If you type “hiring mobility scooter in the UK” into an internet search engine, you will come up with lots of different options to rent a mobility scooter for both long and short-term hire. But is renting better than buying your own scooter? This post examines the benefits and disadvantages of hiring, both long-term and short-term, and what to watch out for before you decide.
As I mentioned in my post on mobility scooters , I currently own 3 mobility scooters, which I use at different times, and for different purposes. In my quest to find the elusive ‘perfect’ scooter, I have rented on two occasions.
My first foray into the rental market was a beast of a machine! A fast all-terrain scooter, which I had lusted after for ages, but its ‘equivalent to a small family car’ price tag made it out of my reach. Instead I decided to hire one for a couple of weeks, during a summer ‘staycation’ and enjoy going ‘off-road’. I REALLY looked forward to that scooter arriving. I had my itinerary planned – moors, country trails that were normally inaccessible. Even my dog was starting to look a bit anxious at exactly how far he was going to be expected to walk on these epic adventures!
Eventually the day arrived, and so did the machine. Crikey, that thing was HUGE. But did it make my dreams come true? Quite frankly no – I hated it. It was difficult to get onto for a start. And uncomfortable, and a bit scary because of its sheer power. I found it difficult to control at more than the slowest speed (my wrists weren’t strong enough to steer it safely). It was much wider than I thought, meaning that it wouldn’t fit through some of the gaps that I normally go through on my country walks. And my dog needn’t have worried – I couldn’t use it to walk him – because I couldn’t get on and off it without help, so it wasn’t safe to take him out using it, as I wouldn’t have been able to put him back on his lead, retrieve him from being tangled in bushes, or clear up after him. Major disappointment, but I was so glad that I hadn’t actually bought it!
My second renting adventure was when my own large scooter ‘died’. I use it daily, for going around my village and walking my dog. I loved the one that I had, it was safe, easy to get on and off, it took me most places I want to go, and it was easy to control. It’s a large scooter, the type that you can use on the road, with a long range of over 30 miles. I’m often out for hours, so it’s ideal for me. Unfortunately, this type of scooter is expensive, and I hadn’t anticipated needing a new one as quickly as I did. So rather than shell out a big chunk of money in one go, I decided on a long-term rental, and would have happily rented one the same as my old one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a rental firm that had one, and as I use it daily, I ended up choosing a more stylish looking scooter, which I hoped would have the same features.
Alas, I was disappointed in the scooter that I chose. It looked good, but it wasn’t comfortable for me. And the design of the tiller made it more difficult for me to control. It got to the stage where I used to dread using it. I was lucky, I contacted the firm and explained why the scooter didn’t meet my needs. They couldn’t provide me with one that would be a better fit for me, and so they eventually agreed to cancel the contract. I was lucky, because they hadn’t followed their own procedures and done a proper assessment of my needs in the first place. But I was still out of pocket, as I had to pay delivery and collection charges, as well as advanced rental. I then decided to buy my own scooter – and got the same model that I’d had before, as I knew that it was ideal for what I wanted.
So, if you are considering hiring, see below for what you should think about before you take the plunge.
You can rent a small scooter (the type that folds and goes in your car boot) from around £45 (without VAT) for one week. If you want it for a little longer, e.g. 2 – 12 weeks, then this cost reduces to £40 (without VAT) per week.
Check this before you sign on the dotted line:
Insurance is usually included, in case the scooter gets stolen, or you crash it! But small scratches or upholstery damage usually has to be paid for. Check for the insurance excess, this is often quite high, such as £150, so you may want to budget for that, ‘just in case’.
Often individual breakdown insurance is included in the hire costs. But this may just cover a certain number of miles. For example, 20 miles from your home address – or the delivery address where they drop off the scooter at the start of the hire period. If this is the case, and you’re hiring the scooter for a holiday, you may want to have it delivered to your holiday home after you arrive.
Check if there is an extra charge for recovery for punctures or flat batteries. I have seen this in the ‘small print’ on some rental websites. I think it’s a bit sneaky, as they are probably the main reasons for breakdown. You can avoid flat batteries by charging the scooter every time you get home, and overnight, without fail. But with a hired scooter there is little you can do to prevent punctures. I’ve suffered a few in my scooter-riding experiences and they have had different causes. Sharp stones, thorns, and glass. Difficult to avoid if you’re out and about.
