Are you or a loved one experiencing mobility or accessibility issues due to injury, surgery, or balance problems? If so, you’ve likely considered an assistive device, such as a stair lift, platform lift, ramp, or patient lift. Whether your need is permanent or temporary, having the right equipment can make a major difference in keeping your home safe and accessible.
While the decision to find assistive equipment may be easy, finding a provider you can trust can seem overwhelming. With so many different options, it may seem impossible to know which company has your best interest in mind.
Once you’ve decided to find a provider, your first step will be to identify companies in your area. You may come across a range of options, from national chains to local businesses, to online sellers. Make a list of all of your options, then use the following 10 questions to help you compare and choose a reputable company.
1. Which product(s) does the company sell?
If you’re searching for a specific mobility or accessibility device, you’ll need to begin by identifying companies that sell that item in your area. Some companies offer only one product, such as stair lifts, while other companies may offer a variety of product options.
Unsure which product you might need? Begin with a search for “Home Accessibility Solutions” to identify a company that offers a range of solutions. Then contact their experts to explain your situation and get assistance identifying the right product type.
2. Which brand(s) does the company sell?
Not all brands are created equal. Similar to purchasing a car or washing machine, mobility devices, such as stair lifts, are available in many styles, with different features, and at different price points. Visit some brand websites to understand product details and read independent reviews and consumer publications that discuss the pros and cons of each brand.
Once you have identified a brand or list of brands that you would consider, identify local dealers for that brand. Most brand websites will have a “dealer locator” to help you find options for purchasing that product locally.
3. Does the company have a local office or showroom?
You probably wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive first. When making an investment on mobility equipment, you may find it helpful to try it before you buy.
4. Does the company service / install the products that they sell?
Most assistive devices are complex pieces of machinery. You should never attempt to install it yourself or find a “handyman” to do it for you, as this could cause the device to function poorly or even become dangerous. A reputable company should provide installation for any of the products that they sell, backed by a service warranty to keep your device working smoothly for years to come.
Even in situations where a product does not require installation, such as a lift chair or power scooter, you’ll want to ensure that the company can provide service. There are few situations worse than having questions about your device or being in a situation where you are stuck and not having anybody to call for help.
5. Is the installer/service person factory-trained and certified?
Reputable manufacturers offer training and certification courses for dealers of their products. Most brands require that installation and equipment services are performed by a certified technician in order to keep the product working safely and prevent voiding the warranty.
6. Does the company perform background checks on all employees?
Whether for an initial consultation, installation, or service work, you will likely need to allow a stranger into your home at some point during the process. Background checks help ensure that you are not opening your home up to dishonest or even dangerous people.
7. Does the company furnish written statements describing all services and costs?
Some companies may provide price ranges or initial quotes verbally, which may not cover the full scope of work. Ensure that you receive a written statement before approving any purchase or service work to begin.
8. Is the company bonded and insured?
Bonds protect homeowners if the company performs poor-quality work, doesn’t finish the project, or fails to pay subcontractors and suppliers.
Liability Insurance covers situations where an employee causes damage to a third-party’s property, such as when a plumber accidentally causes water damage in a customer’s home. It offers protection in the event that something happens to your property and the company you chose refuses to correct the damage.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance offers you protection in the event that someone from the company is hurt or injured on your property. A stair lift is a heavy piece of machinery – you do not want to be liable if the company’s employee is injured while installing it in your home. Your homeowner’s insurance will not protect you against workplace injury.
9. Does the company have a good reputation online?
One of the best ways to know how a company will treat you is to see how they have treated their previous customers. Reviews offer honest feedback from a company’s customers. Look to sites such as Google, Facebook, and Yelp, which verify their reviewers and prevent companies from posting fake reviews about themselves.
10. Does the company seem trustworthy?
You may find more than one company that meets all of the criteria listed above. In that situation, how do you choose the best one? Go with your gut! When you speak with company representatives, they should be friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, and respectful. You should never feel pressured into buying something – you should feel supported throughout the entire decision-making process. A reputable company will take the time to answer your questions and leave you feeling comfortable and confident in your purchase (or rental)!