When the Lib Dems set up a spoof estate agency called “May and Co” they were hoping to draw attention to the Conservatives’ so-called dementia tax that would cost people their homes – but it seems they had forgotten to Google the name before the launch.
Unfortunately for the party, May and Co already exists – and it’s an estate agency which has been based in the London borough of Chelsea since 1920.
A mock placard attached to the press release featured a large photograph of Theresa May and the words: “May and Co: selling your home to fund your care”.
It also directed readers to a website, mayand.co, which said it was “Westminster’s finest estate agents – dealing exclusively in selling vulnerable elderly people’s homes to pay for the care they desperately need”.
Needless to say, the real May and Co were not impressed.
The owner of the agency, John Yianni, told i that he learnt about the stunt when a customer phoned him up and asked him why he was involved in a political campaign.
This call was followed by dozens more, some aggressive, and some from “very weird people”, Yianni said.
“It’s actually been a terrible experience, and really quite upsetting,” he said. “I’ve never had so much trouble in the 15 years I’ve been here.”
“Some people thought I was doing it to support the Lib Dems, but others actually thought I was trying to make some money by suggesting selling your home to pay for social care .”
Mr Yianni said he wrote to the Lib Dems and Sir Vince Cable on Wednesday, but heard nothing until Friday.
“They telephoned me and were very apologetic,” he said. “The thing is though, they can apologise a million times but this will stay on the internet forever.”
“It’s going to be a joke at our expense for a very long time to come,” he added. Mr Yianni, who is from Twickenham, said that he had been intending to vote for Cable, but “definitely wasn’t” going to now.
Estate agency 2.0
In the meantime, the website and blog disappeared on Wednesday. A Lib Dem spokesperson said there had been an accidental release of an early draft version. The spoof agency was relaunched On Friday by Lib Dem election spokesperson Ed Davey as “Theresa May and Co”. “This is like a new type of inheritance tax – but one that’s targeted at people of modest means, not the wealthy,” he said of the Conservative’s manifesto proposals to make people receiving care at home liable for the full costs if they have assets of at least £100,000.
The old website, mayand.co now redirects you to theresamayand.co. The Lib Dems have been contacted for comment.
• This article first appeared in our sister title, i