Technological advances, wheelchairs, and exceptional customer service

Modern technology gets ever more advanced all the time. As it does, equipment we use every day becomes increasingly complicated to use.

customer service

High tech, need help? Ask a child. (Pic:

Not only do we face that problem with a host of computers, tablets, and smart phones (just where is there a 5-year-old, when you need one), there are also satellite tv boxes, DVDs and Blu-rays. Then there are those microwaves with so many controls you feel as though you need a pilot’s licence to operate them

Vehicles have certainly progressed over the years, so much that manufacturers are now road-testing driverless cars. Whether that is an exciting development or a terrifying step-too-far depends on your point of view.

Wheelchairs have also developed though, to be honest, not to the same scale. Of course, there are chairs that can climb steps, and others that support the user in a standing position. Impressive, I agree, but I want to talk about chairs used more widely.

I have two wheelchairs. One is a manual, technically capable of being self-propelled, the other is a foldable, lightweight electric-powered chair.

My disability is caused by multiple sclerosis that mainly affects the left side of my body. This means that I cannot operate the manual chair, I can only use my right hand and end up going around and around in left-hand circles. Instead, I need to rely on someone, normally my wife Lisa, to push me. That’s why I now use an electric-powered chair that I can control with my one good hand.

More advances, more to go wrong

The trouble is, the more advanced anything is technically, the more likelihood there is that it will suffer a breakdown and need repair. That’s just the way life is, things go wrong and need putting right.


That’s me in my electric-powered wheelchair visiting the HSCT centre in Moscow in 2016. Pictured with me are Dr Fedorenko and his assistant Anastasia.

A couple of months ago, my power chair started acting up. It kept on power suddenly before puling to the left and stopping. Fearing a faulty motor or other issue with the electrics, it was with some trepidation that I contacted Shaun Atkinson, owner of the supplier, Better Products for Disabled People (BPDP). But I shouldn’t have been worried, he listened, he understood, and diagnosed the problem. Then he told me how to fix it. It was simple, no new parts needed, all fixed in five minutes.

What impressed me, though, was the great commitment to customer service.

That was further illustrated when one of the front wheels got caught, sideways on, on a concrete ridge and the power of the back wheels caused the trapped front wheel to collapse.

Again, I contacted Shaun at BPDP and was amazed that he arranged for a replacement for the broken part to be sent the very next day  

Now, that’s what I call the very best in customer service. Well done, BPDP.

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* * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

‘New for old’ eats up the time

Yesterday was quite a day for me and meant that I did not have enough time to write a blog of the length that usually publishes.

The cause was the arrival of a brand new laptop computer because my last one had a damaged screen.

In fact, this was the second new laptop to arrive this week. The first one was delivered on Monday but, try as we might, neither my beloved wife Lisa nor I could get the screen to work, A call to the manufacturer’s customer services was less that satisfactory as they were more concerned with getting me to buy something than fix the problem.

We´d got the computer from Amazon in Spain, where we have lived since last November. So, I contacted the customer services via an online chat and, wow, what a difference. Katherin was brilliant. She proved to be the very epitome of customer relations; she listened, apologised, and took immediate action,

She gave me three options.Ok, one was to call the manufacturer but I had already tried that. The other two were to be sent an identical replacement or to receive a full refund. I opted for the replacement and it arrived yesterday.

Then the fun really started. We live in Spain and naturally bought the computer here. So, everything was in Spanish. But my language skills are less than perfect. No, they are basic, extremely basic.

That being the case, it took much longer than usual to get the computer set up.

Now, with Lisa´s guidance, I am almost through the set up stages and have produced this blog on the new computer. More than two hours late but better late than never.

Hopefully, normal service will be resumed tomorrow.


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