Elderly and disabled people are at risk from misleading sales tactics from door-to-door salespeople offering stair lifts and mobility aids, a government watchdog has warned.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has received thousands of complaints from the public and has begun a consumer awareness campaign in this sector.
Customers buying from door-to-door tradesmen can pay up to 50% more than they would on the high street and by not shopping around many have overpaid by hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of pounds.
There is also a wide disparity between prices of the same product. For example, the price of one mobility scooter model varies by £3,000 between providers.
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Two unnamed national mobility aids traders are currently under investigation by the OFT, one for suspected unfair doorstep practices and another for its terms and conditions with regards to delivery. The OFT says the entire market will be reviewed and this could lead to the removal of credit licences from a number of traders in the mobility aids sector.
Door-to-door sales people should always show identification and be honest about who they are. Consumers should not be pressured into buying something and all costs should be clearly outlined – but in reality the OFT says many do not follow these rules.
Ann Pope, director of the OFT's Goods and Consumer Group, says: "While many purchasers are happy with their experience, we are concerned that some traders may take advantage of consumers when they visit them at home. We are already prioritising consumer enforcement activity in this sector and we are today issuing a warning to the industry that we will take further action where necessary."
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