Stomer - Stolen and resold

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Jasonpb

Member
HI all,

I'm after a bit of advice on a situation that has left me out of pocket ~$12k, at present I won't name the bike shop in question as I'm still holding out for an amicable resolution.

Short version of the story, I purchased a Stromer ST2s after being told it could be shipped to Australia "no problem and that I've shipped stromers there previously". Of course this isn't the case and the bike itself was held in Hong Kong due to customs not clearing it.

Unfortunately due to an error with the shipping company they did ship it to Australia and it hit customs, after a few weeks I was able to convince them to release the package back to the shipping company which then promptly returned the package back to the vendor in exactly the same condition it was sent. At no time was I in possession of the bike.

I was out of pocket ~$2k in shipping costs, I wasn't very happy, especially when I was assured it would be smooth sailing, however I was looking forward to getting the remainder of my money back and moving on from what was turning into a bad situation.

I was provided from fedex the confirmed delivery receipt that clearly shows the store employee accepting the bike at the bike store, I also have multiple pictures of the bike in the box, and with the box open that shows no damage to the bike at all. It was shipped (plane) on a pallet at great expense to ensure there was no damage.

Of course the story doesn't just end there, leaving me out of pocket $2k in shipping costs wasn't enough, they are claiming the bike never turned up, so they're unable to refund my money leaving me out of pocket $12k inclusive of shipping costs.

Not believing for a second that Fedex would make up a signed delivery slip with the store employees name on it, I contacted Stromer EU, these bikes have GPS tracking right and you can lock down stolen bikes, according to the bike shop the bike was never delivered so in theory I could disable my ebike as it has been stolen.

Wrong, not only had they received the bike, they contacted Stromer support and had me removed from the bike without my permission, and have sold the bike to another customer.

So my question is where to from here, I've taken the matter up with my bank in which I might be able to recoup some of my money, but that process since the merchant (bike shop) is unwilling to cooperate has dragged on for months already and can drag on much longer.

Should I lodge a police report in the US that my bike has been stolen? I'm after any advice that might be helpful.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
Wow. You really got me wanting to know what shop it is - but understand why you aren't saying (yet). It seems like your credit card/bank is the best course and if you have that FedEx confirmation of the shop's receipt of the bike then I don't see how you can lose. Its one thing for the bike shop to say they received the bike damaged or used but totally another to deny receipt and then resell. How can they deny receipt if you have the FedEx confirmation? Not sure how you could do a US police report if the bike was never in your possession (but I'm no attorney so maybe its possible). Why wouldn't the Australian customs release the bike to you again? Stromer isn't willing to intervene to straighten this out? How do you know they resold the bike? I wonder if you say what state the shop is in if someone on this forum could speak to your using an attorney in that state to take the small-claims route... just thinking out loud. Best of luck.
 

James Kohls

Active Member
Maybe there's a local news outlet willing to help out. If you have tangible evidence to show them, maybe one of their reporters would be willing to investigate it for you.
 

Jasonpb

Member
How can they deny receipt if you have the FedEx confirmation?

That's a very good question, one that I don't seem to be able to obtain an answer from the bike shop.

Not sure how you could do a US police report if the bike was never in your possession (but I'm no attorney so maybe its possible).

The bike was sold to me and I have the receipt, and the serial number of the bike provided which was linked to my account with Stromer. I can only assume that the bike would then be my property and granted the bike shop wants nothing to do with it and claims it never turned up I can only assume they believe it's my property as well, which then brings into question if they're selling stolen property.

Why wouldn't the Australian customs release the bike to you again?

It wasn't ADR compliant, apparently there's a little sticker that must be present on the bike, no sticker no import. The bike shop suggested it was my fault for the shipping company not doing dodgy paperwork with customs.

How do you know they resold the bike?

Stromer, I'm finding out exactly what details I can obtain but I'm assuming due to privacy laws I'll be unable to obtain who now owns the bike. I just know it's now assigned to another user.

There's the possibility of them locking the bike if I provide a police report, however that would impact on the poor sucker that's purchased it from them.