You will be charged for cleaning if the scooter isn’t returned clean. It’s surprising how dirty a scooter can get if it’s raining, or you’re out on country roads. So, you might want to check that before you return it (and how much it will cost).
Check if you have to give notice at the end of the hire period. You sometimes do have to give a couple of days’ notice, even if you’ve just hired for a week. Ask for the procedure for giving notice, and how much notice you have to give.
Ask if delivery and collection charges are included in the weekly price you’ve been given. These costs are often extra on top.
You will need a credit or debit card to sign up for this type of rental.
Short-term hire is great if:
You’re not sure how much you’ll actually use a scooter, or which one will suit you best. It’s good to sometimes have an extended ‘try before you buy’ trial before you make a firm commitment.
You have a temporary condition, such as an injury or recovery from an operation, and don’t need a scooter long-term.
You have someone staying with you who needs extra help to get around.
You’re visiting someone else and can’t, or don’t want to, transport your own scooter.
You are going to be travelling around more than usual, e.g. on holiday or visiting friends. Or perhaps you’re looking after someone’s dog and want to take it for walks? Or your children are on holiday and you want to go to theme parks and other events which involve a lot of walking.
If you decide to go ahead and buy, then some firms will deduct the rental price from purchase costs. But check you can’t buy cheaper elsewhere before committing to this option.
There are many benefits to long-term hire:
You can pick from a range of scooter types and models.
Delivery is usually quick, and the price includes set-up and a demonstration of how the scooter works.
The rental price usually includes insurance against accidents and theft.
All maintenance and repairs are included in the rental price. Some even include tyres and batteries – which are an expensive ongoing cost for scooter maintenance.
24 hour a day breakdown cover is usually included too. For example, some firms will guarantee to get you and your scooter home within 45 minutes or a breakdown.
Long-term hire enables you to have a scooter without a large financial outlay in one go.
Watch out for:
Delivery costs, and advanced rental. This can come to several £100’s if you have to pay a few weeks in advance.
Some sites show costs as the weekly equivalent. But to get those hire costs, you must sign up for a three-year rental period. Shorter hire, such as a year (if available) could be considerably more. Some firms do offer the option to upgrade, or end your contract, after a specified period, such as after 18 months – but you must give notice. Read the rental agreement very carefully before you sign, and make sure you confirm any queries in writing for future reference.
There are so many scooters out there, that many hire firms will just have a limited product range. If you have a specific scooter in mind, then it may not be available.
You may not be able to specify a particular colour or certain accessories or modifications.
You never actually own the scooter, so you have to keep on paying as long as you need to use it.
You do usually get the latest model available of the scooter you choose, but it won’t necessarily be a brand-new scooter. It will be serviced and cleaned though, so this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Costs range from £12 per week for a folding scooter up to £30 a week for an all-terrain model. You must pay this for the whole length of your rental contract.
It is important to consider the overall costs when hiring a scooter long-term.
For example, I saw a Pride Go Go Sport folding scooter for rent at £12 per week. That’s £624 per year. But you can buy this scooter brand new for only £754 (excluding VAT).
Insurance, including breakdown cover costs under £100 a year. So, over a 3-year contract you’ll be paying much more than double what it would cost you to buy and insure the scooter. You will have to pay for servicing and repairs, but for this type of small scooter, which is primarily used for short outings, this may not be too much at all.
Where renting does seem a much more viable option than buying is for higher cost scooters.
For example, I saw a TGA Breeze S4 scooter advertised for rent at £30 per week. Over three years that is £4680. A fair amount. But to buy this scooter would cost you from between £4,559 to over £7,000.
And as it’s an ‘all-terrain’ scooter, you’d be more likely to pick up punctures, and need new tyres and other repairs. Batteries for these more powerful scooters are also much more costly.
Of course, at the end of three years you still wouldn’t own the scooter, so if you did buy and the scooter lasted 5 or 6 years, then your overall outlay would be less in the long-term.
It’s worth doing similar calculations if you are considering renting long-term.