Fault After Fault: Wessex Through Floor Lift: I am a full-time wheelchair user, I have a Through Floor Lift (TFL) to enable me to get upstairs in my home. This lift was installed by a company called Wessex on the request of my housing association: Notting Hill Genesis. This lift has given me nothing but problems after problems since day 1. I have been living in my property for 12 years at the time of writing this.
I never dreamed it possible to ever be able to live in a “house” as a wheelchair user. I believed I would only ever live in a single level property, so when I was offered a house, I was both ecstatic and shocked. When I went to view the property, I realised there would be a through floor lift to enable me to get up and down the house. This lift was supplied by Wessex Lifts.
So there I was all those years ago in a new property with a through floor lift and thinking I was very posh, haha. Unfortunately, this euphoria was not meant to last as I was plagued with nothing but problems with this lift. I had to make phone call after phone call to Notting Hill, reporting fault after fault.
Here is a list of some of the problems I had with my first lift:
- The first problem, which happened most of the lifespan of the lift, (10 years) was the door not having enough power to close onto the latch. The engineer came out and seemed to fix the problem. A couple of days later, the same problem occurred, so yet again, I phoned my housing officer. You guessed it, another engineer visit. Again, the engineer seemed to fix the problem and go away. This happened repeatedly, eventually, the problem was indeed fixed. The main issue with this problem was, if the door wasn’t shutting, I couldn’t use the lift, therefore having to sleep on the sofa downstairs. Something that happened quite often!
- My TFL would sink approx half an inch to an inch overnight. This meant the lift was not fully in the “Up” position, so, once I entered the lift in my Electric Wheelchair, the extra weight would make the lift sink further, making it impossible for the door to close. Once again engineers came out, scratched their heads, fiddled about, went away, came out, scratched their heads, went away, you get the picture. Eventually, the problem was fixed several months down the road.
- This fault was by far the longest to fix. This took years to fix. In the end, one of the head engineers from Wessex themselves had to come out and have a go at fixing this one!! As I travelled down in the lift, the safety under-pan (that detects any objects under the lift and if so, stops the lift from travelling any further) would seem to get stuck to the bottom of the lift, then violently break free and drop into place. Sometimes, stopping the lift altogether. I can’t remember how many times the engineers were sent out to fix it but I can assure you, it was a lot more than it should have been. Even top managers were called out because no one could seemingly fix the problem. It did eventually get sorted.
- The most frightening fault had to be the one where we had come home from doing our shopping and found the lift about to catch fire. Yes, I said fire!! We came in the front door and my lift is directly opposite on the other side of our hallway. I saw a lot of smoke coming from the left side of the lift, which is up against a wall. The smell was like burning rubber. My husband very quickly went to the cupboard to switch off the lift and all electrics and immediately called for an engineer to come out. He came out but had to order a new part. The solenoid switch is what almost caught fire. So again, another night having to sleep on the sofa. I ended up sleeping on the sofa for a few nights.
It’s hard to explain just how a person’s daily life is affected when adaptations do go wrong. As good as these adaptations are, when they do go wrong, you are left stranded, unable to do the task they were supplied for. So obviously this meant I couldn’t get upstairs, which in turn meant I couldn’t go to bed, which in turn meant I had to sleep on the sofa. Now, this wasn’t the first time this had happened, there were times before when a fault could not be fixed on the spot, or a part had to be ordered, I’d have to sleep on the sofa every time. This would make my Scoliosis much worse and the pain unbearable. I would wake up sore and stiff every time.
In one of the very few services that my lift got. (I was unaware my lift should have been serviced every 6 months. My lift was not serviced every 6 months). I was told the lift needed a new roof to meet new health & safety regulations. Then realising my lift was over 10 years old at the time, it was decided it would be more cost-effective to replace it with a new lift altogether. At last, some common sense!
Well, I won’t bore you with ALL the drama that happened but I will tell you that I contacted my housing officer at the time, her boss and her boss also, explaining how I didn’t want to be stuck with the same lift due to all the problems I had endured with my last lift.
