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Charge Bike Customer Service

Thomsonp811Thomsonp811 Posts: 20
edited April 2010 in Road general
I have been having a game of email ping pong with charge bikes about the plug I bought last May. I got so many punctures I had to change the tyres. I suggested to charge that this mean their tyres weren't fit for purpose.

I have copied the email trail below, do you think I am being unreasonable? All I really wan is an acknowledgement that there is an issue but they don't seem o get it. Also not replying or two months is unacceptable.

]Dear Charge,

I bought a Plug at the start of the summer and I have just had to fix my fourth puncture which, given my use, is unacceptable.

My first puncture was actually a hole in the tube at the edge of the valve reinforcement which developed as I pumped it up, in my opinion due to poor quality inner tubes.

The second was fair enough - a piece of wire straight through the tyre.

The third, fourth and fifth are just due to poor quality tyres - I am only riding through the streets of Bristol! My old bike had specialized armadillos on and I didn't get a single puncture in two years.

In short I think you have cut corners on the tyres and inner tubes leaving me to pick up the tab as I have to replace them, I would go so far as to suggest the bike is not fit for purpose. This has angered me as I have clearly paid a premium to "buy in" to your brand and support local British companies particularly in the current economic climate. As well as the lost time and effort to fix the punctures before I can ride home.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Paul
Office - Charge Bikes 11 November 2009 13:37
To:
Hi Paul,

Thanks for your email. Sorry for the late reply. I’d be interested to know exactly how much use your bike gets. I’m sure you can appreciate that we have to build bikes to a price point and therefore there needs to be some compromise somewhere. Having said that, the inner tubes are not of an inferior quality and neither are the tyres.

It is possible that the first puncture happened through using a poor quality pump or mini pump. I’ve done this a few times with various other bikes during my cycling career but never a Plug. It can happen when the pump’s valve is difficult to remove and you end up damaging the tube by removing it.

The other ones which seem to have happened through normal use are strange as we’ve not had any other complaints about the tyres and tubes on any Plug model (which we have been selling for 4 years now without issue). Is it possible that you have been running a particularly low pressure?

We try to make our bikes as high in value for money as possible. Unfortunately we don’t have the same kind of buying power when it comes to components as companies like Specialized do and we like to use steel rather than aluminium for our frames which also has cost implications. Despite that our bikes don’t cost a large premium over the Trek’s, Specialized’s and Giant’s of this world.

If there is indeed a genuine problem with your bike, all our bikes come with a warranty. The first port of call to redeem your warranty is to return the bike to the store it was purchased from. They will then liaise with the warranty manager at our UK distributor to confirm whether it should be covered under the terms of the warranty (which includes defects in materials and workmanship). If found to be faulty under the terms of the warranty then the faulty product will be replaced.

If you have any further questions or queries please get in touch.

Best regards

Jim

Charge Bikes



From: m]
Sent: 31 October 2009 11:23
To: who
Subject: Punctures and Perished Inner Tubes

Jim,

firstly thanks for getting back to me, I was starting to think I was being ignored.

Secondly I read your email before I left work and I read my original email at the same time, I was minded to apologise for the stiff tone I used, that faded somewhat though when I had to spend ten minutes in the rain replacing another inner tube when went to get on my bike to cycle home! I have just had a successful evening repairing three inner tubes so I have spares for going to work tomorrow. this despite the fact I spent fifteen pounds on three inner tubes on Monday.

My general routine is I cycle on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; five miles each way up the A38 from the centre of town to filton. I am away from Bristol a lot though so I would suggest over the summer I have been averaging once a week. Hardly a great deal of cycling. In the two years I used my old bike on the same route I did not have a single puncture, in fact I didn't even carry a repair kit with me!

The first puncture was to be fair whilst using a mini pump but as the tube was still fitted and the valve locking nut screwed down to hold the valve to the rim I don't think that is to blame. I run at about 70 to 80 psi, dependent upon how energetic I feel when repairing the latest puncture.

