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Thread: (action needed) TiLite trying to stop online suppliers shipping internationally

  1. #1
    Senior Member elarson's Avatar
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    (action needed) TiLite trying to stop online suppliers shipping internationally

    As many of you know, it has been possible to buy TiLite wheelchairs and parts through some online suppliers in the US and have them shipped internationally. A few months ago one of the big on-line suppliers stopped with international shipping [correction, see post #9 below] (or even making their site viewable if you are international). I have heard that others will be also stop shipping internationally, by request (demand) of TiLite .

    As a US citizen living part of the time internationally, with a TiLite chair purchased in the US, I find this policy unacceptable. Where we are in Europe, there is only *one* choice for a TiLite supplier locally. Prices are at least 30% more, not including taxes, which needs to be paid on import regardless of where purchased (so not a factor). It is a monopoly situation, and a situation we have no choice or control over.

    Although the local TiLite supplier happens to be good overall, I do not understand why we should be forced to order from them, especially for parts for a chair that was not bought from them. If we are in another country do we need to find yet another supplier? What's next, are they going to stop people selling chairs on this forum or E-Bay?

    I understand that TiLite wants to support their international suppliers and has recently setup parts distribution in Europe to help with this (well done). Unfortunately, those cost savings of shipping in bulk from TiLite are not being passed on to customers, because often the suppliers do not provide competitive pricing or services. Also, many of us do not require the value-added services from a supplier, and should not be forced to pay their extra mark-up and have delays for something we do not receive.

    As long as TiLite subsidizes this uncompetitive pricing and service internationally, by not allowing international competition, it is the users who will pay the price. Of course, there will be nothing to stop people from using another address is the US for shipping and forwarding, but this is just unfair, costly, and counter productive. In our case it will mean a lot of extra shipping costs as parts will need to go a few thousand miles back and forth in the opposite direction before being shipped to us. Still we will probably do that rather than deal with a local supplier.

    International suppliers also have the option to setup shop internationally to compete, but if they don't make that effort and investment, the companies who do should not be penalized for it, nor should customers. TiLite should be focusing on how they can help their international suppliers to be more competitive rather than penalizing customers who do take the effort to shop around internationally for better pricing and service. Those who need the value added services of a local supplier will always shop locally, so I don’t understand what the problem is.

    I will be very angry if TiLite implements this policy, which I have been told unofficially that they already have. We finally got approval for a new chair this week, which we spent extra effort to make sure we were approved to purchase abroad and/or online if need be. This chair had been planned to be a TiLite. Knowing that we may no longer be able to purchase parts internationally through the supplier of our choice may make us seriously reconsider our choice of chairs, that I have spent 6 months researching. International shipping was one of our primary criteria after my husband fell out of another brand of chair and almost broke his neck, because it had malfunctioned and it took 81 days to receive parts from a local supplier that I could have had shipped from the US within a week!

    I hope all of you international TiLite customers will let it be known to TiLite, via this post, that they are not considering the best interests of their international customers, if in fact this is a new policy. TiLite should also make this very clear on their website so that those of us who are international will not waste our time researching their products. I also hope that those of you who are not international might show a little solidarity, because it may also impact you if you happen to be traveling and have a malfunctioning part. It will mean that you may be forced to use a local supplier who has no knowledge of your situation and may not be able to speak your language or be able to provide the proper paperwork for your government/insurance reimbursement scheme.

    Users should be able to choose their own trusted supplier and be able to have something expedited to them, regardless of where they are in this global economy.

    Thanks for listening to my rant.

    -- Ellyn

    Note: We have an international software business as a suppliers of products and services, and often are under-cut on pricing and services. It is what makes us better and what free-trade and competition are all about.
    Last edited by elarson; 09-30-2012 at 10:31 AM. Reason: Added a correction on this
    Partner of an incredible stroke survivor. Limitations: hemiparesis and neglect (functional paralysis and complete lack of awareness on one side). Equipment: TiLite ZRA 2 and 2GX, Spinergy ZX-1, RioMobility Firefly. Knowledge: relative newbie for high-level equipment (2012), but willing to try to help others who are new with similar limitations (definitely not a guru, but inquisitive).

