Purchasing a mobility scooter can be a large investment so you want to get the best price. But it is sad to say that there are swindlers out there trying to take advantage of seniors. The internet has mostly honest, reputable companies that will assist you in making the best selection. But as in most things in life, there are always a few bad apples that ruin it for others. Before you enter your credit card information you need to be aware that there are internet scams that are targeting the senior population and the mobility scooter industry.
We are aware of these bogus advertisements on Facebook and we are reporting every one we see. Unfortunately, Facebook is not too quick at responding. These fraudulent ads are promoting such scooters and offering them at ridiculously low prices. And you know the old saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is”.
So how does this scooter scam work? Let’s say you have done your research or maybe asked a friend for a recommendation on a particular scooter. You search the internet or an ad pops up on Facebook for that particular brand and model. Almost every site has that model for $999 but this one website has it listed at $699. And a $300 savings sounds like a great deal! The brand is the same, the model number is the same, the photos are all the same and they even have the color you want. So, you place the order and “save” $300.
Once the purchase is made the scammers will send tracking details from overseas so you believe the scooter is in transit. You, the consumer can wait weeks and months for the scooter but a scooter never arrives. Instead the shipment will contain a plastic ring, watch, cheap hat, or a toy. By the time the substitute product arrives, that shop is closed down and the site is unreachable and untraceable. The scammers will then open up again under another name and continue the con. You now have to call your credit card company and explain the situation and hopefully get your money back. Your money has been tied up for months and you still do not have the scooter that you desperately need.
To help you educate yourself regarding these hoaxes we have put together a list of ways to spot a scooter scam.
- Price. As we stated before, if the price is significantly lower on one website, it is probably a scam. All reputable companies are required to sell the identical scooter at the same or similar price. Some may offer a ‘gift with purchase’ such as a cellphone holder as an incentive but the price will not be hundreds of dollars lower.
- Check the URL. The URL of a website is the company’s internet address and it is located on the top of the page. Most American based websites end in .com. For example, myownwheels.com. Look for the little padlock icon before the name. That means that you are shopping on a secured website. Beware if a website address ends in .shop instead of .com. URL’s that ends in .shop are often scam sites.
- Check the grammar. Just like your English teacher used to tell you, grammar matters! If the description of the scooter is poorly worded there is a chance that someone overseas may have written the information. This can be a clue that this is a scam site.
- Other items for sale on the site. Does that site sell other items that are not related to scooters or medical devices? This could be an indication that they are not legitimate.
- Shipping. Most scooters sold in the US are shipped in the US. Beware of scooters being shipped from overseas even if they give you a tracking number.
Those are some tips to prevent you from being scammed by unscrupulous websites. So, what are some best practices to help you make a good choice?
- Call the company. You will learn a lot by picking up the phone and calling the toll-free number on the website. Ask how long they have been in business. Can they answer specific questions about the scooter? Is the call center based in the US? Ask if they have a price match guarantee. You will learn a lot about the company when you talk to them.
- Ask friends or relatives. If in doubt about the legitimacy of a website, ask for a second opinion. Ensure that the website sells many different brands of scooters. Reputable companies will sell many of the top brands such as eWheels, Enhanced Mobility, EVRider, Merits USA, Afikim, Pathway Mobility and more.
- Method of payment. All reputable websites will offer payment in the form of a credit card or financing. Those are your best choices to protect you in case there is a problem down the road. Checks or money orders are not recommended. Do not wire transfer any money from your checking or savings accounts. And of course, never send cash. If they tell you to do any of these, hang up and do not go back to that website!
You need to protect yourself from the mobility scooter scams out there. Buying a scooter should be an exciting purchase for you. This allows you the mobility to get around your home, neighborhood or a quick trip to the park with the grandkids. At myownwheels.com our slogan is “Mobility is Freedom”. Please take your time and do your due diligence to make sure that you buy your new scooter from a reputable company.