites. This is not about being re-ranked, she said. This is about the issue of integrity of online research and the ability of companies to support their results.
The real estate industry, its investors, and consumers deserve reputable and reliable research, Greg Costley, chief executive officer of HomeSeekers, said in a statement. Gomez uses a strong public relations vehicle to promote this survey, and, given its inaccuracies, we are urging investors, consumers, and the media to demand more professionalism and explanation of the omissions and errors.
Gomez Advisors, which filed Thursday for an initial public offering, critiques and ranks e-commerce businesses ranging from personal finance to golf equipment.
HomeSeekers contends that Gomez did not correct an acknowledged inaccuracy in the total of HomeSeekers listings used an inaccurate gauge that measures performance from only five cities, and would not provide information about research gathering and qualifications of those conducting the survey. They said, We dont give clients or anyone that information, Ms. Johnston said. They said its propietary.
HomeSeekers also alleged six inaccuracies: Gomez statements that its site did not provide school and crime reports, a monthly mortgage payment calculator, links from calculator to listings, an online privacy statement, searching by age of listing, and consistent navigation.
HomeSeekers.com contends that after voicing similar concerns following Gomezs 1999 survey, it worked with Gomez to learn more about methodologies and to correct previous errors, paying $35,000 to gain access to the tools used in ranking the sites, and that it then changed many of its sites functions.
As a paying customer, we consider the inaccuracies to be unacceptable, Ms. Johnston, spokeswoman for HomeSeekers.com., said. We believe there are errors and selective disclosures, and I would hope that an e-research company would consider accuracy the most important issue.
Ms. Johnston said Gomez has repeatedly refused to provide scientific backup for the rankings or to explain its methodology. She also said that after HomeSeekers made Gomez officials aware of its concerns, those officials agreed to discuss the findings with HomeSeekers in a conference call last Wednesday at 11 a.m. but released the rankings beforehand.
HomeSeekers, which went public last September, traded around $6 Monday after reaching an all-time low of $5.625 last week.