• Report: #884327

Complaint Review: Zillow

  • Submitted: Thu, May 17, 2012
  • Updated: Sun, February 17, 2013

  • Reported By: Surbiton — Nationwide United States of America
Zillow
1301 Second Avenue, Floor 31, Seattle, WA 98101 Seattle, Washington United States of America

Zillow Zillow 'confiscates' my home by refusing me access to their website to correct erroneous details Seattle, Washington

*Author of original report: Zillows nonsense Zestimates

*Author of original report: Complaint about Zillow on Change . Org

*Author of original report: Zillow CEO admits that 17% of Zestimates are more than 25% incorrect

*Author of original report: Zillow behaves like a Cyber Bully

*General Comment: Not quite right...

*Consumer Comment: The Bill of Rights is the most powerful document in the U.S.

*Author of original report: Zillow Error Rates

*General Comment: Second request for information...

*Consumer Comment: Good Grief

*Author of original report: FlynRider response

*Consumer Comment: SuperRobert?

*Consumer Comment: You are a nut.

*Author of original report: Tactical Response

*Consumer Comment: Monica

*Consumer Comment: May or may not be

*Consumer Comment: why?

*Author of original report: Zillow Nonsense

*Consumer Comment: Well aren't you full of yourself..

*General Comment: Wow...

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In July 2011 I discovered that a website called Zillow was publishing a ridiculously low valuation for my home and took this matter up with their Head Of Customer Services. It was identified that they had a 'geo mapping' problem that caused Zillow to list my home in a city 6 miles away, rather than the correct city. I requested they delete or correct the erroneous Zestimate valuation until they fixed the problem. They refused and claimed a first amendment right to publish any valuation irrespective if it was accurate and with an error of their making. Ten months later they still have not resolved the 'geo mapping' problem and are unlikely ever to do so as they told me it wasn't a high priority.

I was outraged by the sheer arrogance of Zillows attitude and over the following months posted my opinion of how inaccurate their Zestimates were on their Forum. For a company that uses the first amendment as a reason to publish their opinion they subsequently denied me access to their website, and as a consequence have taken control of my home on Zillow, and are now denying me any access to correct missing and erroneous information.

It is time that Zillow was properly Regulated to stop this 'cyber piracy' where they refuse homeowners access to their legally owned property. Who the heck gave Zillow the authority in the first place to publish details on over 100 million homes the way they do, with over 10 million erroneous valuations, with no accountability for the consequences of the erroneous valuations?  

Zillows Customer Service has to be the worst by any $1Bn Nasdaq company. They don't publish any contact information, and require consumers to make their complaints on an open web forum where homeowners received hostile and irrelevant comments from a bunch of Zillow "cheerleaders". As a result most complainants give up and go away after one or two posts. What a nonsense way to run a business when a company declares itself as the market leader in Real Estate Media and it behaves in such an irresponsible manner as Zillow does with anyone with a complaint.

I expect Zillow to delete all references to my home. I don't want anything to do with any company that treats consumers in such an arrogant and bullying way as they do. Their refusal to even allow me access to my home details demonstrates exactly how spiteful and vindictive these people are to any consumer who pursues a valid complaint against them. If I lived on a boat sailing the Indian Ocean and was taken hostage by pirates, Seal Team 6 would be flying in to the rescue. But when a commercial company 'hijacks' private property in the way that Zillow has in the USA it appears the Government isn't interested. That's why it is time our Legislators woke up to the technology and introduced proper Regulation over companies like Zillow who are abusing their market position and treating homeowners with such disdain as Zillow does..

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 05/17/2012 05:47 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Zillow/Seattle-Washington-98101/Zillow-Zillow-confiscates-my-home-by-refusing-me-access-to-their-website-to-correct-err-884327. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Author of original report

Zillows nonsense Zestimates

AUTHOR: Surbiton - ()

I fully agree with the Authors straightforward complaint about Zillows appalling inaccuracy for unwanted Zestimates imposed on over 100 million homes. There is an obvious problem when 17% of Zestimates are more than 25% incorrect. To put that into context it means that 17 million Zestimates have erros of more than $50,000 assuming an average home price of $200k.

