Unfair Sales Practices to Sell Mobility Aids by Traders Warned

Jack Humphrey, Regulatory journalist
September 29, 2011 /

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned traders that use unfair sales practices to sell mobility aids such as scooters, stairlifts and adjustable beds to the elderly and disabled in their home.

Last year, Consumer Direct, the OFT-managed advice service, received 4,500 calls from people complaining or asking for advice about mobility aids.

An OFT report found that elderly and disabled customers who are subject to high pressure sales techniques from doorstep traders can pay high prices for mobility aids. It also highlighted the stress and inconvenience caused when customers are misled into making an inappropriate and expensive purchase.

As part of a national consumer awareness campaign, the OFT is encouraging people to shop around and understand their rights when buying mobility aids from doorstep traders.

People looking to purchase equipment that will help them or their family become more mobile and independent often invite mobility aid traders to their home so that it can be assessed and measured for the equipment. Many traders treat their customers fairly but some use high pressure sales tactics that encourage people to make snap decisions without comparing prices or checking to see if the product is the right one for their needs.

Colin Brown, Director in the OFT Goods and Consumer Group said: “‘With so many different mobility products available, it can be difficult to know whether you’re buying the right item and what price you should be paying. It’s important that people aren’t pressurised into making a hasty decision that could leave them out of pocket or with an item that’s not what they need.

“This campaign aims to help people have the confidence to say no if they’re unsure about what’s being offered or want to take the time to discuss their needs with a family member, friend or trusted healthcare professional.”

The OFT advises consumers purchasing at the doorstep to think twice before buying, and if they are made to feel under pressure to make a purchase to have the confidence to say no.

Consumers must also be wary of time-limited or exclusive offers that need to be signed on the spot – this can be a high pressure sales tactic.

Double check the facts, the OFT urged consumers.

“Do you fully understand the costs and know whether it includes extras like installation, on-going serving charges or warranties? Always shop around to compare products and prices. Talk to someone you trust for a second opinion,” the OFT said.

If consumers spend more than £35 with a trader on the doorstep, they usually have seven days in which to cancel (subject to certain conditions).

 

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