A Bicester-based mobility scooter manufacturer is facing a challenge by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) over allegations it prevented online retailers from offering discounts on its products.
The OFT issued a Statement of Objections last week provisionally concluding that Pride Mobility Products, based in Wedgwood Road, may have broken competition laws by entering into agreements preventing some UK-wide online retailers from advertising prices below Pride’s recommended retail price.
The OFT went on to say the alleged breach by Pride on certain models of its mobility scooter may have limited consumer ability to get value for money.
Louis Christofides, director of the OFT said: “The internet is a vital tool for shopping around.
“We want people to be able to use the internet to find and compare dealers’ actual retail prices, saving them time and effort in searching for the best offer.
“This is particularly important in the mobility scooters sector, where many customers may have difficulty getting out to the shops.
“If retailers are prevented from advertising their discounts online, consumers are significantly restricted from identifying and obtaining lower prices, and it is harder for innovative and efficient retailers to win new customers.”
Pride is one of the biggest mobility scooter retailers of its kind in the UK, selling the Jazzy Power Chair and GoGo Es8.
The OFT’s findings indicate the alleged breaches may have occurred over various periods in relation to different retailers between 2010 and 2012.
Pride Mobility Products had not responded to the Review’s request for a comment on the allegations at the time of going to press yesterday, Thursday.
The Telegraph reported that the OFT’s findings emerged out of an investigation of the entire mobility market two years ago, when it was noted that prices for mobility scooters could vary by as much as £3,000.
The OFT launched its investigation into the mobility aids market after a large number of calls to consumer watchdogs.
The OFT has stated that its findings regarding Pride Mobility Products are provisional, and that no assumption should be made at this stage over whether there has been an infringement of competition law.
The company will have an opportunity to respond to the Statement of Objections.