Monday, 29 February 2016

Handicap Parking Scofflaws


The city of Toronto has recently has been cracking down on able-bodied persons who use Handicap Designated Parking Spots without proper documentation (Handicap Parking window sticker or license plate) or with those fine citizens who use borrowed, stolen or fake permits.  It didn't take long to charge hundreds of violators, each with their own excuse.

  • Oh, its okay, I was only going to be a minute.
  • Its not my fault! I couldn't find any other spot. The lot was full.
  • Its a legitimate permit!  It belongs to my mother who is home and couldn't come along.
  • My leg was sore this morning - I thought it would be okay.

  • I found the permit.  You mean it was wrong to use it?
  • It just expired last month and I still don't feel one hundred percent.
  • This mall is private property...the city has no jurisdiction on private property!
  • You mean I can't a photocopy of my friend's legitimate permit?
  • Why should the disabled get all the breaks?!

Stuck in this wheelchair, I would give anything to be able to walk from the far side of the parking lot to the far end of the mall.  But I can't...

I somehow thought that those who are ambulatory and otherwise healthy would feel ashamed to take away parking spots from those that are in need of their proximity.  But there appears to be little shame these days.  It seems that many of us have become too busy, uncaring and self important.

'Baby-Boomers' are reaching that age where the body begins to fail us.  New drugs and innovative procedures are having us live longer.  Each year there are increasing requests for permits to be issued.

According to the Toronto Star Newspaper:

There are 119,000 people with permits in the GTA and 687,000 in Ontario, according to the ministry's records as of 2015.

Heavier fines for parking in an accessible space don’t appear to have discouraged the illegal use of disabled parking spots.

Although parking enforcement officers have slapped drivers with nearly $45 million in tickets for parking illegally in a space for the disabled since 2005, they have written about the same number of tickets each year.

The fine more than tripled in 2008. Parking enforcement doled out $1.5 million in tickets in 2007 and $4.5 million the next year but issued about 12,000 tickets a year.

Police seized 800 accessible parking permits for misuse in 2015. The fine for using someone else’s permit ranges from $300 to $5,000, for repeat offenders.

The Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) has also reported on the problem of Toronto drivers misusing handicap parking spaces.  It appears to run rampant and people really don't seem to have a 

Ensure handicap parking spots are well marked and kept clear of obstructions for the benefit of both the disabled client as well as to eliminate any doubt from the able bodied.

Other reports have people griping that many of these tickets are written simply as a "cash cow" - a means for the city to collect money for their coffers.  While I sympathize with those who feel the handicap parking spot was poorly marked, the onus really does fall on the driver to know where they are leaving their car.   

Unless you are Captain Ahab with a wooden peg-leg, you probably shouldn't be using this spot!

This fellow appears to be doubly diabled! is his brother!

No window permit, no disabled license parking!!!

Blindness is a disability.  Benefit of the doubt: may be a blind driver!

Captain Ahab's nautical friend.  What can I say?

Neither, rain, nor snow, nor disabled parking spaces, will keep us from delivering the mail!

Update 21/03/16 -Doesn't take long to add more idiots to this collection.  A gentleman confronted a woman leaving a Tim Horton's coffee shop as she was heading to her car parked in a handicapped parking zone.  She admitted to having no handicap but they proceeded to throw one of her coffees at the inquiring gentleman.  Videotaping this altercation on his cell phone, he said that the thrown coffee could be considered to be an assault. Further words were exchanged and the second coffee thrown.
Reports are that the police did visit the woman and reprimanded her, but for what was not explained.  She had parked illegally in a handicap parking spot, assaulted the inquiring gentleman with two coffees, and littered by throwing the cups.  Some people have no shame.

Click Here to view the video if no longer available in the original article.
 You stay out of my parking spot and I'll stay out of yours...
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Monday, 15 February 2016

Cost of Operating the Permobil Wheelchair

My Permobil M300 power wheelchair is only three years old yet in repairs, in the last half year, I have spent almost as much as what the wheelchair cost me in the first place.

1.  Seat Post - $560 Cnd.
2.  Right Motor - $1137 Cnd.
3.  Left  Motor - $1137 Cnd.
    Total = $2384 Cnd. (Parts and Labour - No Tax)

My insurance company covered the Seat Post however I have not heard back about the first motor replacement and have not yet submitted the second motor - pending what happens with the first claim.  I'm sure they will start an investigation as who could possibly believe that two motors fail within weeks of each other.

My old Quantum lost one motor while still under warranty.

Surprisingly both the repair shop manager and the field service technician claim that the Permobil is a good chair.  I will let the reader of this blog decide for themselves.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Permobil Problems Never End

Second Motor on Permobil M-300 Fails Two Weeks after first motor replaced!!
At a cost of $1137.99 Cnd. each!!

