Simon Pearson -

An email to Barclays Cycle Hire

Saturday, April 28, 2012


And now for an even more boring post than usual: I’ve recently had a pretty crummy customer experience with Barclays Cycle Hire (often dubbed Boris Bikes). The TL;DR is that I used a bike for journey which they believe I did not complete, charged me £150 and have since been pretty useless through the process of me trying to resolve the situation.

Below is the record of my recent email of complaint to them, updates will be posted here for others in a similar situation (I’m sure there are plenty).


Saturday, April 28 2012, 7:27pm:

To: Contact @ Barclays Cycle hire, CC Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee


I’m writing to complain about an experience I’ve recently had with the Cycle Hire scheme.

I am a member of the scheme, however in February of this year my access fob became faulty so I made a couple of journeys on credit card whilst I waited for my new fob to arrive.

On February 23rd I took a journey from Macclesfield Road off City Road at about 9pm to Cartwright Gardens in Bloomsbury. I docked the bike and nothing untoward happened (I am a frequent user of the scheme so aware of the docking / undocking requirements). I happened to notice in March after looking at my credit card bill that I had been charged £150 by TFL on February 26th. I called the call centre in late March to request a refund. I was told I would be notified of the outcome within two weeks. I never received a phone call, so I spoke to the call centre again this week on Tuesday 24th April. I was told my refund request had been declined and that someone should have been in contact with me to explain. This had not happened, so I requested to speak to a team leader. I spoke with someone called Maria who was very polite and understanding, and told me she was investigating the case. She called back in the afternoon to say she didn’t have resolution but promised to call back on Wednesday.

I didn’t receive another phone call, so I phoned the call centre again on Friday 27th April and spoke with Mustafa, who informed me that whilst the journey had now been closed (by operator), the bike I used had not been registered on the system (the bike number he told me was 14544) and that my refund request had been declined.

Now I understand that when I hired the bike I agreed to the terms and conditions of the service, but I am 100% sure that I re-docked the bike. As I mentioned I am a regular user of the scheme so I know my way around the bikes & docks well. The problem we have here is that I cannot prove that I docked the bike (without trying to find CCTV footage or similar), and you cannot prove that I did not (there are well documented cases online of users who have docked their bike, received a green light and still been charged).

I’m upset for two reasons:

- firstly that this happened in the first case as I now fear using the scheme with my member fob in case I am charged an enormous amount of money – enough to buy a new bike, indeed – for using the scheme as intended. Surely this isn’t what you want for your customers.
- secondly the communication about my case has been extremely poor – despite leaving contact details each time I have called, I have had to chase and push constantly until the final admission that my refund claim has been declined by TFL for a second time.

Could you please advise how I can appeal this decision and get my money back, and also ask what steps you have taken to attempt to locate the missing bike (which I did not steal).

Simon Pearson”

Saturday 28 April, 2012, 7:33pm

From: Enquiries (Barclays Cycle hire)

“Thank you for your email. We will respond to your enquiry within five working days.


Barclays Cycle Hire”

Saturday 28 April, 2012, 7:49pm

From: Caroline Pidgeon


I’ll take this up on Monday

Best wishes

Caroline Pidgeon AM”

Monday 30 April, 2012, 4:49pm


“Our Ref: 101001156924/ KA

Dear Mr Pearson

Thank you for your enquiry dated 24 April 2011 [SP: was actually 2012], regarding a Refund Request of £150 for a Late Return Charge taken from your debit/credit card.

We have considered the points you had raised when contacting our centre regarding a cycle journey on the 23 April 2012 [SP: was actually 23 February 2012] from Macclesfield Rd, St Lukes.

Upon investigation we can confirm that the circumstances that you have described do not meet the required criteria for refunding a Late Return Charge in accordance with our Refund Policy.

However on this occasion as a gesture of goodwill TfL have used their discretion and are willing to provide a total refund of £150 for the Incurred Late Return Charge.

Please note that this is a gesture of goodwill and does not set precedence. Should these circumstances occur in the future we will not be liable to refund this charge in accordance with our Refund Policy and the Terms and Conditions for use of Barclays Cycle Hire.

All approved refunds should be processed within 5 working days, please check your online account during that time to see if the refund has gone through.

To avoid facing charges of a similar nature please check if you receive a green light when docking your cycle. If you do not please call us on 0845 026 3630 where one of our Customer Service Representatives will be able to check your cycle has been correctly docked.

Should you require information regarding any other scheme related matter, please refer to our website Alternatively, you may also contact us using the details below, where one of our Customer Service Representatives will be happy to assist you.

We hope you continue to enjoy using the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme.

Yours sincerely

Rebecca Kelly”

So it appears that I have success, though no more information on why my case does not meet their requirements for refund. I will keep an eye on my credit card to see if the refund actually gets processed. My recommendation to those in a similar situation is to go public with the correspondence as I have here.

