World Wide Web is a very powerful tool for consumers, and is becoming
more so each and every day. If it weren't, we probably wouldn't have
taken the time to write this post, and you most certainly wouldn't be
reading it. We realize that consumers research products and make
purchasing decisions based on information they find on the web, and that
many people even make "big ticket" purchases from on-line retailers and
auction sites without every seeing, testing, or trying a product.
We feel that the purchase of a wheelchair van or handicap van is a complex decision requiring the help of experts and thoroughly trained Mobility Consultants to make sure that all of your mobility needs are met. Our aim is to inform you, the consumer, on the differences between purchasing in-person from Main Mobility versus purchasing from an "Internet seller." Whether you purchase from us, another "brick and mortar" mobility dealer, or an "Internet seller," we want you to understand the importance of safety, service, training & value when you make your purchase decision. The following information will help you make an informed, educated decision.
Can I buy a wheelchair van or handicap accessible vehicle on-line?
Yes, of course. The issue, however, is how to buy a vehicle appropriate for your needs, compliant with industry regulations and standards, and one with which you will be satisfied in regards to future service and warranty. Shopping online is good. But, when it comes to actually purchasing, it makes a lot of sense to visit your local mobility conversion dealer. In the Buffalo / Niagara region of New York State, that would be us.
What do state laws say about the on-line purchasing process?
Some states have specific laws concerning selling a vehicle across state lines. These laws are to protect the consumer. Check with your local motor vehicle bureau or legal counsel regarding the laws in your state.
Will I ever personally meet a representative from an Internet seller?
Internet sales companies usually do not have regional sales representatives. Instead, you will be assigned an "in house" sales representative, who will assist you on the phone or through e-mail, but with the lack of personal face-to-face interaction, they may not be able to fully assess your needs, and the opportunity to develop a personal relationship will be diminished. When you work with your local mobility dealer, you'll be able to meet face-to-face with a Mobility Consultant who will help you in assisting the best handicap van for your needs.
How would I obtain a license tag for a van I purchase on-line?
You will be able to go to your local tag office (Department of Motor Vehicles) and purchase a permanent license tag. There may be a period of time when you cannot use your vehicle as temporary tags are usually not valid except within the state they are issued. Check with your local department of motor vehicles to verify.
How would I obtain a title for a handicap van that I purchase out of state?
An out of state Seller who is located in a state other than the state you reside in probably can't obtain a title for you in your name. The seller may simply provide the title to you at the time of delivery. You would then be required to take the title to your local tag office and transfer it (for a fee) to your name. You should be very cautious about the titling process. Titles are complex and errors can occur. Correcting a title error is a time consuming and complex task. Of significant importance is knowing the origin of your handicap van and title. Over 500,000 vehicles were branded "flood, scrap, or salvage" vehicles in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Some states allow the conversion of a "flood, salvage, or scrap title" after an inspection and then will issue a "non-branded title" which will leave no indication of its previous status.
If my van's mechanical systems fail while I own it, who is responsible?
That is a question of warranty and depends on the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) warranty and the warranty provided by the vehicle modifier. Main Mobility has working relationships with many local car dealerships and can help you get your vehicle's OEM mechanical systems fixed the right way. Main Mobility also has factory-trained technicians to repair and maintain the wheelchair van conversion, ensuring that all systems are in proper working order.
A more significant issue is failure of a vehicle system resulting in bodily injury or property damage. In this case, the vehicle modifier should have what is called "product liability insurance". This insurance covers any damages to property or injury that might occur as the result of defects, which are the responsibility of the modifier. Without this coverage, the vehicle owner has no recourse - someone to turn to for responsibility. Make sure to request a certificate of product liability insurance. Vehicle sellers also have what is called "garage insurance" to cover the work they perform. NMEDA members carry coverage of at least $1,000,000 per occurrence.
If my handicap van is involved in an accident or stolen after I have purchased it and before I receive it (while it is still in the care of the on-line mobility dealer), who is responsible for the damage or loss?
The answer depends on who has what insurance. So make sure that your insurance starts upon your purchase even if you have not yet received the vehicle. It is a good idea to request a proof of insurance from the Internet seller. Most vehicle dealers have what is called Garage Liability Insurance. If they are liable for the loss or damage, this insurance should cover the cost. Sometimes there is a question as to whose insurance is primarily responsible the Internet seller's, the trucking company's, or yours.
What if I have substantial problems with a van I purchase on-line?
Most states have so-called "lemon law" statutes that address defective vehicles. However, the New York State lemon law only protects you when you purchase a vehicle in the State of New York. in other words, if you purchase a vehicle that is delivered from out of state, you might not be covered for defects in that vehicle's parts and workmanship in your home state (check your own state's laws to be sure though).
In any event, this is an area where personal face-to-face contact and an established relationships with the Mobility Consultants and Service Professionals at Main Mobility can help resolve problems with your wheelchair van. In the case of on-line purchasing, you may never personally meet an individual from the Internet seller.
How will I know that the vehicle I purchase on-line will be properly converted and fit the needs of my disability?
This is a very important question. You really will not know until the vehicle is delivered to you. Every handicap van is different and mistakes can occur. Also, without the Internet seller meeting you personally and you having the ability to "test" the vehicle, there is no way to fully ensure that you will properly fit in the wheelchair van and be able to use it as you desire. Make sure in advance that you have the right to refuse delivery of the vehicle and receive a full refund if, upon delivery, you do not like the way the van fits your needs, it fails to meet your reasonable expectations, or if it does not match the description provided by the Internet seller. Our Mobility Consultants are thoroughly trained to make sure that you and your loved ones select the right wheelchair van or handicap van for your needs.
Can my Internet seller provide me with references?
Yes, but the references may not be local to you, making them more difficult to verify. With a local seller in your community, you can personally meet individuals who have purchased and used the services of your local mobility dealer.
Aren't wheelchair accessible vehicles purchased on the Internet less expensive?
A common misconception is that purchasing a wheelchair van online is cheaper or more affordable than buying locally. This rarely is true when buying a wheelchair accessible van from Main Mobility. Because of our buying power, we're able offer wheelchair vans and handicap vans at prices competitive to those found online.