Woman not happy with $1,600 wheelchair

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix woman bought a $1,600 wheelchair off the Internet but said it's not the chair she ordered so she contacted 3 On Your Side for help.

This is not your normal wheelchair. This one is a motorized wheelchair and she liked it because she thought it had a lot of options she was looking for. Turns out, it didn't.

"I can either sit up straight or I can lay down flat in the bed," Cynthia Burton said. "Those are my two choices."

Burton has multiple sclerosis and has been in a wheelchair for 15 years

Recently, she realized it was time to get a new one, so she researched a company called Mobility Express where she found just what she wanted in an electric wheelchair. The ad she found claimed to have a chair called the Streamer Sport, which offered an on-board (battery) charger, a swing-away arm control and, for more comfort, a reclining seat.

"I wanted more flexibility so I could go outside and see the stars or something," Burton said.

She paid more than $1,600 for the chair, but when it arrived it wasn't exactly what she was expecting. The chair did have a reclining seat, but you have to manually recline the seat with a wrench.

"So if I have someone with a screwdriver and a wrench, I can have it recline," Burton said. 

It also didn't have that on-board battery charger like it advertised. So, the company told her they would send her a battery bag to tie to the side of the chair.

And as for that swing-away arm control, they told her they would send her one, but only if she bought it!

"I said I'm not going to pay because it was supposed to come in the first place," Burton recalled.

Burton actually did get that arm control at no extra charge. But the more she thought about it, the more she just wanted to return the chair.

However, the company claimed she could return it only if she paid a 20 percent re-stocking fee.

So, Burton turned to 3 On Your Side for help.

"I don't think anybody could understand unless they've actually spent time in a wheelchair and not being able to move or do anything without it," she said.

3 On Your Side got involved and this what we discovered. The flier advertising the chair with all the bells and whistles apparently came from Mobility Express. However, Burton brought the chair from a company called Mobility Express Lakeland, which had nothing to do with that flier at all.

The owner of Mobility Express Lakeland tells 3 On Your Side that Burton received a base model wheelchair, exactly what she ordered, and claims all those extras that Burton thought she was getting are really considered "upgrades" and cost more.

In a written statement the company owner said:

"I used to say that 'The Customer is always right' and now through much experience and loss I can no longer make that statement."

Burton disagrees and said she's disappointed with the chair she has.

"If I called J.C. Penney and ordered a pair of pants and they sent the wrong size, they take it back," she said.

Mobility Express Lakeland has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company's full and unedited statement regarding the issue is posted below.

Statement from Mobility Express Lakeland:
Hi LiAna,

Ok I did get the answer from Shoprider for Mrs. Burton. She can purchase the upgraded seat from us at our cost of $289.00.  including freight. I do apologize that  Shoprider never specified that the  reclining seat with a handle is NOW AN OPTION and not standard as you can see from the price sheet I sent you. Mrs. Burton can buy this upgraded seat from any local Durable Medical Equipment Supplier who sells Shoprider products. She just needs to give them the serial number to her motorized chair 18W15CC1C0988. M.S.R.P is $400 plus freight and I my discounted price of $289. is only good for one month.
LiAna it is very simple.

1. The reclining seat with handle versus tool is now an option and she can upgrade her seat for cost.

2. None of the Shoprider Streamer Sport 888wa models have on board chargers since around 2010.

3. We already sent her the swing away joystick at no charge since this also became an option and not standard.

4. This client asked us for this particular brand and model and she got a fantastic price ! Look and see!
Best of luck to you my dear. I used to say that 'The customer is always right' and now through much experience and loss I can no longer make that statement true.
Renee Rached