|Cat from Nottingham, UK submitted this review on October 17th 2008 at 11:44 PM. Cat is an end user who has over a year of experience with the product.|
|Strengths:||* It's Titanium so light weight.|
* They swapped the brakes as they'd put the wrong ones on it - they'd put the sprung scissor brakes on it (despite me saying I couldn't operate them) so they put a pair of (un-)sprung brakes from one of their demonstrator chairs.
* The corners of the backrest are no-longer suede - I have an allergy to suede/leather (probably because of the tanning agents) so this chair doesn't strip the skin on my arms (if I'm wearing short sleeves) like the first Bromakin chair I had. (A well-used second-hand Bromakin Street Classic in Aluminium).
* The screw-in push handles are useful as it means that I can get them out of the way so that people are (theoretically) less tempted to push me!
* They now use large push-button releases on their quick release wheels.
They made it wrong!
* They made it too wide to go through a standard UK doorway as they made the axle too wide and gave it too much camber. As well as altering the axle tube a bit, they had to put the push-rims flush to the wheels or it is still too wide. (It was either this or they'd have had to rebuild it. As the wheels are off-set (by about an inch), I took to pushing on the wheels instead which I thought was ok at the time but, three years after (finally) getting it, pushing this way has further damaged my shoulders.
* They built it too 'flat' - there was not enough bucket on the seat - was told that it "was correct" but they'd not measured properly and they had to put an inch tall 'washer' between the castor and the frame (It needed to be bigger than this but they said that this was the "best" they could do! I had been told to "just loosen the adjustable seat sling so that it's lower at the back" - I replied that I'd got a board to give a completely flat surface for my cushion as I'd got to have it flat for my specialist built-up cushion which I needed because of a pelvic obliquity and scoliosis! Several weeks later I got a phone call back and they put the washers in! I had to be given a hard foam wedge (by the Wheelchair Services) to put under my cushion to give it the bucket that the chair should have been giving me in the first place!)
* The footplate was made with the inner tube too low - I'd asked for it to be made nearly flat as I cannot get my feet to right-angles and have 'foot-drop' so couldn't have it too angled. They ignored this and I ended up in agony after 40 minutes use a couple of days after first trying it. (I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and get a quote for my new chair which I've been saving for since getting the Bromakin chair using the NHS Wheelchair Voucher scheme. To ensure that the footrest would be correct, I specified that, this time, it must be flat. Considering they are supposed to make 'custom-built' chairs, I was amazed that the quote said that they wanted £30 extra for this!)
* Backrest adjustable straps are no longer webbing and velcro - they are velcro alone. This means that the back cannot be adjusted as much and the D-ring on my top strap has turned sideways with the pull from the strap as I need the top strap quite tight. If they were webbing and velcro as they used to be, this wouldn't happen - I believe it's a cost-cutting exercise! (Again, giving them the benefit of the doubt, the new quote had specifications about the back. To make sure that the D-rings are on the correct side (I've got scoliosis so cannot have the D-rings on the left side of my back (viewed from the rear) and asked for the TOP two straps to be made with webbing and velcro to avoid the problems I've got now. They wanted an EXTRA £100 for the privilege!)
* They also seem to be cutting corners with the back upholstery. The cushion is not as padded as their previous chairs. (I'd previously been given a second-hand Aluminium 'Street Classic' chair which, though well used, still had MUCH better padding on the backrest!) I ended up with pressure sores from the straps and D-rings in only a couple of days! Admittedly they did replace the back cushion when I 'threw' the chair back at them with all the other faults!
* The H bar on the backrest was not as far out from the seat back as I'd asked for so I often get banged right where I've got the spinal damage because the bar is also lower.
* I'd said I couldn't use their flat cushion which they usually supplied with their chairs as I needed a specialist cushion because of severe scoliosis (I'd be curving over the wheel on one side if I sat on a flat cushion!) I asked if it would be possible to omit the cushion because of this. I was told that the cushion was always supplied as they included it in the price of the chair. I reiterated that I would not be able to use it so it would be better for me not to have it cluttering up my house. I was told that, no, they would be supplying it and charging for it!!!???!?!?!?
