(With apologies to Meatloaf.)
Note:- There is a response from Route2Mobility, Motability’s scooter and powerchair arm, and my reply, at the end of page 2. See also this post for details of how the range of powerchairs and scooters is established. It’s quite staggering, and entirely divorced from the real world.
My Class 3 powerchair, a Pride Quantum 6000,
is proving to be something of a lemon. For example, despite it being a Class 3, outdoor, machine, it can’t be used outdoors in wet weather, which makes it a bit useless anywhere but the sunnier states of the US, as here in the UK, the last few years, it’s rained almost incessantly at times, and it’s a rare day, where I live, when it doesn’t rain at some point.
My previous chair, a Pride Jazzy XL 1120, was, with a little tweaking (covering the controller with a plastic bag, and with a waterproof seat cover) pretty much impervious to wet weather, and I had no reason to assume the Q6000 would be so apparently vulnerable – “apparently” because it’s not something I can realistically put to the test, though I think it might be perfectly fine. However, if it turned out not to be fine, and died, I’d be stranded. And would probably have breached the warranty, too.
There’s also a problem with range – I assumed, given the claimed range of 25 miles, it would be good for around 12-15 miles, given my weight and the local terrain, and based on my previous experience with the Jazzy (25 miles claimed, 12+ miles easily achievable, even towing a trailer). I’m doing well to get 8-10 miles – and I weigh a little less now than then.
My plan was to use the chair to travel to the other side of Wirral, to the Dee estuary, for birdwatching – about 9 miles – and get a taxi home from the point where the charge started to get too low to carry on. However, it has proven unsuitable for anything more ambitious than popping to the shops, as long as it’s not wet! I’m serious about that – there is an opening in each motor housing perfectly placed to hoover up spray from the tyres. How dumb is that?
The odd occasions I have been able to go further than the local shops, the battery gauge was into the red by 7 miles, so other than shopping, I can’t actually get anywhere I want to go and, even if I could, using a taxi to get home, as you’ll see, is a non-starter. I’m wondering, as it’s fitted with a seat riser, if smaller batteries have been fitted to make room for the mechanism? If they have, I wasn’t made aware of it.
Of course, these problems could, in theory, be surmounted by putting it into a taxi, but in practice it won’t climb the ramp. The chair’s six-wheel, mid-wheel drive, design is the problem – while that makes it extremely manoeuvrable, when the front casters hit the ramp, they lift the drive wheels off the ground. Luckily, I spotted this when it was loaded into the dealer’s van to go back for repairs, and taxi ramps are much shorter and steeper than that ramp (a long, shallow, ramp would solve the problem, but that’s not feasible for a taxi). Had I been out, as above, and tried to get back home by taxi, I would have been stranded.
Note:- If I sat in it, that would compress the suspension sufficiently, but I can’t – it’s a tall chair and, with me onboard, it would likely decapitate me (I can’t bend forward).
That, by the way would also be a problem were I to use it on the pavement, using drive-way ramps for access, as its kerb-climbing ability is as close to zero as makes no difference (it will climb a low kerb, but only with a painful jolt), but momentum would carry it past the point where drive is lost – that can’t be done with a taxi’s ramp, which must be ascended slowly. Nor is it reasonable to expect a taxi driver to push what is a very heavy chair, plus me, up the ramp. Complicating matters even more is the fact that it will descend only a low kerb, too (because as with ramps, the drive wheels would be off the ground), which makes some places totally inaccessible.
So, it won’t go far, I can’t use it if it’s wet (I can’t go any distance when it’s dry with any reasonable expectation that it won’t rain, not these days), and I can’t put the thing in a taxi. I have a powerchair, which is soaking up the bulk of my DLA mobility component and yet, for about 90% of the time it’s unusable except indoors (and I have a manual chair for that). I’m paying £140+ a month for a machine that mostly goes nowhere (and neither, as a result, do I, as money I could put into far more taxi fares than I currently do just isn’t available).
I am at a loss to know what to do. I like this chair, I really do, and the few times I’ve been able to use it it’s been fine. On the road it’s been very comfortable, and fast. It is, however, purgatorial on pavements (a couple of roads around here just aren’t safe to use) – all four casters clatter, jolt and bang over every inequality – the suspension is a joke – and the rear casters flip sideways-on and snag on uneven flagstones**, as did the Jazzy’s, which had to be replaced under warranty when the mounts bent – the degree of trail is inadequate for them to track properly.