Trading Standards officials at Nottinghamshire County Council have welcomed the findings of an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) study into the mobility aids industry.
Trading Standards Officers in Nottinghamshire have received more than 500 complaints about mobility aids companies in the last two years, with a third of all complaints relating to just five companies.
One of the companies most complained about was Nottingham Mobility.
In July this year the owners of Nottingham Mobility, father and son Shane and Laurence Johnson, were each jailed for 12 months following an investigation by Scambusters East Midlands and Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards officers.
The Johnsons conned vulnerable people across the Midlands and South Yorkshire out of an estimated £31,000 for mobility products that were never delivered, using the money to fund a high life of holidays and expensive sports cars. Their victims ranged from 56 to 94 years old.
Trading Standards Officers are actively investigating other mobility aids firms in Nottinghamshire in relation to alleged scams.
The OFT report highlights the high pressure and misleading sales practices used by some firms to sell products such as mobility scooters and stair lifts to the elderly and disabled.
It announces a package of measures, including a national consumer awareness campaign, support for local authority Trading Standards teams to target rogue firms and improved codes of practice for mobility aids retailers.
Councillor Mick Murphy, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “I am pleased that the OFT has recognised that the miss selling of mobility aids is a growing problem and I welcome the awareness the report raises about these dispicable cons.
“The recommendations in the OFT’s report are an important first step in cracking down on a problem which, I am sad to say, is particularly rife in Nottinghamshire. Unfortunately the activities of a small number of rogue companies are tainting the reputable majority.
Mark Walker, Group Manager for Trading Standards at Nottinghamshire County Council added: “We have received more than 500 complaints about the alleged miss-selling of mobility aids in Nottinghamshire in the last two years but we fear this may just be the tip of a very large iceberg.
“Invariably the victims are old, vulnerable and not inclined to complain. They are soft targets for unscrupulous companies and individuals looking to make a quick buck.”
Nottinghamshire County Council advises:
- Never make a purchase as a result of a cold call
- Always have a friend or relative present if a sales person visits your home
- Never sign up on the first visit and get several quotes if possible
- Use www.buywithconfidence.gov to find a reputable company providing the service you need in your area