* The footplate is too low and so I've had to adapt the chair using a calf strap tightened as tight as it will go across the castor housing/footplate uprights. (Admittedly this is not ALL Bromakin's fault, BUT, see below about the cushion.)
* The original armrests were too low so they had to build new ones.
* I'd asked if the axle pins would be the same size as the chair I'd already got as I'd got a spare wheel for the second-hand Bromakin Street Classic (Aluminium) chair and, as having a spare wheel was useful as I'd already had punctures and didn't have the money for another wheel, having the pins the same size would be great. I was assured that "of course they'll be the same" however they weren't! The pins on the new chair wouldn't fit through the wheels for the old chair. Yet another promise broken.
I felt that they thought I was being picky ('especially' as I wasn't buying the chair myself - I was lucky enough to get a large wheelchair voucher which paid for almost 4/5ths of the cost. I'd not been given much choice about where to 'take' my wheelchair voucher - the hospital said that I had to go to Bromakin as that was where they usually sent people). It was my first experience of actually getting a chair of my own (as opposed to being given the second hand one.) The boss (a full-time wheelchair user) couldn't seem to get his head round the fact I have severe constant chronic pain and that what didn't bother him (like the backrest straps and D-rings or the footplate) were absolute AGONY for me.) I certainly felt that, had I been interested in wheelchair sports (I was NEVER interested in sport even when I was on my feet - the nearest I got to enjoying sport was Ballroom Dancing lessons), they would have been more interested in getting it right. The first time I went back, Jayant Mistry was in there and it seemed as if most of them were 'fawning' round him.
I'd first gone to Bromakin in May 2005 to get a quote and ordered the chair a few weeks later. I'd been quoted a build time of about 4-6 weeks on my order confirmation, however, I first was asked to go over to collect it in September. Fine, they'd had someone off ill BUT, I'd been phoning to find out when it would be ready and was always told "we'll call you next week" but they didn't! Some eighteen days after I'd initially phoned to say I had major problems with the chair (the bucket, footplate and backrest), I finally got a call back from the boss. As I'd had problems with them not contacting me and I'd already paid my portion to them, I advised Wheelchair Services that there were major problems and they may want to hold off on full payment until the problems were resolved. I was accused by Bromakin of "holding them to ransom". They hadn't got organised and built the correct chair I'd ordered but blamed me! In the October, I'd gone back to try the armrests as the first ones were completely unsuitable. I was told that they would be ready in a couple of weeks so I could collect the chair as soon as possible but every time I called, the chair was not ready and the armrests were 'still' "being painted"! Some twenty-six weeks after placing the order, I finally got the wheelchair. It wasn't right then but I was told by Wheelchair Services that I could either "accept this chair or start from scratch with a new company who would probably not make a chair that was 'perfect' and I'd probably have problems with any new chair too". I felt pressured and, as the second-hand chair was also causing problems because the back couldn't be raised any higher, it had no armrests for when I was very fatigued by pain and didn't offer the support I needed. I couldn't wait any longer and just wanted an end to it all so accepted the chair.
One additional problem is that Wheelchair Services told me to get the chair, then AFTERWARDS, they'd sort a suitable cushion! Word of WARNING! - NEVER get your chair first - if you need a specialist wheelchair cushion for positioning or pressure relief, ALWAYS have the chair built so it WILL take the cushion you need as it's easier to have a custom-built chair built to take the cushion than to 'make do' with either the wrong cushion or the right cushion but the chair is wrong! (This problem was NOT Bromakin's fault but Wheelchair Services, HOWEVER, a decent wheelchair manufacturer should ask what type of cushion you expect to use with the chair - the height of the cushion will alter the centre of gravity and also the type of cushion will alter the weight distribution.) I've had the 'right' cushion for 18 months now and, unfortunately, the back won't adjust enough because of the adjustable strap problem (I've got no one with sewing skills and cannot do it myself because of severe hand problems). Also, because the footplate cannot be raised any higher, the strap I use is a nightmare. (And because the chair was built to the wrong angle, the whole thing is too high, not only to get my knees under a table, but, also too tall to get into off the floor without straining my shoulders.)
