Stairlift was marketed as a brand new Stannah, but was in fact made up of various parts welded together
The fining of two companies who sold unsafe and unapproved stairlifts to elderly people has highlighted the need for consumers to ensure that they research the market and only buy from reputable suppliers.
The two firms – JW Mobility and Classic Stairlifts – claimed to have been selling new Stannah stairlifts but an examination of the machinery found that both had been put together using second-hand parts, had been poorly installed and that one of them had used rails made by a different manufacturer.
JW Mobility, which has branches across Warwickshire, was prosecuted by the county’s trading standards team after receiving complaints.
The firm claimed in brochures and on its website that they sold new Stannah stairlifts, a claim which trading standards found to be untrue in some cases.
Paul Nicholson, of sub-contractor Classic Stairlifts Ltd, who supplied and fitted the stairlifts, said that he was a member of the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) and had signed its code of conduct. Both these claims were found to be untrue.
The case came to light when an elderly couple complained that their stairlift was not working as they had been led to believe. They commissioned an independent report which found that the stairlift was too big for their property, that the rail had gouged into their carpet, its motor had to be started manually and that they could not get in or out of the front door when the chair was at the bottom of the lift.
The couple’s report also found that the rail had been cut in more than one place and then welded poorly and that this made the stairlift potentially dangerous.
At Nuneaton Magistrates, JW Mobility Ltd, which traded as Mobility and Lifestyle, pleaded guilty to three consumer protection offences and was fined £9,536.24. Richard Smith, 38, one of the company directors, was given a fine of £2,322 for falsely describing a stairlift as new when it was made of second hand parts.
Installer Paul Nicholson, 51, who is the only director of Classic Stairlifts Ltd, pleaded guilty to breaching general product safety regulations and received an eight-week prison sentence suspended for a year. Nicholson also pleaded guilty to three further offences under consumer protection legislation and was ordered to pay a total of £4,663.32 in fines and costs.
Classic Stairlifts pleaded guilty to four charges under consumer protection legislation and was fined more than £11,500.
If you are thinking of buying a stairlift you should make sure that you are dealing with reputable suppliers only. When you approach one, the company concerned should not put any undue pressure on you to buy one of its models and you should be careful of special offers or companies that employ pushy sales staff.
Which advises that a good company will be able to give you information on the length of the stairlift’s warranty – most should have a one-year minimum warranty, and some offer extended warranties. It should also be able to inform you about their after-sales service – for instance, how the company deals with breakdowns, and whether it has a ‘buy back’ policy’. It also advises that you should get some help from an Occupational Therapist who will visit you at home, assess your needs and give you advice on the best type of stairlift for your situation.
Anybody thinking of buying a stairlift should check that the manufacturer and supplier is a member of the BHTA.
Stair Lift Comparison has built relationships with the leading mobility companies in the UK, to give consumers and people using the internet to research the market with the country’s most reputable and well-established stairlift companies. Our relationships mean that not only will you be quoted the most competitive prices but that you will receive peace of mind on the quality of workmanship and after-sales service. Because we are not a retailer but a comparison site, we are able to offer you safe, unbiased choices among only reputable suppliers.
By Help Mobility Team