Identifying and Avoiding Stairlift Scams
Internet-based fraud has invaded almost every sector of the economy, including the accessibility equipment industry. Here are a few tips to help you identify untrustworthy businesses you find online that might be running stairlift scams.
A price that's just too cheap
As much as we would all like to believe otherwise, a good stairlift generally costs several thousand dollars. So, how are some Internet storefronts managing to offer such a "bargain"?
To start with, the lifts they sell are generally DIY models, which in itself is bad. After decades in the industry we have come to the conclusion that expecting even the most skilled customer to self-install such a complex device is irresponsible. Giving out that the installation is "easy" and can be done "with a wrench and screwdriver" is even more irresponsible. The fact is that installing a stairlift requires cutting track, running power wires, setting screws into stair treads, internal switching adjustment, power checking with a volt/ohm meter, and many other intricate tasks - any of which can make the whole thing dangerous if done improperly.
If "professional" installation is offered at all by these dubious online vendors, it usually ends up being done by a local handyman who has never installed a stairlift before, which is as bad as self-installation from a safety point of view. Additionally, a local handyman whose primary business is not accessibility is unlikely to keep spare parts available for your unit.
Unethical businesses are generally prepared to say anything in order to close a sale.
One common claim made by many online stairlift resellers is that battery-powered stairlifts are not a good choice. Anyone who has spent any time in the stairlift industry knows that battery units constitute 90% of the stairlifts produced worldwide and are the ideal choice for most people. Non-battery units do make more sense, though, if you're an Internet dealer who sells nothing else!
Hot deals on used stairlifts
Let's think about this for a minute. Unlike local installers, online stairlift outfits don't take existing units on trade. So, why do many of them have such a profusion of bargain-priced used stairway lifts advertised on their sites? Could it be that these used stairlifts are actually returned units that customers couldn't manage to install? Worse, could they be units that came back defective?
If you buy from an unethical stairlift dealer...
Everything may be fine - at first. Sooner or later, however, you'll need parts or repair for your stairlift. That's when reality sets in: You find that you can't reach the person who sold you the lift, your warranty isn't supported, and the manufacturer won't even talk to you because you're a consumer, not a dealer. You don't want is to find yourself in a situation of having equipment installed that you can't even use.