Angry customers of Persimmon have accused the housebuilder of censorship after it seized control of a Facebook page to block criticism.
The developer has taken over a group set up by disgruntled buyers and hidden it from public view, shrouding complaints about shoddy handiwork.
Originally called ‘Persimmon Homes Unhappy Customers’, the page was used by thousands of people to detail their grievances and post pictures of what they claimed were examples of poor-quality homes.
The New English Times has highlighted poor workmanship by the developer including leaks, exposed nails, doors that did not close and toilets that flushed boiling water.
Roger Devlin, Persimmon’s new chairman, has vowed sweeping changes to improve its reputation following a row over a massive £85million bonus paid to its former boss.
But critics said the company’s move raised serious questions about its commitment to transparency.
The developer is understood to have contacted the person in charge of the Facebook page and taken control last week.
It then swiftly changed the group’s name to ‘Persimmon Homes Customer Care’, restricted members’ ability to comment and made the page ‘secret’.
It means that most people can no longer view it and has prompted a furious response from users, with Zoe Evans writing: ‘So they focus on silencing people rather than sorting out the issues?’
Another former member of the group, Andy Anderson, wrote: ‘This is Persimmon’s way of trying to suppress their swathes of justifiably unhappy customers by simply buying out pages from spineless page owners.’
Users have started a new group called ‘Persimmon – Unhappy Customers’, where they are continuing to post complaints.
One post says: ‘Persimmon have bought out the original unhappy customers page to try and cover up their many mistakes.
‘They need to know they can’t get away with censoring the public so share, share, share.’
Persimmon has faced persistent criticism over the quality of its homes. In an industry-wide survey, it has failed to win more than three out of five stars since 2015.
Rivals such as Barratt Developments, Redrow and Taylor Wimpey all carry five-star ratings.
Persimmon is also still reeling from controversy in 2018 over £85million in pay handed to former chief executive Jeff Fairburn in just two years.
He left in December and was replaced by current boss Dave Jenkinson, 51, who received £45million over that period.
Labour MP Kate Green, who has called for tougher housing rules, said: ‘If Persimmon has deliberately subverted a Facebook group and used it to shut down bad publicity, then it just goes to show that all the promises it has made to be better are utterly hollow.
‘It doesn’t seem to be learning anything from the complaints and outrage that customers have been expressing.’
Persimmon said it took control of the Facebook page to combat misinformation, and claimed that many people posting on it were not real customers.
It refused to comment on whether it had paid for the rights to control the Facebook group, which would have broken the social network’s rules.
A spokesman said: ‘We have taken this action to allow us to contact genuine Persimmon customers directly to enable us to address their customer care issues. Improving customer care is our top priority.’