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LIFESTYLE - December 2012

Being dependent is the bane of my life and it's not just the physical as everyone imagines it to be. it's the mechanical that drains and drags me down with a ten ton weight attached to my ankle ... there's just so much of it.

The wheelchair(s). The bed. The hoist. The car. The batteries. The wheels. The wires. The servicing. The maintenance. The money. The time.

Without working mechanical parts, my life, EaZyD's life, the carers, the cleaners, the therapists, nurses and doctors - we're all screwed in terms of functioning as is my body and my mind and, not least of all, our bank balance.

OK, I hold my hands up. EaZyD and me, we pay for everything privately. Not by choice. We have no choice. Earn an income. Have insurance. NO state support services - zero, zilch, nada. Which is all fab and fine except that 95% of people are not privately funded - the NHS, Social Services (SS), Motability, big charities or businesses pay for almost all disability equipment.

The entire industry for disabled equipment revolves around these big service users so my itty-bitty private business - which I have NO choice about - is right at the bottom of any service providers list of priorities. Yet, when my equipment goes BANG! I am as helpless as the next disabled person with no one helping me find solutions.

I am currently in week 4 of lift door malfunction and resorting to unknown strangers for help because my lift service provider and installer are unwilling to be price competitive with necessary repairs. My last email:

I’m GB’s sister-in-law with the lift problem. He forwarded your email to me as I really need some advice if you have any.

My problem is with my XXXX A5000 Platform Lift which is installed in my house, servicing 3 levels. I have had the lift for 10 years. It is entirely financed by me as is the servicing and repair of it and it has never been without a call out/maintenance contract.

My initial fully inclusive, 24/7 call out, servicing and repair contract was with UK Lift Services who were taken over by XXXX about 6 years ago. The problem I have with XXXX is that they dispute the inclusiveness of my contract and I don’t have the original as I was very ill at the time and my paperwork for that period is a shambles as a consequence.

We have agreed to the terms of my call out and servicing cover but I have to fund maintenance. The problem is that all maintenance is being charged at what seems ridiculous prices.

Generally, as you might expect with light domestic use, the lift is pretty reliable. The only real problem I have had is with the door opener/closer’s which are on a timer. On two levels, ground and first floor, the doors are not opening/closing properly. XXXX say the door open/close boards need replacing ... All very reasonable. However, they want to charge me £’000’s for this (like 35% of the entire cost of the lift!). This seems ridiculous to me.

I went back to A5000 lift installer who initially said they could repair for much less but then came back and said they couldn’t do it because it was undercutting XXXX and would ‘threaten’ their business relationship with XXXX. ( I almost sent a bunch of rude tweets re ‘customer service’ on this but have restrained myself to date!)

I am saying to both of them that, if 2 lift door openers incur this kind of charge, I am almost better off buying an entire new lift than repairing the one I have. My wheelchair control unit (which does way more than open/shut a door!) cost £500 so how can this fee (£’000’s) be reasonable.

They don’t seem to care ... Either of them. So, am I stuffed here?

I appreciate this is not your usual remit but if you have advice, I’d be happy to hear it because we, me and D, are at a loss as to how best to proceed and just need the lift fully functioning.

4 weeks and I am nowhere - dependent on the kindness of strangers. Brilliant!

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