OFT Takes Action in Mobility Aids Sector

Jack Humphrey, Regulatory journalist
February 07, 2012 /

The OFT has taken action against several mobility aids traders, following a market study last year which found some firms were engaged in unfair business practices.

The OFT has revoked the consumer credit licences of Amarjit Gill and his business associate Ranjit Dhami over concerns about how they sold mobility aids. Amarjit Gill, who traded as ABM Mobility, breached consumer protection legislation, including using aggressive sales techniques, despite warnings from Derbyshire Trading Standards, and repeatedly breached interim enforcement orders.

Ranjit Dhami held a separate licence and had traded as A.B.M., Phoenix 1000, Eurostar, Star Enterprises and Phoenix Enterprises. She was judged unfit to hold a credit licence by the OFT because of her association with Amarjit Gill’s business.

Separately, the OFT carried out an investigation into Yorkshire-based Acorn Mobility Services Limited (Acorn) for potential breaches of consumer protection laws. As a result of constructive discussions, Acorn has voluntarily amended the terms and conditions it uses in its customer contracts and supporting documents to address potentially unfair terms.

The OFT was also concerned about complaints received about Acorn’s customer service. During the investigation the company agreed to overhaul its customer service procedures including setting up a freephone helpline and improving training for staff.

The company is continuing to work closely with its local Trading Standards Service to improve complaints handling.

An investigation into a separate national mobility aids trader, for suspected unfair doorstep sales practices, is also well advanced.

Alongside the OFT’s work, local Trading Standards Services are continuing to tackle unfair sales practices by mobility aids suppliers at local and regional levels.

David Fisher, OFT Director said: “We warned traders that unless they stopped using aggressive sales techniques and unfair business practices to sell mobility aids they would face enforcement, and that is what we are doing.’

“We will take further action, working in partnership with local Trading Standards Services, if there is evidence of unfair trading or where fitness to hold a credit licence is called into question.”

At Nottingham County Court in December 2010, a judge found Mr Gill in contempt of court in respect of five breaches of Interim Enforcement Orders. In February 2011, a final Enforcement Order was granted against Mr Gill under the Enterprise Act 2002 by Judge Inglis at Derbyshire County Court.

The Order directed Mr Gill and his agents not to continue with or repeat the conduct which constituted the infringements recorded in the previous judgment.

In December 2011 the OFT hosted an event for Trading Standards enforcers to share best enforcement practice, in order to improve compliance with the law in the mobility aids sector. The OFT will build on this work by providing enforcement guidance in the Spring.

The Consumer Credit Act 1974 places a duty on the OFT to ensure that licences are only given to and retained by those who are fit to hold them.

 

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