New S212 E Class passenger seat modification advice

Discussion in 'Interior' started by Red C220, Aug 17, 2014.

  1. Red C220

    Red C220 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    We were due to take delivery of a new E class this month.

    Background.

    Mrs Red is a wheelchair user (MS). She can transfer herself from chair to car with a little help but walking is extremely limited/not happening.

    We decided this year to opt out of the Motability scheme due to the restriction it places on the cars we can now have and has stopped us using our own money to fund something nicer.

    Since we got our last car 3 years ago Mrs Red's condition has deteriorated to a degree that she really needs some form of modification to the passenger seat to aide here entry and exit from our car. Me lifting her out is not a long term solution (at least not for my back!)

    We figured we'd take advantage of the VAT relief that HMRC offer to wheelchair users with a substantial and permanent modification to the car.

    Visited dealer, had a test drive, Mrs Red loved the comfort and drive of the E class, the numbers were right and we placed an order and arranged for a seat modification. Car was built to our spec, delivered to dealer and due to be collected early August.

    Three days before collection we get a call from MB informing us they don't consider the modifications undertaken "substantial and permanent" and even if they were they couldn't sell us the car on finance VAT free according to Mercedes Finance for reasons that were never completely explained to us. Our deposit was returned and we had no vehicle.

    The sales lady we were dealing with was mortified and completely embarrassed (she is their Mobility specialist and has sold a number of cars in this manner) this is MB retail, not a franchised dealer.

    So she contacted a friend of hers at another MB dealer, a franchise this time not MB retail, (arranged to transfer the new car we'd ordered across to them) luck would have it we'd bought a car from him before, so we went to meet discussed what we'd like to do - he contacted his head office, they gave him the procedure and explained what modification would be considered "permanent and substantial" without question - a swivel seat. That suits us perfectly. We said what we'd like is something along the lines of this, retaining the original MB seat:-

    [​IMG]

    Fast forward to this weekend, we get a call explaining they can't fit a swivel seat in an E class and retan the original Mercedes seat. The only thing we can have is this:-

    [​IMG]

    Which kind of defeats the object of buying and E class for it's ride quality and seat comfort.

    The VAT relief makes this car affordable for us, without the VAT relief we can't buy it.

    Does anyone happen to a know of a company that could undertake a swivel seat modification to an E class and retain the original seat?

    We are considering another modification:-

    [​IMG]

    This would certainly help Mrs Red get in and out of the car - but we're waiting to hear if this would be considered "permanent and substantial".

    Any ideas greatly appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  2. stevehg

    stevehg Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    What discount off list were you offered on the eClass in addition to VAT off. I only ask, as I recently bought a new factory order estate with a ~20% discount, so slightly less than the equivalent VAT free price.

    Ordering in the same way, may get you the car you want and then modify it the way you want without any worries about VAT qualification or not.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Red C220

    Red C220 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    We negotiated another 9% off list on top of the VAT.
     
  4. Harrythedog

    Harrythedog Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    So what modifications had they actually done to the E class?
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Red C220

    Red C220 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Raised the passenger seat with modifications to the subframe extending the motor function so it would raise a lot further than standard.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
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  6. st13phil

    st13phil MB Club Veteran

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    Just a thought, but if the criteria are that the mod has to be "substantial and permanent", why not get them to weld the raised subframe to the car's floorpan?
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Red C220

    Red C220 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Raising the seat height (in whatever manner) is no longer considered "substantial and permanent".

    None of the HMRC rules have changed in the fours years since we bought an ML300 with modifications but they way they are being interpreted has changed a great deal. To a point where mechanical hand controls are no longer a qualifying modification - these need to be combined with a swivel seat or hoist.

    It creates an anomaly.

    We could have a hoist fitted in the boot to lift a wheelchair in - that's an automatic qualification and no questions would be asked - but it's absolutely no help to us. I can lift the wheelchair in, it's a lightweight model.

    We're not going to pay for a useless modification simply to qualify for VAT relief, it's simply wrong.

    The problem is it seems no one will engineer a solution, there is a swivel seat manufactured that's an "off the shelf" item - if they can't fit it into your car then you simply have to choose another vehicle.
     
  8. st13phil

    st13phil MB Club Veteran

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    OK, I understand.
    I admire your principles, but you may have to "play the game" to get a solution :dk:
     
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  9. OP
    OP
    Red C220

    Red C220 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    It's starting to look this way, which is a little absurd considering the idea of tightening the system was to stop people playing the game to get VAT relief.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Red C220

    Red C220 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Update, the above modification is looking as though it's accepted as "Substantial and Permanent".

    It actually looks like a perfect solution, although I'd probably like to get it covered in black Artico to match the interior.

    Hopefully this gets us back on track.
     
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  11. OP
    OP
    Red C220

    Red C220 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Well we finally sorted this out today, by giving up on any VAT relief available and buying the car in the normal manner.

    It had become a little absurd, we were trying to get an appropriate modification put in for Mrs Red, but each time we came up with something suitable it wasn't considered "permanent and substantial enough" and might be a grey area with HMRC. At which point the dealer says they don't want the risk etc. Which is fair enough.

    So then we had various "qualifying" modifications run past us many of which were running to £3000 and £4000, none of which were appropriate.

    So we just asked the dealer to put the best deal together for us that he could and we'll have a seat height modification done ourselves.

    Abuse of the system has create this issue. Many genuine disabled people are no longer able to take advantage of what should simply be a tax relief. It's a shame.

    It all started to get tightened up back in 2007 as a result of this BBC NEWS | UK | Probe over wheelchair 'car fraud'

    It's got gradually more difficult to a degree where many people who would benefit from the system no longer qualify.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
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  12. OP
    OP
    Red C220

    Red C220 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Well it finally arrived today after a long wait. Happy E Class owners.

    I guess I should requisition a new name now.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Harrythedog

    Harrythedog Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Very nice, did you get the seat fitted
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Red C220

    Red C220 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    No, we couldn't find anyone who could/would fit one in an E class, so we had the passenger seat sub frame raised by 40mm which Helps Mrs Red to get in and out.

    Add this to the increased ride height of an E class over a C class and it makes a big difference.

    The boot is huge, which was one of the big selling points to us, wheelchair, walking frame and mobility scooter are now easy to get in and out.
     
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  15. stevehg

    stevehg Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    I'm glad it all worked out well in the end.
     
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  16. Ted

    Ted MB Club Veteran

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    What a cracking looking car!
    I hope Mrs Red enjoys it.
     
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  17. hem666

    hem666 New Member

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    nice car.....Love the sunroof
     

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