I would understand the economics of building to a price but I think you have made a mistake on the tyres and possibly the tubes. The number of punctures is particularly ironic given the "from the ghetto" sticker on the chain stay, Bristol is hardly the ghetto!

I appreciate everything else about the bike and thoroughly enjoy riding it when I have fully inflated tyres and in fact am considering a charge to replace my old mountain bike. I think you would have to accept there is a brand premium here regardless of the price point and the steel frame.

We both know I am in no position to return the bike after six months use because I think the tyres aren't up to scratch for what the bike ought to do and I wouldn't want to return it anyway, as I said I enjoy riding it. What I want to make clear though is I think you have missed a trick with the tyres.

Paul

Office - Charge Bikes <office> 12 November 2009 13:43
To: paul thomson <>
Hi Paul,

As I’ve said previously, we’ve had no other problems with these tyres, of which we have fitted to most models of Plug bikes on thousands of bikes. If we thought we had fitted an inferior product we would of course change it straight away. Considering you’ve spent some money on replacing new tubes and still had problems I can assume that you’d accept it’s not a problem with the tubes themselves.

However that is certainly not enough cycling to warrant that many punctures, which would lead me to believe that assuming the tyres and tubes have been correctly fitted and seated each time that perhaps there is a problem with that specific tyre (rather than the model of tyre in general) or possibly even the rim.

If it is the case that there’s a problem with the rim then your rim is still under warranty. You are therefore well within your rights (and we would encourage you to do so) to bring your bike back to the shop, ask them to inspect it and if there is a problem with the rim, they’ll be able to start the warranty procedure. Unfortunately there is not quite as long a warranty on the tyres as they’re classed as “consumable items” but it may still be worth taking your bike to the shop to see if they can find any specific fault which could have caused those punctures.

We do try to make our bikes as affordable as possible and certainly don’t intentionally charge a premium over any other bike brands. If any of our models are any more expensive than an equivalent bike from another brand it is because of the issues mentioned in my previous email. Our bikes are only available through independent dealers purely because the after care they provide is generally very good. I understand that you think we have missed a trick with the tyres and can sympathise with you, I hate changing tubes, especially in the rain but without getting the full picture from an official Charge dealer and considering the amount of tyres that have been sold on our bikes without any problems at all I can’t accept that this is a problem with the choice of tyre specified on that bike.

Best Regards

Jim

Charge Bikes

From:
Sent: 11 November 2009 23:26
To: Office - Charge Bikes
Subject: Re: Punctures and Perished Inner Tubes

Jim,

Let me clear a couple of things up, I think the inner tube which burst was faulty but that is by the by really as you point out I have still got plenty of punctures.

I think you charge a premium, you don't I guess we will have to agree to disagree!

I will take your advice and take the bike in for the shop to have a look at the rims and tyres. I will print out these emails too so they can see what we have discussed.

Thanks for your help, if there are any issues I'll let you know!

Paul

2009/11/12 Office - Charge Bikes >
6 January 2010 22:38
To: Office - Charge Bikes <
Jim,

Happy New Year, I thought you might like an update regarding the issues I have ben having with my Plug.

I have had some great service from Evans cycles in Bristol and I have changed the tyres for Specialized Armadillos which i had been running on my MTB in Bristol until I bought my charge. This is the only change which has been made and now I haven't had a puncture for six weeks - a record in recent times!

I think this is fairly conclusive proof that the tyres were substandard and so I remain dissapointed in your product and the fact that I have had to spend money to rectify a problem I should have never encountered.

Regards,

Paul

2009/11/12 Office - Charge Bikes <
paul <> 23 February 2010 23:12
To: Office - Charge Bikes
Jim,

I emailed you a couple of, still puncture free, months ago regarding the issues I had been having with my plug but I have yet to receive a reply.

