Essential Tips for Buying a Stair Lift (Part 1)
Whether you call it a stairlift, chairlift, stairglide, stair helper, or stair elevator; there are simply some things you must first know before deciding to invest in a mobility aid for your home. There is an alarming trend in our industry resulting from the market being flooded with cheaply made stair lifts from foreign companies or companies who sell stair lifts online. These companies have no intentions of ever installing or servicing the lift once they have billed the client’s credit card. At 101 Mobility of Dallas, we regularly receive calls from individuals who purchased a stair lift or chairlift from an online company and now find themselves in a frustrating situation. They either can’t get their stair lift installed or maybe the lift has malfunctioned and they can’t locate anyone to service it. In most cases, the perceived savings on the front end of the transaction is more than negated by the increased hassle of constant repairs or complete replacement of the lift once they find out that no-one will service that particular brand.
Here are the essential tips to use when picking a stair lift and a stair lift company to meet your mobility challenges.
Educate Yourself on the Stairlift Brands and their Differences-
Not all brands are created equal. Similar to purchasing cars or washing machines; stairlifts come in many styles, options, and at many different price points. You should start by visiting the specific brand’s website to understand the product details. Most websites will also include a dealer locator to help you find options for purchasing the product locally. Once you have identified a brand, it is extremely important to read independent reviews and the various consumer publications that discuss the pros and cons of your desired brand. This process should eliminate a good portion of the “un-reputable” brands on the market.
Many consumers are shocked to learn that several of the prominent stairlift brands on TV or printed in publications are some of the worst performing and lowest rated chairlift options available. There have been stair lift recalls for several manufacturers and unfortunately some product related fatalities that have occurred as a result of faulty products. Please do your own homework and develop your own opinions of what is right for your situation. Stair lift brands that we trust and sell in our 101 Mobility of Dallas location include Bruno, Harmar, Savaria, and Handicare. Over time, these brands have proven very durable and reliable and provide an excellent value in the market. They are certainly not always the cheapest options, but sometimes spending a little more can provide a lot more value, safety, and dependability.
Learn about your Dealer and their Stairlift Qualifications-
Becoming a dealer for some stair lift brands is as simple as completing a dealer application form at the time they place their first product order. Don’t be afraid to ask a dealer where they are located, if they have customer references, and are they properly experienced, licensed, and/or insured to install stair lifts. Many States currently regulate the stair lift industry and require a licensed elevator contractor to install the product. Not having the right installer can open you up to safety and legal liability issues should there be a problem.
Online companies pretend to be local by using a phone number with your local area code. You should instead visit, or at least drive by, the physical location (if any) of the chair lift company you are considering. Many companies these days are using PO Boxes and unsuspecting residential and business addresses to falsely claim they are a local installer. Understanding who you are dealing with before you spend your money on a stairlift is critical. You might also want to visit the physical addresses of the dealer so that you can ride a demo stair lift. You don’t buy a car without a test drive, you shouldn’t buy a chairlift either.
Review services such as Google and Yelp are great places to read about potential contractors and dealers whom you may be hiring. These reviews are from actual customers and people who have interacted with that particular business. Other review services such as Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, and Home Advisor can be good but are also not totally impartial services. These groups receive funding from the contractors themselves in the form of advertising and lead generation. The contractors who pay the most are generally the contractors who are most prominently displayed and highly recommended. We see a lot of unqualified “Handy Men” purchasing their first stair lifts on-line and then passing themselves off as dealers to their customers. Please inform yourself and learn about the company with whom you are speaking.