CONSUMER: There’s hope for Betty after long-standing wrangle over new chair

Betty Miller, 82, from Farlington, who has had problems with her rise and recline chair 

Picture: Malcolm Wells (160620-1554)
Betty Miller, 82, from Farlington, who has had problems with her rise and recline chair Picture: Malcolm Wells (160620-1554)

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Betty Miller was far from sitting pretty on her new rise and recline mobility chair – because it wasn’t comfortable to be in for any length of time.

She bought the £2,792 chair from The Mobility Furniture Company almost a year earlier, but felt abandoned after the firm had been unable to fix a problem with it to her satisfaction.

An exasperated Betty, 82, penned a letter to Streetwise for help because she just didn’t know which way to turn.

She explained that last July she’d come to the conclusion she needed a really comfortable chair to put her feet up because a back problem meant she had to spend more time sitting down.

It wasn’t as if she hadn’t done her homework before she decided what she wanted and where to buy it. A local firm did a range of suitable chairs but Betty wanted to splash out on a custom-made, handcrafted job to ensure she obtained an essential degree of comfort for the rest of her days.

She said: ‘I had several people come along and demonstrate their chairs and the man from the Mobility Furniture Company impressed me because he was very nice and not at all pushy.

‘As soon as I sat in the chair I felt as if I was in a cocoon. It was so comfortable and it wrapped right round me.

‘It was the most expensive, so I thought about whether I should have it. But as it was likely it would be the last one I’d buy, I decided to spend the extra money and have it.’

But soon after it was delivered, Betty’s expectations were dashed. It just didn’t come up to the comfort standard she had experienced with the demonstration chair.

Betty, from Farlington, added: ‘Right from the start I found it was noisy in operation and there was a problem with a bar of wood or metal at the back of the seat which made the chair uncomfortable to sit in.

‘This wasn’t just my finding. I asked a visitor to sit in it and they commented it wasn’t possible to use it for any length of time. It made my back pain worse rather than relieving it.’

Four months later, Betty had had enough. She dashed off a letter to the Mobility Furniture Company to complain about the noise when it was raised or lowered. This was soon sorted by an in-guarantee service call.

She then dashed off another two letters complaining about the construction of the chair. When she sat back in it the hard cross-member made it so uncomfortable that she had to position herself into the centre of the seat to obtain relief from it. This left a hollow under her back which then needed cushions to support her, completely defeating the object of a bespoke, tailor-made chair.

The firm sent out another technician to examine the chair. He added further padding, but it still failed to fix the problem.

For Betty the last straw was the receipt of a letter from the customer service team to say they had reached the end of the road with her complaint. In their view comfort was a subjective issue of individual preference and, as they’d not detected a manufacturing fault, there was nothing more to be done.

Streetwise has received a significant number of complaints about the mobility furniture sector, but the Somerset-based Mobility Furniture Company had never once featured on our radar.

Further enquiries revealed it was held in very high esteem by customers, which made it all the more likely Betty would get a square deal when her problem was bought to senior management’s attention. And so it proved to be.

When we got on to them and expressed the view she was perfectly entitled to expect her chair to match the comfort of the demonstration model, operations director James Mitton promptly stepped in to sort out the issue.

He said: ‘Any feedback received is welcome as we strive to provide the highest quality made-to-measure furniture within the industry with the best after-sales service.

‘To address the issue raised about differing products demonstrated to delivery, I can confirm both products were manufactured to the same specification, the only difference being the dimensions and fabrics chosen as our products are all bespoke.

‘However, to try to resolve Mrs Miller’s issue once and for all, I am more than happy to manufacture a complete new back for her chair. I will get our service team to contact her and offer this rectification process.’

Betty was delighted there was finally light at the end of the tunnel and the firm was determined to do all it could to ensure her complete satisfaction.

‘Once again you’ve come up trumps,’ she said. ‘Thank you very much indeed. I can finally look forward to being able to sit in comfort.’