The mobility aids market is about to be put under the light of full scrutiny. After a year that has seen consumer complaints about wheelchairs, adjustable beds, stair lifts, hoists, scooters, and other equipment manufactured and sold for use by those with disabilities increase by 20 per cent, a full scale investigation of the industry has been called.
This is a huge industry that goes virtually unregulated and it needs thorough investigation to see if products are being marketed and priced fairly to the consumer and distributors. The Office of Fair Trading will take the lead in opening up what many believe may prove to be quite the can of worms.
The OFT said that one of its major concerns is that buyers and traders are not getting the proper information to make informed decisions on products and enough bargaining power for fair competition. They fear the manufacturers may be operating under an unfair policy of price control.
Also of concern is that the end-users are receiving enough information about the products to make educated decisions. In this instance, says one expert, the majority of purchasers are the elderly and infirm. It is proper to be concerned that they have special access to information about these devices and contraptions.
Immediately, the OFT has begun seeking commentary and advice from interested parties so it might direct its attentions to the important issues of this industry.
So far, they have found that the industry seems to be going in a direction that is forcing higher prices for traders and consumers and reducing choice. If this is true, then the industry has serious problems regarding fair practise of competition and needs oversight.