Man with Alzheimer’s disease overcharged for utilities and services

Gavin Terry, Policy Manager at Alzheimer’s Society responds.

It was revealed today that a man with Alzheimer's has been paying hundreds of pounds a month for 'unnecessary' utilities and services.

Rachel Holdsworth realised that her uncle, 72, was making large payments while helping with his finances.

Gavin Terry, Policy Manager at Alzheimer’s Society said:

'Sadly we hear all too often about instances of people with dementia paying through the nose for services, and occasionally even being subject to deliberate exploitation, across a whole range of industries. But from our work with the Financial Services Industry and to develop a Dementia Friendly Financial Services Charter we do know that it isn’t always easy for staff to identify signs of vulnerability. For example, it’s hard to know if someone has dementia or reduced capacity over the phone and often customers don’t feel comfortable talking about their personal circumstances, or are at a stage of their condition where they are less likely to question things. Staff must be provided with training to give them awareness of these vulnerabilities so they can speak to customers appropriately and advise on deals that meet their needs.

'Currently, some companies are overly dependent on customer inertia, and so don’t review or renegotiate the cost and provision of services. People with dementia are even less likely to proactively do this, and we hear of the variable success carers and relatives have when they do this on their behalf, dependent on whether they have the authorisation to do so either verbally or through an Lasting Power of Attorney. Anyone who suspects mis-selling or exploitation can report it to Trading Standards.'

Sky has apologised and said it hopes to find a better deal for her uncle.

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