Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Shoppers Divesting Wheelchair Operations

Shoppers Home Healthcare
More Like
Shoppers We Don't Care

Where do you find a competent wheelchair repair service in Ontario, Canada?

Those of you who have followed this blog already know of the aggravation and frustration I've experienced in my attempts to obtain wheelchair repairs from Shoppers Home Healthcare.  If not, check out the post entitled 'If You Want Service Like This, May I recommend...'

Well, misery loves company, and it appears that there is plenty of misery out there for those attempting to obtain wheelchair service through Shoppers Home Healthcare.  Are they truly that uncaring, that incompetent, or was the plan all along to rid them selves of the home healthcare service which included wheelchair sales and service?

A recent article by reporter Jonathan Sher of the London Free Press (Ontario Canada) outlines the problems with Shoppers Home Healthcare in that city as well.  Jonathan reports that Shoppers intends to divest itself of the 'health care' aspect of its operation which includes wheelchair sales and service.

Recently, Loblaws, a major supermarket food chain, bought Shoppers Drug Mart under which Shoppers Home Healthcare operated.   I believe that Loblaws simply wanted Shoppers for their 'pharmaceutical' sales and nothing more.  One stop shopping - is seems as if every food supermarket has a pharmacy these days.

According to Jonathan Sher's article, Shoppers Home Healthcare was given a monopoly by the Ontario Government to sell and service wheelchairs.  It seems as if you were expecting government assistance in funding these expensive power wheelchairs, you had to deal with Shoppers.  Why a monopoly?  Competition not only drives excellence but lowers costs.

It appears as if Motion Specialties will be acquiring some of the business that Shoppers is divesting itself of.  Whether they will have another monopoly or whether there may now be some competition is yet to be seen.

In my frustration with Shoppers Home Healthcare, I switch to Motion Specialties as my service provider.  To date, they have offered excellent, compassionate and timely service.  My fear is that there will be an adjustment period after acquiring Shoppers clients and that service may falter as a result.  My hope that any growing pains would be temporary as the business expands.

The disabled may be some of the most vulnerable people in society.  Service providers must offer timely and compassionate service at an honest price.  This is not where you should be making exorbitant profits either from the client or the government.  If unable, you shouldn't be in the business.  And be thankful that you are not held hostage by a wheelchair.

Those familiar with my blog posts know of the multitude of problems I've experienced with my current Permobil power wheelchair.  I have to wonder about the quality of materials and workmanship that go into these essential medical aids.

  • Why do wheelchair manufacturers only give a year's warranty on their product.  Do they have so little confidence in what they produce?
  • Should not the wheelchairs components be manufactured from military or medical grade materials?  At least the electronics?  I have had to replace virtually every component on my current chair and it is only three years old.  This chair is not abused and is used almost exclusively indoors.  I know as a fact, certain components on my current chair are manufactured in China, and most likely by the lowest bidder.
  • Replacement parts are so expensive that many are not kept in stock and must be ordered internationally resulting in extensive down-time for the wheelchair client.
  • As a health care worker in a hospital setting, I encountered and had conversations with numerous wheelchair bound people.  Many brought up the issue of pricing and wondered why identical wheelchairs in the United States were three to four times cheaper than here in Canada?
Just imagine yourself having broken down in the middle of a busy intersection on a rainy day with a full bladder.  You call up the Shoppers service department and get their answering machine.  You request a service call and leave your cell-phone number.......and nobody gets back to you....ever.

On one particular breakdown, I called their service department and left 21 messages over several days, requesting a service call and never got the courtesy of a call-back.  Shoppers.....they just don't care, and I for one am glad they will be out of the wheelchair business.  They should never have been in it in the first place!

New March 20th, 2016

Read the comment from a visitor to my blog for additional commentary and insight on the 'Shoppers' shameful mismanagement of their wheelchair obligations. (click on comments immediately under this post)

Just as an aside, I received a great deal of Shoppers 'Optimum' points when I purchased this sad excuse for a wheelchair.  I thought that I was continuing to accumulate points whenever I was "forced" to shop at Shoppers.  The other day my wife had the cashier check to see what our total was.  Interestingly it was a big ZERO.  I thought that points no longer expired....silly me...

A London Free Press newspaper article of February 24th, 2016 has Shoppers Drug Mart stating that they are interested in dispensing Medical Marijuana once the government legalizes the medicine general accessibility rules and provides dispensing guidelines.  If Shoppers Drug Mart is as incompetent in dispensing Medical Marijuana as its Shoppers Home Healthcare division was in servicing wheelchairs, then I suspect patients/clients will be severely disappointed!

New April 8th, 2016

An April 8th article by City TV’s Shauna Hunt describes a disabled fellows attempt to get his wheelchair back from Shoppers Home Healthcare (more like ‘Shoppers We Don’t Care).  The diabetic has a loaner chair which is far too large for him.  He found the loaner very tippy and actually fell over breaking a tooth.  The Provinces Assistive Devices Program (ADP) paid $754.00 Cnd for the repair, however the chair was never returned to the client.  He states that he has been calling Shoppers three times a month however the calls have not been returned. (sound familiar?)


The Shoppers location has signage which informs of its closing on March 22nd of 2016 and directs people to call Motion Specialties for service.  Motion specialties did manage to find his chair at the original Shoppers repair shop after some four hours of inquiries.  His chair now has been returned.

City news contacted the Ontario Government’s senior and Long-Term Care Critic, Mr. Bill Walker who believes wait times for assessment and repairs for mobility devices has become unacceptable in Ontario.  He goes on to mention another instance where a disabled client waited nine months for an inspection, let alone repairs being started.

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I just don’t get it!  This is not even incompetence!  Shoppers Home Healthcare really had to have a ‘game plan’ and make a concerted effort to be this bad!  Were they purposely trying to lose the business after the Loblaws supermarket chain purchased the Shoppers pharmacy chain for their pharmaceuticals alone??

Shoppers Home Healthcare has willingly decided to drop their corporate pants and crap on the disabled, the most vulnerable citizens of this province.  My advice to the disabled, and to anyone else who has compassion, not to give Shoppers Drug Stores your business, whether within or outside of Loblaws.

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Sig Petri said...

Hey Yuri, I agree 100% with your Blog. I have a "high technology wheelchair", essentially this is any chair with specialized seating such as power tilt or recline. In February of 2016 (less than a month ago!!!) the Ministry of Health released the updated "Mobility Devices Policy and Administration Manual" which states that all "high technology wheelchairs" must be sold and serviced exclusively by Shoppers Home Healthcare. All warranty, preventative maintenance are to be provided FREE OF CHARGE by Shoppers anywhere in Ontario. It is important to make the distinction between "high technology wheelchairs" and regular wheelchairs. A regular power wheelchair can be purchased and serviced (at a cost!!) by many other approved ADP authorized vendors. Unfortunately I am forced to deal with Shoppers. Since the Loblaws takeover the service has been abysmal. The London Free Press says Motion Specialties is the new service provider but I have not seen anything official yet. Cheers-Sig Petri

total12 said...

Are they truly that uncaring, that incompetent, or was the plan all along to rid them selves of the home healthcare service which included wheelchair sales and service?handicap scooters