James Ernest Robinson and his two children Andrew Robinson and Jacqueline Salt, directors of Luggie UK Ltd (Luggie) in Yorkshire, have been disqualified from being company directors for a total of 26 years for selling high priced scooters to disabled and elderly people, without assessing their needs.
The disqualification which started on 9 October 2013, follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
James Robinson (77) Andrew Robinson (47) and Jacqueline Salt (43) gave disqualification undertakings to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) for 10, nine and seven years respectively.
The disqualifications mean they cannot be directors, or manage, or control a company until 2023, 2022 and 2020 respectively without leave of the court.
Investigations found that between at least 8 January 2011 and February 2012, Luggie displayed a serious lack of professional diligence by selling mobility scooters and other mobility products to the public, using high pressure sales techniques and without assessing individual needs. Most buyers were unable to operate them.
Luggie referred to their salespersons as assessors, reinforcing the impression that the suitability of the mobility product would be assessed. A sales script encouraged potential customers to make an appointment for a salesperson to visit their home in order to assess their individual needs and requirements.
In reality, members of the public were visited by a salesperson who was not a qualified assessor, who used high pressure selling techniques to secure a sale and immediate payment of the full purchase price.
In giving their undertakings, James Ernest Robinson and Andrew Robinson did not dispute that they caused or allowed Luggie UK Ltd to:
* use unfair trading practices and to trade in contravention of consumer legislation and contrary to customer rights and interest;
* use high pressure selling techniques and to hide or omit material information causing consumers to make a transactional decision they would not have made otherwise;
* adopt unreasonable and improper after-sales practices for example, refusing customer refunds;
* trade in contravention of company legislation by causing or allowing letters to be issued to customers which displayed a lack of transparency as to the identity of the company and its officers, presenting a significant risk of confusion amongst Luggie UK Ltds customers.
In giving her undertaking, Jacqueline Salt did not dispute that during the period of her directorship she failed to acquire and maintain sufficient knowledge and understanding of Luggie UK Ltds business to enable her to properly discharge her directors duties.
Luggie UK Ltd was wound up in the public interest on 1 May 2012, following an initial investigation by BIS.
A further investigation conducted by the Insolvency Services Public Interest Unit, revealed that nearly half of Luggie UK Ltds customers were unsatisfied, suffering estimated losses of at least 50,000.
Commenting on the disqualifications, Ken Beasley, the Official Receiver at the Public Interest Unit said:
The behaviour of these directors was particularly unpleasant because they targeted the most susceptible and vulnerable members of society, older people who may be unsure how to seek advice or others afraid to or not in a position to say no.
The victims of this scam end up paying for something and getting nothing they could use. The worst aspect is the callousness with which the fraudsters went about their business; ignoring the obvious fact that that because of their age or disability, most victims will never be able to make good their loss.
The Insolvency Service will investigate companies that abuse the trust of the public and seek to disqualify the directors.