It is equally outrageous that Zillow refuses ALL reasonable requests from homeowners inflcted with a substantially incorrect Zestimate to correct or delete it, irrespective of the misery and potential financial that the erroneous Zestimates inflicts on the homeowner. When a $3Bn Nasdaq company behaves in such a socially unacceptable manner towards consumers then it is time that the company was subject to some form of Regulation to protect homeowners from Zillows nonsense. It would be very easy to have a DoNotZestimate website that enabled homeowners to opt out of Zillows BS in the same way that people can opt out of unwanted phone calls by registering with DoNotCall.

It is interesting how posters like 'Robert' jump to Zillows defence with spurious comments that the Zestimate increased by $90,000 on his house. I am guessing that he is the same Robert who commented on a similar Rip Off report that I submitted about Zillow a couple of years ago. 

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#2 Author of original report

Complaint about Zillow on Change . Org

AUTHOR: Surbiton - ()

It's good to see that many other people have the same complaint against Zillow and have signed the petition on www.Change.org protesting about erroneous zestimates and the need to be able to force Zillow to correct inaccurate valuations that they publish. Let's hope this petition is successful and that Zillow is required to act in a more fair minded way towards homeowners instead of refusing all reasonable requests to correct or delete nonsense zestimate valuations. 

One simple solution would be to introduce a website www.DoNotZestimate.org in the same way as there already exists www.DoNotCall.org which has been successful in stopping robocalls from marketing companies.
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#3 Author of original report

Zillow CEO admits that 17% of Zestimates are more than 25% incorrect

AUTHOR: Surbiton - (United States of America)

In an interview with Bloomberg a few days ago Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff admitted that Zillow Zestimates are substantially wrong, particuarly for non cookie cutter homes, and that 17% of over 1000 million zestimates are more than 25% incorrect.

With such appalling accuracy why doesn't he correct or delete zestimates when requested by homeowners to do so. Is he so stupid that he doesn't understand the misery he inflicts on millions of homeowners with these wildly inaccurate zestimates and the arrogant behavior of his company in refusing all requests to correct or delete the nonsense valuations?

It is time that AVM companies like Zillow were subjected to some form of regulation to protect homeowners from greedy fatcat executives like Spencer Rascoff who understand the failings of the computer generated home valuations, but refuse to accept any responsibility for the financial damage and misery that these wildly inaccurate valuations cause homeowners.

http://www.bloomberg.com/video/zillow-sales-model-change-boosted-results-ceo-says-0qGTD~MvSvCjZ8dqUAFetA.html?cmpid=yhoo
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#4 Author of original report

Zillow behaves like a Cyber Bully

AUTHOR: Surbiton - (United States of America)

It may be a 'starting point' as far as Zillow says, but after over a year since bringing the substantially incorrect zestimate to Zillows attention and they still refuse to correct or delete their nonsense valuation it becomes HARASSMENT. Harassment of this nature is no different from cyber bullying by high school kids on Facebook which is universally deplored. Yet Zillow continues to demonstrate Bullying behavior the way they trample over homeowners with a grievance against nonsense zestimates. The sooner there is some form of Regulation introduced over websites like Zillow the better for everyone. 
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#5 General Comment

Not quite right...

AUTHOR: Striderq - (U.S.A.)

Apparently you missed a couple of things from Zillow's error data.

Such as :What's a Zestimate?A Zestimate home valuation is Zillow's estimated market value. It is not an appraisal. Use it as a starting point to determine a home's value.