I would appreciate your thoughts.

Regards,

Paul
Nick Larsen 23 February 2010 23:29
To: >
Cc: Jim - Charge Bikes
Paul

I am not sure what else we can do to help you with this issue bar providing the advice that Jim has already detailed in his responses to you.

His last email to you states, "As I’ve said previously, we’ve had no other problems with these tyres, of which we have fitted to most models of Plug bikes on thousands of bikes. If we thought we had fitted an inferior product we would of course change it straight away"

You are in fact the only Plug consumer gobally that has brought this issue up with us, and Jim has tried to help you accordingly. If we had received more comments and negative feedback regarding these tyres, we'd obviously consider altering the specification of the product. It is possible that your tyres on that particular bike were faulty, but without inspecting them we cannot really comment. (Usually this would be within the warranty period of 90 days from purchase)

I am sorry that you are disappointed with the tyres fitted to this bike and please accept my apologies and sympathies for the problems that you have experienced.

If there is something specific that you would like us to do to help you further please do not hesitate to ask.

Thanks

Nick Larsen

Posts

  • stickmanstickman Posts: 791
    Type the tyre's name and 'review' into a search engine and see what people think of it generally. Possible it had a very small piece of metal/glass you couldn't find which caused repeat punctures. Do you have old tyre.
    Bikes, saddles and stuff

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  • Punctures happen, unfortunately there is no way of legislating against that. You may not get another for two years, on the other hand...
    If it helps the record I know of is 8 in one ride.
  • It might not win me many friends here, but I felt a lot more sympathy for Charge (who seem to have written detailed, eloquent responses with sensible suggestions - e.g. taking the bike back to the shop from which you bought it) than for the OP.

    Punctures do happen; it is possible a tyre could be faulty; it is possible the OP made a pig's ear of repairing the punctures (we've all done that, I'm sure, by not finding and removing the piece of glass/stone or getting a pinch puncture on refitting - how can Charge know whether or not you are any good at that). If the OP was the only person who had complained to Charge about this then it doesn't seem like a systemic fault.

    And, doubtless the lawyers will be along to correct me on this, but isn't the primary obligation under consumer legislation with the shop rather than the manufacturer? I've had a couple of occasions where I've bought a faulty product and the shop has tried to fob me off by saying I need to raise it with the manufacturer - but the shop has backed down when I've made it clear that my understanding is that the responsibility is with them to make the goods saleable. Why didn't the OP ask Evans to fix the puncture and check that the tyre wasn't faulty?

    (Oh, and Charge bikes seem quite reasonably priced to me.)
    Never be tempted to race against a Barclays Cycle Hire bike. If you do, there are only two outcomes. Of these, by far the better is that you now have the scalp of a Boris Bike.
  • DonnicDonnic Posts: 85
    To be fair, I'm in agreement with The hundredth idiot..

    As annoying as punctures are, you are comparing two different tyres.

    The armadillos are marketed as an aftermarket puncture resistant tyre (Although they do appear on some specialized bikes as OE) as such they have a much higher level of protection against the various forms of punctures. The kendas that come on the charges are the wire bead variant of the tyre which is not marketed as having Kendas "Iron Cap" puncture protection system, as such it is unreasonable to expect them to perform as well in the puncture resistance department as say a nimbus armadillo (Spec. slick commuting tyre)

    From this perspective the tyres are fit for purpose as they roll on the road which was their intended purpose.

