A pensioners group has warned that elderly and disabled users of mobility scooters are at risk of being “ripped off” by unscrupulous retailers charging whatever they believe they can get away with.
Some buyers are paying prices as high as £6,800 for electric mobility vehicles and the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) believes a potentially vulnerable market is in danger of being exploited. .
According to recent article in The Telegraph the NPC is concerned that some sellers taking advantage of the lack of regulation in the mobility scooter market are treating elderly and disabled people as “a captive market”.
The NPC, one of the largest lobby groups for the elderly in Britain, accused retailers of “exploiting their position”. .
Spokesman Neil Duncan-Jordan told The Telegraph: “Retailers are charging what they think they can get away with. Because there is such a growing demand for mobility scooters some retailers think they can exploit the market.” .
A wide variation in prices sees scooters being sold for anything between £1,000 for a basic model and as much as £6,800 for another with a glass screen and cover. Savings can be made by buying online, but people who choose to buy from a website can often be left to assemble the scooters themselves, according to the article. .
The NPC said that it was also concerned about a lack of regulation and basic safety standards in the mobility scooter market, citing the fact that users do not need a licence to drive one and pointing out there is a growing market for “potentially dangerous” second-hand machines. .
It is not just the NPC that has worries: last year the Officer of Fair Trading (OFT) criticised the sales practices of two of Britain’s largest scooter retailers. The NPC found that one of them, Roma Medical Aids, had breached competition law “by preventing online retailers from selling its scooters or advertising their prices online”. However, Roma told The Telegraph that it always put the interests of its customers first and said it recommended that users choose a mobility scooter based on their needs, not simply the cheapest price. .
Doug Somerset, 63, who has relied on a wheelchair and mobility scooter for 20 years, told The Telegraph: “There is so much money to be made by retailers on disability products and I’m convinced mobility scooters are being overpriced by a huge margin. I paid £939 for my Prorider Road King and it’s very good. .
"But I’ve seen very similar models sold for £2,500 and more. Disabled people and pensioners are being used as a licence to print money by some retailers.”
Mr Somerset, a retired engineer from Bexleyheath, added: “Many of these mobility scooters are pretty poorly made, with cheap components and the mark-up is astonishing. In some cases people are simply being ripped off. Something needs to be done about it.” .
Mr Somerset’s fears are echoed by the OFT which carried out an investigation of the mobility scooter market and found prices could vary by as much as £3,000.
RICA, a consumer research charity for elderly and disabled people, also believes there is an issue with mobility scooter pricing. .
Caroline Jacobs, Co-Director of Rica, told The Telegraph: “It’s extremely difficult for consumers to know how much to pay for a mobility scooter. There are huge variations in price. Whilst manufacturers’ recommended retail prices (RRPs) are widely published; they don’t accurately reflect sales prices which are often much lower. We advise people to shop around and look carefully at what is included in the price, particularly in terms of an assessment, warranty, servicing, delivery and assembly.” .
Help My Mobility is committed to providing people looking for mobility equipment with impartial and independent advice. We have been doing this since 2004 and aim to find you the most suitable product at the best price, leaving you to make an informed choice.
By Help Mobility Team