My mom’s stairlift has a big problem — it does not work outside!

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By Christopher Elliott

Darlene Marks’ mother had the wrong stairlift installed in her home. Neither the installer nor the manufacturer will fix the problem. Can this consumer advocate help?


Aid4Mobility recently installed a used outdoor stairlift at my house for my 94-year-old mother, who lives with me. My mother paid $2,500 for this stairlift and has had problems since the day she got it.

We found that the company installed an indoor carriage — the part that moves up and down the track — outside, even though her receipt says “outdoor lift.” Numerous calls to Aid4Mobility, the BBB, the Attorney General, and Acorn (the manufacturer) have left the issue unresolved. This is clear financial exploitation of a senior citizen, and no one is willing to step up to the plate and fix the problem.

We want the correct outdoor carriage installed. Also, given what we have gone through, we’d like a new carriage, with Acorn’s full warranty to help with issues in the future. However, we do not want the company who did the initial work on our property. They should pay for the cost though.

This is simply ridiculous how no one will step up, accept blame, and fix the problem. To add to this, my husband is terminally ill. I work full-time and am the sole breadwinner while caring for my husband and my 94-year-old mother. So I do not have time for all these forms, letters, and phone calls. I need her stairlift problem to be resolved. Can you help us? — Darlene Marks, Mansfield, Mass.


I’m so sorry to hear about your personal circumstances, including the incorrect stairlift. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make your mother’s stairlift troubles disappear, but I can’t.

The reason? You did everything by phone. Your phone call to the installer, a small family business called Aid4Mobility, and to the manufacturer, won’t be documented. So when you chose to appeal your case — whether to the Attorney General, BBB, or to me — you have no evidence that you gave Aid4Mobility or Acorn a chance to fix the problem.

I understand that you’re trying to fix the problem quickly. If I were in your position, I would, too. But by making phone calls, you’re setting your case back. Now, when you get to the next representative, you have to explain the problem all over. (Here’s our guide to contact the CEO directly.)

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A team effort fixed your mom’s stairlift problem

You’re correct to worry about an indoor stairlift being installed outdoors. Although both units are similar, outdoor units are weatherproofed to ensure water, dirt, and temperature changes don’t damage the control boards and motor. The seat is different. Outdoor units have marine-grade vinyl padded seats and weather resistant covers. Bottom line: You can’t safely use an indoor unit outside.

I strongly suggested that you establish a written paper trail. Separately, my nonprofit organization’s research department got involved, furnishing you with a contact for Acorn. The manufacturer responded within 20 minutes of receiving your email and offered to send your mother a brand-new outdoor unit.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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