A woman is concerned her elderly father in Paraparaumu has been apparently cold-called by a company selling costly massage devices to alleviate joint and muscle pain, circulation problems and fatigue.
Linda Hackworthy said, according to her father, a Niagara Healthcare representative called last Tuesday to ask him about any health concerns, and offer him a free treatment.
Niagara Healthcare regional manager Steve Oughton has since said its representatives never make cold calls, but only follow up responses to flyers circulated in newspapers, or call people who have filled out their name and address at the company's mall stands.
Ms Hackworthy said her father told her he had an appointment the following day, last Wednesday.
He told her: "It must be about my home care".
"He said, `I felt like I couldn't get out of it'," she said.
Ms Hackworthy called directory services to get the company's Auckland number to find out what they were offering, and how much it was going to cost.
"The woman was very vague about things," she said.
Ms Hackworthy asked "what product are you selling?", and was eventually told it was a "cyclone massage machine" which, it was claimed, would purify the blood through massage, and costs $1600 for the basic device, with various add-ons, which cost more.
Ms Hackworthy cancelled the appointment.
She has several concerns about her father's experience of the company's apparent practices.
"The first is that they call themselves `Niagara Health Care'. It makes it sound like a health practitioner," she said.
Ms Hackworthy was also concerned the caller had approached a vulnerable, elderly person and that he did not understand what was on offer.
"It's a product. It's expensive. It's not coming from a health practitioner," she said.
Mr Oughton said the company never makes cold calls.
"We are a medical company. We don't cold-call people.
"It would have come from a mailer or form someone filled in.
"Before we make a call, you send us in a form, [which says] `we would like one of your consultants to come and see us today'."
"She [Ms Hackworthy] is concerned, which is fair enough. We have got to take all of these [complaints] seriously."
The company operates a stall at Coastlands Mall and places a mailer in local newspapers.
"We don't knock on doors," he said. "You have to approach us before you get a call."
In February this year an Advertising Standards Authority decision did not uphold a complaint about Niagara's advertising claims in a flyer placed in the New Zealand Listener.
- Kapiti Observer
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