It was the butt of many a joke on Maltese WhatsApp groups over the weekend – a post by a real estate agency saying one of its agents’ most memorable sale was a place she sold on plan to a visually impaired person.
Alliance’s post spread like wildfire, with many assuming the reason Brenda Magri found the sale memorable was because she had managed to bamboozle her client.
Alliance and Brenda were bombarded with calls and complaints to pull the post down – and Brenda has since described the ordeal as a “two day nightmare”.
Digging below the surface a little bit reveals a much different picture.
In fact, the controversial post actually linked to a profile article of Brenda in which she explained how the sale involved her cleverly placing matchsticks over the property plans to help her client visualise his new home.
“Many agents were put off when they found out he was visually impaired and this man was frustrated and on the verge of giving up buying a new home,” she told Lovin Malta.
“First I tried using a flick knife to cut outlines in the plan but then I came up with the idea of using matches. When he put his hand on the plan and began to feel his way around, his face lit up and his wife started crying.”
However, this sweet story got completely lost on WhatsApp threads and several people badgered the real estate agency to pull down the post.
“People started fooling with Brenda and telling her she should be ashamed of herself and even her friends told her to remove the post,” Alliance’s chief marketing officer Pierre Mizzi said. “The cyber bullying got so bad that I was even considering filing a police report.”
In the end, Alliance replaced the post with one including a quote that represented Brenda’s experience more clearly.
“I didn’t want to remove it though because there was nothing wrong with it, so I asked Oliver Scicluna [the Commissioner for the Rights of People with Disability] for his opinion.”
Oliver Scicluna’s response was brief and to the point – Brenda Magri’s initiative was actually a good idea and an example for other real estate agents to follow.
“Visually impaired people buy property too, and the implication of the joke that spread on WhatsApp was that they’re idiots who are easily fooled,” Mizzi concluded. “Indeed, that implication is what was truly offensive.”