Case reference number: CRE-E/26921
Complainant: OFT own-initiative investigations
Summary of work
The OFT has opened a number of investigations into traders operating in
the mobility aids sector in connection with potential breaches of the
Enterprise Act 2002 in respect of the Consumer Protection from Unfair
Trading Regulations 2008, the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract
Regulations 1999 and the Consumer Credit Act 1974, further to
suggestions of non-compliant activity in this sector.
The OFT received information which prompted it to investigate the
practices of two national companies operating in the mobility aids
sector (further details are outlined below). In addition, the OFT is
investigating other similar behaviour and it has started action which
could result in the removal of the credit licences from a number of
traders in the mobility aids sector.
The opening of these investigations follows concerns raised by
consumers, local Trading Standards Services (TSS) and other advisory
services and is further to own initiative inquiries into available
intelligence. The OFT has prioritised this work due to the potentially
highly vulnerable nature of consumers in this sector and issues exposed
further to the OFT market study into this sector.
In the course of the OFT's enquiries, Acorn Mobility Services
worked closely with the OFT to improve both its terms and conditions, in
line with unfair contract terms legislation, and its internal processes
to improve its standards of customer care. We have appreciated the
company's willingness to engage with us. The contact has been extremely
positive and the company has implemented revised terms and conditions,
resulting in improvements for consumers. Outstanding issues regarding
improved sales and after-sales care are in the process of being
resolved. Once finalised, these will be monitored regularly by local
TSS. We anticipate that this intervention is likely to represent
significant improvements for consumers both in relation to purchases and
service agreements and will consequently also drive up competitive
standards across the market.
The second company has a national reach and operates in the doorstep
sales channel. Its practices that raised concerns related to potentially
misleading techniques used by its sales representatives, which included
some of the sales practices highlighted by this study. We continue to
investigate this case under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading
The OFT continues to progress this work in discussion with a number of
TSSs. Such cases may also raise questions of fitness in relation to any
consumer credit activities licensable by the OFT.
The latter investigation is ongoing. Further updates will be made on
this section of the website in the coming weeks.
Published 1 February 2012