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12 March 2013, 11:54
A Suffolk mobility company has been fined for aggressive sales tactics and not giving customers refunds they were entitled to.
Aggressive and misleading commercial practices were behind the 39 offences Mobility UK Limited and three men responsible for running the company pleaded guilty to - resulting in total fines and costs of nearly £50,000.
The pleas that were heard at Ipswich Magistrates Court yesterday follow a large scale investigation by Suffolk Trading Standards based on numerous consumer complaints recorded against the company, who were trading under the business name Westminster Recliners.
The company was fined a total of £3000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000 and victim surcharge of £15.
The two sales managers of the company Oliver Frederic Waters (24 years old) and David George Waters (65 years old), father and son, both of Manwick Road, Felixstowe, each pleaded guilty to consenting and conniving to aggressive and misleading commercial practices under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
David Waters was also fined a total of £3000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000 and victim surcharge of £15, whilst Oliver Waters was fined £1000 and was also ordered to pay costs of £10,000 and victim surcharge of £15.
Oliver Waters also pleaded guilty to an offence under the Company Directors Disqualification Act for managing the company whilst an undischarged bankrupt for which he received an additional fine of £1000. Courtney Thomas Symons (34 years old), a company Director, also pleaded guilty to charges of neglect and was fined a total of £1000 and ordered to pay costs of £8500 plus a victim surcharge of £15.
Victims included elderly residents and people with mobility problems, who contacted the company after viewing the advertisements for discounted riser recliner chairs both in the national press and online. A visit by a salesman was then arranged at the victim’s home where large deposits were often paid.
When victims attempted to cancel an order or ask for a refund within the legal period of 7 days, the company kept the victim’s full deposit, falsely claiming that work had been carried out on the order.
These claims proved to be false, following evidence gathered by Suffolk Trading Standards from the company’s chair manufacturers - the order had not even been received by the manufacturer let alone started.
Sales representatives of the company used misleading sales tactics by falsely claiming to offer a reduced price as part of existing orders placed through BUPA. It was proved that the company had never had any contracts or orders with BUPA.
One 83 year old consumer agreed to a visit from a salesman of the company Mobility UK Limited trading after a sales pitch of over 3 hours, reluctantly agreed to sign up and paid a deposit of £2000.
He said; “It was only when the salesman left that I realised I had placed an order and paid such a large sum of money when I really had no intention of doing so. Fortunately for me an advocacy company and Trading Standards got involved and after a long battle with the company, lasting 10 months, I was finally paid back my £2000 deposit that I was legally entitled to receive. I was glad to put the nightmare behind me and would warn other people not to let companies like this into their home.”