Here’s a bit of déjà vu that I’m sure most people considering a wheelchair purchase will gloss over and ignore yet again.
It’s the old caveat emptor or “Let the buyer beware”. Whether it’s a toaster or a wheelchair that you are on the prowl for, the rules of engagement are the same. You may get burned in either deal and while the toaster is a consumer item and the wheelchair is medical equipment, the deal can still play out poorly for you if you don’t do the leg work.
Here are some very traditional and often repeated tips for making your important purchases. Oddly enough, they really work:
Figure out in advance exactly what you need and what you can afford or what will be covered by a funder.
Do your research. Ask family, friends, professionals and others you trust for advice based on their experience. Gather information about the seller and the item or service you are considering.
Review product test results and other information from consumer sources.
Get information and price quotes from several sellers.
Make sure that the seller has all appropriate licenses. Most service providers must register with a state or local licensing agency.
Check out a company’s complaint record with your local consumer affairs office and Better Business Bureau.
Make every effort to obtain a trial in the wheelchair in your environment and not the sellers.
Get delivery terms, dates, fees, in writing.
Get a written copy of guarantees and warranties before you sign on the dotted line. Compare their features.
Get the seller’s refund, return and cancellation policies.
Ask whom to contact if you have a question, problem, or need repairs. Get a written step by step of how to obtain service and repairs.
Get a written statement regarding the seller’s wheelchair loaner practices.
Read and understand any contract or legal document you are asked to sign. Make sure there are no blank spaces. Insist that any extras you are promised be put in writing.
If you are self funding the wheelchair consider paying by credit card. If you have a problem, you can dispute a charge made on your credit card.
Don’t buy on impulse or under pressure.
Be reasonable. Businesses should expect to make a profit on a sale. Service and repairs may not be instantaneous but should be within a reasonable time period.
There’s nothing you haven’t heard before on this list and it certainly prolongs the process of getting a new set of wheels under your butt, but it greatly increases the odds of getting a wheelchair that you are performance and service satisfied with. Give it a shot the next time you’re on the prowl for a new wheelchair or mobility scooter.
It’s unfortunate that the once respected practice of the hand shake is for the most part a relic. In many cases the only thing a handshake will get you is someone’s germs. So do your homework and stay sharp.
Monday, April 29th, 2013
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