Mobility aids reps caught using hard sellWhich? probe exposes dodgy sales tactics
24 July 2008
Some mobility aids companies are targeting vulnerable customers with high-pressure sales tactics, an undercover Which? investigation has found.
We secretly filmed sales reps from 11 companies as they tried to sell adjustable beds, scooters and bath lifts to our 72-year-old undercover investigator.
But a panel of experts rated five sales representatives as poor and just one as good.
One sales rep - from All Handling Mobility - was even prepared to help our investigator break the law by suggesting she could make a fraudulent insurance claim.
All Handling Movability later told Which? that it would not expect any member of staff to be involved in a fraudulent claim and will investigate it as a serious allegation.
Other poor practices included offering freebies such as a widescreen TV or laptop to secure a sale.
Our investigator claimed to need equipment for herself and her husband, who she said was in hospital.
But most of the sales reps failed to carry out an acceptable assessment, with just one asking to see her husband before recommending a product. Another offered potentially unsafe equipment.
Three of the four companies selling adjustable beds made questionable medical claims and one company falsely claimed that it was recommended by the charity Age Concern.
We also found that membership of a trade association, such as the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA), was not always a guarantee of best practice.
The five BHTA members tested by Which? were rated as 'OK'.
But the best performer was Instant Mobility, which is not a BHTA member, while the other five non-BHTA members were rated as poor.
Which? editor Neil Fowler said: ‘People buying mobility equipment are potentially vulnerable, so it’s appalling to find that some companies that sell these products are using sales techniques that range from questionable to downright illegal.
‘The BHTA code is a start, but the industry needs to do much more to protect its customers against unscrupulous operators and to ensure that they always get the best product for their needs.’
Following our investigation, seven of the 11 companies have committed to taking action.