Which? has caught one of the UK's largest stairlift companies, Acorn Stairlifts, using pressure tactics to try to convince elderly home owners to make a decision on-the-spot.
Which? researchers found salespeople:
u2022 asking for an immediate decision on buying a reconditioned stairlift;
u2022 calling a 'mate' in the office before offering a 20% discount;
u2022 requesting a refundable £500 deposit there and then.
In Which?'s snapshot mystery shop of three Acorn Stairlift sales pitches we found examples of pressure selling on two visits.
Dodgy tactics also included offering a 10% discount as an incentive for the customer to sign up that day. However, the same discount was then also available at a later date.
These findings follow a Which? survey in in July 2018 that found more than one in three people buying a stairlift from Acorn felt pressured to buy one.
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Acorn salespeople also made dubious claims to bag a sale, such as an assertion that Acorn produces 'the most reliable stairlift available'.
And they weren't above badmouthing competitors, saying - incorrectly - that Age UK and Companion stairlifts have seatbelts that can't be used by people with arthritis, and that Acorn is the only company to manufacture its product in Britain.
Consumer law prohibits traders from using misleading, underhand or aggressive tactics to influence a customer's decision. Which? believes that the practices it found could well be in breach of these rules.
The tactics used also go against Acorn's own code of conduct, which says that 'prices are NOT only available today and this kind of selling technique will not be tolerated by Acorn. In fact this practice is now considered illegal.'
Which? has reported its findings to the industry body, the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA).
Acorn Stairlifts says it is disappointed with the findings and that they no way reflect the extremely positive feedback that it consistently receives both from customers and its sales team.
It told Which?: 'Notwithstanding our reservations about the nature of the data that Which? has obtained, we are investigating the concerns raised. Acorn will not condone or tolerate even isolated instances of individuals falling below our expected high standards of conduct.'
However, Acorn does not accept that a deposit was sought on the visit, or that an immediate decision was required.
Before booking in a visit from a stairlift supplier, do your homework so that you're not relying on the salesperson for all your information.
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