A Mobility Scooter comes to Stay - Part 6
Sadly this magnitude of profit margin is far from uncommon in the mobility trade as a whole .. not just with scooters. A few searches on-line will soon illustrate this to you, far more clearly than any eloquence of mine.
Try searching, for example, for a bed backrest. We found precisely the same backrest, offered by different suppliers, from as little as £16.99 to as much as £45.00. This was for precisely the same article remember.
It pays to shop around, now more than ever. And for anything even remotely connected with disability, I'd say it was now essential.
Options and variants on scooter chassis arise more often now than it appears has been the norm. In the UK, of course, there are restrictions .. there are always restrictions on things here .. inevitably needing bureaucrats and busybodies to police them. Designs are subject to a convoluted process collectively known as 'type regulations'. These are generally applied to motor car designs .. involving destructive testing, such as the crash tests we periodically see on television. Since a motor vehicle is capable of high speeds, and therefore can attain high velocities, it has the capacity to cause much harm to the delicate human frames into which they all-too frequently come into contact. However mobility scooters are little more than motorised bath chairs, despite design efforts to portray them sometimes as a cross between a beach buggy and a skateboard. They cannot achieve speeds in excess of 8mph in this country, and even in the USA where restrictions are much less, they can only manage 9.5mph.
Doubtless there are armies of 'elf 'n safety' Nazis ready to pronounce that these speeds are eminently capable of causing injury too, but the comparison between these scooters and motor vehicles, subjecting them to the same rigorous testing is surely facile and typically far more bureaucratic than it is a reality.
As a footnote to the unfortunate analogy that the bureaucrats draw between a mobility scooter and a car… when the scooter was eventually delivered it was accompanied by three main pieces of documentation which required signature. First was the insurance 'proposal' form. Second was the VAT exemption declaration. But third was a registration form for the DVLA. Registering the mobility scooter as you would a car may very well be overkill, but the response a few days later was to send us a vehicle excise license, or tax disc, and even the most naive among us can see where that eventually leads. The bureaucrats are inevitably therefore going to impose road taxation on disability!! Otherwise why bother?
The very last problem I had to overcome was an electricity supply for the battery charger. Fortunately, it being summertime, the usual DIY sales are on for garden and barbecue equipment.
A Weatherproof outside electric socket was easily found, but the necessary cable, cable clips, and weatherproof junction boxes that I felt we needed were a little more taxing to run to earth.
As an item of maintenance, you are generally still entitled to install your own minor electrical points like this, without the usual degree in electrical engineering renewable every five years which bureaucracy requires for everything else. In other words notwithstanding the fact that you, like me, may not be able to physically install the line, then it is perfectly feasible for you to get someone who is able, perhaps a handyman, to fit the line for you.
Our kit was sold with the design idea that it would be installed very much as an extension cable and not an electrical installation like your house wiring. It came with a circuit tester/plug for plugging into an inside mains socket, a length of cable already 'made' on to the double socket, and the basic instructions to complete the installation. The little scooter garage illustrated above has a 'convenient' Velcro-ed flap through which to poke the charger cable when you need to insert it into the scooter socket for battery charging. In our case this socket is on the side of the tiller head and it is necessary to open the garage, insert the socket, close the garage, and then lead the charger through the flap and on to the top of the garage, before plugging it in and starting to charge. If I site the charger on top of the garage in this way then I can see the charge lights easily without having to go all the way out and down to the scooter.
The simple system employed is that of an LED light on the charger face, which changes colour from red, to amber, and finally to green when a full charge is made. A glance through the window out into the yard is therefore enough to tell me whether charging is complete and I have to go out and disconnect it all.
These pictures illustrate some of the variety we have encountered as we have wandered the internet world in search of the real truth behind the advertising puff.
The photograph on the right is the four wheeled version of our Toulouse. Sold in America as a 'bariatric' scooter for either disabled, or as you can see… for recreation. The term 'Bariatric' was new to us, but it eventually translates as 'overweight' or perhaps 'obese'.