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Crippen and the rogue accessible vehicle converters / 19 June 2010

Our old friend George is carrying a useful piece of advice in his current blogspot  which relates to the sorts of underhand techniques that some sales persons resort to when selling to Disabled people.

Having worked in the dim and distant past for Motability in Harlow and then as a mobility consultant for several vehicle converters I can verify that many of these companies are only focussed on one thing - to get you to part with your money.

I doubt that the standards have improved very much but I can remember one company that literally tested new products on their unsuspecting customers and then washing their hands of any responsibility when vehicles inevitably fell apart or failed to provide the access that they were supposed to.

I even supported one customer in court when we discovered that her American vehicle, which had been converted to RH drive in this country by a bunch of cowboy access converters actually caught fire, trapping her in the automatic wheelchair clamps as the electrical circuits burned out around her. Very scary stuff, especially when her only means of access, the automatic wheelchair ramp also failed to work!

Many of the companies who converted vehicles for wheelchair users, whether as drivers or as passengers, failed to alert their clients to the fact that by cutting away significant areas of the base vehicle, moving the fuel tank (and sometimes fabricating a replacement tank of their own), this invalidated the base vehicle warranty.

Let's face it. Are the Ford Motor Company going to stand by their safety warranty when the integral strength of the vehicle has been compromised and replacement petrol tank has been installed in the wall alongside of the rear wheelchair passenger? The original petrol tanks are subjected to every test possible, including crash testing, whereas the replacement tanks, made to an inferior design and of an inferior material could only be 'crash' tested by the customer!

Hopefully the rogue converters have all been rooted out and the reputable companies are the only one's allowed to convert vehicles for wheelchair users now.

I certainly hope so.

Keywords: access issues,accessible vehicles,wheelchair users,

Comments

Dave Lupton

/
20 June 2010

I've had a couple of emails from people who have asked for advice on how to deal with problems that they are experiencing due to recently purchased conversions.

I'd love to help, but I've been out of the game for so many years that I no longer have the contacts any more. However, I remember that the Banstead Mobility Centre were a non-biaised organisation that often offered help and advice. here is their web site.

http://www.careline.org.uk/OrgRecord.asp?DB=Community_Equipment&Orgcode=2461

Arty Farty

/
20 June 2010

I once bought a wheelchair that converted into a driving seat in a car. When I got the car I discovered that the wheelchair people had radically reshaped the floor of the car in order to fit the chair. My local dealer told me that it had compromised the structural integrity of the vehicle and that the car manufacturers warranty was now void!

I later discovered when talking to other users that the people who built the chairs had made a common engineering mistake and had created each successive component by drawing around the previous one. This meant that each chair was slightly bigger than the previous one and subsequently needed more space hammered out of the vehicle!

Needless to say, the manufacturers of this chair weren't in the slightest bit interested in offering me any form of compensation for the problems that ensued!