Getting the most out of your free consultation
Shopping for a stairlift is can be an overwhelming process for customers. There are multiple lift manufacturers out there, even more companies who install the stair lifts and too much bad information available to seniors. Wanting to stay in the home you love is natural – making the appropriate selection of stairlift will give you long term peace of mind that you made the correct investment. It’s hard to know what to do when everyone tells you their product is best!
Below are some tips to help you through the process, but most importantly – trust your gut! The best decisions are made when you are not rushed, have time to interview a few companies, solicit reviews and references.
First, you must know the difference between a stairlift manufacturer and a local stairlift company. The manufacturer (often international) is the company which designs and makes the chair lift. The local lift company is generally an independent company which installs and services the equipment. They each serve an important purpose to the process – to make the stair lift properly, and to install and maintain it.
Second, there are three types of stairlifts – straight, curved, and outdoor. Within those general categories there are specialty chairs, features, and options. When you and your family members are evaluating the brand and company to perform the stairlift installation you should arrange for a free in-home consultation.
Never schedule someone who wants to charge for a first visit!
Never purchase a lift online or consider a company who lists prices online. How would they know what your stairway looks like, what chair model suits your needs? In fact, Accessibility Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (AEMA) does not support internet sales or inexperienced installs – read their position paper here.
A proper stairlift visit will go over key topics such as weight capacity, battery operation, warranty, and options.
Here are some questions to ask which vary depending on your situation:
- How long have you been in business? Are you licensed?
You should look for an established company with a track record of sales and service specifically regarding stairlifts. Experience does count and they should be able to provide references and photos of previous work.
- Do you have a local showroom for me to test ride a chair?
Committing to purchase a stairlift is sometimes difficult without first trying the chair. Get a feel for the speed, sound, and operation. There may be options that you end up needing or wanting.
- Where is your local service center? Are your installers and service technicians direct employees?
Purchasing a stairlift is a long term investment. To get the best value you must make sure that a company providing the work and maintenance is nearby to take care of you. Also check that no work is being sub-contracted out. There should be a direct line of accountability to make sure installation and maintenance is done properly.
- Will you be able to leave me a stairlift price today?
Any reputable and experience stairlift estimator should be able to leave you a quotation for your stairway lift options at the end of the appointment. This goes for curved stairlifts too ! There is no legitimate reason to not be able to price on the spot.
- Do you have a lifetime warranty?
If the stairlift does not have a lifetime motor warranty, it is not worth purchasing. The only exception would be for a used stairlift (see below).
- How long is your labor warranty? Are extended warranties available?
The best stairlift companies offer a labor warranty which matches the length of the parts warranty – ask what their turnaround time for a service call. Any reputable company should also offer extended warranties.
- Do you have used stairlift models available? For straight lift, curved lift, and outdoor lifts?
Sometimes due to circumstance or budget, a used stairlift would be a good consideration. The best stairlift companies near you will have multiple used options for all type of stairways – even used curved stairlifts.
Curved stairway lifts require an additional level of expertise to properly price, measure, and install. Here are some curved stair specific questions:
- Is your curved stair lift pre-made, also called modular, or is it being made specifically for my stairway after you take the measurements?
The best curved stairlifts are custom made to match your specific stair requirements and dimensions. How will a lift fit properly if its pre-made? The lift needs to be made after measurements so that it fits better and give the user the best and safest ride quality.
- Will I get a shop drawing to review the design of my curved stair lift? Will you do this prior to me committing to purchase?
Due to the price investment and level of customization, you should expect to see a drawing, specific to your home, of the design of the curved stairlift. Not a hand sketch either, or a generic sample, but a true manufacturer’s drawing, itemized for your specific needs and stairway. That way you can see exactly how much space it will take up, where the attachments are, all in advance.
You will feel comfortable about your investment and you know it will be guaranteed to fit. The best local companies will give you a curved chair lift drawing – free of charge – to help you make your decision. Demand it! Some sample drawings attached below so you know what to look for.
Hopefully these tips and questions will help you feel more comfortable while going through your stairlift cost and research process. There are also many independent review sites you can use to evaluate brands – such as Consumer Affairs, Trust Pilot, among others. If you have any further questions, we are here to help!
BEDCO MOBILITY, Inc. has been installing and servicing stairlifts in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia for over 60 years. With our home base in Baltimore, MD we are able to provide great service to the entire Mid-Atlantic Region. Contact us for a free-estimate or come by our showroom!