Recommendations, the new superpower!

‘Unreported World’ on Channel 4 aired a documentary about Chiapas in one of the poorest areas of Mexico.

Mexico itself, according to the documentary, is obsessed with Coca-Cola.. There are many reasons for this, one being that in many areas it is cheaper to buy fizzy drinks than it is to buy water. Another, as discussed in the documentary is that corporations have the legal right to drill and extract underground water while the population have to use the running water above ground in many places that is evidenced to be polluted. So the population in Chiapas drink on average 2.2 litres of Coca Cola per day!

“What a world we live in” I hear some of you say and what the hell does this have to do with the power of recommendations?

Stay with me.

Well we all like a recommendation, Google and Facebook have vied for peoples reviews of business and services for years, persuading us that a 5 star service is better than a 3 star service as reviewed by its trusted users. These world wide review services have also, somehow, made a personal recommendation even more powerful as it can be verified, if checked.

Still with me?

Ok, to my main point. I recently completed a valuation for a new Landord who was going be living abroad. As I sat down to discuss the property their notebook came out and I was asked about everything. Health and safety, tax, mortgages, furnishings, maintenance, charges, behaviours, visits, our experience, awards, history, competence and thoughts. No problem, 2 hours later I left knowing that the next steps for this individual were to contact their mortgage company for an agreement to let.

All had gone well and I felt that our company being awarded the status of being one of the top 10% of letting agents in the UK (Best Agent Guide) was a definite plus. That all of my staff have the level 3 award for lettings and property management shows competence, that we are an accredited safe agent with client money protection and that we have a great local reputation that has been reviewed well on Facebook and Google meant that it was likely we would be working with this new client. As requested I supplied valuations for rental and and asset value for mortgage purposes to support this new prospective client.

Then the email came:

“Thank you for your time the other day. I just wanted to confirm that I have selected a different agent to let my house with”.

Deflated I replied:

“I am disappointed to hear this as I believed your home to have been well presented and we would have had the ability to choose good tenants for you. Can I ask the reason for your decision as it will help me to improve our proposition and also my own presentation?”

And the response:

“In the end it came down to a recommendation from a friend who uses a certain agent. Given my nerves about renting, I found that to be the most reassuring route”.

I have no ill feeling towards the agent who was recommended by ‘the friend’ however, they cannot match our history, all their staff are not qualified to the same level as our own, they are not recognised as being in the top 10% of letting agents in the UK and are not part of an accreditation scheme. And they are more expensive!

The recommendation still just had super powers. I felt I had just fought the man of steel himself!

So, back to Chiapas. It is one of the poorest areas in one of the poorest country’s in the world, the health service is non existent and, where it does exist, it is unaffordable. If you are ill one of the only options available to you is to visit one of the local Curandero healers who look to resolve ailments through natural means.

In the documentary an elderly man is recommended to see the local Curandero healer. He is very unwell and at an age where an illness can be life threatening. A ritual takes place, an offering is made and the man is given Coca Cola to drink as it is perceived locally through the teachings of the Curandero to have healing qualities. The man leaves in the hope that the treatment works.

The documentary reports that the man in ill health is suffering from Diabetes that can cause a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and coma. These complications unless treated correctly can lead to death. Coca Cola was therefore not the best recommendation to cure this awful disease.

The moral of this blog is that some recommendations, although well meaning, can sometimes be dangerous (like Coca Cola given to a diabetic).So check them out, think about the expertise of the person giving the recommendation and think of the old man in Chiapas.


Mike Matthews

  • Level 3 certified in lettings and property management
  • Financial planning certified
  • Certified in mortgage advice and practice
  • Qualified with a Diploma in business and management studies (Open University)
  • 22 years of experience as a landlord
  • Running an Estate Agency for 15 years and recognised in the Best Agents Guide for 2022
  • Accredited by Safeagent
  • Recommended by my Wife, my Mum and my Dad (I need to confirm this statement with my wife)
  • Tortoise Property
  • 01733 592020