Sunk: Bath Knight the company that aids the disabled

The happy image of Bath Knight: Now it is bust

The happy image of Bath Knight: Now it is bust

Disabled people who have purchased equipment that enables people with mobility problems to have a daily bath have been left in the lurch by the collapse of the company that makes the aids

Without virtually any coverage Care Knight, owners of Bath Knight, the Stoke on Trent manufacturing company of expensive  bath aids, has gone bust over the summer. The company made an aid which gently lowered people into the bath on a band and gently raises them out of the bath.

The problem facing people is that the company both installs and maintains the machinery to do this – and now it is in administration, Its staff have been sacked and there appears to be nobody available to service aids that cost over £2000 to buy.

We purchased one – as my wife is recovering from a stroke and needs help to have a bath- and thankfully had some repairs done just before the company went bust. I wrote about my experiences when they installed the Bath Knight here. But others have not been lucky – I have been contacted by someone whose Bath Knight no longer works and they are in great difficulties getting something done.

The saga of the collapse of Bath Knight is revealed in a series of documents filed at Companies House. From these documents it looks as though the owners of the family firm. the Greenwoods,. tried to save the company by entering a voluntary arrangement with a  national firm of business recovery and insolvency specialists, Begbies Traynor .

The main owner, Mrs Annette Elvina Greenwood, took out a £30,000 floating charge on May 5 – an unusual arrangement which allows a company to borrow money on any assets the company may have to cover debts. The loan was charged to Care Knight Group a company that has not been affected by the collapse of Care Knight. Mrs Greenwood, her husband and her daughter are directors of both companies.

But on July 3 Care Knight Ltd called in the receivers. According to the report filed by Begbies Traynor the company went bust owing £428, creditors. this included £310,973 to trade creditors, £100,000 to redundant employees, and £76,047 to the Inland Revenue.

The company also owed £255,625 was owed to its parent company Care Knight Group.

The trigger was a demand for a substantial sum in back rent from the landlords of its premises in Stoke on Trent which were closed and locked up until the administrators were able to get access.

What is not clear is what will happen to the disabled people relying on Bath Knight for repairs and servicing. Those who have paid for equipment through a credit card but not received it could claim on their credit card but the rest seem to have been abandoned.

It is no good contacting the company’s old headquarters Paladin House as it is now closed. The parent company has ,moved to Unit 73, Bedford Street, Stoke on Trent ST1 4PZ but I am told is uncontactable. However if you follow this link  at the new Companies House free access website and look up officers you will find the home address of the directors who are still directors of the parent company. I suggest anybody worried should write to Mrs Greenwood there and ask what she is going to do about their plight.

Since I put up this blog i have been contacted by The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) who point out that the firm concerned was not a member of the BHTA.  People buying goods and services from BHTA member companies are protected by a Code of Practice approved and overseen by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).  This Code is rigorously enforced and it gives consumers considerable protection and access to a complaints and dispute resolution process.  Anyone buying goods and services for disabled people (generally known as “assistive technology”) should be advised to buy from companies who are members of the BHTA and are therefore governed by the Code of Practice.

I find this latest disclosure all the more concerning since Care Knight left the organisation when a new code of practice designed to protect disabled people from bad service was introduced. That is not good news.

Bath Knightmare: A cautionary tale for disabled people

The Bath-Knight  over my bath :Now working properly after quite a lot of trauma.

The Bath-Knight over my bath :Now working properly after quite a lot of trauma.

One of the disadvantages for my wife Margaret recovering at home from a stroke is that she cannot have a bath because of loss of mobility.

We have an old-fashioned roll top bath and our home is part of Grade II listed Tudor coaching inn – still a pub until 1969. Standard aids to get in and out of the bath don’t work.

So it was with great interest when we received a cold call – I’d still like to know who gave the company our  ex directory number – from a firm called Care Knight – a British company based in Stoke on Trent – with a solution.

 The company make an aid called Bath-Knight, a powered mobility aid with a belt that can gently lower and raise you into the bath – and can easily fit over all types of bath and even be mounted on a free-standing frame – useful for Grade II listed buildings.

So we had a visit from a salesman – David Murphy – who assured us it was easy to fit and would be no problems. ” we had no trouble fitting over roll top baths and we even have customers from stately homes who are very happy with it.” he said.

As a blurb says: “If you have trouble getting in and out of the bath, then a Bath-Knight bath lift can help put an end to all your worries about bathing.”

But it was not to be. The first sign of a problem came when they came to install it. The installer,Chris,had to abandon it because he had not noticed he had to move the waste pipe from the bath when he drew up the specifications. As he had cancelled the plumber he had to make a new appointment. And that is when the real trouble began.

Both Chris and Martin, the Polish plumber, came to fit the installation and moved the bath to reroute the waste pipe which did not take too much time.
The next day I had a bath. When I came back two hours later water was pouring into cellar, dripping from the ceiling into the hall, and running down the wall to our main staircase.
I called Bath Knight and they sent the Polish plumber back the next day. It turned out to be an all day job with no water. What the installer had done was fracture the copper piping to the bath and they had to replace the piping.
That should have been the end of it. But when my wife used the Bath Knight and found the angle on the belt was too steep. She felt unsafe and worried she would slip off particularly when trying to get out of the bath.
I contacted Bath Knight and their initial response was tardy – Chris the installer insisted it was correct – but it wasn’t and the customer care manager, David Reiter,stopped him coming to see us.
I sent a letter to the chairman,Mrs Annette Greenwood, threatening her with a pretty critical blog about their product.
Mr Reiter did a U-turn and came down from Stoke on Trent to Berkhamsted, to see us. He not only found that the angle was a little on the high side but that the frame which holds the robust aid moved when it shouldn’t.
To the company’s credit things got better. Martin, the Polish plumber, who was the most helpful of the lot, came and redecorated our hall. A new frame arrived and it is working better.
But there was a further sting in the tail. I wrote and asked for a reduction on this most expensive kit, it costs over £2000. I got no reply, instead just bill reminders from the accounts department, ending up with a threat of legal action. I complained to Mr Reiter and finally got £250 off the bill.
What should have been an extremely simple process became a nightmare. I have published this to warn people that the elderly may find the product a little unnerving because of the slope.
But also I wonder that if I were not a savvy journo whether we would have had a different outcome. Care-Knight charge a lot for their product – which I must admit is robust. Most of their clients are elderly and vulnerable and may literally not be able to stand up for themselves if faced with such an equivalent mess. I would warn people to be wary – and also ask how they got your address, Care Knight do pay for such information.