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HEALTH

It’s hard to find a fix for my faulty Brompton bicycle

I’m an NHS worker who was inspired to buy a Brompton bike after using one through its Wheels for Heroes campaign during lockdown. I purchased it online through Cycle Republic, which is owned by Halfords. Within the first week the connecting chain to the gear hub fell off while I was cycling to work. I contacted Cycle Republic which did not respond. I contacted Brompton directly and it promptly arranged for a local dealer to replace the part. Within three weeks, the gear shifter broke and the bolts fell off the rear mudguard.

I have spent every day since talking with Cycle Republic, Halfords and Brompton. Cycle Republic stores were closed in April by Halfords and its customer service team stopped replying after a single response. Halfords tells me the bike is not its responsibility as it was purchased from Cycle Republic, despite the fact that all the packaging and paperwork bears the Halfords name.

Brompton tells me it is not responsible as it was purchased from Cycle Republic. It has offered to arrange for a local dealer to look at the bike but at my expense, although there is a manufacturer’s warranty.

I spent £1,200 on an unusable bike that I need for my job working with vulnerable patients in the community.
DB, London

Your email arrived three weeks after another distress call from a Cycle Republic customer whose £345 bike did not materialise. EM of Farnham, Surrey reported that the company was uncontactable, while continuing to trade online.

Halfords closed all of its Cycle Republic shops in March after announcing it was divesting itself of its performance cycling business and seeking buyers for the outlets. “It is unclear who is the current owner and therefore responsible for its operations right now,” she wrote. “It is unclear whether there are any staff still working for the company and unclear what customers should do once they have essentially handed over their money with no idea if Cycle Republic will honour the contract they have entered into.”

When I contacted Halfords, it confirmed that Cycle Republic was still open for business and cancelled and refunded EM’s order. Unprecedented demand for bicycles during lockdown had overwhelmed its helplines, it explains, and it had recruited more staff to contact frustrated customers.

Not much appears to have changed, however. Almost all the reviews on Trustpilot since lockdown report lack of delivery, response or redress for faulty items. Under consumer law it is the retailer, not the manufacturer, who is liable for problems with a purchase, so Brompton was justified in referring you to Cycle Republic.

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When I went back to Halfords’ press office about your sorry saga, it set about getting your bike repaired and refunded the price you paid, so you will end up with free wheels. “We have apologised and will take steps to ensure that other customers don’t have the same experience,” it says. “We can confirm all Cycle Republic guarantees and servicing commitments will continue to be honoured through our Halfords shops.”

Brompton says: “We are working with the Halfords group to review its home delivery and servicing processes to ensure they meet our quality standards. We were contacted by the customer on 27 May and have been in regular communication with him and Cycle Republic since, to resolve the situation.”

www.theguardian.com

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