Should I Buy a Used Stairlift?
As stairlift providers we are often asked if we sell used stairlifts. The answer is a qualified yes; the qualification is that we sell them when we have them. Clients from time to time move beyond their need for a stairlift and there are a number of possibilities regarding the disposition of their equipment.
Like any machine a stairlift has a service life and that service life is directly related to the care it has received during its time of use. We have seen stairlifts with proper preventative annual maintenance last for twenty years or more, however for a variety of reasons these are the exception and not the rule. An analogy can
be made to automobiles. Some car owners change their motor oil every 3000 miles religiously and do all of the factory maintenance as outlined in the owners manual on the schedule prescribed by the manufacturer. Some car owners check their motor oil only when they see the light on the dashboard telling them to and have their vehicle serviced only when something breaks. The long term performance of any machine is directly related to its care and feeding.
When a lift is offered to us for buy back our criteria is fairly narrow: it must be a lift that we originally sold and installed, there needs to be a clear documented history of regular annual maintenance, and it needs to be three years old or less. Based on these criteria, plus overall cosmetic condition, our service depart makes the determination if a stairlift offered to us is a good candidate for refurbishment and resale. As you can imagine we are offered the opportunity to buy a variety of used lifts of many vintages and manufacturers. While we have dealer accounts with most major stairlift manufacturers we choose to primarily feature Bruno. Because we have a greater depth of positive experience with Bruno these are the only lifts we accept for refurbishment and in turn offer for resale. So the question becomes in an active marketplace for new and used equipment what happens to the stairlifts that are offered to us that do not meet our strict criteria for buy back? Fundamentally these are the used stairlifts that our competitors buy and offer for sale.
Many of our competitors actively shop online marketplaces for equipment that they can purchase and resell, and because of this they may have a steady inventory of used stairlifts to offer. This is not our business. The only used and refurbished lifts we offer for sale are lifts whose history is known to us because it is our history as well. Because of this our availability of used lift inventory can vary widely. While the number of lifts we have sold over the years is vast, after we apply our criteria of age, documented service history and overall condition this narrows the pool dramatically. With 10,000 baby boomers turning sixty-five every day for the next eighteen years or so the demand for used stairlifts clearly outstrips the supply. And that presents you with a choice. Should I buy a used stairlift or a new stairlift? What are the differences?
The differences between new and used stairlifts are fundamentally twofold: price versus warranty. While a used stairlift is less expensive up front it will have less warranty than new. Inversely a new stairlift, while more expensive at the outset, will be a known quantity with the benefit of full factory warranty and a clean service history. To return to the car analogy there are those who like the assurance of buying their vehicles brand new off the dealer’s lot and those who prefer the lower up front cost of buying their vehicles used. Both can be viable strategies given different circumstances. For example for a main floor to bedroom/bathroom level application a new stairlift might be the better candidate since it will be relied on daily for bathing and sleeping, etc. For a main floor to basement application a used lift might be the better candidate since its primary function might be laundry access a few days a week. These are just a few examples to take into account when you are considering a new versus used stairlift. The key thing to bear in mind however is that due to demand created by baby boomer demographics used stairlifts are not always readily available on short notice and because of that they might not be the most appropriate solution for your immediate circumstances.