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).
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
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 www.tfl.gov.uk/barclayscyclehire. 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.
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.