I had a conversation recently about the difficulties some older people have getting up and down stairs as they become less mobile. It was in the context of the older people who live in two storey houses with bedrooms upstairs and also those who live in first and second floor flats with no lift. There must be thousands of people who live in this situation, who may in the long-term be forced to move. In spite of the fact that the majority of older people wish to remain in their own homes.
So it prompted me to look on the internet for information about stairlifts. Google gives you 1,460,000 results to look at . Where to start is the first problem:-
Lots of different suppliers. Some of them manufacturers who also install. Some are just referral agents. Some are people who install other manufacturer’s products. But it is far from clear who’s who.
I started with a comparison website, Which Stairlift. They are masquarading as if they are related to “Which Magazine” which lends them credibility. I doubt in fact they are. There are no prices and when you ask for a quote, it immediately pops up with a box for more information but still no price. However, they turn out to be an agent :-(. They promise to send me brochures from all the manufacturers, which seems helpful :-). Nothing on the website tells me anything about cost, which is not so helpful :-(. I apply for the brochures by email and within an hour I get a follow-up phone call which I did not ask for or want.
The saleslady was chatty but not very informative. She said she did not know prices but strongly recommended I bought direct from the manufacturer. So it turns out she is not the comparison website at all. She tells me that referral agents just add on commission but when I asked her how much this was, she again said she didn’t know prices. When I persisted asking questions about cost she consulted her boss and told me that a straight lift would be in the order of £1,500 to £3,000 and a curved lift would be between £4,000 and £6,000. Not exactly cheap then. I then asked her about maintenance charges and after a little coaxing, she told me that straight lifts were £595 for 5 years and curved lifts were £1,495. No doubt this is a little extra that will be added to the price.
She promised to email me the brochure, which was full of nice pictures but again no indicative costs :-(.
It is difficult to imagine that many older people would have found out even this amount of information. It is obvious that the primary purpose of the website is to set up home visits when the sales pitch can continue.
Not a very encouraging start on my search for value for money in the stairlift market. My enquiry will continue with other suppliers.
I will continue this thread in a series of subsequent blogs.