A refurbished stairlift can be cheaper but just as effective as buying a new product, so long as it has been properly reconditioned, meets safety standards and has a good warranty. We spoke to five Which? Trusted Traders to find out everything you need to know before buying a refurbished stairlift.
The traders all have extensive knowledge and experience selling and fitting stairlifts. EMS Stairlifts was founded in 1988 and 1st Choice Stairlifts’ directors have over 55 years of industry experience between them.
It’s important to differentiate between refurbished and second-hand products. 1st Choice Stairlifts provided this definition: ‘a refurbished product has been refurbished and reconditioned by a professional, approved dealer or company who has a manufacturer-trained engineer to recondition the product to a high standard. In contrast, second hand products are sold by private individuals looking to dispose of a stairlift, and won’t have been refurbished.’
All companies endorsed by Which? Trusted Traders are reliable. You can also look for a British Healthcare Association (BHTA) member if there isn’t a Trusted Trader in your area.
What are the benefits of buying a refurbished stairlift?
The main incentive for buying a refurbished stairlift is likely to be saving money compared to buying a new product, but there is also a benefit to the environment.
EMS Stairlifts said: ‘Done correctly, a refurbished Stairlift will have a full health check prior to its installation, including being fitted with new batteries and all the wiring checked for breaks and signs of wear. Our refurbished stairlifts show little sign of previous use and the customer will be hard pushed to notice any evidence of wear. Additionally, the customer is doing their bit for the planet byt reusing equipment that may otherwise be scrapped.’
These benefits were echoed by 1st Choice Stairlifts: ‘Buying a refurbished stairlift from a reputable company can provide a significant cost saving compared to a new product. It’s also an environmentally friendly option which reduces the need for a product to be made and all its associated manufacturing and transportation costs. If they are refurbished to a high standard they can often look like a new model.’
Easystep Stairlifts agreed: ‘They are great value; cheaper than something brand new and extremely cost effective; and do exactly the same job. A refurbished stairlift leaves our shop clean, un-scuffed and mechanically in tip top condition.’
Simultaneously saving money and the planet makes refurbished products a great sustainable option, particularly if you think the stairlift will not be used for many years.
On average, how much cheaper might a refurbished stairlift be than a new product?
Our Trusted Traders offered different estimates for how much cheaper a refurbished product can be, but you should expect to save at least 10% to 65% on the price of a new stairlift, depending on the age, style and model.
1st Choice Stairlifts explained the cost saving will be different between straight and curved stairlifts. They would expect a straight stairlift to cost on average half as much as a new product, but a curved stairlift is more complicated as: ‘they usually need to have a made to measure rail specific to your stairs, as the refurbished part is the chair and motor/carriage.’
Associated Stairlifts suggested a similar saving of between 30% and 50%, and noted that they recycle Acorn curved stairlifts as they are modular and designed to be used again.
Ableworld said: ‘For a straight stairlift, you are looking at 65% off for a refurbished model. For a curved stairlift, you will find a 40% saving.’
In contrast, EMS Stairlifts suggested a much lower potential cost reduction: ‘On average, you should expect a refurbished Stairlift to be 10% to 20% less expensive than a new piece of equipment.’
Are there any potential safety issues when purchasing refurbished products?
All of the traders we spoke to were clear about the high standards they expect a refurbished stairlift to meet, and assured us that they would not skimp on safety just to provide savings.
Easystep Stairlifts said there are no safety issues whatsoever with a refurbished product. ‘Once purchased, our experienced stairlift technicians put the stairlift through rigorous safety checks. The reconditioned stairlift can with no trouble match its new counterpart.’
Associated Stairlifts said: ‘All of our refurbished stairlifts meet the CE standard required by law when they are first manufactured, they also go through a 20 point checklist and get tested on our workshop rigs.’