    Just playing devils advocate here.
  • ynyswen24ynyswen24 Posts: 703
    +1

    Its also odd that it was the first post by thompsonp811 and he hasn't come back to any of the responses.
  • zaneszanes Posts: 563
    (Cheap) bikes have censored tyres as standard. SURPRISE! :lol:

    Seriously though, better manufacturers save a few quid on tyres than save a few quid on drivetrain or something. Tyres are much, much easier to swap out. I know on my roadie after swapping the OE tyres for some mid range contis it felt like a different bike. So much more responsive and lighter!
  • I think Charge come out very well from their emails. Pretty well considered replies, to a ridiculously trivial issue. Don't like the tyres? suck it up, get some new ones and move on. I may think about getting a Charge after all.
    FCN Minus 5 (+/- 12)
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  • stickmanstickman Posts: 791
    Seen them in magazines for years, some real-life Charges in a shop today, they're beaut!
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  • hounslowhounslow Posts: 153
    i had absolutely no problems with the tyres on my plug.
    i sold it to a friend, who contacted charge to ask about replacement mudguards (rear had cracked) and they took over a month to reply. i still think charge are awesome though, in a non hipster kind of way, the bikes just ride well.
  • solocpsolocp Posts: 285
    You've got something sharp embedded in your tyre. You'll continue to get punctures until you dig it out or change the tyre. Or the tape rim has slipped and the punctures are from the rim.
  • giant_mangiant_man Posts: 6,890
    I have to say, the charge replies to your predicament were very reasonable, reminding you of the fact that the rim and indeed the bike was under warranty.

    As solocp has stated, good idea to check out the problem further before taking any further action imo. But I don't think Charge are liable for anything. Punctures are just one of those things, but I do admit you have had a few ....
  • ynyswen24ynyswen24 Posts: 703
    solocp wrote:
    You've got something sharp embedded in your tyre. You'll continue to get punctures until you dig it out or change the tyre. Or the tape rim has slipped and the punctures are from the rim.

    or the OP rides a bike like a sack of spuds on a wheelbarrow...
  • GarethPJGarethPJ Posts: 295
    Was the bike even bought directly from Charge? The buyer should always take up their complaint with the vendor not with the manufacturer. Under the sale of goods act all responsibility lies with the seller not the manufacturer, the name of the act kind of gives it away. Using a phrase like "not fit for purpose" would suggest that you think you know something about the act, but the rest of your post would suggest that you don't.

    Claiming that the punctures are caused by poor quality tyres is a nonsense. Comparing your previous tyres, expensive "armoured" tyres, to standard OE tyres on a cheap bike and coming to the conclusion that the tyres are not fit for purpose is akin to going downhill racing on a £99 full susser and claiming it's not fit for purpose.
  • blorgblorg Posts: 1,169
    This thread is hilarious. +1 to Charge for taking the time to reply in such detail to such a trivial complaint.

    You got a few punctures. FFS, it's a bike, isn't it. That is what they DO.
  • bagpusscpbagpusscp Posts: 2,907
    blorg wrote:
    This thread is hilarious. +1 to Charge for taking the time to reply in such detail to such a trivial complaint.

    You got a few punctures. FFS, it's a bike, isn't it. That is what they DO.

    Yep.$hit happens :shock:
    bagpuss
  • Thanks for the replies guys.

    Let me clear a few things up, firstly the bike is awesome and I love it - no problems there.

    Secondly I am not an idiot and did everything I could to stop punctures, checked the rim tape, checked the tyres, replaced inner tubes rather than mending them etc. No dice. My real point is that at £500 I shouldn't expect charge to have cut corners to such an extent on the tyres. I understand the balance that needs to be struck between quality and cost to get a bike in at a price point but still - two punctures a ride through the centre of bristol? Come on.

    I was particulalry annoyed at the line from charge saying we haven't had any other complaints so it must be your fault not ours. It should have been more like oh we haven't had any other complaints but lets see what your problem is and see if we can sort it out.

    And BTW it isn't a trivial problem when it makes the bike unrideable!

    Evans Bristol Customer service is excellent - +1.
  • bluefoambluefoam Posts: 102
    I would be interested to know what you want out of this?

    They have logged your complaint & responded in a reasonable manner. They may even take your comments on board when specifying parts in the future.

