Home > Case Book > Consumer Protection for Vulnerable People: A Case Scenario

Consumer Protection for Vulnerable People: A Case Scenario

By: Mary Williams BA (hons) - Updated: 17 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Vulnerable Contract Elderly Cancellation

Anyone who has elderly or vulnerable relatives worries that they might be taken advantage of by unscrupulous sales people, trying to make a fast buck from people who might be more trusting than the average cowboy trader savvy consumer.

A Common Scam Involving Vulnerable People

It’s quite common for security firms to target the elderly, because they know that elderly people can be concerned about their safety, especially those who live alone and who may be concerned that they could fall prey to burglars or intruders. One fairly common ploy for less scrupulous security firms is to target areas with a high population of elderly residents, and keep an eye on the properties where they can identify that there are lone residents, who don’t seem to get many visitors.

They will research crime figures so that they can use them to frighten people into thinking that they are at risk from burglars...then target the most vulnerable people.

One company targeted a vulnerable elderly lady we’ll call Mrs Smith, who was in her eighties, partially sighted and deaf. She lived alone, and luckily for Mrs Smith, she had a caring family who kept a look out for her. But she was still talked into buying a totally unnecessary security system by an unscrupulous salesman.

The sales patter involved the sales man frightening Mrs Smith into believing that the crime figures in her area were high and on the rise, and that they had had a quick look around her property and identified several areas where security was lax and could leave her property vulnerable to crime.

After frightening Mrs Smith, the sales man reassured her that she would be able to drastically cut her risk of falling victim to crime by installing their system. The equipment that he sold her actually included a video entry system – remember that Mrs Smith was partially sighted! Pressurised into agreeing and signing on the dotted line, the sales man got his vulnerable target and Mrs Smith agreed to installation of everything that the sales man offered her. At a vastly inflated price. Not only this, but she was actually asked for a cash deposit up front, and the sales man went with her to the cash point to get the money. This practice used to be extremely common.

When Mrs Smith’s daughter found out what her vulnerable mother had been signed up to, she was furious and contacted the company to cancel the contract. They refused to speak to her on the grounds that she wasn’t the customer, and that Mrs Smith has willingly entered into a contract which they would be enforcing.

Legally, the law has been tightened to protect vulnerable consumers and to discourage pressure sales techniques. If anyone sells you goods or services that cost over £35 in total (you have extra legal rights according to the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer's home or place of work etc. Regulations. You must have written notice of your cancellation rights, and you automatically have at least seven days to cancel the contract if you change your mind. If you don’t receive the written notice, you can’t be held to the contract even if you cancel it more than seven days later. These rules even apply to traders that you have invited into your home, although there are some exceptions – you will have to pay for anything you’ve received if you buy:

  • goods that are needed for emergency purposes
  • goods have been made to your specification
  • any perishable goods
  • goods which are consumed and can’t be returned
  • goods that have been incorporated into land
  • any goods or services relating to a funeral
In this case, Mrs Smith wasn’t given any details of cancellation rights, so her daughter informed Trading Standards, but also wrote a letter on her mother’s behalf, asking for the return of the deposit plus cancellation of the contract.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Kim
    Re: When Cosmetic Surgery Goes Wrong
    Hi..had a mini tummy tuck 2 weeks ago. Absolutely devastated. Scar is really high and up to the top if my hip bones... I…
    21 September 2019
  • Upset
    Re: What Can I Do When Goods I've Ordered Don't Arrive?
    I purchased Keto Pure from Go Healths on 28 March 2019. I have being sending emails and they…
    17 September 2019
  • UPPO
    Re: What Are my Rights on a Faulty Television?
    2 yr Oled55 inch purchased from Richer Sounds. Failed attempt so far with LG but now addressing my consumer…
    13 September 2019
  • Shaz
    Re: Buying a Used Car: Your Rights
    Hi, my friend bought a used car from a well-known car dealer in Hemel Hempstead 6 months ago and a week ago it broke down (the…
    10 September 2019
  • Susan Moreland
    Re: Dealing With Cowboy Builders
    I got highly recommended by a manager, Richard, of a secondhand furiture and electrical shop, in Derby, to employed one of his…
    8 September 2019
  • iANa
    Re: Dealing With Cowboy Builders
    Trading Standards would be my first port of call with as much info you have about them and a list of other victims. Then I'd give…
    7 September 2019
  • David
    Re: Dealing With Cowboy Builders
    I started to get work done on my back garden In july, the firm called jj landscapes turned up at 5pm one night stayed 2 hours then…
    6 September 2019
  • IJA
    Re: Dealing With Cowboy Builders
    I was done out of tens of thousands of pounds by Neil Antony Packman and Zad Leonard McLeod trading as Smooth Transformations…
    6 September 2019
  • Yus
    Re: What Car Warranties Mean
    Hi i ordered a brand new A class from the dealer,which I received in June this year. A few days in to driving, I noticed a rattling…
    4 September 2019
  • Ang
    Re: Buying a Used Car: Your Rights
    We bought a second hand car which broke down within weeks but the garage responded quickly in having the car repaired in a…
    4 September 2019