Guest post by Chris Clayton
For people who are either unable to move up and down the stairs or struggle when doing so, installing a stairlift can make a big difference to their quality of life. There are very few downsides to having a stairlift installed. They are very easy to use and if purchased from a reputable company, they are very safe and reliable.
In addition to this, if you take into consideration the alternatives to installing a stairlift (like moving house or (if you have space) adding a full bathroom to the first floor of your house), stairlifts are not actually expensive. Depending on the type and the length of your staircase, you’re looking at spending a few thousand of dollars to install one.
The only problem about getting a stairlift is actually the process of buying one. It’s not that they are difficult to find or buy (you can find tens if not hundreds of companies that will install a stairlift in your house), the problem is how a lot of the companies behave when trying to sell them.
And knowing what they’ll try to do beforehand is something that will both save you from a lot of stress and save you a lot of money.
So let’s look at what most stairlift companies will do when you contact them.
You won’t get a quote without a site visit
It’s almost impossible to get a stairlift company to give you a quote for fitting a stairlift or even a range of possible prices over the phone. Even if you give them the dimensions of the staircase you want it installed on, they’ll say they can’t until they have a representative go to your house to see your staircase.
And although it is true that all staircases are different and some may require a specific type of stairlift to be installed (for example a straight rail/track stairlift or a curved rail/stairlift), this is not the reason why they won’t give a quote over the phone. They know that it is easier to sell a stairlift face-to-face than it is over the phone. And the person who will come to assess your staircase and give you a quote is basically a salesman, who will try their best to persuade you (or even pressurize you) into buying from them there and then.
There’s no fixed price
Buying a stairlift is very similar to buying a car, there is no fixed price. It’s very common for the same company to quote different prices for the same type of stairlift on very similar staircases to different people. For example, one customer could be offered a stairlift for $2,000, while another is offered it for $1,500.
The reason why is that the salesman who will visit your home works on commission. They take a percentage of each sell they make. So, it is in their own best interest to not only to get you to buy from them when they are at your house, but to get you to pay as much for the stairlift that they think they can get from you. So their first quote will always be high.
Although learning this may deter from installing a stairlift in your home, don’t let it. There are some things you can do to make sure that you get a stairlift fitted in your home for a good price.
Never buy a stairlift when you have a salesman in your house
They will do everything possible to get you to buy a stairlift from them when they are visiting your home (e.g. offer you a one-off deal which will no longer be available once they leave), but don’t trust anything they tell you when they are trying to get you to buy. Always tell them that you have to think about it and get them to leave. They will always reduce the price further after they have left your house.
Get quotes from more than one stairlift company
Although it is a hassle getting salesman from three or four different stairlift companies out to your house to give you a quote, it will be worth it in the end.
Once a stairlift company knows that they are competing with a number of other companies (you should tell them this when they come to give you a quote), they will reduce the quote they offer you.
Be patient and wait
If you wait a couple of days after all the companies have been out to give you a quote, you’ll find that they’ll come back to you offering better and better deals.
Also, let them contact you first, rather you contact them (it makes you look less desperate). Remember, stairlift companies need your business more than you need them.
Although doing what I have recommended is both more time-consuming and exhausting than accepting the first offer you are given, if you are willing to do it, you can save a lot of money on what you end up paying for your stairlift. Money which you can spend on something else. And if you are anything like me, you’ll feel some satisfaction in manipulating the people who have tried to manipulate you.
Chris Clayton is the owner and main writer for stairlift advice website Stairlift Essentials. Having worked in the stairlift industry for a major manufacturer, he left to become a teacher working in Spain.