"TGA fully supports the recent OFT investigation and subsequent warning into unfair sales practices to sell mobility aids such as scooters. Door-to-door selling techniques can invariably involve high-pressure tactics as time is limited and unfortunately associated inflated prices can be common. Pricing 'visibility' is a difficult one to solve, as the crux of the issue here is that prospective purchasers of mobility products obtain the right product for their specific needs that may involve variations in cost. Being upfront about approximate costs from the very beginning of a transaction is important though so potential customers feel comfortable that the product will meet their budget and no time is wasted by either party. Selling mobility scooters is not simply about 'shifting boxes' and advertising via the web, mail order or indeed across the doorstep will never provide the appropriate assessment procedures that need to be performed for what is in essence a medical product. Many factors need to be considered which include the lifestyle, health and physical capabilities of the individual so that knock-on issues such as safety on the road or pavement are not compromised. This is also associated with the need for compulsory driving tests that may become law in the near future.
Lack of appropriate insurance also continues to be an issue with many mobility scooter users and I would hope this OFT action leads to both formalisation of the purchasing assessment process and a legal requirement to insure vehicles. TGA currently implements and recommends both of these, however it is essential that all mobility scooter users, irrelevant of preferred brand, are treated fairly and are safe to use their chosen product. Negative press affects the whole industry and damages trust in reputable businesses such as ours. Maybe a legally appropriate and public 'name and shame' policy should be adopted by the OFT such as used in television programmes like Rogue Traders? An example needs to be made of these unscrupulous businesses as we all have a duty of care to our less able customers."
Daniel Stone, TGA Mobility Managing Director