Car sales are down but scooter sales are on the up. Price-conscious consumers have been looking to save on both time and money - particularly when petrol prices were on the rise. When it comes to buying your stylish new motor you would think going with the “UK’s Largest Direct Scooter Manufacturer” would be a pretty safe bet. Well, Direct Bikes claim to be just that but if you buy from them you may find that your bike is delivered with a few surprises.
Louise Brown wanted something nippy to whisk her across town to her new job, so she decided to get herself a scooter. She stumbled onto the Direct Bikes website where the price really clinched it for her. She ordered a scooter from the website for £649 plus £135 for next day delivery. The bike took five days to arrive and, when it finally did, Louise was shocked to find a large metal crate being craned onto her street, with her scooter in pieces. Only this wasn’t a shipping error - this was how the bike was meant to arrive and Louise would have to assemble it herself.
The Direct Bikes website gives few clues that the scooters are self-assembly jobs. That key fact is hidden away in the small print. If you do stumble across the information, the site says that only ‘minimal assembly is required and that you don’t need mechanical experience’… Louise wouldn’t agree.
Nicky Campbell had a go at putting Louise’s bike together but was stumped by the instructions that came with the bike and decided to call in an old friend, presenter Matt Allwright.
Matt’s thoughts? Well he believes the issue is that the bikes arrive at people’s homes unassembled and when they go to ride them, they can’t be 100 per cent sure they’ve assembled it properly.
Despite the website suggesting that Direct Bikes manufacture the bikes it would appear that they are actually imported from China and shipped straight out to customers - ready for them to put the pieces together.
We met a few Direct Bike customers who had managed to put their bikes together and get them running, but it seems they didn’t stay working for long.
Emma Bunt’s scooter clocked only 192 miles before it gave way. She has spent £700 on the bike, £85 on delivery and a further £50 on registration with upwards of £100 in repairs just to get it started. With the amount of miles it has done she may as well have hired a limousine - it might have even been cheaper. The bike is now a shed ornament as it currently doesn’t run at all.
Robert Pocock’s bike has managed 5,500 miles but not without serious problems. Having been stopped by the police on a routine check, Robert was surprised to be told that his speedometer was illegal - showing only kilometres per hour and not miles. He was told to get it changed immediately, which he duly did. His most recent problem is more serious still. While riding his bike he heard a loud snapping sound and stopped immediately to inspect. Robert found that his rear swing arm was cracked - something our expert, Steve Jones, deemed ‘exceedingly dangerous’.
Contacting Direct Bikes
If you wanted to complain about your bike, it may be more difficult than you think. Over the past year Direct Bikes has given three different addresses on its website, with customers all being directed to complain via letter to one of these addresses. But if you visited its premises you’d find that no one from Direct Bikes actually works there. They are in fact only mailing addresses. It’s almost as though the company doesn’t want any of its unhappy customers to find them.
Watchdog tracked down the actual offices to a west London address above a pub. Not quite what you would expect from the “UK’s Largest Direct Scooter Manufacturer”, is it? Then again, many of its customers didn’t get what they expected either.
When Watchdog spoke to Direct Bikes it said: “We appreciate these issues being brought to our attention and we are sorry that some customers have not been completely satisfied. At Direct Bikes each and every customer matters and we will deal with queries on a case by case basis to resolve them. We also take mechanical issues incredibly seriously and will work with independent mechanics to rectify any isolated cases.”
"Direct Bikes has sold thousands of scooters since we launched two years ago and the majority of our customers are delighted with the service they receive. We are taking this opportunity to review our customer service policies. Direct Bikes is now employing additional staff to deal with post-sales queries, ensuring that we provide the best possible service to our valued customers at all times."http://www.bbc.co.uk/watchdog