Two week waiting list!! Having moved to a new town, I call up the local wheelchair repair service of the franchise I have been using for the last few years (Motion Specialties). Those who may be bored enough to follow this blog know that I had high praise for the franchise after my dreadful experience with Shopper's Home Healthcare.
I say "call up" however I first filled out their On-line Form requesting service, then with no reply, the next day I call their office only to find myself punching buttons to reach inappropriate voice mails (with no cue as to when to start speaking). Still no reply, I send an e-mail and ask for a call-back. Some time on the third day I get a e-mail (no call-back) telling me that the next available time-slot for a house call would be in the afternoon -IN TWO WEEKS TIME!
I`ve found out that their preferred mode of communication is via e-mail. Who knew!
My first experience was fairly positive. I wanted to introduce myself to their system so I unknowingly started by sending an e-mail with a summary of my problem, my make of powerchair, my address, etc, etc. The response was fairly prompt - within a day or so.
However, two weeks to receive a service call is unacceptable as anyone who is dependent on a wheelchair knows that the wheels are your life.
The phone situation was also unacceptable as if I become stuck in a sewer grate while crossing Main Street during rush hour during a rain storm while short of meds - I have to have some sort of emergency number to call which will respond promptly by phone, if not by service. No emergency number was offered when calling their business. No option to speak to a real live person was available.
I understand that the bulk of Shopper`s Home Healthcare clients were dumped upon Motion Specialties when Shopper`s abruptly closed without notice. They also lamented that a service technician was on sick-leave as well. More work, less staff; I understand to a point.
Here was my problem: The weekend was two days away and I had out-of-town friends coming over. The bearing in my Quantum powerchair had disintegrated - with parts spilling out from the assembly. I need a technician to replace the bearing in my front caster so that I can enjoy the weekend with my overnight guests.
No chance: TWO WEEKS WAIT FOR SERVICE.
So what to do? I came up with several options - none of them acceptable. My manual chair has canted wheels and will not fit through most of the doors in my home.
I settled on dismantling the caster wheel assembly and taking the broken wheel/bearing down to Motion Specialties and sitting there in their lobby until I received service.
Luckily things worked out and my faith was somewhat restored.
They had two new front wheels including casters in stock and I was able to purchase them (no questions asked). I bought the two reasoning if one was in such bad shape, the other probably is too. The bearings appear to be fitted to the caster wheel such that they are one unit and they are sold as such. As I was prepared to do the work myself, I saved the cost of the service call!
With only hours to go before my friends arrived, I regret that I didn't take photos of the process. However, for those who are capable and find yourself in a similar situation, below is what I did to change over the caster wheels.
I probably should change the rear caster wheels as well but I think that they generally get less pounding than the front ones and are probably in not as bad shape. They are also somewhat larger in diameter but are probably easier to disassemble.
I put this Quantum chair through some very heavy usage at my new home. I was doing some landscaping in my back yard and probably shoveled a ton of soil in the process. The large, square patio stones have shifted over the years with frost heaves and between soil movement and weed growth between the cracks. Crashing through, over and getting stuck in between the patio stones put a lot of pressure on the wheels bearings and suspension.
At least the Quantum runs. The Permobil sits ant my other residence (still in the process of moving) and often fails to move on a flat, even surface.