Watch out when buying a stair lift!
Many people want to go on living in their own home even in old age or in spite of physical handicaps. A stair lift can help them to do so. But caution is called for when buying.
Older people or people with physical handicaps can gain more mobility and independence with a stair lift. But there are many questions for those who decide on installing a stair lift:
- What kind of stair lift would be suitable for me and my home?
- What does a stair lift cost?
- Which stair lift is the best?
- And above all: where can I find a trustworthy supplier?
The last question in particular is important, since caution is called for when buying a stair lift. "There are a lot of untrustworthy suppliers in this market," warned Göksel Kör, long-standing general sales manager of Hiro Lift, the biggest German manufacturer of stair lifts. Many sellers conjure up the impression of attractive prices in order to get a foot in the door of the customer, "For a stair lift, 7,999 euros just aren’t enough and are unrealistic!"
What should a stair lift cost?
Most people simply cannot afford to wait, because they can no longer climb the stairs after an accident or stroke.
What does a stair lift really cost?
But what price is realistic? Göksel Kör does the math: the costs are made up of the expenditure for advertising, distribution, production, delivery and installation – for which a fitter has to be on site for one to two days – and the guarantee.
"Consequently, all offers under 10,000 euros for tailor-made stair lifts, which have to be adapted to the particular stairway, are unrealistic."
Do not get pushed into buying!
Göksel Kör urges interested parties to take time to check all offers in peace. Many let themselves be pressurised by sales representatives ("This price only applies today…"). "Don’t get pushed into buying anything, don’t sign anything prematurely! After all, you’re about to buy a lift costing as much as a small car."
The specialist planner Hendrik Hesse, proprietor of the lift consultants Hesse in Karlsruhe, recommends getting three tenders and comparing them at their leisure. "Don’t sign any offer straightaway, give yourself a few days – the stair lift will still be available."
The product testing organisation Stiftung Warentest does not offer any current stair lift test. But it also recommends buyers get several offers, have the manufacturers show them the dimensional reference systems and test them personally if possible.
Beware of the right of cancellation!
There is some good news and some bad news. The good news: in particular cases, there are subsidies for the installation of a stair lift (see Box 2). The bad news: when buying a stair lift, customers have no right of cancellation by means of which - as otherwise normal - they can rescind the purchase within 14 days, because this right of cancellation only applies to standard lifts.
This makes it all the more important to find out what you need to at your leisure before buying. But Göksel Kör has repeatedly witnessed customers simply handing over the responsibility to children and grandchildren and all involved are easily taken in by unprofessional suppliers.
In this connection, the Hiro representative issued a word of warning in particular regarding the numerous Internet portals and advisors about stair lifts, "Their only purpose is to generate addresses in order to sell them later. This is how even dubious companies can get hold of addresses easily and continue to hold their own on the market, thanks to the difficult situation customers find themselves in."
Nine tips for buyers
Göksel Kör from Hiro Lift has put together nine practical tips for potential buyers of stair lifts:
1. Find out about getting a stair lift at an early stage and not only when you finally need it, due to acute illness.
2. Get information from outside stair lift portals on the Internet! Anyone who enters the search term “stair lift” in Google has already lost. Actually, all of the advice pages on the Internet about stair lifts are only intended to generate customer addresses in order then to sell them to three interested companies. Look instead, for example, for product names.
3. Get three offers and wait until you have received all of them.
4. Do not let yourself be hurried, but instead make your decision at your leisure.
5. Stay away from used stair lifts! They only make sense for the sellers. The costs for disassembly, delivery to the workshop for reconditioning, the reconditioning itself and renewed installation are so high that they do not make sense for any reputable company.
6. Take a critical look at the offers: who is the manufacturer? There are not many manufacturers – most of the companies on the market are only dealers. Seize the opportunity here for a trial trip and take a look at how the lifts are produced.
7. Research the company of the seller! Take a look at the imprint of the website, check the company register, make use of a credit reference agency – this is a good investment!
8. Dubious sellers deflect attention from the product and put customer benefit in the foreground. If the seller pressurises you or even becomes aggressive – tell them goodbye!
9. Bear in mind many references are bought and paid for. Try to view the lift on the spot - ideally without the salesman!
Safety: Private customers should also be sure that their stair lift has a TÜV, Dekra, GS seal and CE certificate. In addition, installations must observe the building regulations applicable in the particular federal state.