May i just say that I've recently had a taste of English estate agents and they are foul! In Croatia, there were the good, the bad, the incompetent, the lazy and the downright criminal(!) ... but at least there was some choice!
i think its psychology... agents tell sellers "I can get a good price for your house". Buyers have other ideas about what they will pay but many sellers think that its the agents fault when the house doesn't sell (because the agent set them up to think that way).
I am only renting though and the letting agents are horrible: arrogant, unprofessional, shameless
We recently had to deal with a UK agency on behalf of client and I know exactly what you mean.
I have been anti many Croatian agencies in the past for their lack of communication, professionalism and general "couldn't give a d**n" attitude, but the guys I had to deal with in the UK were not much better.