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Retailers: Problems with Online Company

Published October 14, 2008

COSTA MESA, CA (BRAIN)—Several retailers have reported unauthorized withdrawals of nearly $300 from their bank accounts in recent weeks from a company called www.bicycledata.com, which runs a directory service for the industry.

Though the online company has issued refunds in at least two of the cases, retailers want to make sure their peers are aware of the company and warn them to be vigilant about reading the fine print when dealing with Bicycle Data.

Several weeks ago, Adam Boehm, owner of Boneshaker Cyclery in New Mexico, received a packet of information from www.bicycledata.com that included a $30 check made out to him in return for looking at the Web site’s services. He deposited the check and three days later a debit for $294 from Bicycle Data cleared his account.

After several phone calls and e-mails over about two weeks, the company issued a refund to Boehm.

Since then, nothing more has come out of his account.

“We’ve been trying to keep a close eye on it. The biggest side of it for us is for us to file fraud charges on them we have to close down all of our accounts and basically fill out new credit applications with all of our vendors,” Boehm said.

Boehm said he doesn’t think www.bicycledata.com is running a scam, but rather signing retailers up for its services without being upfront about the process or the charges.

Jon Scott, a company representative with bicycledata.com, said in a brief e-mail that the company isn’t trying to scam anyone.

“If you are aware of any customer of ours that is unsatisfied I welcome an opportunity to rectify the situation. We have been in the bicycle industry since 1987. We are not going anywhere and guarantee all of our products and services 100 percent,” Scott said.

Scott said the company also refunded $294 to Harvey Young of Young’s Bicycle Shop in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Young received a similar packet from www.bicycledata.com, although he didn’t cash the check inside. He wrote a $5.01 check required by the U.S. Postal Service for the C.O.D. (collect on delivery) package and several days later, his office manager noticed a $294 deduction from the shop’s bank account.

Young said he tried to contact the online company several times without any luck, but Scott said on Tuesday that he had processed a refund for Young.

Fred Clements, executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association, said several other retailers had contacted him recently reported similar unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts from www.bicycledata.com.

The company’s Web site says it’s been in the industry for 15 years and used to run a publication called BicycleInfo. It says it's in the middle of a huge campaign to update its search engine lists and will soon be contacting members of the bicycle and extreme sports industries.

—Nicole Formosa

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