Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Leap Day Special Edition...

As some of you may know, a year is actually 365 days and 6 hours long. Thus, every four years we have a leap day to catch up on those 6 hours that are annually forgotten. Today's post is actually a post from the last leap day in 2008, as written by my father, Karl Beck, in his former blog about the modified vehicle industry, "8Wheels for Persons with Disabilities".

After the jump, you'll find a personal story from the modified vehicle industry that rings true today. If you have a modified vehicle or are considering getting a modified vehicle, such as a "wheelchair van", make sure you know you are dealing with a reputable company...

Friday, February 29, 2008


That old adage "just when we thought we had seen it all" applies to the next story.

We serviced a new wheelchair lift in our shop a few weeks ago. The critical front safety barrier on the platform was cut down from 5 inches to 3 inches by the installer so the footpieces of the customer's wheelchair could hang over the edge of the platform. Numerous safety features on the lift were removed and the lift was starting to lean out of the van because it had been installed so poorly.

The first thing we do when we repair a lift is find the Braun tag with the model number and identification information. On a good day, these stickers tell us everything we need to know about this lift, down to the last nut and bolt. They also tell us the warranty information for this lift.

Whoever installed this lift removed the tag, voiding the warranty. Without the model and identification numbers replacing cylinders, wiring harnesses and many other items on the lift becomes very difficult. Without the ID numbers we don't know if the lift is covered by its three year warranty.

After some investigation, it turns out that the installing dealer was not a Braun dealer and had bootlegged the lift from another dealer. When we find out who that dealer was there will be some screaming and consequences.

This is not just a matter of the customer getting screwed by two less than reputable dealers. Since April 1, 2005, wheelchair lifts for vans have been covered by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, just like airbags, seat belts, and many other parts of cars and trucks. The installation of this lift was a federal offence punishable by a $1,000.00 fine per violation, and there may have been multiple violations.

Particularly sad in this case is that the consumers involved are an elderly couple who had been dealing with this particular dealer for years and trusted him. If they had done their homework and contacted the manufacturer, in this case The Braun Corporation, they would have found that the guy they dealt with was not a Braun dealer.

The mobility business and the business of manufacturing automobiles changes constantly. The consumer cannot assume vehicles, lifts, or dealers have not changed since they purchased their last adapted vehicle. After your vehicle is two or three years old, it is almost impossible to exactly replicate it down to the last detail. Always make sure you start from scratch and make sure of the fit and features of the hardware and with whom you are dealing.

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