Mobility company bosses admit aggressive sales to elderly residents

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Bosses of a mobility aid company have admitted unfair and aggressive sales to elderly and vulnerable residents.

Derbyshire County Council’s trading standards team carried out one of its biggest ever investigations into Chesterfield-based REO Marketing Limited. Their findings led to the closure of the company last year and two of its key members of staff being charged with a range of offences. Rodney Stone, 63, former director of REO Marketing Limited, pleaded guilty to 15 charges at Derby Crown Court on August 5. Geoffrey Moore, 48, former sales manager at REO Marketing Limited, pleaded guilty to nine charges.

All of the charges related to unfair and aggressive practices, including:

* Aggressive sales techniques – conducting long sales visits and exploiting customers’ health problems

* Falsely claiming to be carrying out a survey when trying to arrange sales visits

* Falsely claiming mobility products were only available at a discounted price if customers ordered straight away. Kevin Parkinson, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “This has been a long and complex investigation for our trading standards team and we are delighted to bring these men to justice. “They caused fear and worry to many vulnerable members of society by their illegal sales tactics and drive for profit. “This case sends out a clear message that bullying our elderly residents in their own homes will not be tolerated and we will take the toughest possible action.” Trading Standards officers began investigating Reo Marketing Limited after 37 complaints between February and October 2010. Complaints related to the sale of scooters, stair lifts, beds, and wheelchairs – not only in Derbyshire, but as far afield as Plymouth, Cambridge and Wigan. They searched five premises under warrant including the company’s call centre at Chatsworth Road, Chesterfield, and its registered office at Barker Lane, Chesterfield. Business records seized included ‘The Door’ – the company’s 51-page training manual for salesmen which describes in detail their sales tactics. Stone, of Bamford Avenue, North Wingfield, Chesterfield and Moore, of Nethermoor Road, Wingerworth, Chesterfield will reappear at Derby Crown Court for sentencing on September 13.