Tuesday, July 08, 2014

How a minor part failure turned into a major repair

Occasionally I need repairs for this powerchair and for the most part, I am very happy with H.M.E.'s service. But this latest repair was such a headscratcher that I must write about it. The picture I am posting simply shows where the battery compartment is on a Quickie Xperience powerchair. It's a metal box that holds two batteries. I was going down Lakeshore in April when I heard something dragging behind me. It turned out that the rear door of the battery box opened on its own. Obviously I have to get that repaired. For one thing, I can't see it or reach it so when that happened, I had to get someone to close it. A repair guy from H.M.E. came out and said the door is spring loaded and shouldn't open like that. A part inside the door failed. He used plastic ties so the door would stay closed. So I thought that they could order the appropriate parts and it's a small repair. No big deal. Then we discover that the manufacturer doesn't sell these parts separately. They don't even sell the rear door separately because it is permanently attached to the battery box. But they do sell the front door separately. So in order to fix this, they would have to replace the entire battery box. So now it's a much bigger and more expensive repair. And the problem is that it's a time consuming repair. They want to take it into the shop and give me a loaner. After having one of their loaners in January for a major repair, that's something I want to avoid because their loaners are terrible. I told them the only way I would allow this repair would be on my terms. It's not an emergency repair but I want it done. Part of the problem was I was getting mixed signals about whether this repair could be done in the field. One issue is they give their service techs too many calls with too little time for a lengthy repair like this. There is also the question about whether the field techs have the knowledge to do this repair. So finally I was called by Steve. He is not a field tech. He does repairs at the shop. He wanted to pick up the chair early on July 4, take it back to the shop and return it to me later that day. He would leave me a manual chair to get around my apartment. But he was sick on Friday. Yesterday I was told that someone would come to my place and do the repair here. I questioned that because of what I was previously told. But David, who is apparently a new service manager at H.M.E., arrived at 1PM. He looked at the chair and said the repair would take less than an hour. He took it down to his truck and brought it back in less than an hour. He also replaced the batteries. So why was there so much wrangling over this repair? David said that if they had decent loaners, it would never have been a problem. He's already thrown some of their loaners in the garbage. So he will improve that. Part of the problem is this is a very unusual repair and some field techs have never done it. He agrees that the length of time a repair takes should be considered when scheduling field techs. Now they just load them up with calls. He plans to change that. So why doesn't the manufacturer sell the inside door parts? That would save a lot of time and money. He says those parts just don't fail very often so there's no call for them. I wonder about that. The box itself is just a box and shouldn't need replacement. The failure was a part inside the door, not the battery box. I am told the box is not built by the chair manufacturer. I guess that would explain it. At least the repair was finally done.

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