And you cite an overall error rate of 9.4%. They list median rates for specific areas with the explanation: Median Error:Half of the Zestimates in an area were closer than the error percentage and half were farther off. For example, in Seattle, Zestimates for half of the homes are within 7.5% of the selling price, and half are off by more than 7.5%. So they're not saying they're wrong 9.4% of the time for 10M errors. They're saying it that location half of the homes listed are within 9.4% of the selling price and half aren't.But again, Zillow is just for comparison. It is not used as the appraisal when you're buying/selling a house so how exactly have they caused you to lose any money?
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#6 Consumer Comment

The Bill of Rights is the most powerful document in the U.S.

AUTHOR: coast - (USA)

Surbiton wrote, "I have proposed that Zillow be subjected to Regulation"

Posted on the Zillow web site:

What's a Zestimate?
A Zestimate home valuation is Zillow's estimated market value. It is not an appraisal. Use it as a starting point to determine a home's value.

Surbiton,

It is clearly stated that it is Zillow's estimated market value which means they can estimate the value at $10 or $10 million because it's their estimated market value. If you were to claim my car is worth $1, I would not [and should not] be able to regulate your assessment because it is your estimate. If someone were to claim that they estimate the value of a grain of sand to be $1000, that would not [and should not] be regulated because it's their estimate. It's called freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Perhaps you've heard of the Bill of Rights?

I love the First Amendment.
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#7 Author of original report

Zillow Error Rates

AUTHOR: Surbiton - (United States of America)

@Striderq

In post #3 you will read that I commented that Zillow publishes its own error rates on its website. This time I will give you the link as well so you can see for yourself where the 9.4% median error rate figure came from. With 106 million homes on Zillow and an error rate of 9.4% computes to 10 million homes with erroneous zesimates. Zillow make the bland statement about zestimates 'being a starting point' blah blah blah, but the reality is that Zillow has a flawed algorithm and lousy configuration control over how it imports information from 3rd party data providers which leads to so many erroneous zestimates.

Homeowners should be proactive in demanding errors be corrected, despite Zillows arrogance that they refuse to correct any errors even if Zillow acknowledge their source data is incorrect. It is for these reasons that I have proposed that Zillow be subjected to Regulation as they have demonstrated they cannot be trusted to act in a fair minded way towards homeowners. What's the big issue with having regulation over websites peddling nonsense home valuations purely to generate advertising revenues the way Zillow does? Every other aspect of daily life is subject to regulation in one way or another ranging from Utilities, Banking, Insurance, Healthcare, Transportation, Cable/Telephone, Investments, etc.

http://www.zillow.com/howto/DataCoverageZestimateAccuracy.htm
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#8 General Comment

Second request for information...

AUTHOR: Striderq - (U.S.A.)

Again, where are you getting your error rate of 9.4% from? Do you have a link to a survey conducted by a reputable third party or are you just making it up? Why do you feel the need for the government to right this great wrong? If you look at Zillow's site, they state their estimates are not to be used to base loans on but are only for comparison. The only estimates of value that you need to be concerned with is the one from your county assessor that determines your taxes and one that an appraiser would conduct if you were selling your home. Outside of hurting your pride, how does the underestimation by Zillow hurt you in any way?
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#9 Consumer Comment

Good Grief

AUTHOR: Stacey - (U.S.A.)

This is just stupid!! I rely on the County Appraisal office on the value of my home though I will never sell in the near future.  Most buyers will rely on the appraisal value and upgrades - who gives a flying rats behind what some website says??
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#10 Author of original report

FlynRider response

AUTHOR: Surbiton - (United States of America)

So 'FlynRider' thinks it is acceptable for internet companies to peddle any nonsense valuation for homes without any concern for accuracy, and a homeowner who questions this nonsense valuation is a "nutcase". Sounds like another Zillow cheerleader to me. Just the same way as Zillow allows its attack dogs to ridicule posters on its website forum who similarly request that erroneous zestimates are corrected or deleted. 

