The Ottumwa Courier

Community News Network

June 14, 2013

Purchases by dementia sufferers put stores in quandary

TOKYO — An increasing number of lawsuits have been filed across Japan against department stores that allowed unusual purchases to be made by elderly people with dementia.

              

In April, the Tokyo District Court ordered a Tokyo department store to refund to a woman about 2.4 million yen (about $25,300) for clothes she bought over one year, during a 4 1/2-year period in which she bought a total of about 11 million yen in such products.

              

The ruling recognized that some of the sales agreements between the 78-year-old woman and the store were made after she developed dementia.

              

The woman, who lives alone in Tokyo, filed the lawsuit against Tokyu department store's Toyoko store at JR Shibuya Station in Tokyo. She bought 280 clothing items at a boutique in the store since 2006.

              

Her 70-year-old brother, who lives separately from her, said he realized something was wrong when he saw her wearing an odd combination of a jacket and skirt at their relative's funeral in June 2010. He then visited her home and found a room full of unopened shirts and jackets. "I was totally taken back to see that," he said.

              

In August that year, a hospital diagnosed the woman as "suffering from Alzheimers-related dementia," according to the hospital. "It's believed she started showing symptoms about five years ago."

              

Although the brother explained her condition to the department store, and asked them to stop selling her products, they ignored his request. He became her guardian in May 2011 and filed a lawsuit against the store in February 2012, seeking about 11 million yen.

              

According to evidence submitted to the court, the woman visited the store almost every week, buying such items as jackets and shirts. Some months she spent more than 500,000 yen, and she bought the same products several times.

              

She also bought health food worth 20,000 yen from a salesclerk, even though the product was unrelated to the boutique, according to evidence.

              

On April 26 this year, Judge Norio Kojima included in the ruling part of the demanded refund for all the products she bought. "The claim that she developed her dementia five years ago was a doctor's opinion, which is not definitive," he said.

              

However, he added, "Since August 2009 when she bought three of the same product, it was clear that she was suffering from dementia and unable to form rational judgments."

              

Kojima ordered the department store to refund about 2.4 million yen for clothes the woman bought over one year since August 2009. The sentence has since been finalized.

              

The younger brother said: "As my sister obviously purchased the clothes in an abnormal way, I'm sure shop clerks noticed that she had dementia."

              

Tokyu department store opposed the ruling, saying: "It's not unusual that customers of a boutique repeatedly buy expensive products. The refund we were ordered to give was for the period when we didn't know she had dementia," a store official said.

              

"We can't tell our customers, 'We're unable to sell you products because you have dementia.' However, we'll carefully handle such matters when we're asked not to sell products," the official added.

              

There have been similar cases across the country in which customers with dementia have made unusual purchases.

              

In 2005, an elderly woman with dementia bought kimonos and other clothing valued at about 6.4 million yen from a Osaka department store. She filed a lawsuit with the Osaka District Court, seeking a full refund.

              

In 2012, an elderly woman with dementia who bought about 18 million yen in clothing and other items filed a lawsuit against a department store in Hamamatsu. In both cases, the parties involved reached a settlement.

              

The National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan said it had received inquiries in three other similar cases since 2011.

              

According to the Japan Department Stores Association, the industry has no standard guidelines on how to deal with customers that suffer from dementia. The association said while it realizes there is a problem, its hands are tied.

              

"If we decided not to sell products to people suffering from a certain disease, it would become a human rights issue. Our only choice is to sell products to customers who want to buy them," an association official said.

              

Yasuhiro Akanuma, a lawyer who is familiar with issues facing elderly people, said salesclerks should give consideration to people who make unusual purchases.

              

"People with dementia tend to frequently visit shops where they are treated nicely by clerks and end up purchasing unnecessary things. Salesclerks must realize eventually if a customer suffers dementia. However, I presume they give priority to sales, so they continue to sell them products," he said.

              

"If a person with dementia has an adult guardian, a sales contract can be canceled later even for expensive clothes. I want families involved to consider using the adult guardian system," he added.

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 14, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 14, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 11, 2014

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 11, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National