Poor advice from retailers on bathroom mobility aids

Published:  29 April, 2010

LONDON: Consumer protection magazine Which? has slated the poor advice from retailers offered on mobility aids. Which? researchers visited or rang major retailers across Great Britain, posing as carers shopping for bath aids for their disabled mother. Stores included Argos, Asda in-store pharmacies, B&Q and specialist shops.

"With more high street shops entering the market, our experts were looking for staff who could describe the company's products, and who they might suit, skillfully or acknowledge the limits of their knowledge and tell someone where to get more specialist advice," the organisation said.

But only 39% of high street shops evaluated showed adequate product knowledge, compared with 100% of specialist shops.

Argos, B&Q and Homebase were rated 'poor', with internet and catalogue retailer Co-op Xest and Asda Pharmacy rated 'could do better'.

Only the specialist shops visited were rated 'good', although Which? experts still had some concerns.

People with disabilities are exempt from paying VAT on products designed or adapted for their use, but only in 44% of visits overall did staff give the correct information when asked if there were discounts on products for disabled people, with the experts finding some explanations 'muddled'.

Claire Lilley, Which? policy adviser said: "Our worry is that if this equipment continues to be sold without access to reliable advice people will buy unsuitable items, without the VAT exemption they're entitled to, at a time when when they may be at their most vulnerable."

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