/ Health, Home & Energy, Shopping

Buying a stairlift? The pressure’s on…

Do you feel as though you may have been pressured into buying a stairlift? Our survey reveals shopping for a stairlift may not have been as simple as everyone had hoped…

Our latest research has exposed sharp-selling in an industry that’s catering for the most vulnerable people – and we’ve been told that straight from the horse’s mouth.

We surveyed 530 people who had bought stairlifts and found that around four in ten had experienced at least one sharp sales practice after getting quotes. The list includes pressure selling, pressure to choose more expensive options and an excessive number of sales calls.

Furthermore, a quarter of people who had bought a stairlift (rather than getting it from the council or a private seller) told us they’d negotiated a lower price. Now, we all like a bargain, but buying a mobility aid for someone who can no longer negotiate the stairs isn’t quite like going to your local electrical store and haggling over the price of a laptop.

No games, just stairlifts

The industry code outlaws practices such as the company offering a high price with the offer of a discount. That’s because it’s important that people buying at a crisis time aren’t pressured into a wrong decision. Is a negotiable price really what people want, or would they rather have the clear, upfront prices the industry code promotes?

After all a stairlift is not a cheap buy, with a new one costing over £2,000.

One in seven stairlift-owners told us that they’d felt under pressure to buy – with a quarter of people who’d used one of the big three companies feeling pressured. One person told us:

‘Originally I applied to an advertisement which invited one to receive a free ‘independent booklet.’ As a consequence I received numerous phone calls from the company for about two years.’

What do you think about sales practice for equipment and aids for older and disabled people? Have you experienced any dodgy selling practices or did you have a very positive experience?

Wendy jg says:
23 January 2015

Same goes for mobility scooters…

Nessie says:
23 January 2015

Both my mother and mother-in-law have stair lifts. My mother after having hers fitted was rung daily with pressure to take out a extended service/breakdown warranty for £500 . She was very upset at the thought of spending more money so soon,I rang them myself and spoke to a manger who did apologize and offered an extension to her normal 12 month warranty and a free service, but what would have happened if she had no one to do this……
Also my mother-in-law has had her stair lift for many years it was running fine no trouble…. the company wrote to her saying they were no longer stocking spares for her lift and basically scared her into buying a new one, I told her to cancel the order but she wouldn’t as she was now nervous of the old one breaking down.
These companies deal with vulnerable people and they know which buttons to press .

Stairlifts are often given away free-of-charge when people move into care homes. Straight stairlifts should be easy to transfer and the job could be done by a competent person. Stairlifts that go round corners are obviously more of a challenge because they will have been installed to suit a particular house.

I had an occasion to assist a client to get a stair lift. Some one was terminally ill. He was funded by a charity. We managed to rent one and when it was no longer needed it was taken back. All that remained to be done was fill the bolt holes.

Sylvia says:
20 May 2015

we paid quite a high price for our stair lift which came with only a one year guarantee. We the had to pay £1.500 for an extended guarantee, now after five years we are again having to pay £1.500 for a further guarantee. They did offer us a £50 discount if we paid for it several months in advance. The company won’t supply anyone with spare parts and s we are stuck with their prices. I am really fed about it………… But what can we do?

Hi Sylvia, and thanks for your post about your stairlift. As stairlifts are mechanical devices, they need to be inspected by a qualified stairlift engineer every six months, and serviced annually. Especially as most people with stairlifts are dependent on them to give them access to the whole house.

Your stairlift should come with a minimum one-year warranty. Most stairlift companies also offer a 24-hour no-fees call-out service for the first year, which covers any spare parts that might be needed.

After the first year, as you’ve been doing already, you’ll need to either renew your warranty, or pay an engineer by the hour for any required servicing.

Most stairlift companies offer extended warranties or maintenance contracts when you purchase a stairlift.

Ava Laurie says:
20 July 2015

It really shouldn’t be something that people are pressured into buying. I think that it takes patients and trust in order for someone to feel comfortable enough to buy from you. This is something that will help them get around the house easier, so might as well make it easy for them to choose with no added pressure.

Stair lifts are complicated pieces of electro. mechanical equipment just the same as washing machines, dishwashers etc. the major difference is that in most cases they are “Tailor” made for the individual ‘s needs, albeit most of the Suppliers using similar methods of construction they use different motors,running gear and electrical parts .As far as I am aware “which” have not have not surveyed these Companies and therefore its a matter of “Buyer beware” as there are , apparently, some “cowboys” out there. As this type of equipment can actually isolate someone if it breaks down it is imperative that the Supplier has a good track record for “after sales”. If you get any sorts of pressure selling drop the Company concerned , before buying do your home work carefully check the specification etc and if you are unable to do this get the services of a Consultant Engineer, this is to important a piece of equipment to buy without proper advice.
The Social Services Dept. of your County Council might be able to help , check with them before buying.

Eighteen months ago due to mobility issues I invited three suppliers to survey my stairs and provide me with a quote for a stairlift. I selected the suppliers based on your reviews at the time but discovered that the supplier who was meant to be the cheapest proved to be the most expensive, although when challenged, dropped their price by £1000. I decided not to proceed at that time, but put in hand other measures to assist me including a recommendation from the stairlift suppliers to alter the stair head to allow for a stairlift in future. Since then one of the suppliers has been calling me at two monthly intervals to inquire about installing a stairlift and each time I have told them that I will be in contact once I feel I am in need. And now, with my mobility reduced further, I responded to a follow up call and accepted a visit from their representative – the same person who had called last year. He was very polite and courteous and went about re-measuring the stairs before telling me that as a loyal customer I was eligible for their special quote which was actually £200 lower than their best quote last year. The only drawback was that he wanted a £1000 guarantee from me. As soon as I told him that I was uncomfortable with that, he tried to persuade me that there would be no risk as after all they were the largest stairlift supplier in the world, but after re-confirming my position, he very quickly left. During a follow up call from his office today, I complained about the suggestion of a £1000 guarantee and mentioned that as far as I was aware, such practice is contrary to industry standards, and that I would not be proceeding further with their company whether or not I required a stairlift in future. Hopefully there will be no further calls (blocked anyway) but something for others perhaps to consider when obtaining quotes from any company, legitimate or otherwise.

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