If you have read my last blog, you’ll be aware of my current wheelchair issues and the frustration it’s causing. At the time of writing my last blog, I stupidly thought I was nearing the end of my issues. Little did I know there was further drama in store.
Frustrated by being told I’d have to wait over two weeks for a part to be shipped from Germany, I decided to pile the pressure on to the manufacturer, Invacare, with regular tweets and emails – highlighting how not having a functional wheelchair was severely impacting upon my independence – please follow @ACBlackborough if you don’t already!
Invacare’s responses were typically along the lines off “we’re sorry and we’re looking into it” which wasn’t really cutting mustard with me at this stage. But then I receive an email, telling me the part would be dispatched that day for delivery tomorrow. Though obviously very happy that two weeks had been reduced to a day, it begged the question why this hadn’t be done to start with? A question which Invacare have declined to answer.
Despite this, I was thrilled at the prospect of getting my wheelchair, and my independence back, after just shy of 5 weeks. My excitement was dashed when the dealer phoned to break bad news – the part had duly arrived as stated but it was faulty. After so long, I was unsurprisingly fuming.
Again, Invacare said another part would be despatched for next day delivery. In the five weeks without my wheels, my life had effectively been put on hold. I’d had to cancel numerous plans including work commitments. My spare chair, brought at further expense, is very basic – limiting me to local, essential trips only and even a basic requirement like food shopping, has been really problematic.
So you can imagine my joy when the wheelchair was finally returned to me last Saturday afternoon. I made plans for the coming week and promised my little boy some trips out. I committed to attending a meeting in Nottingham, where I am proud chair of Cerebral Palsy Sport. Life could finally return to normal. Or so I thought.
As soon as I took the wheelchair out, I noticed the battery was behaving oddly – dropping power almost immediately. Having used electric wheelchairs for the best part of 20 years, I was pretty sure something wasn’t right but I decided to give the chair a couple of long charges before reporting a problem. Again, I felt limited as to what I was able to do and decided to carry the charger with me, just in case.
When I arrived in Nottingham, the chair was displaying low power so I plugged it in during my meeting and phoned the dealer – Easy Living Mobility – who have been amazing and arranged to visit me the next day. Despite charging the chair at work, I only just made it home that night – with the chair giving up the ghost on our driveway.
The next day confirmed my fears – the battery was most probably failing and the wheelchair would have to be taken away again to be tested. I’d have to wait 4-5 days for new batteries. I was utterly fed up – my plans for the next few days turned upside down YET AGAIN.
And what do I get from Invacare?
“We’re working with the Invacare Retailer to resolve this as quickly as possible.”
No apology, no concern for how I’m coping without my lifeline. I count this now as six weeks – for six weeks I’ve been without a reliable, fit-for-purpose wheelchair but it really seems like Invacare couldn’t give a damn. They have my money – almost £8000 – and beyond that isn’t their concern.
I’ve only had my wheelchair for 9 months and due to various faults, it has been out of action for 2 of those months. Considering they talk about keeping people mobile as part of their marketing, I think most would agree that Invacare is failing, miserably.