An American firm that sells a hands-free water bottle to US wheelchair users for £50 has hit out at a British retailer for hiking the price to an exorbitant £136.
Chicago-based Oak Hill Brands, which created the Giraffe Bottle, accused NineLife, of Harrow, North-West London, of ‘outrageous pricing‘ following a Mail on Sunday investigation into the rip-off prices disabled people are forced to pay for mobility aids.
Its plastic water bottle features a wheelchair attachment and an extendable straw – a vital aid for many severely disabled people who struggle to move their neck to reach shorter straws.
Oak Hill got in touch after the MoS’s investigation was published last week, shaming companies for inflating the prices for mobility accessories that make life easier for disabled people.
Before publication we contacted NineLife, which claimed that the Giraffe Bottle had actually been reduced from its usual price of £224. We asked how it could justify such a price but received no response.
US-based Oak Hill Brands, which created the a hands-free Giraffe Bottle (pictured attached to a wheelchair) and sells it for £50, accused British firm NineLife, of ‘outrageous pricing’ for hiking the price to an exorbitant £136
Giraffe Bottle it has a long, flexible straw and clips on to a wheelchair which allows disabled people to drink water unaided
Oak Hill condemned the £136 price tag as ‘exorbitantly marked up’. Spokesman Alex Zebutis claimed there was no justification for charging so much, and doing so would likely ‘return a very high profit for almost no work’.
He added: ‘We have no recourse in stopping them from doing this, since they sell on their own site outside of the US.’
We contacted NineLife again, which also sells protein sports supplements, vitamins and health foods, offering it a chance to respond to Oak Hill. Again, it gave no comment.
Mr Zebutis suggests potential customers use an alternative British supplier, The Active Hands Company (activehands.com), based in Solihull in the West Midlands, which sells Giraffe Bottles from £54.95, not including VAT, which many disabled people do not have to pay.
Disability prevents roughly two million people in Britain from easily drinking water, according to research carried out by the charity Hydrate for Health.
‘Dehydration is a leading cause of falls and infections and contributes to tens of thousands of hospitalisations every year,’ says Mark Moran, chief executive of the charity.
‘These problems are utterly preventable and the NHS should prescribe drinking aids.’