Are you guys familiar with the acronym FAFO? It stands for F**k Around And Find Out. And that’s exactly what happened to a company that tried to rip me and a buddy off when we bought two electric fat bikes. I’m Adrian from YouMotorcycle, I make videos aimed at helping motorcyclists, and here’s how we got our two bikes for free, and how you can protect yourself from greasy bastards.
The bike we’ll be talking about today is the NCM Aspen electric fat bike, sold by an online website called Leon Cycle. They had a sale along with a special where if you ordered two ebikes to the same address they’d take an extra $100 off. I asked a buddy if he wanted one, he said sure. I place an order for two of the exact same ebikes, and paid on my VISA.
After a couple weeks, or maybe a few weeks we get our bikes, and the boxes arrive a little damaged but I’m not too worried about. We open up the boxes and obviously where they were damaged, the ebikes are scratched up. Honestly, I’m not too stressed about this. We didn’t buy these things for paved bicycle paths. They’re fat bikes: they’re bound to get crashed on sooner or later.
So we assemble his bike and then we assemble mine, and immediately we notice that even though we ordered the exact same fat bike, his motor sounds completely different from mine. We also noticed that my bike, brand new, had only 200 meters on it, and his bike which should have also been brand new, already had 4.5 km on it. And that’s where things get greasy.
So I emailed customer service right away as soon as we get back home. They email back promptly asking for pictures, so I send them over pics of the box and the damage. Two hours later customer service emails me back again saying that the mileage on my friend’s bike isn’t acceptable and that they will be escalating this to a manager.
Then I hear nothing. I wait a week and email them for an update. Nothing.
I wait another week, and email Leon Cycle again. Still nothing. At this point I ask my friend to also email them thinking maybe they aren’t getting emails from my email address anymore. Because I’m naïve like that. So he emails them. Nothing.
The next week I leave bad reviews for them online, explaining what happened. Still nothing. Although I do see them replying to newer, favorable reviews. So clearly they’ve seen my complaint, and they’re intentionally ignoring me. OK.
So I share that I’m being ignored by the manufacturer in a Facebook group, and someone sends me a private message saying I should take it to credit card disputes. I had no idea this was a thing, but essentially if you pay for something on credit card, and you feel you’ve been ripped off, you can dispute the charge. They have a whole department for this kind of thing.
So I call VISA disputes, and they ask me for a copy of the invoice, along with my credit card information and some other information on the transaction and they file the dispute. A couple weeks later they get back to me that Leon Cycle has denied the claim.
At this point, magically, about two months later, they suddenly “find” my emails, and reply to me that they would love to send my buddy a new motor for his ebike. I called up VISA, and the rep there tells me that they’re seeing a growing number of merchants basically trying to run down the shot clock.
In other words, you have a set timeline for how long you can wait before filing a claim, and VISA is seeing a lot of greasy merchants claiming they never saw people’s customer service emails until a dispute is filed, and even then they try to drag things out until after it’s too late for the customers to do anything about it.
Based on how much time was already spent waiting for these guys, and the feeling I was getting from them ignoring me so blatantly, I didn’t trust them at all to send the new motor. And even then, I didn’t think it was right that we should have to replace the motor ourselves or pay to have a shop do it out of my friend’s pocket.
So we decided to continue with the dispute. VISA said ok we’ll need an expert letter. The credit card company dispute Expert Letter is basically a third-party stepping in and writing out something that confirms that you did not get what you paid for.
In this case we brought the bicycles to Studio Cycle, a Toronto Husqvarna dealership. Husqvarna makes high end electric bicycles for off-road riding, so the techs at Studio Cycle were able to confirm that there were issues with the NCM Aspen electric fat bikes that we bought from Leon Cycle, write it out for me in a letter, and I was able to send it to VISA.
Now the way this works is you either get all, or none of your money back. There is no in between. When I first reached out to customer service, I expected, maybe a free motor, and maybe a hundred dollars for the damage from shipping.
The total cost of the two electric fat bikes, plus shipping, plus taxes was just over $3,000 Canadian, or about $2,300 USD.
Of course VISA is handling everything confidentially so my buddy has no idea what’s going on, but let’s just say he was very happy when I went to go visit him over the Christmas break and surprised him with a big wad of cash.
VISA ruled in our favor. So far both ebikes are working pretty well. The strange sound his motor is making is still there, but at least if the whole thing fails on him one day it won’t have cost him anything. And Leon Cycle Fucked Around And Found Out.