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Thread: Is it just me or is the whole wheelchair manufacturer customer dynamic all backwards?

  1. #1
    Senior Member NW-Will's Avatar
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    Is it just me or is the whole wheelchair manufacturer customer dynamic all backwards?

    So I can only speak about dealing with Topend and Tilite.

    But am left with the feeling they are doing me a whole favor by having me as a prospective customer.
    It's like pulling teeth dealing with these companies. I only want to give them $$$ for the item they are allegedly in business to manufacturer !


    The only company that comes close is comcast cable on the customer service front.... Praise be, we now at least have Centurylink in the neighborhood.

    What I'd give to get a call back, or have some meaningful dialogue where they listen and correct all the issues with their CAD. Like this SCI BS isn't a big enough bitch to deal with.

    Gave up with Topend, does anyone even work there anymore ?

  2. #2
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    Many suppliers consider their customers to be your insurance company, not you.

  3. #3
    Top End went through a big turn over last year. Have you tried Mike Box or some of the other small places?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Andy's Avatar
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    Come now, as we all know, those wheelchair people are complete retards who should be ignored. Only professional DME vendors know what they are talking about, 'cause they are like, professionals. Hence wheelchair manufacturers prefer to deal with DME vendors and provide them with 100% markup for their expertise in dealing with those incredibly stupid wheelchair users

  5. #5
    The Comcast Cable comparison is pretty accurate.
    My story; I bought a used 2007 Permobil C300 (front drive) while waiting for medicare to kick in. That chair saved my life. I MUST recline periodically or my feet will swell due to DVT. Not overweight or diabetic.
    Got Medicare 2014, I chose Permobil M300 (center drive). It worked great on smooth hospital floor. However, when at my home (hardwood floor) it would not steer smoothly from stand still (like backing out from bathroom doorway). It would jerk in the chosen direction resulting in a banged door or wall. Permobil replaced caster bearings due to recall to no avail. I called them again, "my problem still exists". By this time 2 months had passed. Sales rep came out this time and said, "your problem is with Permobil, not me". He then said I should have returned chair before 2 week trial period expired. What? I never knew I had 2 weeks to try it out to see if it worked in my home. I didn't call Permobil after that, I use my older chair and my newer (2014) chair is a back up.
    I will be getting a new chair this year and will chose Permobil again despite recent reliability issues I've read.
    Lessons learned; Center drive chairs do not like tight spaces (although they have smaller turn radius), they ride rough and get stuck easier out doors, also I have 2 weeks to try out new chair (ask your vender about this trial) .
    I have 32" doorways in my home. 36" or 38" doorways, center drive may work better but they have an inherent jerk in direction change from a stop (due to 4 casters changing directions).

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Gearhead View Post
    The Comcast Cable comparison is pretty accurate.
    My story; I bought a used 2007 Permobil C300 (front drive) while waiting for medicare to kick in. That chair saved my life. I MUST recline periodically or my feet will swell due to DVT. Not overweight or diabetic.
    Got Medicare 2014, I chose Permobil M300 (center drive). It worked great on smooth hospital floor. However, when at my home (hardwood floor) it would not steer smoothly from stand still (like backing out from bathroom doorway). It would jerk in the chosen direction resulting in a banged door or wall. Permobil replaced caster bearings due to recall to no avail. I called them again, "my problem still exists". By this time 2 months had passed. Sales rep came out this time and said, "your problem is with Permobil, not me". He then said I should have returned chair before 2 week trial period expired. What? I never knew I had 2 weeks to try it out to see if it worked in my home. I didn't call Permobil after that, I use my older chair and my newer (2014) chair is a back up.
    I will be getting a new chair this year and will chose Permobil again despite recent reliability issues I've read.
    Lessons learned; Center drive chairs do not like tight spaces (although they have smaller turn radius), they ride rough and get stuck easier out doors, also I have 2 weeks to try out new chair (ask your vender about this trial) .
    I have 32" doorways in my home. 36" or 38" doorways, center drive may work better but they have an inherent jerk in direction change from a stop (due to 4 casters changing directions).
    By addressing your problem here, I am a bit off topic. Hopefully it will help others too.

    You can mitigate the jerking of the casters a good deal by tuning the nut at the top of the caster counter clock wise. This loosens the bearings and allows the caster to turn without so much jerking. That said, you have to be careful that you don't loosen the bearings too much, otherwise your casters will flutter. Once the bearings are loosened, the casters will move more freely and frequently, but that does come with a trade off that you have to watch backing out of tight spaces (like cabinetry on both sides of the chair). Before I had the bearings loosened, I could back up about 8 feet without the casters turning. Now, I have to inch out of a tight space to avoid scarring up the walls of the cabinetry.
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  7. #7
    There shouldn't be any "jerking" with a powerchair that's programmed correctly, all movements should be smooth as silk and intuitive. The problem is that someone that attended a lunch and learn is a "tech."

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Rustyjames View Post
    There shouldn't be any "jerking" with a powerchair that's programmed correctly, all movements should be smooth as silk and intuitive. The problem is that someone that attended a lunch and learn is a "tech."
    I'm not sure what you are trying to say in your comment.

    Do you have a Permobil m300? If you have one, have you never had this jerk/pull to the left or right problem?

    My suggestion comes from a high level representative in the Permobil organization that suggested this fix when I encountered this person at an Abilities Expo. Permobil offers services at these expos to solve problems and that is what they did for me, as I explained in my post.

    Love to hear your experience with these m300's if your experience is different.
    Last edited by gjnl; 01-23-2019 at 11:13 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member elarson's Avatar
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    I also think wheelchair manufacturers are backwards, especially for those who don’t need/want dealers involved. We are not required to go through a dealer for funding, and we have not had good experiences when we have. Especially with customisations, I think it is critical that the user has contact with the manufacturer directly when needed. We have a possibility for funding for a new wheelchair, but due to all of the hassles we have had in the past we will wait as long as possible before we buy a new chair. Surely this is not in the better of interests of wheelchair manufacturers, so it would behoove them to do what their customers request and have better contact with them!
    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).

  10. #10
    Senior Member Oddity's Avatar
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    When it comes to the DME part of the equation, I think the margins are so thin that it's hard to attract high quality people. Folks like fuentejps and stephen212 are the exception rather than the norm. It's worse than dealing with used car salepeople most of the time.
    "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

    "Even what those with the greatest reputation for knowing it all claim to understand and defend are but opinions..." -Heraclitus, Fragments

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