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Stair lift reviews – Acorn Stair Lift

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

My mother had an Acorn Stair Lift fitted in August 2011. Below is an account of how it all went.

Acorn Stair Lift – the sales presentation

The first step was to call Acorn to arrange a visit from their sales person so they could give us an estimate. The sales person was a man in his 4os – very polite and used to dealing with elderly people. He began by looking at the stairs and briefly discussing the various options. We then went and sat down in the lounge for the full, slick sales presentation. It began with an introduction to Acorn Stair Lifts and a few questions to establish needs. The sales person then went into the full presentation explaining the features and benefits of Acorn Stair Lifts with frequent comparison to their competitors.

The price was not mentioned at all until right at the end of the presentation. The sales person said he had to take a few more measurements and suggested we watch a short video while he was doing that. We declined.

He then came back and sat down with his calculator and made various mysterious phone calls – was there really someone at the end of the line we wondered? Eventually, he came up with a quote of £5500 for a curved stair life due to the right angled bend in my mother’s stairs. When we gasped at the price, he then got on the phone again and made a few more calculations and then announced that he had a chair in stock that had been used as a demonstrator and if we agreed there and then to purchase, he could do the stair lift for £4500.

There was no pressure to sign of the line, but when we made it clear we were not going to make a decision until we had reviewed all the quotes, he pretty quickly left.

The follow up

A few weeks later, we received a follow up letter offering to fit the stairlift for £4500 again, which we ignored because we had actually decided to go for a Companion Stair Lift. That’s another story which will be covered in another post.

Deciding to go with Acorn

About a month after the original presentation and about two weeks after the follow up letter, we got in touch with Acorn again as we had been let down badly by Companion Stair Lifts. Acorn agreed to come and fit the lift in a few days.

Fitting a stairlift

We were given a time slot for the fitting and the fitter arrived 15 minutes late (although he did warn us). The fitting process took about four hours and was pain free apart from the drilling noises occasionally. At the end of the fitting process, the fitter gave us a demonstration and all seemed to be working. He then left.

Stair lifts for the elderly

Having a stair lift fitted for the elderly is a big issue. The elderly person is often reluctant to admit that they can no longer get up stairs without help and it is a very clear physical manifestation that they are getting old. It is critical then that a chair lift should function perfectly.

Teething problems with Acorn stair lifts

After the stair lift fitter had left, I was wanted to make sure the stair lift was going to work properly. So I went up and down many times to establish it was fully functional. All went well until my last test which was about ten o’clock at night just before my mother went to bed. The stair lift got stuck at the top of the stairs and I had to climb off awkwardly. I checked the fault diagnosis and the number displayed did not make any sense (Acorn Stair Lifts have a computerised fault diagnosis window which helps identify why the lift is not working). I tried to phone the emergency number, but had to leave a message as it was not a 24 hour service.  Meanwhile, we had to guide my mother up the stairs to bed, disappointed that the lift had failed to meet her expectations on day one. In the morning I rang again and Acorn arranged to have someone sent out that day to correct the fault. It was due to some misalignment and only took half an hour to fix – free of charge of course.  We have had no problems since – the chair lift has now been in place for three months.

However, the lesson learnt from this is make sure there is someone there (an abled-bodied person) to test the lift many times before leaving an elderly person alone to use the lift. Had it been my mother who had got stuck, she would have faced a very dangerous/probably impossible task of getting off the lift in its ‘stuck’ position towards the top of the stairs. The other option would have been to spend the night in the chair and hope that someone would call.

Review

Since the initial teething problem, we have had no other problems with the lift. It is easy to use and has been reliable. It is not silent, but not too noisy either. The speed varies depending on where it is on the rail – it goes faster on standard rail fitting and slower around curves. The is a point, just after leaving the ground floor, where you are lifted quite high in the air with nothing below (the lift curves round the banister at the bottom of the stairs) but the seat comes with a safety belt to stop you falling off.

