Friday, 1 November 2013

Buying a mobility scooter online

Thinking of purchasing a mobility scooter online?

With the progression of online shopping for mobility aids it comes as no surprise that it is now really easy to buy a mobility scooter using the World Wide Web.

Gone are the days when you had no choice other than to visit a mobility aid shop in order to buy a scooter or powered wheelchair.

If you are considering going down this route we feel there are some important points which you should be aware of, this article has been written to hopefully help you with what is an important decision as to whether to buy online or should you stick with a local "bricks and mortar" type dealer?

Why do people buy mobility aids and scooters from an online store?

As with most commodities that can be purchased online there are two main reasons.

1) Online shopping is really convenient. You can buy almost anything from the comfort of your armchair using little more than a computer, an internet tablet, or a device such as one of the latest smart phones. No longer do you have to make a journey to a particular "high street" shop that may or may not be close by.

You can also shop online at a time that suits you, internet sites run 24 hours a day and almost never close, so if you want to buy something late at night, early in the morning, or on a Bank Holiday you can do so.

Most brands of mobility scooters can now be purchased in this way.

2) The second reason is because you can usually buy products cheaper online than in a traditional store.

There are a few exceptions, but internet shopping has resulted in fierce competition between mail order sellers, the result being is that the prices of mobility aids have been driven down which is great news for the customer.

But is buying online the best option when shopping for a new mobility scooter?

If you know exactly what you want, down to an exact brand and model of scooter then things become a little easier, if however you have certain needs and consider it a must to see a unit "in the flesh" first, then buying online may not be the best option. As one of these items of transportation is aimed at those that are infirm or unsteady on their feet, it may be wise to at least see one in a shop where you can also sit on it and try it out for size?

When it comes to buying a battery powered mobility scooter it is not only the size and seating position of the machine that matters, features and specifications between all the different brands and models could help you make your mind up as to which one is best for you overall.

Something's to consider are

  • Maximum speed the scooter can reach, do you need 8mph or is 4mph adequate?
  • Distance / Running time. How far do you need the scooter to go before recharging is needed?
  • On-board lights, do you need indicators or a headlamp and tail light?
  • Do you need to carry anything on-board? perhaps a shopping bag or a walking stick?
  • Would a front mounted basket be useful? Think about a trip to the local shop or newsagent?
  • Battery recharging time. Do you need a model with a fast battery charger?
  • Size of the mobility scooter. This is important if you only have a small space to store it in.
  • Terrain the scooter will be used on. Large diameter wheels will cope with kerbs easier than small ones
  • Operator controls. See if they suit you, are they easy to use?
  • Colour choice. You should pick a colour that you like!

Getting back to thinking about buying a mobility scooter online....

Above we have mentioned a few negatives with regards to buying via the web, so now we feel it's time to point out some benefits. 

By buying online you can usually save money over and above the price you will have to pay at a normal mobility shop. Shopping online can also be less stressful, having no commission sales people to pressure you into buying what they want to sell you! 

We've already mentioned convenience as regards shopping hours (a website takes orders around the clock!). The same goes for removing the need to travel whatever distance to your nearest mobility aid dealer.

So is there anything we've not yet mentioned?

A real deciding factor has to be customer service and after sales. Occasionally it can be best to see what you are buying - before you buy it! How many times have you heard someone say "I wish I'd never of bought it"? or,"I wish I'd bought the other one!". Mistakes in buying the wrong brand or model of scooter can be reduced by doing some research and not jumping straight into buying the first model you come across. 

As regards customer service (and we really mean pre-sales help) it really can make sense to see the exact model you are thinking of buying before you lay out your money for what is a big investment in your life. The same goes for choosing a model that suits your individual needs. A local dealer should be able to answer all of your questions and ultimately recommend a machine that is the best one for you.

If you need a model to cover say 5 miles before recharging then make sure in advance that your preferred scooter will do this! Do you live in a UK village or a seaside resort? if you do is the terrain and footpaths mobility scooter friendly? Some are and some are not, one worthy of mention is Skegness, this Lincolnshire resort has to be one of the most wheelchair and mobility scooter friendly resorts that you will find anywhere in the UK.

If the place you live in is not scooter-friendly then consider a large chassis sized model which has large diameter wheels fitted, it will cope far better with rough surfaces and paths than the smaller models that are freely available which have tiny wheels fitted as standard equipment.

These are just a couple of points which are easily addressed if you decide to visit a local mobility shop instead of buying online.

Aftersales service:

So you have decided now is the time to buy a battery powered mobility scooter. You have paid for the machine and are either having it delivered or you are collecting it in person. When buying online your purchase will probably turn up assembled and with a user manual. This will explain how to charge the battery and the essential user controls. But, buying from a local stockist will usually let you benefit from having the batteries charged in advance, an explanation of the controls by a member of staff, and advice and help in looking after your new purchase. You need to weigh up what you need, and then decide where to buy from!

A big bonus in dealing with a local mobility aid shop is if you need repairs and servicing - after you have taken delivery of your new scooter. A local dealer can normally offer a routine maintenance service as well as essential ongoing repairs such as tyre replacements and the fitment of new batteries. If your scooter develops a fault what would you like to happen? An online shop cannot help you here, you will be left on your own, but a local dealer will normally arrange a collection of the faulty machine and deliver it back to you afterwards.

To sum up, for the cheapest purchase price we recommend you buy online. You will save money and can really pick up a mobility scooter at amongst the cheapest prices you will find anywhere. But if personal pre-sales and aftersales service is a necessity, you should look to consider whether your local mobility shop is a better option.