Several helpful options for acquiring accessible vehicles offer flexibility and peace of mind to people with ALS and their families. The plans acknowledge that a client might not need the van for an extended period and help make the purchase of a vehicle more affordable.
When it’s time to purchase a van, Dana Roeling, executive director of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association, suggests that you contact NMEDA to learn about its member-dealers in your area and those that are certified under its nationally accredited Quality Assurance Program (QAP).
The Ride-Away Handicap Equipment Corp., a mobility dealer based in Londonderry, N.H., designed a buy-back option for people with diseases with predicted survival rates of less than five years. In 2005 alone, Ride-Away bought back 30 vehicles.
“I started the buy-back program 15 years ago when I met a client with ALS,” said Ride-Away’s CEO and president, Mark Lore. “He was trying to make sure that his family wasn’t saddled with a lot of debt when he passed away.”
Lore explained that when Ride-Away sells a van, it considers the typical market depreciation for the vehicle. Ride-Away then puts into writing the buy-back value guaranteed to the consumer during each month of the financing commitment.
Lore usually encourages a shopper with ALS to purchase a slightly used vehicle because “the loss that a person is going to take on a used vehicle is going to be less than the loss on a new vehicle.”
Rollx Vans, a conversion company that only sells directly to the customer, offers the Preferred Option Buy Out Program, which allows the client to “opt out” of the finance agreement without penalty and turn in the vehicle.
The terms of the agreement include: a five-year finance term; a 20 percent down payment; a minimum of 24 monthly payments; a vehicle in good condition; an annual mileage limit of 12,000 miles.
If the van isn’t turned in, the client owns it after five years, or 60 monthly payments.
Rollx President Mike Harris explained that the company designed the program with ALS clients in mind. In addition, Harris said, the program’s also beneficial because “the money they put into the vehicle is an investment and not a loss if they end up keeping it for the five years.”
Selling on consignment
Consignment programs vary from dealer to dealer, but the general idea is the same — for a fee, a mobility dealer will sell the vehicle before the finance term ends and send you a check once the vehicle’s been sold.
For example, under a consignment agreement with Access Vans of Louisiana, owned by Marcus Smith, the client keeps his or her insurance on the vehicle and signs over the title to the dealer. The client and dealer agree on the selling price of the vehicle, and once the dealer sells it, he mails the client a check.
Stephen Estes, sales manager for NorCal Mobility in Chico, Calif., explained that when he takes a vehicle on consignment, NorCal Mobility charges an initial fee of $250 for a detailed inspection.
From there, NorCal Mobility determines the retail value for both the chassis and the conversion. The consignment fee is based on the overall value.
If a problem is found during the inspection, Estes said that repairs must be made before his dealership will agree to sell the vehicle. The repair, inspection and consignment fees are deducted from the sale price, and the remainder is sent to the client.
NorCal Mobility also offers a buy-back option, but Estes added, “A person benefits the most from a consignment agreement . . . if you used a buy-back plan, . . . you only get trade-in value.”