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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