(Click on “UPLIFTING EXPERIENCE” in the TAG CLOUD for other posts in this series).
I next decided to look for something more familiar and number 3 on Google was Age UK Stairlifts, which must be open and up-front. The Age UK logo is prominent on the website and so is a note saying that “Handicare” (whoever they are ????) will raise a minimum of £900,000 for Age UK in 2012 from the sale and promotion of Independent Living products. In smaller print it explains that “Handicare works with Age UK Trading Limited which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Age UK, which donates all its net profits to Age UK”.
It sounds good but the sceptic in me wonders if that donation to Age UK is just a commission for referrals. If so, at say 10% commission, that is 90,000 products sold and the cost would just be passed on to the customer. So you have still to worry are you getting the best deal :-(. However, to reassure you, the website tells you that you are buying an “Age UK Stairlift” and that there is a price promise that they will “match any lower price for the same or a similar product” :-). Sounds good ???
So I emailed a request for a brochure in the box provided but deliberately did not tick the box for a phone call. Nonetheless, within an hour I got a phone call from “Stephen” at Handicare who told me that I had called them two years ago ??? That surprised me because I had never heard of Handicare before. He tells me that Handicare used to be called Minivator and that reminded me that I enquired through Age UK about a mobility scooter for a friend. I told Stephen I would wait until I received the brochure. I got the distinct impression he thought I was time-wasting.
I looked through the entire Age UK stairlifts website and I could find no indication of price anywhere. It makes you think they have something to hide. I accept that every stairlift is different but you hear so much about high pressure salesmen and discounts being offered as an incentive to buy these days :-(. You would think Age UK would want to be reassuringly up front about cost from the start.
It is surprising that Age UK closely endorses this approach. But of course the £900,000 commission (oops sorry, donation) must eliminate any concerns they have about high pressure sales.
It’s easy to see how Handicare benefits from a close association with a reputable elderly organisation like Age UK. But just how sure can you be that Age UK stands fully behind Handicare. Will any of their £900,000 donation be used to guarantee the services they recommend?
My search for a value for money stairlift continues.