    They have many satisfied customers who have made no complaint about the tyres & they have no reason to recall them. Lets remember that there are different tyres for different sets of parameters and conditions. It is possible that these tyres don't suit the use you are giving them - its a very difficult design decision to meet the needs of all possible consumers - so they may favour a set of conditions that suit a wide section of users, which may cause minor issues for a select group who ride under different circumstances.

    You have had a few punctures & made a complaint, but they do not know the circumstances which led to these. There could have been poor road surfaces, poorly inflated tyres, glass on the road, a thorn in your tyre, heat damage, other physical damage to the tyre - you have said that you inspected the tyres, but they cannot accept that as fact as you are not a qualified engineer, so therefore your opinion is heresay. If I were you, I would graciously accept there response, change the tyres to something that suits your riding style and move on.
  • GarethPJGarethPJ Posts: 295
    Firstly nobody expects high quality tyres on an entry level bike. Sure they could have fitted better tyres, they could also have fitted better wheels, a better frame (please!), better brakes, etc. etc. etc. and then charged two or three times as much. To all things there is a cost and a bike as cheap as that is always going to suffer compromises in cost versus quality.

    Secondly if you bought the bike from Evans then your gripe is 100% with them, not with Charge. In law there is a contract between you and the vendor, not the manufacturer. Take your gripe back to Evans if they won't replace the tyres then you can either assume that their customer service is censored , or that you are wrong. I'll say it again, even if the tyres are censored Charge have no obligation to you.

    Finally your assertion that you expect better tyres on a £500 bike would, I suspect, mean very little to a court of law. A "reasonable expectation" in law is generally considered to be an expectation that would be made by, in this case the majority of cyclists. Comments on this forum seem to show that most cyclists wouldn't make this expectation. Caveat emptor applies.
  • blimey it's an entry level bike, just change the tire for a specialized armadillo!

    .... i feel sorry for companies sometimes.
  • GarethPJGarethPJ Posts: 295
    hosiescott wrote:
    .... i feel sorry for companies sometimes.

    Indeed.

    Once upon a long time ago part of my role was as a complaints officer, and there was nothing worse than a customer who "knew their rights". There's one thing you can guarantee; anybody who claims to know their rights doesn't.
  • I had a similar experience. I bought a pinnacle bachelor no 1 from Evans. It had censored rim tape which caused the tube to press through the spoke eyelets. I could have complained but it was a cheap bike and built to a tight budget. So instead of being a censored I spent £4 on some rim tape and a tube and sorted it.

    Complaining about punctures is almost like an act of god ffs. I don't think I could have been as professional dealing with the complaint . Fortunately I don't deal with people at work otherwise I would have been a lot more blunt and probably signed their email up to gay websites and any other spam I could find.

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  • Ok guys, I take the point I might have been unreasonable expecting more from them in terms of customer service - you all seem to disagree with me so I guess I am wrong. So I take it back.

    The tyres weren't good enough and I know I am not the only one who has had problems but I have had them changed and no more problems.

    Not sure £500 is really a budget single speed but I stand corrected.

    Evans customer service was excellent though and they even coughed up 50% of the cost of the new tyres!

    As an aside, I think there are too many posters on these forums who have just a little too much vitriol. Everybody just calm down!!
  • GarethPJGarethPJ Posts: 295
    Fair enough if you got it sorted to your satisfaction, but the point still stands that your contract is with Evans and only they are liable to you. If the retailer incurs any cost in replacing goods or reimbursing the customer then it is up to them to claim from the manufacturer. Always direct all your complaints at the retailer and should that fail citizens advice would be a good next stop. Addressing your complaints to the manufacturer will probably achieve little since they have no direct responsibility to you.

    That's the way the law works, so if you have any future problems you'll probably find things easier and less stressful if you go with the way the law works rather than what you think to be right. I have a friend who works in citizens advice and he tells me it's very common for customers to want to direct claims directly at the manufacturer, so you are far from alone in this respect.
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