Pauline driven round the bend by wheelchair that was faulty

Angry Pauline Nolan was driven round the bend after her £3,000 mobility chair developed a series of recurring defects.

Thursday, 4th August 2016, 6:36 am
Pauline Nolan is happy to get finally get her wheelchair fixed

The 59-year-old disabled reader from Gosport suffers from a deteriorating muscle and joint medical condition, preventing her from getting about unassisted.

She decided her existing wheelchair had seen better days and just wasn’t up to the job of getting her out and about.

So in June 2014, Pauline contacted Eden Mobility with a view to exploring what brand new powered wheelchairs it had on offer under the government’s Motability scheme.

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The scheme entitles severely disabled people receiving the higher rate disability living allowance to a worry-free three-year lease on a fully-serviced and maintained chair or scooter.

But things didn’t go as planned right from the start. A salesman turned up at her home with the paperwork and a power chair, which appeared similar to the one she’d chosen from their Motability range.

However, she says she was never given an advertised seven-day familiarisation trial and the pre-sales demonstration was dispensed with.

It was only after he’d left she discovered it wouldn’t go up her ramp or through the front door. Understandably, Pauline was not best pleased.

‘I never wanted to buy a chair,’ explained Pauline.

‘I just wanted to go on to the Eden mobility scheme and pay for it through my DLA.

‘It was only when I rang them up and said the chair wasn’t fit for purpose that I found out they didn’t do the one I wanted on the scheme.

‘The salesman should have told me that before he filled in all the paperwork.’

To make matters worse, although she’d paid an additional £536 for insurance, maintenance and recovery, she learned that many basic expensive parts like batteries and wheels were excluded after the first year.

Back to square one, Pauline had no alternative but to agree to buy a chair suitable for her needs.

But if she thought that was going to be the end of her mobility problems for the next three years, she was sadly mistaken.

Within weeks defects with the power chair started to emerge, leaving her stuck at home twiddling her thumbs.

She quickly began to get fed up staring at a mobility aid that was beginning to resemble an expensive ornament.

Around four weeks from purchase, the batteries went on the blink and had to be replaced.

Then, just a few weeks later, the steering failed because the cables to the back wheels weren’t engaging correctly.

An engineer wasn’t able to adequately diagnose and sort the problem, so within a matter of months it occurred again.

Unbelievably, the back wheels then seized up twice and the joystick controller had to be renewed.

On each occasion a hacked-off Pauline had to wait days, which often turned into weeks, before an engineer arrived to fix the problems with the chair.

The final straw came when the batteries failed for a second time and, despite all her protests, Pauline was left for another six weeks without a chair before it could be replaced.

To add to her frustration, she unexpectedly had to find an additional £200.

With the valued help of the Fareham Eden shop manager, Pauline put in countless requests for senior managers to take her complaints seriously.

‘But to her mounting fury, their combined efforts fell on deaf ears.

Pauline said: ‘The thing that wound me up the most was the fact that no-one was listening to me and disbelieved what was happening.

‘It was if they were calling me a liar or I was stupid or something and didn’t know what I was doing.

‘I just couldn’t get hold of anyone other than the shop because no-one was returning my calls.

‘It was really beginning to get me down and causing me to feel depressed and angry.’

Within hours of Streetwise contacting Eden senior management, Pauline’s issues with the firm were soon resolved.

Concerned Eden group after sales manager Kristian Johnson called us to say how sorry the firm was to hear of her experience.

He agreed it was not up to its normal high standards of customer care and lessons would be learned.

He promptly offered Pauline a refund of the £200 she’d paid for the batteries that were not covered by the insurance, arranged to have new wheels fitted, replace the batteries with upgraded power units and provide a free full service.

When the chair was finally brought up to acceptable operating standards, an engineer would take her out to check all the problems had been resolved and arrange for any modifications that might be necessary to ensure she was completely satisfied with it.

A delighted Pauline said: ‘Thank you so much. I appreciate your help, you’ve really been a star.

‘You got resolved within a matter of days something I’d been battling away with for over two years.’

‘Without your help I’m convinced I’d have got nowhere’