Furniture company bosses from Felixstowe refute claims salesmen were ‘prickly’ as they deny eight charges of allowing unfair commercial practices

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

An owner of an Ipswich furniture company accused of using high pressure selling tactics has denied that vulnerable or elderly customers who changed their mind and wanted to cancel orders were “fobbed off”.

Giving evidence at Ipswich Crown Court, Oliver Waters also disagreed that self-employed salesmen working on a commission basis for Westminster Recliners Ltd had “run wild “ and used “aggressive and unfair” selling techniques to get customers to buy recliner chairs.

Waters, 26, who runs Westminster Recliners Ltd, which is based in Ipswich, with his father David Waters said a woman who complained about Westminster Recliners Ltd after she tried to cancel an order placed by her parents was in his opinion “mad”.

He said the order for the recliner chair had not been cancelled within the required seven days and she had then embarked on what he felt was “excessive” correspondence with the company. He disagreed with her description of the salesman involved in her parents’ transaction as “a prolific liar”.

He also disagreed with a description by another customer of a salesman she dealt with as being “prickly”.

Waters said in his experience the salesman in question was “generally speaking very jolly and was on first-name terms with customers and had a laugh with them.”

Waters told the court that he was involved in the day-to-day running of the company. ”We like to think we are efficient and keep an eye on every part of the business.”

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David Waters, 66, and Oliver Waters, both of Manwick Road, Felixstowe, have denied eight joint charges of allowing unfair commercial practices between May 2012 and January 2013 while they were managers of Westminster Recliners Ltd. Westminster Recliners Ltd has denied eight similar charges. Judge John Devaux has told the jury he will be directing them to return not-guilty verdicts on one of the charges in respect of David and Oliver Waters and one in respect of the company because of Insufficient evidence.

The court has heard the alleged offences were committed while the defendants were being investigated by Suffolk Trading Standards for the sale of recliner chairs under the name of Mobility UK Ltd.

In March 2013 David and Oliver Waters and Mobility UK Ltd, admitted a number of offences relating to aggressive and misleading commercial practices and were fined.

Cross-examined by prosecution counsel Miles Bennett, Oliver Waters accepted one of the offences he admitted last year was acting as a managing director or running a business between October 2010 and October 2011 while he was an undischarged bankrupt.

The trial continues.