  2. #2
    Senior Member DaleB's Avatar
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    Good luck! I don't roll a TiLite on account of their business model. That's the only action I can control. By all means, find another brand. While in the EU, you've got several very high quality brands to choose from. RGK, Scmicking, ORacing, GTM, etc.

    As far as the chairs go, TiLite has some of the best products on the market, though. Too bad, for me, anyway. I can't spend thousands with a business like TiLite.

    Dealer lock-in is a strong arm tactic, IMO, and not something many customers realize is part of their model until they need to fix something.

    IMO, when we have a broken wheelchair is the LAST time you want only one option. Then, you are stuck paying whatever the dealer wants to charge.

    This tells me TiLite considers their dealer network a higher priority than their customers.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member elarson's Avatar
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    I would not have wasted at least 6 months with TiLite if I knew they were going to pull this. A wheelchair and repairs is something you count on for 100% mobility. It is not something that should be messed around with. I do believe that the folks at TiLite know this, but they obviously need to hear it again.

    Our problem is that we were just approved for a budget based on TiLite after a heavy fight. Had I known this would happen, I would have fought much harder for RGK, Scmicking, ORacing, GTM, etc. I thought we were being pragmatic...

    Shit happens, but please, do all tell TiLite, because maybe things can be reversed in time....


    Quote Originally Posted by DaleB View Post
    Good luck! I don't roll a TiLite on account of their business model. That's the only action I can control. By all means, find another brand. While in the EU, you've got several very high quality brands to choose from. RGK, Scmicking, ORacing, GTM, etc.

    As far as the chairs go, TiLite has some of the best products on the market, though. Too bad, for me, anyway. I can't spend thousands with a business like TiLite.

    Dealer lock-in is a strong arm tactic, IMO, and not something many customers realize is part of their model until they need to fix something.

    IMO, when we have a broken wheelchair is the LAST time you want only one option. Then, you are stuck paying whatever the dealer wants to charge.

    This tells me TiLite considers their dealer network a higher priority than their customers.
    Last edited by elarson; 09-30-2012 at 06:50 AM.
    Partner of an incredible stroke survivor. Limitations: hemiparesis and neglect (functional paralysis and complete lack of awareness on one side). Equipment: TiLite ZRA 2 and 2GX, Spinergy ZX-1, RioMobility Firefly. Knowledge: relative newbie for high-level equipment (2012), but willing to try to help others who are new with similar limitations (definitely not a guru, but inquisitive).

  4. #4
    My suggestion is that if Ti-Lite will not ship to you, get someone in the US to accept delivery and then ship it on to your location.

    Believe me, I am not thriled with Ti right now. My wheelchair went missing--Left sitting on their loading dock. After their error, do you think they would express ship--No fing way--it took 4 days to get to its destination and another 3 weeks to get to me.

    The biggest pisser is that Ti knew my insurance changed on 10/1 and my new coverage would fund only 1/3rd of the chair cost. It seemes to not have mattered one bit to Ti-Lite. They Got the order and then screw the customer.
    Every day I wake up is a good one

  5. #5
    Senior Member sowseng's Avatar
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    Strongly disagree with Tilite.

    Malaysia does not have any dealer for Tilite.

    If yes, the dealer's price will be double, to mark up the margin.

    Is not worth it to buy something that does not worth that much.

    Through experience, dealer knows nothing about wheelchairs.
    Life is meaningles, though you create the purpose.

  6. #6
    If I have to order a Tilite chair through a local dealer, which we don't have in Malaysia, and pay full retail, I might as well consider other brands that still allow online shops to ship internationally at more competitive prices.

    Many of us here use Tilite because we like its build and reliability and through word of mouth, many more are considering a Tilite for their next purchase. We do our own measurements or help others do their measurements without the support of a local dealer.

    I have been working on the measurements for the TR3 that I plan to get soon. I am very happy with my current ZRA S2, the measurements which were done with extremely helpful advice from CC forumers, and have never hesitated to recommend Tilite to friends looking for a new wheelchair. It will be unfortunate if Tilite enforces this rule as I have no choice but to look elsewhere for my next chair.

