§ Mr. Shersby
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what information he has concerning the practice494W of some dispensers in the private sector in exploiting the unsolicited home visit to conduct high pressure sales on vulnerable consumers; what measures are being taken to control misleading hearing aid advertising which encourages unrealistically high expectations by the users; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Forth
I understand that since January 1987 the Hearing Aid Council has received some 70 complaints following unsolicited home visits by hearing aid dispensers, although not usually about the fact that the visit was unsolicited. My Department has received two such complaints during the same period.
The Hearing Aid Council, with which all private dispensers must be registered, has a binding code of practice, which inter alia lays down the circumstances in which a home visit may be made. The Consumer Protection (Cancellation of Contracts Concluded away from Business Premises) Regulations 1987 provide additional protection.
The advertising of hearing aids is governed by specific provisions in the Advertising Standards Authority's code of practice. The Director General of Fair Trading also has powers to take action under the Misleading Advertising Regulations 1988 against persistent abusers of the authority's code.