Is there a problem?
Unfortunately sometimes things do go wrong. Hopefully with common sense and good will, they can be sorted out to everyone's satisfaction before resorting to the law.
At the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) we represent more than 450 companies who make and sell many different products and services, known as Assistive Technology products, designed to help vulnerable people in their own homes as well as in the NHS and in the community. These include all sorts of mobility products like scooters and wheelchairs, stairlifts and hoists, and stoma and incontinence products.
The BHTA Code of Practice is the first in the healthcare industry to have been approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. The reason we've done this is to reassure you that our members are responsible businesses and not involved in inappropriate selling tactics.
A condition of BHTA membership is that they abide by our Code of Practice. This means that:
- You can expect a high standard of behaviour and service from them.
- Their behaviour is policed.
- Members, through the BHTA, keep themselves up to date with legislation and best practice.
- Should anything go wrong and can't be resolved with the company then you can call on us for assistance.
- Independent arbitration is available for resolution of complaints.
We take complaints very seriously and we will do all we can to sort out your problem, if your attempts to resolve it directly with the company that you bought your product from are unsuccessful.
Is my complaint valid?
First of all you need to check that your complaint is valid. For example, you should have:
- Told the salesman exactly what you wanted the product/service for and what you expected it to do.
- Given the salesman all relevant information about yourself at the time of purchase.
- Read the paperwork.
- Followed the instructions.
- The salesman say exactly what the product could and could not do?
- You feel pressurised into making a decision?
- The salesman offer any alternative product/service at the time?
- The company meet promised timescales (for delivery etc)?
If you feel you did everything you should and the answer to one or more of these questions is "no” then your complaint may be valid and you should pursue the matter.
What should I do?
First of all, you must complain to the company. There is a complaints process to go through and in the first instance we would ask you to:
- Telephone the company from whom you bought the product or service concerned straight away, and see if your problem can be sorted out.
- Keep a note of when you rang and who you spoke to.
- Ask them what their complaints procedure is and go through that.
- When writing, keep a copy of your letter(s) and their replies.
If, after a reasonable period of time (i.e. not more than three months at most) your complaint has not been resolved you should consider contacting someone else for help.
Who can help me?
If the company is not a BHTA member, then seek help from Citizens Advice. Their consumer helpline is tel: 03454 04 05 06 or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk
If the company is one of our members you can make a written complaint to us, by letter or by email – they may display the BHTA logo or you can check with us (call 020 7702 2141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org), but do please follow the steps above before you contact us. Members are also listed in the Find a Member page of this website. Complaints can be submitted below, by email to email@example.com, or by letter to BHTA, New Loom House, Suite 4.06, 101 Back Church Lane, London E1 1LU.
Please also note that BHTA cannot help you if your complaint is being (or has been dealt with) by a court or similar body, or if your complaint relates to a point in time prior to the company becoming a Code member.
When writing to us, explain simply what has happened. In order to pursue your complaint you must write rather than ring. Include copies of as much back-up paperwork, letters etc as you can, and a record of any telephone calls.
What happens next?
We will send you a copy of the BHTA Code of Practice (which you can also download from the BHTA Code page) and contact the company concerned for a report. When we are satisfied we have obtained all the facts we will advise both parties. If you are not happy with our conclusions you have the option of being referred to our independent arbitrator.
Do I have to accept the decision of the arbitrator?
No, but if you do reject their findings your only other route is probably through the courts. However, if the arbitrator finds against the company it is binding on them.
You may also find it useful to take a look at our "Get Wise" leaflets which give tips on how to buy safely.