And YES Zillow has taken electronic control of my home by denying me any access to correct errors and omissions on the 'facts' section. This impacts on the valuation by making an already inaccurate valuation even more inaccurate. What fair minded society allows nonsense like this to prevail? As I have suggested previously if companies like Zillow cannot be trusted to behave in a responsible way with regard to the valuations they publish for over 100 million homes then our legislators need to properly regulate them.

And if you Google "FlynRider, Phoenix", you will find he spends his time making insulting remarks to posters making a grievance on Ripoff Reports. What kind of 'kook' does that for fun? And talking of having 'too much time on his hands' is the understatement of a very disturbed individual who needs counselling badly.

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#11 Consumer Comment

SuperRobert?

AUTHOR: coast - (USA)

Robert,

According to other crybabies on this site you clearly work for several auto dealers and finance companies so where do you find the time to work for Zillow? You are amazing.

Surbiton,

Why care what value Zillow puts on your house? A good realtor would only consider the web site to be a tool, not an actual statement of value. Your complaints that Zillow has confiscated, taken control over and hijacked your home are false allegations and indicates you may be paranoid and delusional. (Have you met Karl - Highlands Ranch?). Give up the drama and get over yourself.
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#12 Consumer Comment

You are a nut.

AUTHOR: Flynrider - (USA)

"  Did you observe there was no reference to the issue of the thread? that Zillow have taken control of my home by disabling my access to their website, so that I am not in a position to correct the errors and omissions they have published about my property which is having a serious impact on the already erroneous zestimate.  "

  You want a reference to that issue?   Here goes.     You are a complete nutcase if you think that Zillow has "taken control" of your home.     How does Zillow's estimate affect you in any way?  Do you think anybody actually uses their numbers for actual valuation purposes?   I would suggest that only idiots would.  

  So what's the issue?   There's a lot of information on the Internet that is not necessarily correct.  Are you really demanding legislation to allow you to personally manipulate what others put on private websites.   Not only are you going to have a 1st Amendment issue, but it seems ludicrous to go to all that trouble to correct something that has no effect on your property at all.

  That you repeatedly refer to this as  "hijacking" or "taking control" of you home makes it plain that you are just some kook with too much time on his hands.
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#13 Author of original report

Tactical Response

AUTHOR: Surbiton - (United States of America)

What we have here is a deliberate "tactical response" by Robert with an irrelevant heading called Monica. The 1st two comments are totally irrelevant to the thread, and are typical of the Zillows "Cheerleaders" smarmy pointless comments.

Then Robert starts his 'put downs' by saying I obviously have no idea how economics the free market works; that a 9.4% error rate is insignificant,(it is 10 million incorrectly valued homes and to me that is significant by any measure); the Gas and Food price 'red herring'; and finally the text book Zillow cheerleader response ' why don't you fix their problem for them?

See how Zillow rely on these people to do their dirty work for them? Did you observe there was no reference to the issue of the thread? that Zillow have taken control of my home by disabling my access to their website, so that I am not in a position to correct the errors and omissions they have published about my property which is having a serious impact on the already erroneous zestimate.

What other company relies on 'volunteers' to put down any homeowner who objects to inaccurate information published the way Zillow does for over 10 million homes? Is it any wonder that many of these 10 million homeowners have serious issues with this nonsense? It is time that Zillow was Regulated to protect homeowners from seriously inaccurate information being published in the way that Zillow does with no accountability whatsoever.

Of course Zillow can always say they can't control what people with no connection them say. Very true but when 3 of these individuals make 21,000, 25,000 and 26,000 posts respectively then one has to wonder what the heck is going on here. Many people reading the Zillow forum actually think these 'cheerleaders' work for Zillow which is easy to understand as they are so pro zillow in their comments. Platitudes and putdowns are the order of the day on the Zillow Forum - just as we have witnessed in Roberts response.
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#14 Consumer Comment

Monica

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

However, there seem to be a case that many appraisers do their work using ONLY online website.
-
That may have been the case several years ago when banks were giving out loan like candy.  But with there being a huge microscope on the banks, any appraisal done this way would be thrown out by the underwriter in a heartbeat.  The appraiser may look on-line but they will look for what amount comparable properties have actually sold for and not what they are asking or what any other site says.  After all you can ASK for any price you want, and a site could say that your house is what ever they want.

