What are mobility aids?
There is a steadily increasing market for accessible living and mobility aids, with developments in technology allowing more people to live comfortably and safely in their own homes. Unfortunately, fraudulent sales companies are directly targeting elderly and vulnerable consumers and pressuring them into spending large sums of money on products which are substandard or which do not meet their needs.
The mis-selling of mobility products directly targets elderly consumers, many of whom are vulnerable.
Vulnerable consumers who may have recently used the NHS in relation to mobility issues or who have previously purchased assisted living or mobility aids are being targeted by unsolicited callers and asked to complete a health survey, which is then followed up by a home visit. These calls particularly target consumers who may not fully understand what they are agreeing to or be able to make informed decisions. The salespeople often imply that they are from, or associated with, the NHS in an attempt to gain the consumers’ trust. They may dress in similar outfits to nurses or physiotherapists.
During home visits, the salesperson subjects the customer to a lengthy sales pitch, wearing them down and often trying to elicit sympathy by implying that their livelihood and job security will be affected by the customer’s decision. Elderly and vulnerable consumers can become distressed by these sales visits and, in order to get rid of the salesperson, are often pressured into paying thousands of pounds for products such as mobility scooters, adjustable beds and chairs and mattresses which are not suited to their needs and are often not of satisfactory quality. They then find it difficult to cancel the contract or get any money back when they change their mind.
If the consumer regrets their decision and attempts to cancel, the trader often falsely tells them that the product they are buying is bespoke and is being made specifically to their requirements. If a product is bespoke, it is exempt from the statutory cooling off period and the customer cannot change their decision as easily as they would with a generic product. However, if the salesperson doesn’t take any measurements while they are in the house, the product cannot be bespoke. This means that the customer is in fact entitled to 14-day cancellation rights. If the product is bespoke and made to the customer’s unique specifications, the salesperson should provide written confirmation that the customer does not have the right to cancel.
In practice, the trader usually claims that the items are bespoke and they keep all or some of the purchase price.
Download our leaflet: Take it Easy – Avoid Mobility Aid Scams
What You Can Do
To prevent scam calls about mobility or assisted living aids getting through in the first place, elderly and vulnerable people can apply to have a call blocking device installed. These devices block over 95% of nuisance calls.
If you receive a call asking you to complete a health survey or offering a home visit from a mobility aids salesperson, refuse to give any personal details and hang up.
If you have agreed to a home visit by a mobility aids salesperson, you may want to ask someone that you trust to be there with you. Make it clear from the outset that you will not be making a decision on that day and that you will be taking time to think about any purchases.
Make Mobility Aid Scammers QUIT:
- Get at least three QUOTES from reputable companies before agreeing to any purchases. Find reputable companies who sell assisted living and mobility aids through the BHTA, Age Scotland or the Disabled Living Foundation
- Don’t sign any paperwork unless you are sure that you UNDERSTAND all of the small print and terms and conditions. Remember that you are legally entitled to a 14-day cancellation period for all purchases over £42 unless the product is bespoke.
- Check the salesperson’s ID and take a note of the company name, address and contact details.
- Don’t feel pressured into making any decisions. Take as much TIME as you need to think about whether you need and want the product. Always get a second opinion from someone you trust and, if possible, check online reviews of the company.
Make sure that elderly or vulnerable friends or relatives are aware of mobility aids scams.
If you have concerns about a purchase that you or a relative has made, contact Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000.