Age UK criticises 'grossly unfair' television programme

The Channel 4 show Supershoppers condemned some of the deals available for older people through the charity's commercial arm

The critical TV programme
The critical TV programme

Age UK has said a Channel 4 documentary that claimed the charity was promoting goods and services for older people at considerably higher prices than other retailers was "misleading" and "grossly unfair". 

The TV show Supershoppers, which was broadcast last night, claimed that a number of "competitively priced" products for older people available through Age UK’s commercial arm Age UK Enterprises could be found cheaper from other retailers, sometimes at almost half the price.

The show highlighted the cost of items from Age UK including a mobile phone and car insurance. 

But in a statement, Age UK said the approach the show had taken had failed to give a fair representation of the competitiveness, quality and value of Age UK's products. 

"To base any conclusion on the basis of one individual’s quote for car insurance, or to provide only a limited assessment of the price position for the mobile phone and the incontinence products we sell, is a misleading and grossly unfair approach," the statement said. 

"The insurance products we offer are priced competitively and provide great value. Our other products are priced at the equivalent of, if not better than, other providers more than half the time."

One of the items mentioned in the show was a Doro PhoneEasy 508 mobile phone, which was advertised on the Age UK website at £34.99. The show claims this was available in Argos for £17.99.

But Chris Millington, the managing director of Doro UK and Ireland, said the show’s example did not reflect the true market situation and it was "extremely disappointing to see Age UK’s good ethical nature and well-respected name dragged through the mud this week for its ‘overpricing’". 

Millington said the Argos deal included a contract to which the purchaser had to sign up, whereas the product advertised by Age UK was SIM-free, meaning it was a one-off purchase.

Millington said: "The story misses the major point that Age UK is a charity and thus is not profiting from a higher price on a product than a retailer offers.

"It is providing access to many key products for the ageing society and any margin from these sales become donations and contributions towards the work that Age UK does to support the more vulnerable and senior citizens in society."

Age UK was criticised earlier this year for its energy tariff with E.ON, which it was claimed was more expensive than the energy provider’s cheapest rate. The charity later suspended the arrangement.

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