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My Mother-in-Law, 89 years, has just took delivery of a top of the range, all singing, dancing electric bed on 5 years finance. How did this happen? I imagine the following comments were the deal clinchers:
*Cold called in conjunction with 'the Stroke People' ... Bed 'prescribed'. 'Government rebate £1500.00'. (Apparently the government are keen to keep elderly in their own homes rather than pay for hospital care). 'We will scrape deposit and zero VAT if finance is taken'. Discount applied*. 'Don't tell anybody about the finance as they will also want the amazing deal'.
My M is VERY happy with her deal and purchase. She is also VERY annoyed at me for even daring to suggest that under hand tactics have been used in order to secure the deal.
She thinks she has paid £3,000 but at £60 per month for 5 years, it will be £3,600. She hasn't read or understood the paperwork. She thinks if she makes bigger payments, she won't have to pay the interest.
My big problem is that now she realises my horror, she has completely clammed up. She won't let me see the paperwork or know who the supplier is. I am sworn to secrecy .. not to tell any family members.
I think I might know who the seller is - the company do have a local presence and the bed is rather distinctive with a built in massager, torch and under bed LED lighting. I have rung them up (in a general sense) to find out if they cold call and they do .. if the customer has opted in via a third party - this would appear to be a breach of the BHTA policy.
My M has been told everyone over 60 is automatically put on mailing lists - I suspect whoever sold her the bed has told her that, although she denies this. Very odd comment for someone to make.
I have rang Trading Standards to find out if this kind of selling is a problem in the area but of course, you can no longer deal directly with Trading Standards, it has to go via CAB which is a big obstacle, not least getting them on the phone. I resorted to emailing but without the sellers name, they will not pass on my concern to Trading Standards.
I have contacted the BHTA (the company I suspect has the logo on website). Very receptive, but again cannot help without sellers name.
I have contacted the Stroke Organisation to discuss data protection and they are very interested and more than willing to investigate whether a breach of their policy has happened. But again, I cannot give my M details which hampers matters.
I am very torn whether to break my M confidence and tell her daughter. Having seen Watchdog this week (featuring just this problem), I was furious enough to pick you the phone to her but to date, no reply and I am losing my resolve to involve her, but stick to M instructions. I have told my husband who is willing to upset the apple cart but I just don't know ....
Meanwhile, my M is paying £60 per month, for 5 years, for a bed she has never expressed an interest in, won't understand, or use the unnecessary features she has (over)paid for. Hasn't read or understood the finance agreement. She will 94 before it is paid off, possibly in a care home. It could have failed by then (3 year warranty). Or she may well need the monthly payments for a cleaner, delivered meals etc.
My M is a amazing lady .. they don't make them like her anymore in terms of guts, gumption and determination! She is remarkably able. But, where any understanding of finance, paperwork or whether a deal would be good or bad, she is putty in anybody's hands. My M may well be happy but I am beyond furious that someone has dared to take advantage of an 89 year olds frailties. Actually, I feel the entire family has been somehow 'mugged' by this company.
What would you do with regard to my promise not to discuss with anybody else? And apologies in advance for the very long post.
We had had previous conversations about cold callers etc. Sadly all the advice went out the window when the issue arose.
I think your husband (her son) could have a chat with his sister. A brand new 'all singing and dancing' bed is sure to be noticed by other family members.
If you made a promise to your mother, you should keep it. Any disclosure would be a betrayal of her trust.
I fully understand your concern, but you are bound by your promise.
Sorry to disagree FE, but in the circumstances described, the promise has to take second place to the 89 year old's welfare. The scum who take advantage of those who may be vulnerable such as the lady in this instance, may well pass on her details to other companies. An easy mark's worth money.
A promise is all well and good, but the over-riding factor has to be the duty of care the lady's family owe her. It's delicate, but there are ways of introducing the new bed into conversation by other members of the family in such a way that there is no obvious breach of confidence.
There comes a time in everybody's life when they no longer have the ability to recognise that somebody is going to rip them off. It's up to the family to then step in to ensure that person receives the support and protection they deserve.
I agree with FE, I made a promise to my mother before she died and I have, reluctantly, kept it.
What's done is done.
However, there is nothing to stop you going for the Company, and its dodgy practices, yourself. They will not know who they stuffed but you should be able to make them regret it.
Sorry for the long delay in responding with some feedback. Truthfully, it caused so much upset, that I couldn't bear thinking about it.
Everyone I spoke to agreed my Mother-in-Law had been taken advantage of, but everyone seemed to have a different opinion on whether I should discuss the issue with family, thereby breaking a confidence.
To some extent I was damned if I did, and damned if I didn't. long story short, I did broach the subject of the new bed with my sister-in-law and without saying a great deal, I was told that my mother-in-law was very irate with me and I had caused a great upset. My sister-in-law did not know the finer points of the purchase and so under the circumstances, I told her.
My sister-in-law did not want to pursue the matter any further without the co-operation of my mother-in-law so my hands were tied. A line was drawn under the matter and it has all ended very unsatisfactorily. I felt fit to burst that my hands were so tied and that this company can go on to take advantage without consequence.
I have (yet) another matter to resolve so will start (yet) another thread. I feel I am so irritating myself with all these consumers matters, not to mention everyone else! Sorry.
Oh and just to add, I am left with the guilt of disclosing the confidence particularly when the disclosure served no purpose. It has also worried me greatly that the broken confidence would get back to my mother-in-law, although my sister-in-law did say she would not repeat what I had said, but would keep it to herself.
Time to let it go, Cara2. You did what you thought was best, and it backfired on you.
It happens, and when it does you just have to put it down to experience.
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