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August 09, 2005


The folding bike from Strida looks like a really cool piece of kit..
I really wanted one and had a look at their online store for prices.

£159.95 seemed a bit steep for a few tubes of aluminium, but I reasoned that I'd save a few pounds on tube fares and car parking. I had another brainwave too, I could take it to Majorca on holiday with me and save on bike hire there. I was getting quite excited and started to place an order.

That's where the problems started.

For this price, I don't seem to get folding pedals or handlebars (it's supposed to be a convenient folding bike - and yet the basic model doesn't fold properly). Interestingly, their fancy rotating display on the website here shows a bike with these folding features. This is a bit sneaky. Even the main page has this proper folding model and shows it with a rear rack, also not included as standard.

It gets more confusing. Going to the online store, the bike is listed as already coming with folding handlebars, but the 'performance kit' has both handlebars and pedals, and includes things I don't need like coloured mudguards and a different saddle. Where is the performance benefit in that? Do I need this kit at all? It costs an extra £69.95.

A padded bag to put the bike in to take it on a flight is also pretty expensive at £49.95.

Total is now up to £279.85.

Trying to persuade myself that I can still afford that, if I make sure I don't drive anywhere for the next six months, I enter my details on the web form. Then I stop short when I realise that the pricing isn't really finished. I notice that in the small print there are charges for VAT and shipping, and these aren't displayed on the summary page or shown included in the final total.

They are trying to take my credit card details without telling me what the real price is.

I find this kind of underhand price hiking very annoying. Companies should be up front about what you will be paying for a product. I'm not even sure they are allowed to take off the VAT and display figures like this in the UK. Car manufacturers give you an 'on the road' price, and they have to include more complex taxing options.

So I decide to 'Push Back' (TM) and email Customer Support about this. The email web form manages to lose my text once, and I have to retype my name and email address, but I'm used to this kind of lazy programming and have saved the main text in the clipboard before previewing it. I paste it in and off it goes.

To their credit, they come back within the hour with an answer. Unhappily, it wasn't the answer I wanted. They say that VAT isn't added as they are an international seller. But I've already asked for a price in Sterling, and told them my address in the United Kingdom. Is it Strida's sales policy to have each potential customer email them to ask for a final price?

The new price, they tell me, with VAT, and with delivery charges which I thought would be free, have now taken the total up to a whopping £349.97. That's nearly £200 more than my original price, and takes it into the realm of the Brompton, a bike with a great reputation that I see every day on the train and tube.

I then get an email from the Managing Director, who is very friendly, but tells me they can't do anything about the web pricing as it's an industry standard e-commerce platform. A shopping cart that doesn't tell you what price you are paying doesn't seem very sensible to me. I now want to remove the carry bag to try and reduce the price, and maybe add a bell (which is a legal requirement), but do I have to email customer support every time I make an adjustment to the order?

It all gets too frustrating, and I'm running out of time to get it for my holiday, so I give in.


I didn't buy the bike, and had a nice holiday anyway :-)

Upon returning I find an email from Strida asking me to correct any inaccuracies in my post, so I've reread it, and have also had another go at the shopping cart.

They have hiked their prices up a bit so that a bike with folding handlebars and a travel bag is now £364.85 The site does work better, and that total now includes VAT. They have moved the folding handlebars option clearly into the performance kit.

So after all that, I now very clearly see that I can't afford the bike :-/ C'est la vie.

Posted by se71 at August 9, 2005 02:49 PM


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