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Hints & Tips when buying Electric Adjustable Beds

Are you thinking of buying motion furniture, such as an electric adjustable bed? Here are a few things to consider.

Electric adjustable beds have been on sale in the UK for at least 30 years.

Years ago, the first models were imported from America. They were very heavy and were quite difficult to ship and deliver. These days, nearly all electric adjustable bed actions come from Europe. The best adjustable actions are made of wood sections and usually have laminated flexi-slats to rest the mattress on. The actions fit into a separate shallow or deep base unit, which makes modern beds much easier to deliver and assemble. All the fixed and moving parts of modern beds, such as motors and handsets are much easier to repair or replace.

One of our customers recently showed me a double 4ft-6” bed she and her husband bought 20 years ago, at an ideal home exhibition, for £1,400. The adjustable back section rose or descended across the whole width of the bed. She and her husband could only sit up or lie down in unison, which is not very helpful if one wanted to go to sleep while the other wanted to sit up and read.

Some companies still offer electric adjustable beds where only the head section raises up and down. They are a false economy and can be very uncomfortable. Always insist on a bed in which the head end and the leg end are independently adjustable.

Nowadays, beds with, say, 3ft-6”, 3ft-8”, 4ft or, 4ft-6”actions are for sole occupants. Couples requiring a double bed will invariably choose two separate adjustable mechanisms side-by-side in one base or in matching twin bases. This set-up allows both occupants to adjust their ‘half’ independently so either user can sit or sleep in their preferred position. Each half of a dual-action bed can be supplied in widths of:2ft-3” (70 cm); 2ft-6” (75 cm); 2ft-8” (80 cm) or 3ft (90 cm).

Bed price guide:

Matching twin beds from as little as £1,038 for the pair. A double bed arrangement with two independent adjustable actions in one large, shallow base with legs and locking castors, from around £1,990 (some will be a bit less and some could be a bit more. It depends on your bed base, headboard and mattress choices).

For £300, we can insert modern 5-point Vibradorm massage systems into a mattress. There’s no need to pay any more than that.

So, the message here is: don’t be fooled into spending any more than you need to for an electric adjustable bed.

If any fast-talking salesperson tries to charge you as much as £4,650 for a single 3ft electric bed (Whaaatt? Yes! £4,650 for a 3ft-wide bed. We still have the knave’s paperwork, given to us by our customer, who bought her bed from us for just £880), or if you are quoted as much as £7,000 for a double electric bed (and we know they do!!) just walk away or show ‘em the door.

Cheap Electric Adjustable Beds:

If you go online, there are lots of websites offering a bewildering choice of electric adjustable beds, but unless you are absolutely sure what you want, it is a bit risky buying a bed you have never actually tried out.

Even if the electric adjustable bed prices are displayed online, have they been visibly slashed? If an electric adjustable bed is shown "reduced" from £895 to £495, then ask yourself "what kind of bed can it possibly be?" Probably, it is a very basic model, which has been rather over-priced in the first place.

Massage Overlays and Toppers

Vibradorm massage mattress overlays? Well, Vibradorm is the registered name of the company which makes the vibrating units which many manufacturers fit inside massage mattresses, massage riser-recliner chairs and massage mattress overlays or "toppers".

I think it is fair to say the vibrating effect given by a set of Vibradorm units inside any piece of furniture will be soporific (dic/def - tending to induce drowsiness). When we did a bit of mystery shopper research and phoned one of our competitors, the telesales person told us the massage therapy on their beds could "slow down the process of arthritis and improve the circulation by moving blood in a multi-directional wave around the body...."

Well I never!

Massage Mattress Overlays: Don't pay more than £390 for a basic massage mattress overlay, sometimes called a massage mattress topper, which rests on top of your mattress.

Massage Mattresses: Complete foam mattresses, with a Vibradorm massage system fitted inside, should only cost about £300 more than you would expect to pay for just the mattress alone.

Asking for sales brochures from websites: By typing your full name, address and phone number into the boxes on a website, you could find yourself receiving an unexpected visit from a salesperson, sometimes, on the very same day you submitted your details online. You will almost certainly receive a prompt phone call from a telesales person. They may start asking you some fairly intrusive questions to find out what sort of person you are and what medical conditions you have. Some companies ask if you have children or relatives living near you. Why? Because if your son or daughter etc. live a long way away, they are less likely to be around when a highly-trained direct sales person turns up. Keep your ears open during these phone conversations.

If you receive a phone call from a company you have contacted about electric adjustable beds, be sure to ask how much their least-expensive 3-ft model costs. If they won’t tell you, or say something like ‘the price of your bed depends on the type of bed and benefits you will need’ or ‘we don’t want to mislead you with a guide price, but we have someone in your area next week….’ maybe it’s time for a re-think about who to buy your bed from.

If you are persistently called during the ensuing months by a sales person or call centre operator, ask for their name and their company’s name and address. The Police or your local council’s trading standards officers like to know these basic facts if you feel you’ve been harassed. After one of our ‘mystery shopper’ enquiries, one company kept calling our number for almost three years.

