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Consumers in Massachusetts who purchase wheelchairs may face unfair and deceptive business practices. Fortunately, our Office administers a Wheelchair Arbitration program based on Customized Wheelchair Lemon Law (M.G.L. c. 93, § 107). The program provides you with the ability to settle disputes with the manufacturer of your customized wheelchair. In this blog, we explore what the program entails.

What is considered a “customized wheelchair?”

A “customized wheelchair” is defined as a new manual or motorized wheeled mobility device. Customized wheelchairs must be purchased or leased new in Massachusetts, and adapted to meet the specific needs of a particular person’s disability. Customized wheelchairs also includes wheeled mobility devices purchased by a parent or legal guardian for their child.

Is my customized wheelchair covered under warranty?

The law provides you with a one year warranty from the day of delivery of the new wheelchair. This warranty protects against defects substantially impairing the use, safety, or value of your wheelchair. During this period you have the right to ask the manufacturer to fix serious defects or ask the dealer/distributor to fix the defects instead of going to the manufacturer. This warranty does not cover defects caused by damage caused after the sale of the wheelchair.

What are the arbitration program eligibility requirements?

After your warranty period, you may apply for the Wheelchair Lemon Law Arbitration program at no cost if you experience serious problems with your new, privately purchased or leased customized wheelchair. You may be eligible if you have paid some or all of the cost of the wheelchair, or paid a co-pay to your private insurance. If you used public health insurance such as MassHealth or Medicare to purchase your wheelchair, you are not eligible for the arbitration program.

What are your rights if the problems aren’t fixed?

Within the first year that you purchased your wheelchair, if at least one substantial defect exists after four repair attempts or after the wheelchair has been out for repairs for 30 days, you must give one final repair opportunity to the manufacturer. If the manufacturer doesn’t fix the problem within seven businesses days, then you are entitled to a refund. If the manufacturer refuses to issue a refund, you may request arbitration through our Office by filling the Wheelchair Lemon Law Arbitration Application within 18 months of the date of delivery.

What happens during the arbitration process?

If you’re eligible for arbitration, a hearing is scheduled and an arbitrator is appointed by our Office. The arbitrator presides and issues a legally-binding decision whether or not the wheelchair meets the criteria for a refund or replacement. The decision is mailed to both parties approximately 10 days after the hearing. If you are rewarded, the manufacturer must replace or repurchase the wheelchair within 30 days. The manufacturer may appeal the decision in court within 21 days of the decision.

Additional Resources

If you are have a problem with a wheelchair you purchased from a Massachusetts business that isn’t covered under the Customized Wheelchair Lemon Law, you might consider:

Contact our Consumer Hotline at 617-973-8787 or toll free at 888-283-3757 with questions regarding the Customer Wheelchair Lemon Law or associated Arbitration Program.


The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry. If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.

 

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