The seat folds away nicely, although my mother tends to leave it set up ready for use. The major negative is an aesthetic one. We chose to have the lift on the banister side of the stairs rather than the wall because there was a door at the bottom of the wall site which would mean that the chair would block the door. The sales person had suggested a hinged rail to avoid this problem, but it all seemed too complicated as the lift would need to be parked up the stairs when not in use to allow access though the door. A banister side fitted rail seemed the best solution. However, Acorn rails have a good side and a bad side. The good side looks smart but the bad side shows the cog mechanism that enables the chair to move up the rail. My mother has see through banisters (like railings) which mean that the cog mechanism is clearly visible. Had the rail been fitted against the wall, this would not have been a problem. I believe this is not a problem with rails supplied by  other types of Stair Lift.

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What is the value of my stairlift?

Friday, March 26th, 2010

What is the value of my stairlift?

A used stairlift is hard to place a value on.  The first consideration is whether or not the lift is for a straight staircase or a curved or angled staircase.  A used stairlift for a straight staircase is probably proportionally of more value than is a used curved or angled stairlift.  Because stairlifts are not one size fits all, and because most straight staircases are of about the same measurements, there is a greater possibility that you can find a match for your used stairlift if it is for a straight staircase.

There are several internet markets where it might be feasible to sell your stairlift.  Criagslist is a free list and therefore probably the first place on your list to try to sell the lift.  If you don’t find a buyer through Craigslist, you might try Ebay.  If you decide to try to sell on Ebay, be sure to give a great description and good pictures so that the buyer can view what he or she is buying.  The difficulty with Ebay is shipping costs.  You might offer to pick up the shipping costs for the customer or you may consider offering it for pick up only.

Trying to sell a stairlift that is used might be pretty difficult in rural areas.  If there is a larger city nearby, you might consider contacting the stairlift companies in that area and asking if they take used stairlifts on a consignment basis.

Donating the stairlift is also an option.  This option will not give you any dollars for your pocket but it will give you a tax deduction. Knowing that someone who needs it is using it will be a benefit, as well.

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Safety sensors for chair lifts

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Safety Sensors for Stairlifts

Stairlifts present certain safety issues that need to be addressed before making your final choice among the stairlifts available.  Manufacturers realize these safety issues are important and have equipped their lifts with sensors that find obstacles that may be in the path of the chair as it moves up or down the stairlift.  When these sensors find an obstacle, they immediately bring the chair to a smooth stop until the obstacle can be removed.

Safety sensors can be mounted in a myriad of places on the stairlift.  Normally, you will find that they have been placed under the footrest and/or under the chair itself. This allows the sensors to find obstructions and bring the chair to a smooth stop before the chair can be broken or injury can be done to a child or pet.  The most common hazards tend to be pets that run onto the stairway or children running up and down the staircase.  Sometimes, objects can fall onto the staircase from the landing above making for a potential hazard.

One other problem that might occur is when a foot slips off the footrest.  These safety sensors can also stop the chair in this situation so that the foot does not get entangled in the chair, the rail, or the stairs.

These safety measures taken by manufacturers of stairlifts are put in place for your safety and the safety of those with whom you share your home.

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10 steps to consider wheny buying a stair lift

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

10 Easy Steps to Consider When Buying a Stairlift

As you stop to think about whether a stairlift will be useful in your own situation, you might ask yourself the following questions:

1.  Does the person(s) who will use the stairlift have the capability of getting into and out of the swivel seat on the stairlift?

2.  Does the width of your stairs allow enough room to properly mount the track and use the equipment?

3.  Do I need a curved or angled stairlift or a straight one?

4.  Which manufacturers have the best lift for my needs?

5.  Which stairlift is suits the height and weight of the stairlift user?  Which stairlift best fits the width of my stairs?

6.  Should I install the lift myself or have it professionally installed?

7.  What price options do I have from stairlift companies in my area or even over the internet?

8.  Does the installer in my area have a reputation for excellent work?

9.  When can I schedule the installation of my stairlift?

10.  Does the technician installing my stairlift take time to properly explain the features of the stairlift?  Will he or she discuss maintenance issues with me?

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