    At the same time, Tilite will lose all their current and future customers from Malaysia as we move to another brand and recommend the same to our friends. I respectfully urge Tilite to reconsider this policy for those of use who do not want to go through local dealers, have no local dealers or even have local dealers that don't spec the chairs correctly.
    C5-C6 ASIA C - October 15, 1984
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  7. #7
    Senior Member sowseng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by petertan View Post
    If I have to order a Tilite chair through a local dealer, which we don't have in Malaysia, and pay full retail, I might as well consider other brands that still allow online shops to ship internationally at more competitive prices.

    Many of us here use Tilite because we like its build and reliability and through word of mouth, many more are considering a Tilite for their next purchase. We do our own measurements or help others do their measurements without the support of a local dealer.

    I have been working on the measurements for the TR3 that I plan to get soon. I am very happy with my current ZRA S2, the measurements which were done with extremely helpful advice from CC forumers, and have never hesitated to recommend Tilite to friends looking for a new wheelchair. It will be unfortunate if Tilite enforces this rule as I have no choice but to look elsewhere for my next chair.

    At the same time, Tilite will lose all their current and future customers from Malaysia as we move to another brand and recommend the same to our friends. I respectfully urge Tilite to reconsider this policy for those of use who do not want to go through local dealers, have no local dealers or even have local dealers that don't spec the chairs correctly.
    Agree.
    Local dealers knows nothing about wheelchair.
    And they will mark up their price unreasonably.
    I am still working on my second chair which is ZR or TR.
    Life is meaningles, though you create the purpose.

  8. #8
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    Time to get really pal-zee with members of the CC community... Get them to order it on your behalf and sort out the financial et al arrangements with them... CC Members now it's time for you to make some coin??!?!?!?!? lol. Now I really need to start saving!
    Everybody wants freedom.... They just don't want it for everybody else...

    A college professor, a man I now consider my dad, once told me...
    "The minute you let someone decide what you can and cannot do, your life is no longer yours." A truer word has never been spoken in my opinion.


    Professor Bill Johnston
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  9. #9

    Please Read This Before Taking Any "Action"

    What is our "actionable intelligence"? As for myself, I haven't read or heard anything to support the belief that TiLite has any such plans!!.

    TiLite's primary objective as a business is to sell as many custom wheelchairs as they can in as many markets as possible.

    From a business perspective, preventing online retailers from selling internationally doesn't make any sense. (While a local dealer may not mind hearing a rumor like that, that still doesn't make it true).

    Why would it make sense for TiLite to tell their online dealers who they can and can not sell to? They are some of their biggest customers and most of them actually do a pretty good job of spec'ing out TiLite's over the phone (e.g. Jimbo from Sportaid or Scott from Bike-On).

    I believe the online vendor being referenced by the OP is SpinLife. They sell comparatively few highly custom ultralight wheelchairs. Instead, they have made a strategic decision not to go after international markets due to the products they sell.

    In additional to a high volume of less-costly standard products, SpinLife's product line also includes larger items like scooters, consumer powerchairs, and lifts. They are counting on selling these products in relatively high volumes at a significantly lower price than the local DME. Because the prospect of purchasing these types of products over the internet can be intimidating, free shipping and an assurance they have some sort of network in place to provide support locally after the sale become a key part of their strategy.

    SpinLife will ship things internationally, but they only accept payment from the US or Canada. That is the reason they block IP addresses that originate from other countries. It wouldn't make sense for them to turn their backs on all international customers because there were issues with one manufacturer that represents only a small portion of their sales.


  10. #10
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    SCI_OTR - I know in other retail markets, distributors will make manufacturers sign exclusive Distributor agreements so the distributor can garantee profits from its sales. Sound thinking IMO... As for whether that is happening in the wheelchair market, I'm not sure - It wouldn't surprise me tho. I know in Australia the Importer of Tilite wheelchairs has exclusive retial agreements with retailers in each state in Australia.
    Everybody wants freedom.... They just don't want it for everybody else...

    A college professor, a man I now consider my dad, once told me...
    "The minute you let someone decide what you can and cannot do, your life is no longer yours." A truer word has never been spoken in my opinion.


    Professor Bill Johnston
    (1930- )

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