Wheelchair

Leslie,

As you may have heard, Great American Scooter Co. was able to get my wheelchair running on Friday. The service call lasted five hours because we ran into several minor difficulties, and they will be back sometime next week to finalize the job. I understand that you do have other customers needing your attention, and I appreciate that it must be extremely tempting to consider my incident closed. However, I think you will agree that I’m not a typical Invacare user. In fact, the support model used by most large companies does not work well with me at all. Basically, I live and die by the technology I use, and I usually know the technology better than the first line support people I’m expected to talk to. In my case, it works better to have a fixed contact person who can develop a rapport with me and build a dynamic understanding of my needs as they relate to the company.

By way of illustrating the point, let me introduce Bernadete Padua-Mateo of Dell. While you surely understand how I depend on my wheelchair, I’m far more dependent on my Dell laptops because they are responsible for all of my various form of communication. I currently have four laptops, three of which are considered to be on active duty. Those three have all of at least the essential software I require, and are under Next Business Day service contracts. I paid a bit more for those service contracts, but they theoretically entitle me to on-site repair the next business day. Notice, however, that I said “theoretically.” Dell’s technical support system, like that of most consumer product companies, almost necessarily assumes the user is little more than a talking dummy. The call-takers, previously in Panama or New Deli, could never understand that I already diagnosed the problem and only needed specific parts dispatched. As a result, getting service could take two weeks or more. Only after a lot of rather public complaining, did upper Dell management recognize that I needed a fixed contact who knows me. Dedet, as she’s called, is the latest in the line. She calls herself my droid, but I correct her by saying she’s my guardian angel. Having Dedet assures that a contract tech really shows up with the needed parts NBD. I also use her on any Dell-related questions or when it’s time to replace a retiring machine. Although I believe Dedet is a little higher up in the food chain than normal Customer Service, I think you can see how assigned us together also is to Dell’s benefit. I hope Invacare doesn’t wait until it learns the hard way.

We used both the Mk6i PSR joystick and controller that were sent Thursday. Please don’t forget to get those Invacare prices for me.

Scott

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3G Torque 3 Joystick & Controller Assembly

Leslie,

Well, at least you are up-front about it, which counts for something with me. Of course your news doesn’t help me, but you’re doing what you can. I’ve been an Invacare customer since their first power chair in 1981 under the name of Rolls-Invacare, and our history has been checkered. Invacare does not communicate directly with its customers as a rule; they funnel everything through their dealers even though it creates a communications gap. That makes your email refreshing and even a little touching. I have to wonder if Invacare is slowly changing its ways.

In any case, you are correct to expedite those parts because I am immobilized without them. My new service dog doesn’t understand this at all, and she’s growing increasingly restless. A restless German Shepherd is not a nice experience. I average about seven miles daily, if that helps communicate how active a power chair user can be. I understand you are a CSC, not a tech, but I’m still going to ask you a few questions after giving an explanation.

I am aware that the usual arrangement is for Invacare to ship new parts in exchange for the damaged ones, but that’s not what we’re doing this time. You see, my last chair was a Mk IV Storm Arrow (the equivalent of this 3G Storm Torque 3), and I kept it running for 13 years partly by keeping two sets of electronics in rotation. When one set failed (as they do, Leslie), I’d have my people swap the sets and send the bad one into Invacare to be rebuilt for me.

Now you can guess what we’re going to do. We’re going to restart that same procedure with this chair. I realize that Invacare is going to charge full price for the set you’re going to hot-shot in that case, and I don’t know yet how much my insurance will help if any. Still, I have to start the rotation in order to not be immobilized again in the future, even if I must foot the whole bill. Thus, what’s the current price for my type of electronics? What is the charge to repair/rebuild/refurbish a set (since my current one has to come back to me in good order)?

That’s enough to get you started. I really would like to converse with an Invacare technician also. As you can tell, I’m not your typical disabled person. I’d do my own servicing if I was physically able to. In all honesty, I’m technically inclined, with a Computer Science degree and about 20 years of working experience so I probably know a thing or two about the Mk6i that might not be in the technical database. I’d like to compare notes about a few things.

Rest assured that you will be hearing from me again soon. I finally found someone civilized at Invacare, and I’m inclined to fully utilize the communication channel. This was my first–and likely my last–chair purchased through an insurance company, and Great American Scooter wasn’t especially expert in ordering these so-called rehab chairs. Configuration mistakes were made, and I bear a lot of the responsibility for not scrutinizing the purchasing order line-by-line. All that can be done now is to change what can be reasonably changed. We’ll need take it in small steps after the chair is working again, because I really don’t think my insurance company will help pay for the corrections. At least I now know Someone who speaks “Invacare Turkish.”

Scott

Chair

Call our friends at Great American Scooter and tell them the chair is totally down. The little screen is red, and reads:

CONFIGURATION ERROR

MISSING THE FOLLOWING

Press RESET

That’s all it says. What reset? We don’t see any on the chair electronics (yes David, I generally know where to look). I don’t think a reset would help anyway, because I heard a pop and smelled Germanium smoke. Sure signs that at least one electronic component joined Lilly in the Hereafter.

This development didn’t really surprise me; the electronics of this new wheelchair have always been rather flaky. There have been several issues I never even mentioned to Great American because I realized they lacked the expertise to proactively address the problems. All they could do is exactly what they will do now: replace the whole electronics. That means I will be unable to move for weeks.

Situations like this make me really miss my old chair. Not only was it easier to work on, but I had two complete electronic sets—at LEAST—for it. Electronics do eventually fail, but having a spare set meant I was never immobile longer than it took to swap sets. The damaged set would simply be returned to Invacare to be rebuilt for me. Unfortunately, those services only run for roughly a decade, and the old chair was 13. I really doubt Healthspring will cover a second set of electronics, unless they miraculously recognize the economics of having two sets in rotation for ten years or more.

Not being able to move will cause serious problems for me, not the least being with Ari’s training and bonding with me. This will be a major setback for her service dog development, but I can’t do anything about it.

SPAM-MED: FW: Two dogs

Typical, just typical. Not really any surprise either. I think the general piss-poor state of the Americanized GSD has affected these people too. Too many greedy breeders out to make a quick buck by flooding the market with crappy product. Too bad the “crappy product” is a bunch of poor helpless dogs.

Still, makes me even more thankful I went European for Ari.

From: Intake Coordinator [mailto:intake@ghgsdr.org]
Sent: Monday, January 02, 2012 16:33
To: royall@conchbbs.com
Subject: re: SPAM-MED: FW: Two dogs

iNTAKE IS CLOSED RIGHT NOW. wE CANNOT HELP.

Intake Coordinator
Greater Houston German Shepherd Dog Rescue