1. Choosing the right company
As you will likely only ever need to buy one stairlift in your lifetime, you don’t have the benefit of experience when it comes to buying one. So it’s really important you start by choosing the right company. Like all industries, there are some companies that don’t have your best interests at heart.
- Do you know someone that has already used the company or brand of a stairlift? Did they have a great experience?
- Does the company belong to a reputable trade body such as the British Healthcare Trades Association?
- Does the company have verifiable reviews from happy customers? These can usually be found on sites such as Which? Trusted Trader, Google Reviews, Buy with Confidence, Support with Confidence, Checkatrade, Trust Pilot, Trust Mark among others.
- Are the staff who work for the company Enhanced DBS (previously CRB) checked for criminal records? (after all, they will be working in your home)
You need to make sure the initial assessment meets your need today as well as in the future. Was your assessment performed by an Occupational Therapist or DLF (Disabled Living Foundation) Trusted Assessor?
3. Service Contracts
You will come to rely on your stairlift, will the company offer you good after-sales care without charging the earth? Sometimes a lift that is a little cheaper at the beginning can come back to bite you when you need aftercare. Expensive service contracts, which are only available from the original supplier, can be a nasty shock. Also, be mindful, some stairlift suppliers are sales outfits only, they pass your details onto a third party and it is the third party that fits and maintains your lift. Finally, if a company tells you that stairlifts don’t need to be regularly serviced, be very suspicious as this is potentially dangerous and very unprofessional advice.
Can you call your stairlift supplier 24/7, 365 days of the year and speak to an engineer, often avoiding expensive callout charges? Check to see how much the ongoing maintenance will cost, do they offer insurance from a licenced insurance broker or “underwrite it in house”?
5. Buyback policy
Does the company offer to remove and dispose of the stairlift once you no longer need it? Do they offer a buyback promise? (If so, get it in writing how much they will pay).
6. Accredited Engineers
Are the company engineers trained to fit and test your lift and accredited by the manufacturer of the lift? Believe it or not, anyone can start up a stairlift installation business as the industry is not regulated.
7. Straight or Curved Stairs
Stairlifts can be fitted on most stairs, however, the width of the stairs and obstacles on the landings can complicate matters. In all cases, if you have stairs that change direction, you will need a curved stairlift. Width is another important consideration; however, it is not the width but rather the end-users’ personal dimensions that are the deciding factor, especially the back to the knee, or toe measurement when seated. There are many elements to consider that’s why it’s important that an assessment is carried out so that the lift is comfortable and safe to use.
8. Buy or Rent
Stairlifts are a serious investment, they can be needed for a number of reasons and for varying amounts of time. If you are considering renting, make sure the “total lifetime cost” is considered. Long term renting will inevitably work out more expensive than buying, the longer you have it. That said some people like the lower fixed monthly cost with renting and the reassurance that all parts, repairs and servicing is included (as well as removal when not needed). Not all companies offer rental stairlifts and of those that do some only offer straight stairlifts, so shop around to get exactly what you want. Buying a stairlift may be better value for long term use, you have the sense you own it and not be tied to monthly bills. Modern stairlifts if well installed and maintained are incredibly reliable.
9. New or Reconditioned
Reconditioned stairlifts can be a great value option, they can also be the greener option, squeezing out the full life of a stairlift preventing premature recycling.
There is nothing wrong with buying a reconditioned stairlift provided it is a model that meets modern safety standards and for which spare parts are still available. Again, imagine getting a “cheap deal” to find out the lift is old and no longer serviceable.
It’s important to ask how old the lift is? Has it been regularly serviced? What was carried out during re-conditioning? What warranty does it come with?
New lifts, on the other hand, come with the longest serviceable life span. They often have the latest technologies and new features not always found on reconditioned stairlifts. They also come with more adaptability such as power swivel seats, powered folding footrest and other newer convenience features.
10. Be wary of the unscrupulous
In conclusion, when you invite a company to quote for your stairlift never place an order the same day they visit. Always take time to consider your options, even if the salesperson seems “really nice”. Don’t always go for the lowest quote, make sure the quotes are like for like and look at the long-term costs. If the company presents any annoying behaviour or pressure tactics such as “managers offer”, “a cancelled order has become available”, “won’t be beaten on price guarantees”, or “buy now discounts” be extra careful, listen to those alarms bells!