Saturday, 12 July 2014

New Car! :-)

We are in the the have a Motability car. Motability is a scheme where disabled people are able to use their Disability Living allowance (or PIP - Personal Independance Payment) - higher rate mobility, to get a new car. 

Wait a minute, let me start at the beginning!!
When you are disabled, whether you are born with it or develop it through life, you are entitled to apply for a benefit that used to be called Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The their wisdom (don't get me started!) have decided to change this benefit to something called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) so if you are applying for the first time now you will apply for PIP but if, like me, you've been having it for years, you will be on DLA......until they get round to changing us over! 
This award comes in two parts. There is the Care component and the Mobility component. Not everyone will qualify for both but that doesn't matter, you can be awarded one without the other.
I was awarded both Care and Mobility at the higher rate and I was awarded it indefinitely.

If you have the higher rate mobility component of DLA and you have at least twelve months remaining of your award, instead of having that money paid to us each week, we can use that money to pay a company called Motability for a car that we will have chosen. 
When I was first awarded my DLA and I was told we could order a brand new car, I thought someone was joking around with us! 
To be honest, I'd never had any dealings with disabilities and therefore knew nothing about what was available to us! 

Martin and I went and ordered the car we had always wanted.......a Peugeot was October 2003! When we collected it we couldn't believe that we were allowed to drive this brand new car off the dealership......were they mad?!?!
The trouble was, we didn't think about it very much! A Peugeot 206 was a lovely car and was perfectly OK for us when we first had it but by the end of our three years with it I hated that car! It was a regular car and so getting in and out, when you have mobility issues, was not ideal but we hadn't thought about it from a disabled point of view, when we ordered it and we certainly hadn't thought about how I would be by the end of those three years. We look at very different things when we are ordering a car now! 

The Motability scheme was different back then because you had to pay for any adaptions you needed as well as any advance payment for the car, depending on what model of car you chose and which style of that model. You only got one set of tyres in those three years, so if you needed any more you had to pay for them but pretty much everything else, apart from petrol, was covered under the warranty. It would be serviced every year and just before the car goes back it has an MOT which is paid for too. 
There are basic adaptions that you can order for free now. I have a push/pull accelerator/break which is fitted under the steering wheel and a steering wheel ball. The push/pull device is brilliant, you literally pull it to accelerate and push it to break. It means that I don't need to use my feet or legs, I just drive with my hands! :-)
I had no idea what was available to disabled drivers to keep them driving. As a fully fit person I took so much for granted. It wasn't until I started losing things, like my mobility, that I realised just how lucky I'd been. But there is a huge range of things available to keep disabled people driving and therefore keeping hold of that independence that we so crave! 
I have to say that before I got my first Motability car, I had a driving assessment. I had someone who came and talked to me about the difficulties that I had and what would be useful for me. Then we went out in his car, which was adapted with hand controls, so I could try it and see what I thought! It was mind blowing at that point.......driving a car with my hands.......that was insane! ;-)

Since that first car we haven't looked back! 
Next we had a Chrysler PT Cruiser, which, although it was unpractical from a fuel efficiency point of view, it was our favourite for accessibility, comfort and just great style! We like having something that is a bit unusual and something that there aren't so many of on the roads! 
The following car was a Nissan Note......not so rare! This was a great just wasn't the PT Cruiser!! ;-) 
And then we got our latest car, a Ford B-Max, the one with sliding passenger doors! 

We got the Ford in January last year, 2013, and we were delighted with it!
We loved it from the moment we saw it and it ticked all our boxes, it was easy to get in and out of, it had cruise control, air conditioning, reversing sensors and Martins most important requirement......a DAB radio!! In fact we didn't test drive anything other than the Ford, we were that convinced of its suitability. 
Everything was fine with it until October last year, less than ten months on from picking it up.
We had started to notice that when you pulled away in first gear, it would shudder or stutter. We weren't happy with it after we had come back from our holiday last year so we popped it up to the dealership - Ford Vospers Exeter - and asked them to have a look at it. They did and agreed that there was a problem so it was booked in to be repaired. 
It turned out that they had to take out the whole gear box to repair what was needed. They had the car for three weeks and that was the first problem, we weren't offered any type of courtesy car, I had to sort all that out with Motability, who were brilliant, but that wasn't the point!! 

