Arise Mobility, which appeared on BBC Rogue Traders last month, where it was accused of breaching industry codes of practice, has resigned from the BHTA before a disciplinary hearing could happen today, which could have seen it expelled from the trade body.
The Wolverhampton retailer’s managing director, Goe Grewal, told AMP that he did ‘not see the value of belonging to the BHTA’ after he claimed it ‘turned its back on him’ and failed to support him following the BBC’s investigation.
On the programme, it was alleged that Arise Mobility was cold calling customers, spending too long at potential customers’ homes and failed to make prices transparent. During the programme, the BHTA’s director of governance and policy, Sarah Lepak, confirmed that disciplinary action had begun in relation to the allegations.
“The BHTA works to protect the reputation of its member companies who supply goods and services to disabled people and to ensure that consumers can buy from them with confidence. It is very important, therefore, that people buying such products do so from a BHTA member company,” said the BHTA’s director general, Tracey Lloyd.
But Mr Grewal defended his company, saying that his company had been misrepresented and wrongly portrayed. He claims that prior to the programme airing, a senior director from the BHTA assured him in writing that the sales calls his company was making did not break the code of practice because he used opted-in customer data. AMP has not been shown that correspondence.
Since the programme aired, Arise Mobility has had to shed 60 staff members in an effort to cut overheads. Mr Grewal explained that the dealer’s card and finance companies have withdrawn their services in addition to the 75% reduction in its sales team.
Mr Grewal claims that his business did not receive visits or vetting from BHTA officials to guide on practices and sales techniques while he was a member.
“It’s not a cheap membership and you would expect a lot more for it. You would certainly expect a visit. The whole idea of signing up to bodies like the BHTA is that they are supposed to guide and educate. But what guidance and education have they given us? They’ve given absolutely nothing,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lepak explained that the BHTA’s code of practice says that for sales conducted in a customer’s own home, cold calling is unacceptable and this includes cold calling by telephone.
“We would consider calling people acceptable if the company has information which shows that their details were obtained without an initial cold call and the customer had opted in for being contacted,” she said.
“Best practice would be to actually say during the call how the person’s information had been obtained. A check should nonetheless always be made that the person is not registered with the Telephone Preference Scheme, as that indicates they do not want to be contacted by telephone.”