I know that my realtor knows how to deal with this if I really want to sell my house. :)
- Exactly, and in the end if someone wants to offer him the price based on this site, all he has to do is say no.  It's no different than going to a dealer and offering less than they are selling it for because you think it is not worth that much.  They (like you) have the choice..accept or decline the lower offer.

Anyways back to the OP..
It is time our Legislators woke up to the online Home Valuation companies like Zillow who don't care about the accuracy of the home values they publish as they are only interested in attracting advertising revenues.'
- It's very obvious you have no idea how economics and the "free market" work.  If a site gets a reputation for being off people are going to stop going to it.  If people stop visiting the site..advertisers will stop paying.  So your theory has just gone out the window, and I would think that you would want them to get this reputation and not fix it.   

The more controversial the valuations the more users that are attracted and the more advertising revenue they get.
- Again not sure where in the world you are getting these thoughts, but when people are looking at houses they are not looking for controversial prices.

By the way a 9.4% error on 106 Million home is really insignificant(yes I know you won't agree).  That means that they are getting  90.6% right.  In just about every level of education that is still an A.  Also, if they were really trying to be controversial wouldn't they go for a bigger error?

it is time that Zillow was regulated in the same way that other companies that impact on peoples everyday lives are regulated
- If you are going to count some concept of impact, why stop here?  Gas and Food prices have a much bigger impact on a bigger number of people.  Why are you not here calling for the Government to step in and regulate Gas Stations and Grocery Stores?

as exampled by mapping my home in a city 6 miles away and being unable to resolve such a simple matter in over 9 months.
- Why don't you do some good deep research on "Geo-Mapping" and then come back to us and let us know how easy it actually is.
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#15 Consumer Comment

May or may not be

AUTHOR: MochaG - (United States of America)

I do not see a problem with a website posting wrong information about my home. The reason is that many of these websites contain out-dated information. It has no impact on my opinion.

However, there seem to be a case that many appraisers do their work using ONLY online website. This is a real problem because they are lazy and want to earn quick money by sitting their a** on a chair and work for a couple hours instead of get out into the field. This, as a result, could impact the house price.

Anyway, why does OP concern about the data? Is the OP planning to sell the house in the near future? If not, why bother? I do not plan to sell my house for a long time, so I don't care what they say. I also don't care much anyway because I know that my realtor knows how to deal with this if I really want to sell my house. :)
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#16 Consumer Comment

why?

AUTHOR: KIM - (U.S.A.)

why do you care what zillow estimates your house at. Which has no bearing on what your house is really worth
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#17 Author of original report

Zillow Nonsense

AUTHOR: Surbiton - (United States of America)

When I read Roberts post it was if it had been written by the Zillow "Chief Cheerleader" called "pasadenan". Remarkable that Robert lives in Irvine, just a few miles away from Pasadena. Call it a coincidence? Not really as the style of put down is the same style as people will find from the Zillow cheerleaders as they try to ridicule homeowners who have the audacity to question the accuracy, or should I say the inaccuracy, of Zillows flawed zestimate algorithm.

This is exactly how Zillow operates. It relies on this handful of attack dogs to make hostile and ridiculing comments to an poster who raises valid concerns about Zillows refusal to correct or delete erroneous home valuations that they publish. Most people make one or teo posts and give up and the problem goes away. If you look at the Zillow forum you will see that 3 of these cheerleaders have made over 20,000 posts each, including Pasadenan who is the 3rd highest poster with 21,000 posts. What Zillow is doing is no more than encouraging 'cyber bullying' they way they allow such comments to be made. 