We got the car back and as far as we were concerned that was the end of the matter! 
But no! Around the end of March beginning of April of this year, 2014, we noticed that the shudder was back but this time it was when you changed into second gear! 
We took the car back to the dealership again. Martin went out with a mechanic, who told him that a certain amount of shuddering is to be expected! We've never had a shudder in any of our cars so why should we put up with it in this one?! 
Anyway, he did agree that yes there was a problem and that he thought it was possibly the same fault as before. It was booked in again and this time we were offered a courtesy car.......a Ford Fiesta! I ended up not going in it because it was low and getting in and out wasn't easy. We also couldn't fit the wheelchair in the boot so it was lucky that we only had it for three days otherwise they would have had to change it!! 
After three days the garage phoned me. I was surprised because I thought it would take longer to fix it but he wasn't phoning me to say it was fixed......quite the opposite in fact! He said that the car wasn't fixed but that we needed to have it back. We should drive it for a further 1000 miles after which the fault would either be fixed or it would be worse! He explained that because they are governed by Ford Motor Company, they tell them what has to be done and apparently because the B-Max was a new model there was no protocol for this fault. They needed us to carry on driving it and report back what happened!

After talking it through, Martin and I decided that we needed to make a complaint to Motability. I wrote a letter and then rang them to see where was the best place to send it. The person I spoke to told me that I could send the letter but they could hear the complaint over the phone if I wanted to which, of course, would be quicker! 
I had no problem with this so I told them all the issues that we had had with Ford Vospers Exeter and our B-Max. The lady I was talking to was very apologetic that we had experienced all these problems. She understood and noted down all the complaints that we had. 
She explained that next the complaint would go through to be looked at and someone would phone me that afternoon to let us know that it had been accepted. It would then be passed on to a complaints handler who would phone us to discuss the issues and look at how they can be resolved. 

I will just point out that they had been in touch with the dealership we had used and had received all the details of us going to them with the problems etc. which backed up everything we had said.

As promised, we had a call that afternoon. The complaint had been accepted and our handler would call by the end of business the following day. 
True to their word we had a call about 1pm the next day. He explained who he was and said that he'd looked at the complaint, that he quite understood where we were coming from and that we had persevered with the problems for quite a few months. 
I was asked how we'd like this to all be resolved. So I said at the very least to have the car repaired fully but I told him that we had lost faith in the car now.
Without any hesitation he said to me that he had looked at everything and then asked how I would feel if he cancelled the contract and we could start again. We were bowled over by this because we'd joked about being able to get a new car but we didn't think for one minute that they would offer that as a solution!
He said he could cancel the contract that afternoon so we could go out and order a car there and then if we had something we wanted! We agreed that this would be the best solution and that's what he did! 

Now normally we don't start looking at cars until we are within twelve months of the contract ending. We don't go and test drive anything until we are within three months of it ending because you can't order anything until three months before the contract finishes. So we hadn't been looking at possible car choices at all! 
We literally started from scratch. We went out that afternoon to look at a few and pick up some brochures. The following two days were spent test driving various vehicles and on the fourth day we ordered our new car! 
I had phoned Motability on the Monday and we ordered our new car on the Friday......not bad eh?! 

So what are we getting? 
We have decided on a Fiat 500L MPW. 
It is actually a seven seater and although we have no need for that amount of seats, when the rear two seats are folded down the boot space is a lot larger. In the Ford our boot is 318 litres but with those seats down the Fiats boot will be 636 litres. This will allow us to have the wheelchair in there but also have space to put other things too which we can't do with the Ford! There are things that we are going to miss on the Ford.......the sliding doors for one but there are lots of things we are looking forward to on the Fiat! ;-)
It's going to be September before we get may be August, if we are lucky but I'm thinking September! We are really hoping we get it before we go away in mid September as it will be perfect to take three of us plus all our gear!! 

So fingers crossed everyone! ;-) 


This is the car and we are having it in green all over! :-)


  1. You definitely put a new spin on a topic that has been discussed for a long time. Great stuff, just wonderful London events and hire

  2. What an interesting car story! I am glad you were able to use the Motability plan for getting a car, that must have been great. And it is good someone was able to help you with the difficulties of driving. I have my fingers crossed that everything will work out in the future and that you will enjoy your new car!