I ended up having to make a formal complaint. You wouldn’t believe how this brought to light the number of mistakes that were made regarding servicing, engineer reports and the lack of engineer reports, my housing officer not reporting key facts, lack of duty of care. The list was truly endless!
New lift survey
Several companies came out to take measurements, photos etc, so they could then give Notting Hill a quote for a new lift. Can you guess what they went with? Yep, the same bloody lift!! Can you believe after all my complaining, begging, formal complaint, they chose the exact same one!! Talk about throwing good money after bad. Brainless!!!
So, now I’m on my 2nd Wessex TFL of the same make/model (installed Oct 2016) because Notting Hill decided the best option was to give me the same lift that had all the above faults and plenty more. Ignoring ALL my pleas to have a different one. How nice of them eh?
Well, what can I say…….2nd lift and within literally 2 weeks the same faults happening all over again!!!!! You really couldn’t make this up!
- Lift door not closing, not fixed – Took 4 years to finally fix it
- Underpan sticking. Not fixed – Did eventually get fixed
- Grinding noises. Fixed.
- Dropping overnight. Found to be heat-related. (Actually, it turns out this was incorrect as it happened repeatedly all year round) – Update: It was a faulty pump (more on that in a bit).
- Door not shutting level, therefore not closing onto the latch. Just bounces off the latch and opens – (I have to get back out, close the door, send the lift up a few inches, bring it back down and try again). Took over 4 years to fix – Wessex had to come and take the lift off the wall, take it appart, raise the level of the floor to make the lift sit higher – This seems to have fixed the issue.
- I got trapped in the lift half way up going to bed, approx 2 hours to be released – Turns out a corregated pipe got trapped behind the lift causing the lift to stop in it’s tracks.
Numbers 4 & 5 have been happening for past 6-8 months. 4 & 5 have since been resolved. 5 is still being investigated by Wessex themselves as again no-one else can fix the issue. It would seem even Wessex themselves can’t fix the problem….No surprise there then. An engineer came out to fix both issues of lift dropping and lift not sensing the door is closed/locked. So now waiting for another/same engineer to come out again. Nearly two weeks now since my regular engineer said he would report it back to Wessex.
The list just keeps growing and the problems ongoing, as soon as one is fixed, another one rears its ugly head. The worst part though, is I continually live in fear of going out and coming home and again finding the lift almost on fire, or god forbid worse.
Listen to the engineers
Very recently, I found out that an engineer (outside of Wessex) had been telling (the powers to be) that the problem with the majority of the faults on my lift was down to the pump. Explaining that the pump was not doing whatever it needed to do correctly with the hydraulics, he had been telling them this for over 2 years! I SUFFERED SLEEPNESS NIGHTS, PAIN, BEING TRAPPED IN THE LIFT etc. all because the powers to be didn’t want to spend the money on a new pump as it was NOT cost-effective? Yet it was cost-effective to keep sending out engineer after engineer (and paying for this) who were NOT fixing the issues??
Listen to the engineers, they ARE NOT beneath you, they are the ones visiting the client, seeing the issue/s in person, not you, sat behind your desk thinking you’re something special!!! And councils/housing associations can’t understand why they are short of money?? Couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery spring to mind!!!
Is this really how one should have to live? Oh, hang on…..We are only disabled people, what do we matter!! All because Notting Hill Genesis (previously known as Notting Hill) wants to save some money but in all fairness, what are they saving when they have to keep paying engineers to keep coming out and try to fix the problems??
Would I recommend this lift? NOT BLOODY LIKELY!!
Would I recommend Wessex? NOT BLOODY LIKELY!! What I can’t understand is this, both lifts (old/new) have presented exactly the same faults and in the same order?? Wouldn’t this suggest this Wessex lift has a design/manufacturing fault?? If so, why are Wessex ignoring this? After all, I tell everyone and anyone willing to listen to me about this awful lift.
Although I would have to say the majority of Notting Hill Genesis’s contracted engineers sent out to me, I would recommend even less!!! Some of them literally just came out, banged a couple of things and then left.