The main trade body for the mobility sector, the BHTA, must sell itself better to end-users and become a more customer-facing body to help protect end-users from being mis-sold mobility equipment.
That’s the view of prominent industry voice Dave Thompson MBE, who runs the Warrington Disability Partnership, and is concerned about the amount of disabled people being “ripped off” by unscrupulous mobility retailers.
Speaking to AMP following the announcement of BHTA boss Tracey White’s imminent departure, Thompson, whose Disability Trading Company joined the group 18 months ago, admitted that members of the industry know what the approved-trader symbols mean.
But he noted that the BHTA needs to market itself better to end-users, many of whom are unaware of the BHTA or its role in protecting them.
“If I was the new director general coming into the BHTA, I would look very carefully at focusing on how we can improve the customer-facing badge and become the TripAdvisor of the industry. How can we get the BHTA to be the TripAdvisor of the industry? For me, that would be my mantra.
“From my little knowledge of the BHTA, I understand they’ve got a lobbying arm that works very closely with the government around legislation, but for me, I think there’s a lot more that is needed on the trade side.
“Certainly for me, as a disabled person, I know that if I go on a holiday and it goes wrong I call ABTA, I know if my energy goes wrong I call Ofgem. The BHTA – are they not the watchdog of the mobility trade? Well then why don’t I know about them?”
Thompson hopes that improved marketing by the BHTA will protect more end-users from the mobility traders who are “bringing [other dealers] down and making it really muddy”.
The BHTA has an advice page on its website advising end-users to ask retailers whether they are a member of the trade body. It claims it has “a very modern approach when it comes to protecting customers who are looking to make their lives easier by buying a mobility, rehabilitation or homecare product.”
White is set to leave the BHTA at the end of March and the group has begun the process of finding a successor, inviting applications from candidates.