Several years ago, we recognized stairlifts to be a complimentary addition to our senior home safe-proofing services. After an extended period of visiting dealers, comparing options and studying internet reviews and customer complaints, we arrived at several conclusions 1:
- For the most part, stairlifts are all pretty much identical.
- All new stairlifts sold in the US are subject to meet the same government regulations regarding load, speed, safety, etc. requirements.
- Aside from some optional features, all stairlifts are pretty much the same2.
- The disconnect in the supply chain (sale-installation-servicing) is the biggest consumer complaint with many stairlift companies.
- Brick & mortar stairlift dealers have declined over the past 10 years.
- Many stairlift companies use the internet to channel inquiries into a central call center.
- Call center inquiries are passed off to an area sales rep, who is only paid on a sale. Once the contract is signed, you are the “sale,” not necessarily a client.
- Orders are then passed over to a third party subcontractor (oftentimes a handyman) for scheduling and installation.
- Once the subcontractor is done, he bills the third party. Where is his allegiance?
- Who along this process has a real commitment to you?
- Most units run without major problems for years when:
- Operated properly (not exceeding the unit’s load capacity) and,
- Maintained regularly (track cleaned and lubricated).
- We needed control over the entire supply chain process (sales, installation and service) to provide the level of quality and customer satisfaction required to be successful in the stairlift industry.
After our investigation, we decided to specialize on straight-rail stairlifts made by Harmar, as they were one of the highly rated US made stairlifts in the market. Further analysis revealed that Ameriglide’s Rave was actually a Harmar SL-600 unit.
While Ameriglide is primarily a DIY stairlift retailer, we applied as for FULL-SERVICE dealership status. By being a full-service family business, we can assure you that the person with whom you speak with during the sale, will also be part of your installation team and will always be available for any post-sale inquires and support.
1 Our conclusions were drawn from on-line postings of stairlift purchasers’ experiences:
- Lack of Post Sales Support - e.g. information break-downs regarding order status, delivery & installation timing, as well voids in post installation support.
- “Installers from Hell” - e.g. unprofessional; inexperienced or rude installers who made the homeowner uncomfortable.
- DIY Installers Tended to Bring a Brand’s Overall Ratings Down. When DIY’ers found instructions incomplete and/or call-in support lacking or slow, they tended to post negative comments. Postings such as “Lift didn’t work properly” or “Plugged it in and nothing happened”, were unclear as to whether the unit, the instructions or the DIY’er was at fault.
2 Mobility Basics, 2017