We’ve surveyed 708 stairlift-owners including Which? members and other members of the public, to bring you customer score ratings for where to buy your stairlift.

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Shopping for a stairlift usually involves the company coming to your home instead of you going to a shop. And it’s important to choose that company wisely.  You don’t want to deal with someone that pressure-sells, isn’t upfront about pricing, or isn’t reliable should your stairlift break down.

We’ve surveyed stairlift owners about their experiences of buying a stairlift, and used the results to calculate customer satisfaction ratings for retailers including Acorn, Age UK and Companion (both of which sell Handicare stairlifts), Dolphin Lifts and Stannah.

Best and worst stairlift providers

We asked stairlift owners about the advice they received, dealing with complaints, after-care support, sales practice and transparency of pricing, as well as their overall experience buying a stairlift.

Independent companies top our customer satisfaction table with an impressive 83% score. These include authorised dealers, from mobility shops to pharmacies, and are usually smaller companies approved by the manufacturer to sell its stairlifts.

Of the big stairlift companies, Dolphin Lifts got the highest score for bigger companies, with 74%.  It got five-star ratings – along with independents – for price transparency and customer service, with a good four-star rating for other areas including providing information and advice on options, delivery and fitting and sales practice.

Our lowest-rated provider, Acorn, got a customer score of 61% and was rated poorly for explaining its warranty, and as average on providing information and advice on options, dealing with questions and complaints, after-care, sales practice, customer service and pricing transparency.

 

Who sells stairlifts?

There are two parts to the buying process: which brand you buy, and who you buy it from. These can be one and the same – for example, you buy a Stannah stairlift direct from Stannah.

But they can also be split: for example, you could buy a Handicare stairlift through Handicare’s sister company/selling arm Companion or through Age UK (both sell only Handicare), or through a company such as Dolphin that sells a number of different brands. What you get – for example, the warranty and after-care – differs depending on who you buy from, so it’s worth being sure about who your contract is with.

Look at our best and worst stairlifts brands to see who topped the table this year. We’ve also heard reports of some unscrupulous dealers selling stairlifts that they claim are a well-known brand, but turn out to be a completely different brand and an inferior product.

In order to avoid this, double-check that you’re buying from the company you think you are, or that an authorised dealer is really authorised to sell by the manufacturer (you can check this with them – for example, Stannah has an ‘authorised dealer’ button on its website).

Stannah

Stannah – probably the best-known company – sells its own stairlifts under the Stannah brand. However, it also sells through a small number of authorised dealers. If you buy from an authorised dealer, you may be getting the same Stannah-branded stairlift but your contract is with the company selling it to you.

Their sales practices – for example – may differ from Stannah’s own. However, there may also be independent retailers who are partners – they get referrals that they pass on to Stannah.

Your contract in this case is with Stannah. It’s worth being clear exactly who you’re buying from, and checking that you’re buying from an authorised dealer or the company itself.

Handicare

As above, Handicare sells through its sister company/provider arm, Companion, but also is the brand sold by Age UK (Age UK directs you to the Handicare team selling on their behalf). Age UK and Companion have slightly different terms and conditions.

An example would be with its warranties. Handicare now owns the companies Minivator and Freelift as well.

Acorn

Acorn sells directly, but also through authorised dealers. It also sells its stairlifts under the name Brooks (it used to sell as Bison Bede too).

Other providers

Some companies sell a range of different stairlift brands – for example, Dolphin Lifts sells brands including Thyssenkrupp (Thyssen), Handicare and (at some branches) Stannah.

Dolphin Lifts

Dolphin provides a service across its sixteen branches including London and Manchester. Dolphin sells a range of brands including Handicare, Stannah and Thyssenkrupp.

Dolphin works in the same way as other companies – it can sometimes provide quotes without a visit if it has enough information, but will do a home visit/survey to take measurements and ensure that the lift is suitable for your home.

However, its branches do function as separate businesses and may have different terms and conditions to each other – for example, different buy-back policies or prices.

Dolphin – like Stannah – says that it always offers its best prices from the start, so no haggling is needed. Want to get ahead of the sales patter some companies use? See our guide to dodgy stairlift tactics to avoid when you’re buying your lift.