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Acorn accused of ‘dubious sales tactics’ and ‘badmouthing competition’

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Acorn Stairlifts is being investigated by the industry’s trade body after claims were made that it used pressure sales tactics on elderly people in their homes.  

A Which? mystery shopping exercise found that the stairlift giant’s salespeople used pressure tactics on two separate occasions and made ‘dubious claims’ that Acorn’s products were the ‘most reliable available’.

According to the Which? report, Acorn’s salespeople ‘badmouthed competition’, incorrectly claiming that the firm is the only one to manufacture stairlifts in Britain and that Age UK and Companion products feature seatbelts that cannot be used by people with arthritis.

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Acorn’s salespeople were accused of asking for an immediate decision on purchasing, offering a 20% discount after calling a ‘mate’ in the office and requesting a refundable £500 deposit on the spot.

Other tactics outlined in the report include offering a 10% discount for customers who purchased on the day, but the same discount was still available at a later date.

A Which? survey in July last year claimed that one in three people buying a stairlift from Acorn felt pressured to buy one.

The concerns raised by Which? are being investigated internally by Acorn Stairlifts and also by the BHTA, of which it is a member.

Acorn told Which? that it was disappointed by its findings and that the report does not reflect the “extremely positive” feedback it receives from its customers.

It told Which?: “Notwithstanding our reservations about the nature of the data that Which? has obtained, we are investigating the concerns raised. Acorn will not condone or tolerate even isolated instances of individuals falling below our expected high standards of conduct.”

In its latest financial year, Acorn Stairlifts increased its turnover by 20% to nearly £212m in what was another record year of growth for the company.

The group’s operating profit also increased from £19,000 to £22,000 while the company’s headcount grew by 178 to 1,485 employees, according to an annual report for the year ended 30 September 2017.

Acorn has been approached for comment.

Image: Acorn

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Joe Peskett

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