Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Surrey County Council Stair Lifts Report

Surrey trading standards have recently conducted inspections on stairlift installations in the County this is their report.


Over a three-day period in spring 2004, twelve Surrey private residential dwellings were visited where stair lifts had been recently installed. Consumers were asked about their experiences of buying and using the stair lift. The stair lifts were examined with regard to their safety. The project did not reveal any design flaws at the manufacturing stage, however, some issues have been identified that raise concerns regarding the selling and installation of stair lifts. In particular, the significant market for previously owned stair lifts raised the most concerns.The results can be broadly broken down into three main areas, namely, the selling methods; the installation; and the extended warranty. Consumers and traders need a better awareness of these issues involving the supply of stair lifts.

The selling methods

The typical purchaser of a stair lift may be regarded as being more vulnerable as they inevitably possess some form of mobility impairment due to age or otherwise. All stair lift purchases will require a minimum of two visits to the consumer's home.

The sales visit

The installation

As with any sale in a consumer's home they may feel under pressure to complete a purchase before the salesman leaves.

There was evidence to suggest that consumers did not shop around enough prior to purchase, with many consumers buying from the first company to visit their home. In some cases this resulted in the consumer obtaining poor value for money. One consumer paid £2,500 for a second-hand stair lift when a brand new one could have been purchased for £2,300 or less.

Many consumers were unable to recall the details of the sales visit and unscrupulous companies may exploit this. One lady thought that she had purchased a new stair lift when in fact it was second hand.

The installation

The correct installation of the stair lift is critical to its safety. The best designed and manufactured stair lift can be rendered potentially lethal due to improper installation. The only examples where the safety of the product was compromised were found to be attributable to poor workmanship during installation. They included:

Failure to prevent access to basic electrical insulation
Failure to provide proper protection for the mains power cable
Failure to ensure that the track supports are level and properly secured

The extended warranty

With only one exception, none of the consumers had taken out the extended warranty that was offered to them after purchasing their stair lift. Whether new or second-hand, extended warranties are available in a variety of package choices that describe the different levels of cover as "Bronze", "Silver" and "Gold" or by their number of stars. The one constant element of the extended warranty was the price. All of the warranties are extremely expensive costing on average £600 for four years after the initial year has lapsed. The salesmen warn consumers of the expensive price of parts should anything go wrong in an attempt to persuade consumers to take up the extended warranty.

It is apparent from the project that many of the stair lifts examined were in need of a service and that the cost of such a service was the sole reason why this had not occurred. Some of the complaints we have received in the past from consumers were directly attributable to an absence of servicing.

Businesses who supply stairlifts need a greater awareness of their obligations to consumers. The fact that we are monitoring this sector and that we will, where necessary, take action. Genuine traders can be reassured that we are attempting to ensure a level playing field and that we are available to advise and assist them in the endeavours to comply. Unscrupulous traders should be in no doubt as to their responsibilities and the consequences should they fail to comply with the law.

Dolphin Mobility Online Shopping

Dolphin Mobility are pleased to announce the opening of their online shopping store. The new store has Bath Lifts, Riser Recliner Chairs, Portable Access Ramps and Wheelchairs for sale. Click the links below to check out the new design:

Bath Lifts -

Recliner Chairs -

Access Ramps -

Wheelchairs -

Dolphin Stair Lifts Nationwide Branches

South and South East

Dolphin Mobility Ltd
London, Surrey, Sussex, Berks, Bucks, Middx, Herts, Beds, Oxon.
37 Chertsey Road
GU24 8PD
Tel. 01276 856060
Fax 01276 858689

Dolphin Stairlifts Limited
Hampshire, Dorset, Wilts.
Dolphin House
Holes Bay Park,
Sterte Avenue West
BH15 2AA
Tel. 01202 669194
Fax. 01202 673708

Dolphin Independent Lifts
North & East London, Essex, East Herts, Cambs.
37 Chertsey Road
GU24 8PD
Tel. 01276 856060
Fax 01276 858689

Dolphin Stairlifts (Kent)
Kent Outside M25
11 New Street
TN24 8TN
Tel. 01233 622999
Fax 01303 264409

Dolphin Access Lifts (London)
Disabled Access Products Only
South East of England
37 Chertsey Road
GU24 8PD
Tel. 02380 669995
Fax 02380 666517


