FRAIL pensioners were targeted in their homes by rogue traders claiming they could help improve their quality of life.
Elderly people from Huddersfield were among those preyed upon by salesmen from a Leeds-based mobility company.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards chiefs are now warning locals to think carefully about who they do business with on the doorstep.
Between January 2010 and the same date this year, a total of 42 complaints were received by the service regarding Easynights Ltd, trading as Made to Measure.
The businesses specifically targeted older vulnerable people in their home.
Some of these victims had Alzheimer’s disease or another short-term memory illness, meaning that they were mentally unfit to form a contract.
But salesmen still persuaded them to sign up for vastly overpriced mobility aids that they didn’t want or need and were unable to operate.
Despite cancelling contracts after changing their minds, some customers haven’t yet been refunded.
A 79-year-old from Mirfield agreed to a visit to carry out a survey into arthritis, during which he was sold a chair for £2,290.
He was told that the chair was ‘made to measure’ and would help his circulation and heal an ulcer on his leg. However when it arrived it was unsuitable and even caused some pain.
The man was promised a refund, but seven months later is still waiting for it.
A 90-year-old from the Huddersfield area was cold called and the salesmen stayed for hours until he was persuaded to buy a walk in shower room for £6,000.
He was also charged £3,000 for a stairlift to go halfway up the stairs – and told it would cost him an extra £4,000 if he wanted it to go all the way to the top.
The salesman tried to take him to the bank in his wheelchair to withdraw £9,000. Luckily he refused and the order was cancelled the next day.
Legal proceedings were issued against the individuals involved with the company at Leeds County Court.
Amanda Goor and Paul Close were fined and accepted undertakings restricting their future conduct.
This includes promising not to breach consumer protection legislation relating to unfair trading practices, the sale of goods and doorstep selling.
Consumer chiefs said the case highlights the problem of elderly and vulnerable people becoming repeat victims of rogue traders in their own homes.
Graham Hebblethwaite, chief officer of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “These individuals have taken advantage of elderly and, in some cases, extremely vulnerable people in their own homes and pressured them into buying vastly overpriced goods.
“In most cases the consumers did not want or need the goods, or they were totally unsuitable for their needs.
“This case should send out a warning message to any dishonest traders involved in doorstep sales within West Yorkshire – we will take action against those traders.”
Anyone concerned about products being sold at the door is asked to call Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.