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Regulations that say how long owners should expect to wait for repairs to stairlifts?

veritercveriterc Community champion Posts: 177 Pioneering
Six months ago, as  can't climb stairs, I got quotations from stairlift companies to install a machine,  I chose Acorn, but now that I have been using this I find one of the most important questions I should have asked is "how quickly will you send out an Engineer if the lift breaks down?" 
The lift has broken down four times in six months. Each time it has taken an Engineerup to 48 hours. 
When you can't get downstairs to get food, you have to rely on neighbours to bring you in food supplies.  It they happen to be on holiday, I found I was without milk and other essentials for 2 days - Acorn couldn't care less, just quoted me their terms and conditions.  Twice when I was desperate, they told me they would be out the next day "between 8 am and 5 pm", no more definite timing. Big difference.  Their Engineer will phone you ten minutes before arriving, but that's all the help they give.
The breakdowns were not my fault - transformer plate (supposed to last life-time of lift) breaking down etc. So be warned and make sure you have some way of getting downstairs to pick up supplies. And choose a company that has better solutions when a breakdown of the equipment they installed results in you being marooned upstairs. 
Does anyone know if there is an industry standard for call-outs?

Replies

  • newbornnewborn Member Posts: 541 Pioneering
    This is shocking. Those who can, should tweet and Facebook to share the warning.  
  • veritercveriterc Community champion Posts: 177 Pioneering
    Thank you for comment..Does any know if there are any regulations that say how long owners should expect to wait for repairs to stairlifts?
  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Member Posts: 5,856 Disability Gamechanger
    Oh I'm so sorry to hear this, @veriterc. I'm unsure of any industry standard regulations myself, but @Jean_Scope may have more knowledge/ practical suggestions to offer!
  • veritercveriterc Community champion Posts: 177 Pioneering
    Pippa - thanks for suggestion.  I contacted Jean and apparently only regs that might apply to stairlifts are that they are 'fit for purpose'.  So nothing about minimum call-out times if they break down. I shall be taking this up with my MP - but somehow don't think there are votes in it!!!
  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Member Posts: 5,856 Disability Gamechanger
    Oh I'm sorry to hear that @veriterc- contacting your MP sounds like a good call then, at the very least to make them aware of the issue. Do let us know how you get on!
  • veritercveriterc Community champion Posts: 177 Pioneering
    I will let you know,although I find that MPs aren't much use today - there aren't enough votes in 'disability issues' !  However, I do know one has to play the game, so I can tick the box that I have contacted relevant people!   Will let you know what happens - but don't hold your breath!
  • Jean_OTJean_OT Member Posts: 532 Pioneering
    So for completeness of response, just in case others are referring to this thread in the future I'd just like to offer some clarification.

    At the time of writing there is not (as far as I am aware) any specific regulations related to repairs on stairlifts. They are covered by general consumer law (just the same as if you buy a washing machine for example). Companies that sell you things should ensure they are "fit for purpose" and if it isn't you can often get legal readdress if the company you brought the item from won't resolve the issue
    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-citizens-advice-works/citizens-advice-consumer-work/the-consumer-rights-act-2015/ 

    Some companies are members of the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA), which does have a Code of Practice and  complaints arbitration service: http://www.bhta.net/code_of_practice.html

    It is possible to check if a company is a member of BHTA at: http://bhta.com/find-a-member/

    Their Code of Practice
     http://www.bhta.net/sites/default/files/BHTA Code of Practice updated February 2015_1.pdf
    states that repairs to equipment should be prompt and that this normally means 'within three working days' 

    On a practical note, stairlifts can and do break down. People who will be using a stairlift when they are alone in the house would be well advised to do some contingency planning: 1) ensure that you have about your person a mobile phone or emergency call pendent so that you can call for help if the stairlift gets stuck. 2) Ensure that you have access to the essentials (bottle of water, non-perishable snack, essential medications, a warm blanket) at each end of the stairlift so that you will cope if you  are stuck. 3) If you are seriously concerned for your safety don't be embarrassed to call the emergency services.

    Those considering which brand of stairlift to buy might but interested in the survey of brand satisfaction published by Which:  https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/stairlifts/article/best-stairlift-brands/best-stairlift-brands-overview

    But as with all private purchases of disability equipment I would always advise that people proceed with caution. If there are certain aspects of the agreement between you and the company that are vital for you do ensure that they are part of the signed contract, don't rely on what the salesman tells you verbally.  

