Rica’s advice on buying a new stairlift

Rica (formerly Ricability) is the trading name of the national research charity Research Institute for Consumer Affairs. They focus specifically on issues of concern to disabled and older consumers. Rica was founded through Consumers Association, publishers of Which? but is now an independent charity.

With grant funding, Rica research and publish free consumer reports. They are all based on rigorous research and provide practical information needed by disabled and older consumers.

Rica also carry out commissioned research work with manufacturers, service providers, regulators and policy makers to improve products and services. Our aim is to increase their awareness of the needs of disabled and older consumers through specialist research.

Rica Stairlift Advice

“The longer or more complicated your stairs, the more you’ll have to pay. In Rica’s research for Age UK in 2014, they asked three firms to quote for installing a lift in each of three houses. The quotes varied from house to house, and quite significantly from company to company. They show that it’s worth getting more than one quote – Rica strongly recommend getting three to compare.

See our advice on choosing a supplier

Ask how payments are scheduled. You shouldn’t have to pay the last instalment until the lift is installed and you are happy with it. In addition, you should ask for details and quotes for servicing costs.

Stairlift rental

You can rent stairlifts from some local suppliers and manufacturers. Rica last researched rental prices in 2010. Prices from local suppliers vary – typical charges that we found were around £350 for installation and then around £10 a week rent. This also includes the cost of removal. Of the major national manufacturers and suppliers:

Dolphin charged £700 to rent a straight stairlift for one year. This up-front fee included installation, future removal charges, 12 months’ rental fees, and servicing and breakdown cover. If there was a £50/month rental fee to rent the stairlift for longer than a year. They did not rent curved lifts.

Stannah rented stairlifts for straight stairs starting at £57 a month; curved stairs from £148 a month. In addition to this, there was a one-off charge of £795 (straight) or £1300 (curved) that covered admin, installation and removal. Fees included servicing.

Money-saving tips and reconditioned lifts

Some firms have a price-matching scheme and will match their competitor’s prices for similar products – ask about this when you talk to them.

Many firms sell reconditioned second-hand stairlifts – you may be offered one by the firms you ask to quote. These are considerably cheaper than buying new and come with a year’s guarantee and sometimes a free service.

The law says that all products must be fit for their purpose, so you can expect a second-hand lift supplied by a manufacturer to be in good working order. However, because it’s difficult to know when this has been properly done, it’s best to buy reconditioned lifts from manufacturers or a well-established retailer. Ask for an assurance that the lift has been tested, for a full service history and a guarantee.

You may find that a company can offer you a discount or a cheap deal on a particular model. Usually, you have to sign up quickly to get this discount – think carefully about accepting a ‘special offer’.

Stairlift running costs

Stairlifts do not cost much to run in terms of electricity. For example, one manufacturer calculates that the annual cost, based on seven return trips a day, would be around £5 in electricity charges.

Note that there should be no VAT to pay on the purchase or installation of your stairlift, because products designed for and used by disabled people are zero-rated. For more information, see HMRC’s Notice 701/7 VAT Reliefs for disabled people (August 2002).”

Visit Rica’s website that has a wealth of well research and independent stairlift information.

Posted in Prestige Stairlifts news and events.