Who Do You Trust When Buying Online

By: Nicola Bullimore

People who are buying online have grown dramatically over the last few years. Consumers purchase a variety of different products, and with the trend as it is; elderly people are becoming more confident to pay for their products online as they understand money can be saved in comparison to prices in high street shops.

As any business would know, it is important to keep up to date with current market prices so products can remain competitive. The Help the Aged website seem to be selling mobility scooters at more than double the price of other online vendors. So why are the prices of the mobility scooters on the Help the Aged website so expensive?

The Help the Aged website have a section where people can come and ask questions and post answers to other peoples threads. One person challenged Help the Aged on how they justify their prices considering there are similar websites selling the same product and offering a similar service at half the price.

Peter Olsson: Help the Aged E -Commerce Marketing Manager, replied and said that Help the Aged started selling mobility scooters in February 2004 to counter act against the common “Unethical Sales Practices" of other sellers in the industry. Peter Olsson suggests that his own research shows that the prices Help the Aged sell their mobility scooters at are infact, “very competitive". Mr Olsson states that he is aware, rock bottom rates are advertised in tabloids and other media.

However, he encourages in his reply to remember “there’s a wide range of specifications available on the market so people get what they pay for". He uses an example stating that some are sold as new although they have been refurbished.

Mr Olsson said Help the Aged would advise anyone only to deal with “Reputable vendors" in order to avoid deceptive sales tactics to prevent a disappointing purchase. “If something sounds too cheap to be true, it usually is." Although we could agree with this statement in general, in some cases this may not be correct. So, are we understand from Mr Olsson, that the Help the Aged website is a reputable vendor to purchase Mobility Scooters but to be aware of commercial websites offering mobility scooters at cheaper prices?

Companies such as Factory Outlet Scooters, www.factoryoutletscooters.co.uk sell brand new mobility scooters at low cost prices. Are we to believe that this company is not reputable because their scooters are sold at, in some cases, half the price of Help the Aged? I don’t believe so.

In response to Mr Olsson, a gentleman posted a reply. He said he himself had worked in the industry selling mobility products for the last 15 years, and that he was “Very amused, yet saddened" at the reply Mr Olsson offered. He did not think it was appropriate for a well known charity to be involved in this commercial enterprise which by its inference gives backing to an associate company selling items for high prices which may lead a potential customer away from a competitor selling the same product at half the price. He agrees with Mr Olsson that there are bad companies around and added that they sell scooters and other aids at inflated prices, and suggests the role of Help the Aged as a charity should be to educate and guide the elderly to the best buys, the best prices and companies who are ethical.

The Office of Fair Trading have currently launched a campaign to help consumers, such as the elderly, to fend off doorstop sellers who are selling high price items, such as mobility scooters and mobility products, to deal with high-pressure sales tactics. The campaign is backed by a number of groups, including Help the Aged.

Help the Aged have their heart in the right place, and we know they do a lot of good work for the elderly, but in this case, they possibly need to be more aware of realistic prices that the elderly can make their purchases online and perhaps recognise genuine services offered by other online companies in the market industry.

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