    Best wishes

    Jean

     

    Jean Merrilees BSc MRCOT

    You can read more of my posts at: https://community.scope.org.uk/categories/ask-an-occupational-therapist

  • veritercveriterc Community champion Posts: 177 Pioneering
    Jean
    Thank you for helpful advice;  I immediately clicked on the Which address, and found that there was a 72% - 74% satisfaction rating.  This means that over 26% - 28% were NOT satisfied - not good.
    It does seem strange that there aren't basic standards for this equipment.  Although what you say about having basic supplies available is good advice if one has to rely on a blanket and basic food supplies (but not access to water, loo, etc. ) for 48 hours, that is not good.
    And although I always have my alarm button on me, I would feel embarrassed to have to call out the company when it was Acorn that had let me down. 
    Your advice about 'fit for purpose' etc is good - but frankly I shy away from having to go to court and convince a piece of equipment is OK. 
    It would be far better if we could have a recognised Code of Conduct listing the services we think should be available when we pay around £6000 for a stairlift. 
    I shall be asking my MP to help with this, but would welcome any suggestions  !!   
  • veritercveriterc Community champion Posts: 177 Pioneering
    Incidentally, I never thought that I would be marooned and abandoned for 48 hours - it just hadn't occurred to me to ask - I thought of all the clever questions about what happened if the motor broke down, but didn't think Acorn's Helpline would be so unhelpful! 
  • Jean_OTJean_OT Member Posts: 532 Pioneering
    Hi @veriterc

    Totally agree with what you say in your last two posts. The current arrangements don't seem humane or in keeping with what  I think most people would think of as natural justice. 

    I'm sure you are not the only person that is experiencing these difficulties. Often it has more impact it people raise their concerns collectively. Scope shares advice about campaigning for change: https://www.scope.org.uk/Get-Involved/Campaigns/Your-Campaign 

    Hope you are able get some resolution,

    Best wishes

    Jean  

    Jean Merrilees BSc MRCOT

    You can read more of my posts at: https://community.scope.org.uk/categories/ask-an-occupational-therapist

  • newbornnewborn Member Posts: 541 Pioneering
    OK,  in the case of the mirage of DFG,  , maybe the faint suggestion of getting something  without paying might cloud judgement for some  people.   

    Suppose there was a crystal ball, and they could see that the truth about the future is that in 5, 10, 20 or 50 years into the future, they will still be waiting, but the alteration they need will never happen.  Never.

     They would make a better informed decision.  They would search for the best way to arrange what they need,  to improve their llives, within weeks.

    It seems like suggesting that because some people win the lottery, everyone should buy tickets, instead of going to work!
  • newbornnewborn Member Posts: 541 Pioneering
    Oh, I meant to post that in the other thread, but don't know how to switch it.
  • newbornnewborn Member Posts: 541 Pioneering
    @veriterc, going on the ' fit for purpose '   and ' not of reasonable  standard'  basis might be more straightforward  than you think.   It might merely mean filling in forms.  Small Claim standard fees are low, because without lawyers, the processing is meant to be quick and simple and fair.

    There  can't be much doubt what the purpose is. And what it is not.

    There can't be much doubt that getting marooned is certainly not the purpose for which anyone made the purchase.    The price shows you had reasonable expectation it would N O T breakdown for years, if ever.  The fact it broke shows it was not fit, nor 'of reasonable standard'

    I'm not up to date on Small Claim limits, but I think six thousand is OK.   Process is routine, courts are normally perfectly fair and sympathetic, and may even excuse disabled people  attending if that is extremely difficult . The firms who know they have been caught out, and anticipate an angry court, will often give in, in advance, and make an acceptable  offer.

    Do you want rid of the product, or a new replacement, or compensation, or a combination?

    You rightly assume the firm had a particular  duty of care, but I suggest you have them clearly in the wrong, simply on the current version  of what was originally the sale of goods act
  • veritercveriterc Community champion Posts: 177 Pioneering
    You have raised a very interesting point.  If I sue Acorn and they remove the stairlift, I am then going to have to live in an hotel until a new one is installed.  So thanks for pointing this out, and I think I will see if I can get my MP on my side, to get an independent engineer out to see if it is worthwhile repairing the Acorn lift, so hopefully it won't break down again !  Or if not, how long I can reasonably wait in the local hotel to install a new lift.  And I was so excited about moving in to my new house !!  
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