I believe, other than the metal frame, 3 castor wheels and a handful of screws, I've just about had to replace or repair every component of this absolutely disastrous Permobil M300 power wheelchair.

Not even two weeks after having the right drive motor replaced at a cost of $1137.99 Cnd, the other drive motor has died.  I have no reason to believe the cost of the motor and labour will be any different than the $1137.99 paid out just weeks ago!!

The Permobil M300 Power Wheelchair is a Disaster!!

...and this Permobil M300 Power Wheelchair is only Three Years Old!!!
The Assistive Devices Program (ADP) which helps finance the purchase of these expensive powerchairs stipulates that you cannot approach them for a replacement chair for 5 Years!!  I have no confidence that this chair will last another two years!!  My bank account certainly will not!

Is this "planned obsolescence"?  Does the manufacturer purposely build in a defect or weakness that they know will break down in a given time period necessitating the continuous purchasing of repair parts from the company?  Is that ethical?...particularly when dealing with disabled clientele?

Not every disabled person using a wheelchair has a large 'wrongful injury' settlement and is swimming in cash.  Not every disabled person has a personal private insurance plan which will generously cover each and every replacement.  Not every person is independently rich!  Those of us on a fixed income with limited insurance must bear the cost of these ridiculously overpriced components ourselves.

And I do mean ridiculously over priced.  The motor alone is priced at $945.54 Cnd.

I might understand if this chair was constructed utilizing military grade components.  Instead parts, like the joystick are made by in China (Yes, I was informed as such) and most likely by the lowest bidder!

While the control unit has an elaborate display of coded lights which indicate what component is malfunctioning, they are all sealed components.  You know the problem but can't fix it!  Just like on the modular TV sets, you may have a resistor bulk valued at one-one-hundredth of a penny, yet when this resister blows, you have to replace the entire modular unit containing an additional 100 parts which are still working properly at a cost of hundreds of dollars.

The coded light display on the control unit tell me what is wrong within the motor - but the motor is sealed and because it is sealed, it cannot be fixed.  Cynical me - thought that the motor is sent back to the manufacturer where it is refurbished for resale at or near the full price.  The service technician tells me that they are not sent back but are trashed for scrap.  How's that for going green?!

What I've had to repair or replace so far on this 3 year old Permobil M300 piece of trash;

-Batteries died after about one year of use and had to be replaced. Although just after warranty expired, a sympathetic service technician managed to replace them at no cost.  (about $600 Cnd)

-Side arms swiveling mechanism broke numerous times - fed up I replaced the hinges with my own design - they have worked properly ever since. (Service costs not noted but no less that $100 each time; my own repair cost about $50 Cnd)

 -Right front Castor wheel Replacement Cost ~$150 Cnd.

-Seat post broke off from the frame presumably due to a bad weld - Cost = $530.22 Cnd.

-Right motor died;  Replacement Cost = $1137.99 Cnd.

-Left motor died; Replacement Cost = $1137.99 Cnd.

Other premature wear & tear or damage which I have repaired out of my own pocket has been the back seat cushion held on by sticky tape a velcro had come apart.  Screws holding the joystick unit to the frame had stripped and failed.  I replaced these with a better and longer screw, utilizing a 'pozi-lock' retaining nuts to secure the unit.  (Permobil used no nuts).  I've had to use 'lock-tite' screw compound to keep numerous screws from working free from the chassis.  Plastic end caps on the metal pipe frame have no set screw and are simply friction fit.  They were lost early on.  People have run after me with parts that have dropped off this chair.  It is all but self destructing!

I am able enough to do these modifications and repairs - not every elderly, disabled person is!

While I do have private insurance which has covered many of these costs, their generosity, if you will call it that, is not endless.  My benefits will run out, if they haven't already and then the burden will be mine.

Even if my insurance covers the cost of repairs, there is that inconvenience of having to deal with the repair service.  They need to schedule a visit for an assessment of the problem. Parts are expensive and not kept in stock so they have to be ordered from the parent company.  The nearest distributor for the Swedish company Permobil is in the U.S. State of Tennessee.  You would think that with faxing orders and overnight courier shipping, the needed part would arrive in a day or two.  Last motor replacement took several weeks, however, it was over the Christmas - New Years holidays.  Parts arrive and the wheelchair has to be picked up and taken to their repair facility as very little work, other than changing tires, seems to be done on-site.  The service technician charges a $60.00 flat fee for coming to your house to make a diagnosis or assessment of the chair's problem.

One more thing; This Permobil M300 Powerchair is used about 98% of the time indoors on smooth surfaces.  

I told my service provider that I want to take this chair out to my back yard and like some dying horse, shoot it!  My service provider asked if he could be present to witness the execution...
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