Recently I had family over and to see anything here in Spain you normally have to do quite a lot of walking.
One of the family members decided to hire out a mobility scooter because they had problems walking with a knee problem they have, hopefully they will get a partial or full knee replacement towards the end of the year.
So the best thing I thought would to look online and see what there was to offer and where mobility scooter businesses we located also in case I had to pick
one up. It didn't have to be the most expensive and one that was a 4x4 all terrain, it was just to get from A to B without having to walk.
The problem, I thought would be that the boot of my Nissan Micra was never going to be big enough for a scooter even if it got folded up and IF you could fold it up, So i needed one delivered.
Between three or four companies I chose one that wasn't too far from the apartment where I needed it delivered to. 3 days for 40€, 10€ delivery and 50€ deposit.
So I thought great, this will do them perfectly. It seemed easy to book as there was an online form to fill in and you paid on the day the scooter arrived.
I started to fill out the form, Name, Passport number etc etc and when I filled out the address I went down to the next box down and the whole form went blank, it completely erased all the information that I put in - Great! So I did it another time, then tried another web browser and just as I was becoming a tad peed off I decided to take a different approach and started just filling in the address for it to be delivered too - at the bottom of the form and then the name and passport number at the top. Hallelujah it worked!
So I clicked on send and I got a message saying that my mobility scooter had been reserved and i got an email confirming the reservation.
The morning came that the scooter was going to be delivered but I hadn't been sent a definite confirmation typed by a human being saying that everything was alright so I proceeded to email them. Luckily they got back to me and I mentioned that their form could have been easier to fill in
as I use web forms on my website SpainLINKED and they could add the option of paying with PayPal and credit/debit card to the form also, prepayment.
What I didnt expect back was a pretty snotty and sarcastic reply saying "Well you´ll know how to fill in the form the next time" - the whole email typed in caps which seemed like they were shouting at me. I don't know maybe I was imagining things, I just let it go and waited for the thing to get delivered.
Another thing was that I tried to fill in the form to be delivered at 11am, a good time in the morning, but the bloody form changed the time to 9am so I thought oh ok then. In the human confirmation I was told that the scooter wouldn't get to me before 12.30pm. The scooter arrived at 1.
So the guy came, he was spanish, spoke very little english but I spoke to him in spanish anyway and he told us basically how it worked and how you recharged it at night. He left a plasticated piece of card that looked like a menu in four languages with basic information and what you did if the thing packed up and that you got a fine if it wasnt charged up fully when it was picked up. It was fully charged he said.
So cool, we had our mobility scooter, I managed to get it in the lift, folding down the seat, steering it to the farest end of the lift and squeezed myself to the side of it to get in the lift too. Someone had to push the button.
We came out of the apartment block and the family member sat down, the chair as very good, the arm rests went up and the chair swivelled around so it was easier to sit on and off we went on our merry way.
The main reason we got one was in case they needed one in the UK when they got back, they had to order taxi´s a lot to go shopping and they wanted to get around and about their town with ease.
The flat pavements was a doddle, the speed gauge went from tortoise to hare and it picked up quite a speed, even I had a go. The only problems at this stage we the odd bit of pavement that was inclined and the driver felt they were going to go on their side but they got the knack of it.
Right so this was where the fun began. To get to the beach area we had to go down a fairly steep slope and narrow pavement. So the idea was to keep a steady speed, try not to fall onto the road, try not to hit lampposts and as a learner mobility scooter and above all not to hit people.
We got to the bottom and they had to get off at one point because it was impossible to go around the inclined corner, imagine if they were on their own and couldn't get out and walk a bit?
Finally it as time to go back and back up the hill. We thought the best thing to do was to cross over the road where the pavement was perhaps a tiny bit wider and progressed to go upwards. Well we got half way and the scooter started going very very slow, like the tortoise on the dial - maybe
the hare had fallen asleep. So I thought never mind, obviously with the weight of the person and the steepness it was bound to go a bit slower.
We got halfway up and the thing just stopped. It was like the emergency brakes had come on. Also the strange thing was that the guy said that it was fully charged and the battery lasted 3 hours - the needle on the scooter was still on full after an hour and a half!
Something was wrong here. This was all Go and then you had to Push!
We tried switching it off and on again, different speeds and even getting off to see if it would go any faster. Could you imagine anyone that couldn't walk having to do this?
It went faster with no weight but what was the point of that? It just wasn't powerful enough and the needle was still stating it was at its max.
Eventually we made it bit by bit to the top and we were 40 minutes late to meet someone for lunch.
Even when we got to a flat service it had problems going up the slightest of ramps now, I do not even think the scooter was fully charged in the first place, or it was faulty and a dodgy gauge.
The scooter just went dead slow like the bloody tortoise. This time we knew it was fully charged up because it had been plugged in all night.
Maybe it was my fault for pushing the scooter to its very limits but I did say - maybe 30 times - "Surely it's powerful enough!"
When we got back to the apartment I checked the menu to see if it had a big warning message to say - this thing is crap and doesn't go up hills!!
It did mention that if it stopped you had to switch off and on again and press the reset button. This would be all well and good if we knew where it was.
Anyway the day came for the guy to pick it up. This time it was a dutch or french guy that started speaking spanish then said he didn't speak a lot of it.
That was ok because I knew english as well. I mentioned everything and he said that for hills you need to put the speed right now and it goes perfectly.
At the end of the day I just said Ok, and thought maybe it was my fault - again - that I found the steepest hills and the scooter worked perfectly.
It was reasonably cheap and it wasn't a 4x4 all terrain as I mentioned before so i swallowed my pride and let it go.
The damn thing was taken away and the nightmare was over.
Whether one will be hired now in the UK, the pavements are as flat as flat can be and the motor of the mobility scooter is tuned up and it has monster truck wheels, well that's another story gals and guys!
Blog by Alistair Watts