Maybe there's a local news outlet willing to help out. If you have tangible evidence to show them, maybe one of their reporters would be willing to investigate it for you.

Well I have the receipt of payment, the financial statements, the shipping information from Fedex/DHL and photographs of the bike being delivered, is that the type of evidence you're talking about?
 

Berry78

Active Member
I wouldn't hesitate to have Stromer lock the bike. If a legitimate customer bought the bike, they'll be bringing it back to the shop. If an employee took the bike (my guess), then at least he/she won't be able to use it.

However, if a new owner was assigned, would Stromer even be willing to lock it? How could a new owner be assigned without your permission?

It is too bad it has already been months, but locking that bike is the next step. Stromer also needs to flag the account, in case the bike is brought to a different dealer.
 

drcollie

Member
Stromer is not involved in this, this is a Merchant/Customer issue, it would be a waste of time to pursue with the factory representative. (I have owned a retail / dealership store for over 30 years now and have done overseas ships - I know this drill !).

Also, this is not a police issue, it's a Civil Issue - they will not assist.

If you paid for this with a credit card - the only way you should have - then a chargeback process will be relatively simple and painless, and with your documentation you will likely get the purchase price back and the shipping fees if they were put on there. It's the merchant's duty to make sure the goods are compliant for export, not the customer's. This is a cut and dried case for Mastercard/Visa/Am Ex adjudication.

If you paid via bank transfer / wire that was a mistake. However, you can't undo that so your only defense is to sue the bicycle shop. Contact an attorney in the city where the bike shop is located and let them file suit, and in the USA you can recover the cost of the attorney as part of the settlement. The valuation of the bike will take it beyond what we call Small Claims Court her in the USA, so you will have to file in Civil Court which requires a lawyer to process. You need not be present for the lawsuit. If you have all that documentation, then likely you will prevail. What will most probably happen if all occured as you stated, then the Bicycle Shop will fold and refund your money once they get the notice of lawsuit filed from your attorney. Last thing they will want to do is go to court and be liable for not only the cost of the Stromer, but the $ 4,000 or so in attorney fees you will likely have to pay out (but can recover). They would have to be really, really clueless to let this go to trial, U.S. Courts take a very dim view of any merchant that tries to take advantage of a consumer, and will almost always rule for the consumer if the facts play out as presented here.

Work out a deal with your lawyer of choice so that if they bike shops folds and refunds, then you only have to pay a portion of the funds agreed upon to him for representation, obviously if it goes to trial then there is a much higher workload for the attorney. And don't trust the bike shop to refund you the money into your account directly. Have the attorney collect it BEFORE he drops the suit, then he can forward the funds to you once their checked has cleared his bank.

Never pay for expensive consumer goods that have to be shipped via cash/check/wire transfer. You lose a huge margin of protection by not using a credit card and if the merchant refuses to accept plastic, then don't do business with them. A tough lesson you have learned, good luck.
 

ROJA

Active Member
Other ideas would be to hit them in the court of public opinion with harsh negative reviews on Yelp, Google, etc.
 

Jasonpb

Member
However, if a new owner was assigned, would Stromer even be willing to lock it? How could a new owner be assigned without your permission?

That's the question I'm asking them now, obviously there's a bit of a loophole in their security when a bike shop can re-assign the bike to another user without the owners consent so I'm not sure on how keen they'd be for this to be advertised since they tout the security features of the bike.

I can assure you there was "no permission" given and wouldn't have been until I had my money back.

Also, this is not a police issue, it's a Civil Issue - they will not assist.

I appreciate that, however the bike is missing, assumed stolen at least that's what the bike shop is telling people, of course I know differently but if I was playing along wouldn't I need to lodge a police report for a stolen bike?

If you paid for this with a credit card - the only way you should have - then a chargeback process will be relatively simple and painless, and with your documentation you will likely get the purchase price back and the shipping fees if they were put on there. It's the merchant's duty to make sure the goods are compliant for export, not the customer's. This is a cut and dried case for Mastercard/Visa/Am Ex adjudication.

