Consumer Watchdog Warns Against Dishonest Deals With the Elderly
Bulgaria's Consumer Protection Commission (KZP) warned a telecom against inducing the elderly to sign unfavourable for them subscription plans, reports Dnes.bg.
According to the results of a KZP inspection, the telecom employees were taking an advantage of the vulnerability of the elderly and made them sign long term contracts they do not understand and accept.
“The senior citizens are more vulnerable because they might have health conditions and often are more gullible due to the fact that they spent most of their lives in a system with a different economy and sometimes find it hard to adapt to the current one,” noted KZP in the statement, published on its website.
The inspection was prompted by numerous complaints from senior citizens who were practically forced to sign contracts for services they did not need.
One 78-year-old consumer complained that he was mislead. He claimed he did not make an informed decision and realised he was tricked into activating a new service after he received the first bill. The KZP inspection established that in this case there were two different versions of the contract with the consumer – one for the receiving of a new mobile phone and the other for the activation of a new service.
KZP notes that the fact that the consumers go back to the telecom's offices to complain and demand cancellation, shows that they were pressed to take a fast decision and did not have the time to think it over. The KZP inspections found that in the telecom's offices chairs were not present and the elderly people didn't have a place to sit down and read the contracts carefully before signing them. “Usually those contracts are five-six pages long, in small print and with lots of information, which requires careful reading,” said KZP. “The elderly are persuaded in a persistent manner and they often sign the contracts without getting to know the conditions.”
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I have noticed this sort of trick tried out in other companies too and not just with the elderly. A huge contract appears and then the 'next customer' comes in and the person does not feel they have the time to read the contract properly once the new customer starts interrupting to get served - then the staff start looking at their watches and the poor customer has been tricked into signing a contract they have not read