Dolphin Mobility (East Midlands)

Lincs, Notts, Derbyshire
Unit 3a Exchange Road
Tel. 01522 686315
Fax 01522 686315

Dolphin Stairlifts (Midlands) Ltd
West Midlands, Leics, Warwickshire.
Unit 7 All Saints Industrial Estate
All Saints Street
B18 7RJ
Tel. 0121 554 8988
Fax 0121 554 2988

Dolphin Stairlifts (Central) Ltd
Worcestershire, Black Country
Unit 7 Lye Business Centre
Hayes Lane
West Midlands
Tel. 01384 898933

Fax 01384 891189


Dolphin Stairlifts (Anglia) Ltd
Norfolk & Suffolk.
43 Roman Way
IP11 9NP
Tel. 01394 277100
Fax 01394 277100


Dolphin Mobility (Dolphin Stairlifts North)
Manchester, Merseyside, Lancs, West & South Yorks.
Dolphin House
36 Liverpool Road
M30 0WT
Tel. 0161 707 9995
Fax 0161 707 3337

Dolphin Stairlifts (Chester) Ltd
North Wales
Rubicon Centre
Broadground Road
B98 8YP
Tel. 01527 404303
Fax 01527 527875

Dolphin Stairlifts (North East)
Tyneside, Teeside, Northumberland & Durham.
Unit 16F Airport Industrial Estate
Kingston Park
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel. 0191 271 2600
Fax 0191 286 3773

Dolphin Stairlifts (Cumbria)
Hugh Croft
LA10 5TD
Tel. 01539 625444
Fax 01539 625333

Dolphin Stairlifts (North Yorks)
North & East Yorkshire1
1 Lawcliffe Crescent
West Yorkshire
BD22 8RD
Tel. 01535 647744
Fax 01535 647744
E mail:


Dolphin Stairlifts (Western)
Bristol,Avon,Glocs, Wilts
41 Brampton Way
BS20 6YN
Tel. 01275 818220
Fax 01275 818220

Dolphin Stairlifts (Somerset)
Riverside Cottage
The Village
Clyst St Mary
Tel. 01392 879089
Fax 01392 874525

Dolphin Stairlifts (South West)
Forge House
EX17 6AX
Tel. 01363 83892
Fax 01363 83892

Dolphin Stairlifts (Cornwall)
Clapper Mill
TR19 6NY
Tel. 01736 810814


Dolphin Lifts (Scotland)
4 Damhead Holdings
EH10 7DZ
Tel. 0131 445 5574
Fax 0131 445 5604

Dolphin Stairlifts (South Wales)
Unit 12 Crawford Street
NP19 7AY
Tel. 01633 223121
Fax 01633 221805

Dolphin Stairlifts (Northern Ireland)
123-125 Market Street
Co. Armagh
Northern Ireland
BT62 2BS
Tel. 028 38 840037
Fax. 028 38 841893

Dolphin Stairlifts (Cork)
35 Wellington Road
St Lukes,
Tel. 00353 2142 89085
Fax same as above

Dolphin Stairlifts (Ireland)
67 Lower Dorset Street
Tel. 00353 18308310
Fax 00353 18308310

Dolphin Stairlifts (Gallway)
5 Ros Geal
Milars Lane
Tel. 00 353 91584169
Fax 00 353 91525513


Dolphin Stairlifts announce a change of ownership and management

The East Anglia branch of DOLPHIN STAIRLIFTS has recently had a change of ownership and management. DOLPHIN is a well established national supplier of a range of mobility products and the change of ownership will facilitate further improvements in customer service for this area.

The new Director Paul Smith said

"I am excited at the prospect of developing DOLPHIN activities in Suffolk and Norfolk. I shall be giving full support to existing customers as well as providing a personal and prompt service to new clients. Whilst our key product is the Stairlift we can also meet many other mobility needs. An important reason to come to DOLPHIN is that the organisation has a wealth of knowledge of the products in the marketplace and, being independent, can recommend just the right one for a client."

The range of products DOLPHIN can supply include:

• Stairlifts

• Bathlifts

• Scooters

• Public Access lifts

• Recliner chairs

The new management is dedicated to uphold the DOLPHIN values of personal attention, full after sales service and support with competitive prices.

