Motability customers have spoken of lengthy delays, shortages, and steep rises in advance payments as they try to replace their ageing vehicles through the disabled people’s car scheme.
They spoke out after Disability News Service (DNS) revealed last week that Motability Operations – the company which runs the scheme* – had admitted that thousands of its customers were being affected by supply and delivery delays in the global car industry.
Disabled activist Michelle Maher described last week how she had been waiting since last November for the Mini Countryman she ordered through the scheme to be delivered.
But after reading her story, other disabled customers have come forward to describe the problems they are facing.
Dave, from Surrey, said the advance payments for cars on the scheme had “jumped across the board”.
He needs to lease an automatic with a flat boot, and he has previously been able to choose from options with a £300 advance payment, but the current cheapest advance payment now is £949, with two Vauxhall Astra versions at this price, while the next most expensive are £1,499, £1,999 and £2,849.
He told DNS: “It means I’ll have to go with an unsuitable vehicle as I can’t be without one.
“My ability to save up for my next vehicle has been particularly affected by the increased fuel prices.”
But he did praise Motability for being “very proactive” about letting him know of the “high probability of delays”.
John, from Brighton, said he has been waiting eight months and still has not been told when his new car will be built, let alone delivered.
He ordered his car on 10 December 2021, and the original delivery date was April 2022, but he has been repeatedly contacted to tell him of another delay.
Although Motability has extended his three-year lease, which had been due to run out in April, it means he is now paying the full monthly rental fee for a car that is more than three years old.
He now does not expect to take delivery of the new car until 2023.
Jane, from south Wales, told DNS that she and her husband ordered their Ford S-MAX in April but have been told the company has not even started building their car yet, and that they will probably need to wait until November.
Customers looking to lease a scooter or powerchair through the scheme have also faced problems.
Julie, from Yorkshire, said she was finding it difficult to find a powered wheelchair or scooter that she can try out through a home demonstration.
She said: “There are so many products not available to have as a home demonstration.
“I am being told to look on the Motability website and pick one without seeing it in a home demonstration.
“I am not willing to do this because I need to see the product, sit on the product, and have a go at the product.
“If I cannot get home demonstrations, I will be forced to come off the scheme as I cannot risk leasing something I have not viewed and tried.
“I am being told the issue lies with production and them only being made when someone orders.”
Other Motability customers have commented on social media, in response to last week’s news story.
One said on Twitter: “11 months and counting still no build date from Ford.”
A customer said on Facebook: “I’ve been waiting since March. I was told June, then July then August now sometime in September. I’ve been told it has been built now waiting shipping.”
And another customer said on Facebook: “Been waiting over 11 months for a wheelchair vehicle.
“Rural, no shops, no buses, having to borrow my son’s tiny hatchback! Still no build date… Citroen Spacetourer.”
A Motability Operations spokesperson said: “We understand our customers’ frustrations with this global motoring industry situation and share their concern about the delays in receiving their new vehicles.
“We also recognise the rising costs in the automotive industry, and we know that some Motability scheme customers are impacted by this when they are looking for a new car on the scheme.
“To help our customers with the affordability of their new vehicle, we introduced the ‘New Vehicle Payment’ in February this year, a one-off payment of £250 when they take delivery of their car.”
She added: “The global car market is still facing a number of challenges, which are leading to supply issues, delivery delays and a shortage of many new makes and models.
“Like the rest of the automotive industry, Motability scheme customers are still being impacted by delays in receiving their vehicles.
“We are working hard to keep all Motability scheme customers up to date with the latest information at every stage of their lease regarding the global supply constraints.
“Our main priority remains keeping our customers mobile, and we are auto extending leases on existing vehicles wherever we need to.
“If a customer is impacted by delays or changes in the specification of their vehicle, we are working with our manufacturer and dealer partners, to ensure we can offer customers a viable alternative.”
She said Motability Operations had shared “multiple communications” with its customers, including email updates, holding question and answer sessions on social media, providing the latest information about the global car supply issues on its website, and through its customer services team.
It is also advising customers to speak to their Motability dealer for the most up-to-date information about delivery dates.
She said customers should start looking for their new car “as soon as they can”, and “to speak to a few different dealers before placing an order” as “a comparable car from a different manufacturer could be available sooner”.
Existing customers can place their next order three months before the end of their lease, which may speed up the delivery times for their chosen vehicle, she said.
She added: “If a customer is unable to find anything suitable for their needs before the end of their current lease, we will automatically extend their existing lease for six months to allow more time to do this.”
*The charity Motability, which oversees the work of Motability Operations, is a subscriber to Disability News Service
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