If you are virtually housebound and it is hard to go out shopping for mobility products etc., you should always be wary of allowing a salesperson to your home. If you do decide to conduct business in this way, then it is a good idea to have a friend or relative with you. Sometimes, when an eye-wateringly high price is quoted, all it takes is your friend’s raised eyebrows to warn you ‘enough is enough! Time to bail out…’.

If you decide to see a salesperson in your own home, ask yourself ‘does this person have wide product knowledge? Is he or she carefully filling in an order form which will lead to the product being made to a size designed to meet my particular needs’? You could end up with a standard off-the-peg electric adjustable bed or riser/recliner chair, even though you received a well-rehearsed ‘assessment’ and profuse assurances your furniture will be specially made to suit you.

Remember, all companies must offer a statutory ‘cooling off’ period, to allow customers time to change their mind and decide not to buy their electric bed or mobility scooter. We have heard how some of the more unscrupulous companies suddenly become very hard to contact once they realise a customer wants their deposit back. Sometimes they are incommunicado until the cooling off period has expired and customers are then stuck with a deal they didn’t want.

The latest bit of skulduggery we've heard about involved a rogue outfit based in Blackpool, whose 'salesman' conned a local 92-year-old blind lady. He 'sold' her a 3ft-wide electric adjustable bed for £2,500 in cash, which he took from a biscuit tin she kept in her kitchen. But the real outrage is she already had one of our electric beds!! In her bedroom (price £448), which was still under guarantee! The same salesman then called on another man living nearby and persuaded him to part with £1,800 for a very basic electric bed. When both customers were advised to cancel their orders, the company got stroppy and put notes under both victims' front doors, saying the beds were already half-made-to order and the sale could not be stopped. At this point, Lancashire County Council's Trading Standards Office became involved and an enforcement officer insisted full refunds were made.

Two weeks later, a man living in Fleetwood, was sold a 3ft-wide electric bed for £3,600. Luckily a vigilant friend and neighbour intervened in time to put a stop to the sale. This gentleman saved £2,541 when he bough a much better bed from us.

Deposits: If you are asked for a very large deposit for an expensive bed, then Stop Right There And Look Elsewhere!

Avoid paying a deposit with cash, a cheque or a bank debit card. Always use a credit card for maximum consumer protection.

Try before you buy. Your local bed shop may have a selection of reasonably-priced electric adjustable beds you never even knew about. It is very important to actually try out a bed, especially the mattress. You would be very unwise to buy a bed, solely based on a picture in a sales rep’s catalogue.

Take a good look at sites offering ‘free’ or ‘independent’ information on mobility products such as electric adjustable beds. It is not unknown for several companies offering similar products to feature on a very plausible website masquerading as an independent comparison site, when really the site is just a showcase for a select few ‘preferred’ firms. Such firms may have clubbed together to run the site or have each paid to be on it. This way of doing things is not dishonest, but the word ‘disingenuous’ (dic/def - not straightforward or candid; insincere or crafty) springs to mind.

Best adjustable bed guides? Well, guides like this may be very informative indeed, but it is important to know who has actually written them. Are you being ‘guided’ towards buying only one type of electric adjustable bed from one company or bed manufacturer? Take care and read between the lines.

Adjustable bed reviews and testimonials on websites are not always written by real customers. A reputable company will be able to produce the original letters sent to them by satisfied customers. See ours on the Home page.

Two beds for the price of one? Buy an electric adjustable bed and get a riser-recliner chair free? Buy a riser-recliner chair and get a bath lifter seat free? Whooooaaa !! Hold your horses… If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The fact a salesperson can throw an extra bed, chair, bath lifter or wheelchair into the deal for free should tell you one thing only. The price you are being asked to pay for the whole package is way too high. Do you want to know a secret? From some of the paperwork our customers have shown us, the salesperson who first saw them could probably have thrown two more of anything into the deal and still make some money. You are most likely being offered a fairly unremarkable product or products, for a highly inflated starting price.

Just take a look at our electric adjustable bed prices and see how little you need to pay for a perfectly decent product. If you buy an electric bed from us with a riser-recliner chair (thrown in!) the whole deal need only total £1,518.

……….I rest my case M’Lud………….

VAT Exemption

One thing to remember is most people who need an electric adjustable bed for obvious medical reasons will not need to pay VAT. If you are given a price for such a bed, which includes the VAT element, ask to fill in a VAT exemption form and pay the true VAT exempt price. All reputable dealers should have VAT exemption forms, usually printed on their own stationery. An increasing number of online retailers of mobility equipment have forms you can fill in online at the time of your order [click here to see ours]. VAT should be deducted at source or simply not even added to the price of an electric bed in the first place. If a sales person offers to ‘knock your VAT off’ as some form of discount or concession, they are flannelling you, because in most cases VAT exemption for electric adjustable beds and other types of disabled living equipment is usually your entitlement, especially if you are buying it for your own use. Nor should you pay the VAT and then be expected to claim it back from HMRC afterwards.

Finally, your acid test should be ‘does this company publish its product prices in a brochure or put them online’? If it doesn’t, then alarm bells should start to ring. Unfeasibly cheap or slashed prices? Beware! Or NO prices? Forget it!