Thursday, September 11, 2014

Is Citi Bike advertising fleecing tourists who don’t read the fine print?

There is no such thing as a 24-hour pass. Or a 7-day pass.

There are 30-minute passes you can buy for a day.

Or you can buy 336 30-minute passes to use if you don’t do anything but ride from station to station for the next seven days.

The woeful tales from tourists, back home and staring at their credit card bills, cry out for rethinking the way Citi Bike markets its passes.

These visitors kept bikes out for hours or sometimes days. Because they didn’t read the fine print.
Many are from abroad. For lots, English is their second language. And now they’re dealing with customer service over hundreds and thousands of dollars.

9/12 update

Of those contested dollars from pass purchasers, money-losing Citi Bike has kept $3 million through the end of July, the New York Post reports. Annual members contributed another $1.4 million.

A visitor from the Netherlands had this to say on Facebook:

Donny Skopp
March 27 ·
We are from holland and had a very disapointed experience with citi bike. We rented two bike for 24 hours and expected to use the bikes for 24 hours!
Later on the day we heard we had to bring the bikes back every 30 minutes! We really didnt know and now we are charged way too much for the bikes.
When we tryed to tell the problem on the phone, city bike was very ruded and told us we had to read better and they dont give us a normal reasenoble price for the bikes. We are very disapointed and wont use these bikes again!

The problem’s not confined to foreign visitors

A man from Harrison NY had this to say on Yelp:
I probably should blame ourselves on this but it is so confusing for a first time user who just travels around NYC and wants to use a bike soon.
We checked out 3 bikes, and read 24-hour-pass... hey, using a bike within limits of 24 hours isn't so bad! We just need to wonder around a bit at Brooklyn. There is a station where NON of our credit cards can be read, and the docks are full so a lot of people are waiting to return the bike at the station whereas many people cannot check out bikes with their credit cards.
But that's fine, we walked to another station (Columbia Heights & Cranberry St) and checked out the bike. We discussed about the route then had a lot of fun at Brooklyn. We finally decide to ride bike to grand central terminal! It is a 4h/17m/30s ride, within the 24 hour limit.
Then the security deposit is never back. Not until I asked the customer service did I realize that there is an overcharge after every 30 minutes limit with in 24 hours!!
So riding a very heavy and bad condition bike (without a lock) for a 4 hour ride cost us more than $100 each. What a great experience! It must be a genius to think up such a plan: promise a 24-hour pass, but you need to split your whole trip to small segments of 30 minutes, you must get to your destination and return the bike within that time.
So if you need a bike in better condition, and don't want to have a 30 minute segmentation, just find a bike store or a rental bike service, that won't cost you that much and you get a better bike.

And here’s an eyewitness account from someone who knows the score

This is a comment on the blog

Regarding the CitiBike in New Jersey: I ran into a couple with CitiBikes on Governors Island. I asked them about it, and they thought that the day pass got them the right to use the bikes all day. I assume the overtime charges would not have shown up immediately, and they would have been wondering where they came from.

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