The Summer of 2018: The summer I spent indoors, a prisoner of my failing powerchair and my wheelchair repair service.
Again I ask --- what length of time would you be willing to wait to get your only pair of shoes repaired or replaced? Hmmmmm?
Prisoner: Summer of 2018 spent indoors.
My wheelchair repair service is by all accounts a reputable company and franchise. I understand their own dilemma, having acquired most, if not all of Shopper's Home Healthcare services when they divested their company of wheelchair sales and service. Retaining qualified technicians also appears to be a challenge. Sick days and summer vacations have also been offered as excuses.
Unfortunately they are the only service in 'town' covering a very large part of southern Ontario.
1. Thursday June 21st, 2018 - call Service Provider requesting service on loss of power from my Quantum 6000. Got lucky as it usually takes a week or so to get a technician to make a house call. They promise to send one next day.
2. Friday, June 22nd, 2018 - Service Technician promptly calls in the A.M. and searches for cause of the power issues with my powerchair. Chair runs fairly well on a flat surface. Powerchair can no longer climb the ramp. Have to compensate loss of power by pushing joystick to the left. Chair struggles in left-hand turns (where right wheel pushes). Climbing the smallest bump or ledge, the left wheel has power and climbs; the right wheel hits and stalls --- which pivots me around the stalled tire --- into walls if nearby.
Technician measures motors and tells me they are within factory specification. Doesn't have the meter to plug into joystick to measure stored parameters. Technician leaves after almost two hours --- for another job. Problem unresolved.
3. Call Service Provider --- send technician with 16 years experience to complete diagnosis; has meter to diagnose parameters stored in joystick. Technician states that problem is the joystick controller. Doesn't provide full power on an incline when pushed to max, (then why does it run reasonably well on a flat surface?) Service technician orders new joystick. Asked him if he could place a "rush" request on that order.
4. Monday July 2nd, 2018 - Service Provider calls asking if I want to go through with this pricey order ($921.00 Cnd.). "What choice do I have?", I asked politely - this chair is 'my legs'. I thought they were calling to tell me the parts were in, It took a week for them to call to verify if I wished to proceed with the "rush" order. Secretary tells me it usually takes two weeks for the parts to arrive. I again plead if a request to "rush" can be requested.
5. Tuesday July 10th, 2018, I subsequently receive the invoice for the parts ordered dated July 10th. Stapled to it is a printed cashier's tape receipt of the stated amount having been made on my charge card. It appears the service department actually put the charge through on my credit card one week before calling to ask my okay to do so. I'm confused.
6. Monday July 16th, 2018 - Two weeks have passed. I call my Service Provider asking if the parts requested have arrived. The confirm that the parts are in but inform me that I cannot get a technician for over a week. Book the appointment
7. Friday July 27th, 2018 - Service technician with 16 years experience arrives to replace joystick (and connecting cable). Repairs made; problem remains $921.00 later. Technician notices right motor has damage to the 'plug' (for lack of a better name) which holds the brush contact for the motor. (Why was this not noticed by the first tech (or the second for that matter) who measured the motors and found them within factory specification.) Did the techs damage the brushes when examining them? This brush plug or housing is protected by the tire on one side and the motor engagement lever on the other. It would be difficult if not impossible for the wheelchair user to damage.
Technician with 16 years experience suggests I get a new motor. Then it is my call; do I wish to replace the other motor at the same time because "when one goes, the other may not be far behind." While that may be true, this was not wear and tear but rather physical damage. What choice do I have? Well, I don't want to spend the summer of 2019 waiting to replace the other motor so I okay the deal. Please, please, PLEASE - can you put a rush order on the parts as I want to salvage some of this summer.
9. Monday August 20th, 2018 - I call service provider to ask if ordered parts have arrived at their facility. "Yes" I'm told "they are in and we have you scheduled for a service call on August 30th" --- TEN days from today! I wonder when the parts actually arrived and was the wait for a service call longer than ten days. My pathetic request for a "Rush" order had me waiting three weeks!
10. Thursday August 30th, 2018 - Service provider arrives on-time and installs the two motors necessitating taking almost all of the chair apart.
-2 Motors = $980.00 each
-2 Wheel Assembly Hubs = $40.00 each
-1 Hour labour = $80.00
-Total = $2120.00
Thankfully the correct parts were shipped and the chair does now run to my satisfaction.
One-Sixth of a Year has Passed
Since I first Called for Service
and my Wheelchair was Repaired!
Add that charge to my needless Joystick replacement (and labour) and you have a total of $3041.00. Urgh@$&**! And summer is gone...
So if it takes two weeks to get delivery of the parts (as nobody stocks the most common parts for the most common of wheelchairs any longer); and if my "rush" request is laughed away --- then I might expect delivery around August 16th of this year and perhaps another week, August 23rd to have a technician install them.
June 21st to perhaps August 23rd to (hopefully) get this chair running again. How long is too long to get timely service for a disabled member of society?
I spent $921.00 needlessly as it was not the source of the problem I had called about. Several years ago I had pinched the joystick-cable connector in a doorway and cracked the locking tab. I had taped up the connector and it worked flawlessly ever since. It may have still done so until I retired this chair but now I'll never know.
I live in a rather rural area and am fairly able bodied so I do work around the property. I wish to keep this Quantum running as long as possible to be used outdoors and around my shop. I also want that second powerchair so that I never again am held prisoner by my chair, nor my Service Provider.
The house in which I now reside is a ranch style built in the early 1960's. The doorways are narrow (and now scarred by my strikes -another post). My manual chair with canted-wheels cannot make it through the openings. At present, this Quantum 6000 is my only option.
By the way, I have put in a request for an evaluation for a new powerchair. I did so over a month ago when I was told I would be added to a waiting list a month long.
I Spent the Summer of 2018
A Prisoner of my House!
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