I've really needed a new wheelchair since I got the 'Bromakin Street Classic Ti' and asked the OT who finally sorted my specialist wheelchair cushion for a new assessment as my needs had changed and the chair didn't fit (especially since it had too little bucket and the footplate is too low with the cushion I NEED. She said "no, you've not had the chair for the length of the voucher". Great! Now I've saved enough to get the chair I need, my needs have changed further. I've got to get electric push-assist wheels (though the last physio I saw said I should have a joystick-controlled powerchair because of my permanently dislocated left shoulder and my right dislocating at increasingly short intervals - No thanks - I'd rather have push-assist in the shorter term which other health professionals deem better so that I'm still using my shoulders so they don't become even weaker through lack of use but I'm not over-stressing the shoulders.
I thought I'd give Bromakin the benefit of the doubt. The original owner of the Aluminium 'Bromakin Street Classic' which became my first (albeit second-hand) chair had been generally happy with Bromakin. (She WAS sporty though!) I went through very specific requirements with the chap at Bromakin and asked for all the details to be confirmed on the quote. They weren't. Also, there are several inaccuracies (which is why I'd asked for a very detailed quote). Also, to want to charge EXTRA for 'altering' the 'standard' angle of the footplate for a supposed custom chair is crazy. I had also wanted Frogs Legs on a new chair because I am still in constant unrelenting pain all the time despite strong (controlled-drug) painkillers and wanted a bit softer ride. I was told to have SOLID tyres in the Yamaha JW-IIs. Realistically, (when talking to the place I'm buying my new chair from), I was told if I wanted solid tyres, don't bother getting the Frogs or have Schwalbe tyres on the Yamaha JW-IIs and have the Frogs. (Schwalbe tyres giving the best of both worlds - puncture resistance and the 'give' you get in a pneumatic tyre.) I was also told that the Alber E-Motions were better (and easier for them to fit) so, why didn't I go for them? As I said, I would never be able to get the batteries in and out safely as I wouldn't be able to hold the batteries even on their own. It was easily proved that the Yamaha wheels would be better as the chap put a battery on my hands which were sat on my knees. I couldn't even lift my hands off my lap with one battery in both hands so using fingers of one hand to get them out would have been impossible.
Steve, (who's not a wheelchair user), from Bromakin has been great when I've seen him at Naidex and couldn't be more polite and understanding. It's a shame that other staff members don't have his skills and empathy.
I was SO disappointed. I'd hoped that my earlier experiences would have been a 'one off' bad patch. It seems not. Anyone considering Bromakin take heed. If you want a true custom built chair to your own specifications, look elsewhere. Bromakin wanted MORE money than the people who are building my new chair. OK, I don't know what my new chair will be like in the end BUT, this other company are going to bring a partially completed chair to leave with me for a few days to check that things are right or to enable them to 'tweak' things so they are right - AT NO extra cost!!!! I was told it would take a few weeks longer ("was that all right"?) - as I said, I was blown away that they both could AND would do that and "of course it's all right - I'd rather have the right chair and wait a bit longer for it than have the same sort of nightmare. I was told that my chair would not just be 'right' but "your chair will be perfect, I promise you that". I've certainly had a lot more help and support from this new company than from Bromakin so, even though I've not got my new chair from this other company yet, I'd still recommend them over Bromakin any day. If you choose to go to Bromakin after reading this then it's certainly your choice BUT take heed of my nightmare and go in with your eyes open. I'll review my new chair when I've got it and tried it for a while.
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