AVH, is responding to the recent report published by Professor Peter Cooke, Buckingham University, on how the rental market is serving the disabled community.
Lorraine Farnon, managing director, AVH believes the independent research highlights the difficulties faced by the major rental brands in serving this sector of the community. And she believes the same challenges are also faced by other businesses with a requirement to provide short-term vehicle rental such as insurance and credit hire companies and accident management providers.
“I am not surprised by the findings of Professor Peter Cooke’s research” said Lorraine Farnon. “Many of the major vehicle rental companies are very keen to integrate the services we can provide to enable them to serve the disabled community and their carers. The challenge is ensuring that staff at all levels of the business – in call centres and branches – fully understand what their company’s obligations are in line with the Equality Act and what services they can access.
“All too often disabled people who rely on an adapted vehicle as their only means of transport are left in the lurch when that vehicle needs servicing or repairs after an accident. Disabled people have the same rights as the able bodied and the organisations serving them, such as rental companies, bodyshops and garages and insurers need to do more to ensure these customers aren’t discriminated against by a lack of suitable transport or vehicles whilst their main method of transport is unavailable.”
Professor Peter Cooke, at Buckingham University commissioned research of the major daily rental companies to find out how they responded to requests for adapted vehicles, both through their call centres and by email. The findings of the research suggest that the understanding of what can be offered is inconsistent across the industry and even across different contact points within individual companies. The result is that disabled motorists are often left feeling that there is no short-term vehicle hire option available or that it will be complex and expensive to arrange.
Lorraine Farnon believes this highlights an inherent lack of understanding about the needs of the disabled community.
“Understanding the specialist requirements of disabled drivers and passengers is at the heart of AVH and the quality of our fleet means short-term vehicle hire is easily available to disabled drivers and their families and carers – helping them enjoy the freedom and flexibility everyone is entitled to. We can, and already do, integrate access to our services with an organisation’s website or call centre operations to give them a streamlined solution for their customers.”
Delivering rental vehicles across the country, AVH operates an unrivalled range of cars which are fitted with very specific adaptations to suit each customer's needs. A state-of-the-art adaptations workshop ensures that every vehicle has the appropriate adaptations required for individual needs. The company also offers a large and varied fleet of wheelchair accessible vehicles.
Whether renting for a weekend, a week, a month or longer, AVH offers a complete range of vehicles from all the major motor manufacturers, for the ultimate in flexibility for disabled customers their friends and family. And all vehicles are delivered by AVH drivers who are also trained to provide detailed handovers to ensure the customer fully understands the functionality of the vehicle supplied.
“Professor Cooke’s report provides a very balanced insight into some of the challenges vehicle rental companies – and other organisations that need to access short term vehicle hire – have in ensuring that they properly understand the needs of the disabled community”, concluded Lorraine Farnon. “As the largest supplier of adapted cars and wheelchair accessible vehicles in the UK, AVH can deliver first class customer service to any disabled drivers and their carers. And this can very easily ensure other organisations are serving the disabled community well and reducing the risk to their corporate reputations through non-compliance with the Equality Act.”