Predatory company operating Harwell campus bikes

Home Forums Forums Latest News Predatory company operating Harwell campus bikes

Viewing 6 reply threads
  • Author
    • #5802

      Hello All,

      Does anyone know where to raise complaints about the Harwell campus bikes? They are operated by Bainton bikes in Oxford, and you rent them trough an app called “Donkey Republic”

      First of all, the maintenance of the bikes is awful. The saddle came off of the post twice while riding two different bikes. Luckily, I was on a bike path when it happened not in the middle of a road. The brakes of the non-electric bikes are also quite ineffective.

      Moreover, Donkey Republic charged me £5 because I returned their bike correctly at the return point. They claimed that the bike was displaced even after I sent them a picture of the bike in front of the Harwell return point sign.

      Even worse, the lock of the bike is battery operated. If the battery is empty, it does not lock the bike (bad hardware design).

      Once the lock failed on me on campus at 6:00 am. I tried to call them, but they do not answer after hours. I wrote them emails, sent pictures and alerted in all possible ways. I had to leave the bike unlocked to get to work. Later on, someone took the bike and was marked lost in the system. They tried to charge me £600 for a lost bike.

      It took me several phone calls and emails to get them to admit the hardware problem. Later I found the bike and got it locked at the RAL reception by RAL security. In the end they did not charge me, but I wasted an enormous amount of time on it. The bike was left with RAL security for months before Bainton Bikes came to pick it up. So much interest in the displaced bike! I can document everything I said with pictures and email exchanges with Donkey Republics

      Daresbury manages their own e-bikes without a predatory go-between company. Why can’t RAL do the same?



    • #5803

      Paul Cross seems to be championing active travel at RAL. I would speak with him:

      I should add that the one time I went to hire an ebike, the battery was flat!

    • #5805

      Yes fortunately my experience wasnt as bad as yours Ettore i can sympathise, the bikes i had were either flat battery or a very loose seat (which you can report on app), another didnt unlock as expected at Didcot station – i did talk to a donkey republic rep who said the bike company bainton is responsible and aware of the status of the bikes and should act accordingly. I did have one successful e-bike ride but that was it. I’m not going to use them on a regular basis which is a shame really.

    • #5806

      I raised the (un)safety of the hire bikes at the STFC site Safety Management Committee meeting last week, and this concern should get escalated to the campus through STFC management.

    • #5807

      Just to add, my colleague had the same problem and was issued a £600 charge for non return of the bike, despite being hired out to other users in the meantime. It was the same back and forth to resolve the issue.

    • #5808

      This is such a shame to hear. I was wanting to use the ebikes across site and maybe home and back as I live near the station but I think I will stick to other forms of transport for now. I am put off using them at all right now. Let’s hope matters improve fast.

    • #5809

      Don’t take me wrong! The scheme is a great idea. I live on campus and since I do not own a car I use the bikes to go shopping. When I arrive late at Didcot parkway from going home at the weekend there are no buses available and the bikes allow me to keep my carbon footprint low by avoiding a Taxi ride.

      The problem is that the safety issues and the charges may deter people from using the service. I can understand being charged if I am careless and leave the bike unlocked and the bike gets stolen. The problem arises when you get charged due to their own faulty hardware, software and GPS errors.

      I am sure this can be solved by campus management. This is a corporate hire and they should have the power to put pressure on the companies to perform at an acceptable level!

Viewing 6 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.