Niagara Gazette

Web Extra

June 15, 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 | Photo Reprints
Web Extra
  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 22, 2014

  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.

    April 22, 2014

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 22, 2014

  • NIA Space station art 042114 'Easter Dragon' has special delivery for space station Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA New planet art 041814 Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected -- a distant, rocky world that's similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it's not too hot and not too cold for life.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 17, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 17, 2014

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page