Mobility Company Guilty Of Aggressive Tactics

January 20, 2015

Westminster Recliners Limited and Oliver Waters, who used an aggressive practice with vulnerable customers, were found guilty in Ipswich Crown Court.

Westminster Recliners Limited and Oliver Waters, who used an aggressive practice when dealing with vulnerable customers, have been found guilty in Ipswich Crown Court to offences under Consumer Protection legislation.

Oliver Waters, 26 of Manwick Road, Felixstowe, who manages the company, was sentenced for offences under Consumer Protection legislation to an 18 month conditional discharge meaning that if he commits another crime, then he can be sentenced for the aggressive practice and any new offences. In addition Oliver Waters and the company were ordered to pay their legal costs of £86,000.

Westminster Recliners sell products to customers who have mobility needs. Typically, following a telephone call to a potential customer, a sales appointment is made, and one of a number of regional sales representatives of the company visits the customer’s home to demonstrate the products.

After numerous complaints, Suffolk Trading Standards investigated the activities of the company now based at Three Rivers Business Park, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich. Customer complaints included aggressive letters from the company to customers who were wishing to exercise their legal rights to cancel orders, which advised the consumers that they would only get a small part of the upfront deposit that they paid during the sales visit, but only if they agreed to keep this settlement confidential.

In mitigation, Westminster Recliners Limited represented by the Waters’ stated that following the trial they had a strong desire to make changes to protect consumers and improve their business regime. This included phoning consumers who were visited by the company to see if they were happy with their purchase at the point of delivery of goods and taking the customer through a feedback form process. They also agreed to tape and transcribe sales meetings so that Trading Standards could view them at a later date.

The company also stated that they would give money back to three of the witnesses in the trial, who had not received refunds.

Councillor Colin Spence cabinet member for public protection said:

"A successful prosecution like this reminds us that everyone should be wary of agreeing to sales visits in our home, as some companies will seek to pressurise you into signing contracts for goods or services that you may not want or need. Some companies also then put barriers in our way to stop us pursuing our legal right to cancel. Remember, you do not have to sign any contract with any company if you do not want to do so, doing so may reduce your legal rights."

"These types of cases are not successful without the continued help and support of the numerous victims and their families who provide evidence which we use in court. I would like to thank everyone as well as the other Trading Standards authorities and companies who assisted in this investigation."

"I would encourage anyone who has concerns about a company that they are dealing with, to contact Suffolk Trading Standards on 03454 040506"

This successful prosecution follows a previous case investigated by Suffolk Trading Standards that led to numerous guilty pleas concerning a company called Mobility UK Limited, which also formerly traded under the name of Westminster Recliners. This company and three individuals – David and Oliver WATERS and the previous director Courtney SYMONDS all pleaded guilty to Consumer Protection offences in 2013, resulting in total fines and costs of nearly £50,000.

Suffolk Trading Standards Original Web Article