Great Idea – If People Know About It
DMUK Member Dan McIntyre Takes A Look At ServiceCall
ServiceCall is a system which allows disabled people to summon help
when needed, for example when visiting a petrol station. It was developed and manufactured and is
marketed by Autochair Ltd, a supplier of various motoring-related mobility
products such as wheelchair hoists, person lifts and swivelling car seats.
The system is quite simple and consists of an infrared transmitter
which the user carries in their car. On
arrival at a petrol station that uses the system the user points their
transmitter at the receiver which is usually mounted in the cashiers area in a
prominent location and presses the Call button.
This activates a beeper and flashing strobe light at the receiver. The cashier or assistant then comes and
assists you. This is more discreet than
the usual sounding of a horn or flashing of lights.
At time of writing the transmitter costs £14.95 which includes postage
and packaging and the receiver (which the relevant company pays for and
installs) costs £335 excluding VAT.
ServiceCall can be used at locations other than petrol stations where
assistance might be needed. I have seen
it installed in banks and chemists, though how much use it gets there I do not
I have been using the system since late 2006 and have had mixed
experiences. For the most part petrol
station staff are trained quite well and respond quickly and politely when
One of the more interesting experiences I have had was at the Tesco
supermarket in Batley on a Saturday in 2007.
I had pulled up needing fuel and used the ServiceCall transmitter as
usual. The receiver had beeped and
flashed and the young lady working inside had looked at it, reset it and
ignored it. I waited a few minutes
thinking she may have been busy and come out when she could. After this I used the transmitter again and
again the receiver beeped and flashed, was reset and ignored. I was now worried that I wouldn’t be able to
get any fuel.
On my third attempt the young lady inside reset the receiver again and
looked out of the window, at which point I flashed my lights and she came out
to the car.
Once I had explained to her what the problem was she apologised and
replied that she hadn’t been told what the beeping was and just kept resetting
it. When I asked her about filling the
car she replied that she was 16 and didn’t know how to use a petrol pump.
Her colleague in the shop was busy so she was unable to assist. I was then surprised when a young lad who had
been filling his scooter came over. He’d
heard what was going on and asked if he could help. I explained to him I needed petrol and he
very kindly filled my car. The young
employee had returned back inside by this time so he took my money and went
inside to pay. As a thank you I also
paid for the fuel he’d put in his scooter – it was the least I could do.
So the system is useful, where people have had training and are able
to actually assist. To their credit the
above incident was highlighted to Tesco in a letter and they responded by
ensuring all petrol station staff are trained in its use, as well as the use of
DMUK campaign on behalf of disabled motorists and have a campaign
around the subject of refuelling. This
centres around 4 main issues:
- Disabled motorists must be able to receive appropriate assistance
with refuelling and paying.
- If there are changes to the way that fuel is supplied, such as
changes in automation or staffing levels, these must not have a negative
impact on disabled drivers.
- Petrol stations should install Servicecall and train their staff to
use the system properly.
- Petrol stations must find an acceptable way of taking payment using
credit cards, for example by installing ‘spark safe’ terminals or accepting
a signature instead.
An effective campaign relies on as much information as possible being
received from the people affected – disabled motorists and/or passengers who
need to refuel their cars in order to keep their independence. DMUK have an online survey at http://tiny.cc/petrolstation where you can
submit details of your experiences.
Address: ServiceCall, Milford Lane, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1EX
Tel: (01629) 814488 –
or Freephone 0800 458 3008
Fax: (01629) 815470