1st Choice Stairlifts talked us through the process of refurbishing a stairlift: ‘Refurbished products are pre-owned products that have been previously installed, removed and then brought back to a company workshop to be checked, cleaned, reconditioned (replacing any visibly worn parts). They will be tested before it is resold and installed safely in another property. On installation a test certificate should be provided to certify that the product has been tested and checked and is safe for reuse.’
The trader offered further advice on what to consider before buying and installing a refurbished stairlift: ‘If you are buying a second-hand product from anywhere else there can be huge safety implications to consider. Stairlifts should only be installed by a manufacturer trained engineer and never self installed as a DIY job or by a handyman or electrician, to avoid a potential accident and compromise on the safety of the user. A certified engineer will have had manufacturers training to undertake the job correctly and safely.’
How long will a refurbished product last compared to buying new?
1st Choice Stairlifts, Ableworld and Associated Stairlifts all said that the life expectancy of a stairlift when bought new is on average seven to 10 years.
So take this into account, and the current age of the product, when considering how long a refurbished model will last.
Ableworld said ‘we reinstall reconditioned stairlifts that are up to five or six years old. This ensures the performance of the stairlift is to its best ability.’
Easystep Stairlifts said: ‘We offer a 2 year warranty, so it really is in our best interest that we invest in the stairlift at an early age, to ensure its smooth running. We do advocate annual Servicing/Health and Safety checks to keep the stairlift always running at its best.’
EMS Stairlifts recommend asking the following questions to a stairlift provider before purchasing a refurbished product:
• Is the Stairlift a current model? There is nothing wrong with purchasing a model that is no longer being manufactured, however, this will likely impact the availability of spare parts
• How old is the Stairlift? The age of the refurbished Stair Lift that you're purchasing isn’t necessarily an issue, provided that it is a current model and can be easily maintained well into the future. Some customers might not envisage the Stairlift being needed for a particularly long time.
• Was the refurbished stairlift that you are considering buying installed originally by the provider offering you a quotation? Some, less reputable Stairlift providers will travel the country removing stairlifts free of charge in order to sell them on as refurbished Stairlifts. This can be problematic as the provider isn’t aware of the Stairlifts service history. It is always advisable to purchase a refurbished Stairlift from a provider who knows the service history of the equipment they are providing.
• Is the Stairlift provider committed to maintaining the furbished Stairlift well into the future? Some providers will only look after the equipment until its initial warranty period is over. Ideally the customer needs to be confident that the stairlift provider will look after their purchase well into the future.’
Do refurbished products come with a guarantee or warranty? If so, does it differ from warranties for new products?
Yes, refurbished products should come with a warranty. Look for one year as an ideal, but it may be possible to get two years.
Ableworld said: ‘All reconditioned stairlifts come with warranty included. This ranges between 3 months and 6 months, a lot of purchases we are able to give a 12-month warranty depending on the age of the reconditioned stairlift. New stairlifts come with a standard 12-month warranty, also additional parts warranty that is standard from the manufacturers.’
EMS Stairlifts offer one or two year warranties and suggested checking the details of the warranty and asking the following questions:
• Does the warranty include spare parts?
• Does the warranty include all call outs free of charge?
• Does the warranty include a telephone helpline 24/7, 365 days of the year?
• Does the company respond to emergency breakdown calls within 24 hours?
Additional to the warranty, 1st Choice Stairlifts recommended having the stairlift serviced and safety checked annually.
Longer warranties may be available, as Associated Stairlifts said: ‘We sell refurbished stairlifts with a one-year warranty with the option of extending up to five years and new stairlifts come with a two to five-years warranty depending on the model and manufacturer.’
Easystep Stairlifts also offer a longer warranty of two years for parts and labour on all reconditioned stairlifts. They said: ‘This in some cases runs longer than some manufactures' warranty on new products. A reconditioned (re-loved) stairlift is a good reliable product and we would encourage everyone to factor the idea into all their stairlift research.’
Overall, consider buying a refurbished stairlift if you want to save some money while being a more sustainable consumer. Just make sure you follow the traders’ advice and receive a safe product.
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