For someone who says he never heard of Zillow until he read my post Robert is remarkably well informed and uses two of the comments that he has previously posted in response to opinions I have previously posted on Zillows website.

To get back on message my complaint on Ripoff Report is that Zillow have taken 'electronic' control of my property and refusing me to correct the changes they made to the data regarding my home when they disabled my access. It is no more that online 'trespass' of my home and raises interesting moral and legal issues. Is it right that Zillow can publish erroneous and incomplete information on my home which is causing their flawed zestimate algorithm to calculate an even lower valuation than before , and they DENY me any RIGHT of access? If they want to run their website in such a way they need to delete the home of people they REFUSE access to.

It is time our Legislators woke up to the online Home Valuation companies like Zillow who don't care about the accuracy of the home values they publish as they are only interested in attracting advertising revenues. The more controversial the valuations the more users that are attracted and the more advertising revenue they get. Consequently, it is time that Zillow was regulated in the same way that other companies that impact on peoples everyday lives are regulated eg, SEC with Investment companies, FCC with communications companies, and how Utilities, Banks, Insurance, Healthcare, Transportation companies are all regulated.

As to the question regarding the accuracy of the 10 millions erroneous valuation; that information came directly from the Zillow website using their ownmedian error rate of 9.4% on 106 million homes. The reality is that the error rate is even higher than zillow publishes as they have such poor processes and procedures in how they import 3rd party data, as exampled by mapping my home in a city 6 miles away and being unable to resolve such a simple matter in over 9 months.
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#18 Consumer Comment

Well aren't you full of yourself..

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

Their refusal to even allow me access to my home details demonstrates exactly how spiteful and vindictive these people are to any consumer who pursues a valid complaint against them.
-
What is the purpose of them to be vindictive?  If the really wanted to be spiteful couldn't they do a lot worse?  Couldn't they just put an even lower valuation on your house?

Here's another question, what details would you want to have access to?  What if you disagree with the square footage?  What would keep someone from putting in a "fake" square footage.  Heck, what would keep a neighbor from saying that they are you and putting in different "worse" information to get even with you for something?

Who the heck gave Zillow the authority in the first place to publish details on over 100 million homes the way they do, with over 10 million erroneous valuations, with no accountability for the consequences of the erroneous valuations?"

- It's called the Free Market.  Like others they came up with a Business Plan and implemented it.  If you disagree with how they do things then do what this Country allows you to do...start up a competing site and use your own valuations and your own terms.   But when you start yours up, be sure to give the consumer FULL control over their own data so you don't run into the same problems you are complaining about.

But these are probably the two biggest questions. 
Can you answer exactly what benefit they get out of putting a lower value on your house?
Would you be posting here if they valued your property significantly higher than it should be?

Oh and no I am not as you call them a "cheerleader".  In fact until you posted this I never heard of this site, but you could have put any similar site in and I would have said pretty much the exact same thing. 
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#19 General Comment

Wow...

AUTHOR: Striderq - (U.S.A.)

"It is time that Zillow was properly Regulated to stop this 'cyber piracy' where they refuse homeowners access to their legally owned property. Who the heck gave Zillow the authority in the first place to publish details on over 100 million homes the way they do, with over 10 million erroneous valuations, with no accountability for the consequences of the erroneous valuations?"

Zillow is not refusing you access to your home. If they are, where are you sleeping each night. They're just not giving you access to change their data, but then again no one else has access to do that either. But it's OK. If you look at their website they say the data is just for comparison only. It's not like someone can buy your home at the value they have listed. But if they had an inflated value on your home, would you be as adamant about trying to change it? And since it's their site, they have the right to say who can post what. The First Amendment only prevents government from allowing you to say what you want.

Where are you getting your data for the number of errors? Did you just decide they had a 10% error rate or did you use some study of their information? It doesn't help your case when you make unsubstantiated claims that are very exaggerated.

And since I know you'll go there: I do not work for Zillow. I have visited their website but as they say for comparison only. Nothing legally binding.
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