Alzheimer’s Patient Sold Electronics He Can’t Use

Although it’s true that financial scams perpetrated against older or vulnerable adults are frequently carried out online or over the phone, high retail sales targets and questionable sales tactics often lead to pressuring seniors to make unintended purchases in brick and mortar stores.  According to a recent CBC news report, sales employees at the electronics store The Source in Toronto’s Dufferin Mall are encouraged to push through sales and not ask too many questions of customers who appear to have cognitive impairment.  

Ross Miller, 85, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease recently visited the Bell Canada consumer electronics store to purchase a new television.  He left without a TV but with a cordless phone, a tablet, a new cell phone, and a two-year contract for high-speed home internet.   Miller doesn’t use the internet and already has a cell phone that he doesn’t use. He told CBC’s Go Public that he didn’t understand how he wound up purchasing the new products and services but not what he came into the store to buy. 

Pressure from store managers for staff to meet high sales goals in order to keep their jobs has created an environment that pushes employees to use questionable ethical tactics to sell more, especially during the pandemic. The store has launched an investigation and apologized to the family for Miller’s experience.  The tablet and cell phone were eventually taken back and the contracts waived once Miller’s son clued into what had happened and went public with the story.  

The bundling of goods and services is often rewarded with higher commissions for sales staff, and according to employee reports, management at The Source tends to overlook aggressive or unethical sales practices if they produce the desired results.

In addition to putting pressure on businesses to train employees and foster ethical sales practices, caregivers for elderly loved ones with cognitive problems may want to keep close tabs on financial accounts and bills.  It’s always a good idea to bring along a second set of ears and eyes when making a large purchase to avoid falling prey to high-pressure sales tactics.  It can happen at any age.  

For more tips about how to avoid high-pressure sales, follow this link to the Australian Government’s Moneysmart website.