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  1. I find BCH to be amazingly polarising, when it works it’s a truly magical thing of transport on demand, feeling very ‘future’. I use an app to see where the bikes are, I check I’ve a dock near home, and I’m done. usually costs me less, and gets me exercise.

    But when it goes wrong it’s endless frustrating. Keys that don’t work, being unable to find docks (I’m really not sure what the solution to that problem is given the zoned nature of London, and the awful user experience on the terminals.

    It’s a lot better now but in the past I had far too many calls to the call-centre, and I got endlessly frustrated when they overflowed to the other call-centre who could do absolutely nothing apart from take a message. Callback rate, less than 25%.

    I once had a bike dock, but not register, I managed to go go back and check it was there because it was near my house, but when it does go wrong it’s infuriating and it really seems to be down to luck if you get a good person on the end of the line.

    (and from a minor point, the varying latency in rental times is annoying…. anything between 3 and 30 seconds)

    on April 29th, 2012

  2. Hi,

    Just to say that I today experienced a similar situation to what Simon Pearson did. I believed I docked my bike properly but later found out that a pending amount of £150 will be deducted from my account. I didnt receive much help or understanding from customer service. And that is after being a member for two years with 300 + journeys.

    I will keep you updated about my progress!

    Toni Johansson
    on August 17th, 2012

  3. Hello,

    Exactly the same experience I am going through after using the bikes for 2yr+. I docked my bike on the 27/07… got charged £150..

    After numerous calls chasing the situation, being told that the bike has been located, and now the bike has actually not been located.. It is frustrating that.. ‘ I ‘ am the one who has to call them constantly to get an update on the situation, and to make matters worse, whoever are taking the calls are not logging the conversation properly.

    It is now 07/09 and I still have been charged the £150, the bike ‘cannot’ be located, and it is apparently now being passed on to TFL, something that apparently should have been done after 2 weeks of a bike being missing.

    Absolute poor service and communication. Once I get my refund, I will do all I can to deter people from using their service.

  4. I am a super user with over 720 journeys
    without any errors. My wife and sister also use the system daily
    So between us we have 2160 journeys without any errors whatsoever
    unless you count a floppy seat as an error.
    You did not deserve a refund but you got one.
    I don’t feel like it’s a bad thing to stick to terms and conditions
    I do however get nervous when charges are summarily applied without notification. Tfl seems to have a bit of gangster in their service agreement
    Well done you anyway.

  5. Just started using these bikes from late last year, and I make a journal that last no more than 7-15 minutes. Anyway, I had 30 minutes to dock a bike I took out and that would have been my 24 hours up. I know I docked the bike accordingly on time and I even had a bike taken out the next week, now I am being charged £150 for a late return as officially a lost bike is £300 so it must be for a late return. Who would not return a bike on time, even if you could not get to your destination you would still cut it short, dock it elsewhere and walk the rest of the way. Now I am £99.50 under in my account and will have a very tough week with my kids. Would not touch these bikes with a barge pole ever again. I shall complain to the Ombudsman and will cancel my card as I think these people do randomly charge people regularly. I will not leave my details with a greedy organisation again.

  6. Same thing happened to me, docked the bike properly only to be fined without explanation or notification. See below and have had no reponse.

    FAO Rebecca Kelly,

    I would like to speak to you directly regarding the circumstances’ in which my recent fine arose. I have tried to reach you several times by phone, to be told you are in a meeting and then immmediately afterwards, that you have left for the day. This has been between 2pm and 4pm and I struggle to believe/hope you do not leave so early in the day.

    I believe that your system for levying fines is flawed and I am happy to give you my customer feedback either directly on the phone to you or failing that try other avenues means whether it be to the press or the Local Government Ombudsman.

    Having done some research online, my situation does not seem to be isolated and suggest that your customer service dramatically improves and the docking station technology becomes more efficient to prevent unexplained lack of docking from happening. I would like to remind you that £150 to some people can be a significant amount of money (particularly towards the end of a month) and for Barclayscyclehire to remove that, without warning or notice is highly unprofessional and incredibly rude. I would cite the train fare fine system as a model you ought to look at were an individual has 28 days to pay the fine or contest it.

    During this matter I have had to chase Barclayscyclehire and was the party that actually made you and your company aware that I was being charged for a ‘stolen bike’. I have been a regular user of the scheme since October 2011 and this is the second time this has happened and it is unacceptable to treat your customers in such a manner.

    I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.


    on May 22nd, 2013

  7. Yep, the system has issues. I’m a frequent user who recently returned a bike after twenty minutes but didn’t see the green light turn on. I promptly called the customer service hotline where I was told the system was down. When I called back later the guy was very friendly but was not empowered to do anything. Subsequently, I was charged £150.

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