DOLPHIN (East Anglia) Limited operates over the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk and Paul Smith can be contacted on:

Telephone 01394 277100



1. DOLPHIN operates nationally with autonomous branches in all areas of the country.

2. Local managers have full training in the products they recommend and install and also access to central information on products

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Tips for buying a stair lift

  • Always get more than one quote and make sure that the products are 'like for like'
  • Try a manufacturer and a local supplier to get a price comparison.
  • Ask your local authority or Occupational Therapist who they prefer to use.
  • If possible have another family member or an O/T present.
  • Ask about maintenance costs, will they still look after your lift even if you don't sign up to an expensive contract? A reputable company will service your lift regardless.
  • Are the company approved suppliers? If not, they will struggle to obtain spare parts and their engineers will not be trained by the manufacturer.
  • An independent supplier can tell you about a range of different stair lifts without bias to one manufacturer.
  • Exercise caution if the salesman is pushing you to buy that day.
  • Many salesmen start with a high price and discount to close a sale. A reputable company will quote the best price from the start.
  • If possible try a lift out in a Disabled Living Centre showroom. A stair lift is not suitable for everyone.
  • Do as much research as possible, there are many companies in this industry who sell at highly inflated prices.

Hinged Stair Lift Rails

When a door at the top or the bottom of the stairs may be blocked by the rail of the stair lift, there are a number of stair lift models designed to overcome this problem. Some manufacturers are able to produce a rail with reduced overhang upstairs, so the stairlift will not protrude as far into the hallway. This may solve the problem at the top of your stairs and is a very cost effective solution.

If there is a door or passageway at the bottom of the stairs then it is likely that you will need a folding track or hinged rail stair lift. This means that the bottom section of the rail can be folded out of the way when the lift is not being used. This will allow you to gain access to a door that would be blocked by a normal rail and also means that there is no tripping hazard if you have an open hallway downstairs.

The hinged rail option is available from most suppliers but the cost and quality can vary greatly. Seek independent advice and consider if you would be able to fold the rail manually or if you would require powered operation. Most people do need the powered version as the mechanism can be quite heavy. Unfortunately these options will add to the cost of the lift.
The only other option is to stop the rail of the stair lift short, to prevent it protruding as far into the hallway. This might make getting off the lift dangerous and is not an ideal solution by any means. Again you must seek advice, preferably from an occupational therapist. Also take into account that while you may be able to use the stair lift this way in the short term you may find it impossible in the future. Some companies may not consider it an option as they feel there is too much risk involved.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Stair Lifts - Straight and Curved Stairlifts

There are two types of stairlift. Straight and curved. The first is designed for straight stairs. The footrest of the lift will normally stop level with the top stair. It may be possible to use a straight stairlift on some configurations of curved stairs.

The second, and generally far more expensive type, is a 'made to measure' or 'curved track stairlift' which can travel around bends on the stairs and can be made to run on to the landing. Prices vary according to the length of the stairs, the number of bends and the complexity of the bends.

It is worth noting that although far more expensive, the resale value is negligible, as the rail is made to measure and can only be re-installed on an identical staircase.

Curved track stairlifts can be fitted on either side of the stairs, the layout of your staircase will determine which is most suitable. If you need a curved track stairlift you will need to pay a deposit to the company that you are dealing with. This will normally be about 30% of the cost of the lift. The deposit is required because the company are committing themselves to building a stairlift rail that will only fit into your house. You should not have to pay a large deposit if you order a standard straight lift as these can usually be adapted to suit another staircase.

In certain circumstances it is possible to fit a straight stairlift on stairs that have a turn at the top. For example if you have a straight run of stairs with three steps winding onto the landing. Or a straight flight and a quarter landing with two more steps, a folding platform stairlift could be the solution. A straight stairlift is installed with extended legs, so the footrest stops in line with the landing. A solid wooden platform is then built around the footrest of the lift. This platform can then be used to walk safely onto the landing. The platform is hinged so that it can be folded back against the wall to enable other people in the house to use the stairs.

It is also possible to have a powered platform so the user doesn't have to bend to raise it. Please note that the folding platform option is not suitable for everyone. If you are prone to dizzy spells or feinting or if you have very poor mobility this is not a viable option. Seek independent advice.