You'd think so and that's what my bank said, however the merchant after claiming the item was never recieved is no longer cooperating with his own bank so it was forwarded onto Mastercard for a decision. My bank has told me there's cases sitting there for eight plus months waiting on a ruling.

In an attempt to be fair and reasonable I was prepared to cover the shipping costs, I wasn't happy about being $2k down but I thought that would demonstrate reason.

I did actually request a quote from another bike shop who actually wanted to ship the bike themselves $800 in shipping which was my preference. Once they found out who I was getting the other quote from they told me "good luck with that" and stopped responding to my emails. That should have set off alarm bells but given the vendor is reasonably popular around here I went ahead with it.
 

Jasonpb

Member
Other ideas would be to hit them in the court of public opinion with harsh negative reviews on Yelp, Google, etc.

I'd rather just get my money back, move on and purchase a bike locally, although I'm still waiting on bikes to be available here which is why I looked at the USA in the first place.

See how I feel after all this is done and dusted.
 

Berry78

Active Member
If the bike was received at the shop, then it was stolen from the shop, it should be the shop that files a police report, not you.

I'm afraid Dr. Collie is probably right in recommending you get a lawyer. It may be ok to wait to see if the credit card company gets your money back, but if too much time passes, then it may be more difficult to go back and sue.

It doesn't cost anything to talk with an attorney at first. At least you can get an idea how much it would be for legal fees.
 

drcollie

Member
a) You can certainly call the Police if you think that's what you need to do, where exactly was it stolen? Unless you know the location, date and appx time they will laugh at you. Truthfully it's a civil case, the merchant failed to deliver you the goods as promised through no fault of your own. You did not take title to the goods, if the merchant says it was stolen, they THEY are on the hook for it, not you. Sounds like a runaround, quite frankly.

b) Why volunteer to give up the shipping cost? No need to do that.

c) You really don't care if it takes 8 months to go to Mastercard - because as soon as you file a chargeback, the money is immediately withdrawn from the merchants account and you have a conditional credit. The merchant then has two weeks to respond and unless your issuing bank agrees with them (highly unlikely) they have that money pulled from their account and placed in yours. Then arbitration decides the final outcome. FYI, I have never seen Mastercard take more than 30 days to issue a judgement, and I suspect you are not getting a true story on that. I have been a credit card merchant for over three decades, I've seen it all.

Merchants have a very, very difficult time winning chargebacks against consumers. Call your card issuer and talk with them directly if you haven't already, go to a senior agent who handles disputes, not the average customer service person. They will explain it to you in detail.

This is pretty straightforward, you should have no problem prevailing.
 

Jasonpb

Member
If the bike was received at the shop, then it was stolen from the shop, it should be the shop that files a police report, not you.

Well the bike shop is saying they didn't receive it so how could it be stolen from them, Fedex is saying they did which I tend to believe since they have a store employees name and signature as proof of delivery.
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
They say every story has three sides: your side, my side and the truth.

Here is what happened guys. He contacted Lenny’s store few months ago. I was able to go through all the email exchanges between Jason and the store folks. I see an email thread of 150+ messages between Jason and store personnel.

Shipping a bike overseas is always a challenge and the store personnel suggested him to go with Haibike, Jason insisted that he wants best of the best and wants the ST2-S.
The store did not charge him until all the parts were ready to ship and throughout the transaction, Len was extremely accommodating and offered a price on the ST2-S that is truly extraordinary.

Before Jason bought the bike, (according to the email exchanges) the store agreed that they would not take the responsibility of shipping the bike to AUS and the customer has to arrange the shipping themselves. They even suggested a freight forwarder who was willing to work with Jason. But Jason wanted the bike quicker and so he said, he would arrange all the shipping himself. So, they promptly shipped the bike to Florida. Jason also mentioned that he would need a “Dodgy” invoice so he could avoid customs fees. I see several email exchanges where the store personnel mentioning that can them in trouble. Jason wanted the “Dodgy” invoice. At no point, the store agreed to ship the bike Australia. It can be shipped anywhere in US and he had to arrange the shipping himself.

Jason gave the shipping address to be somewhere in Florida and he arranged the shipping himself. I see a bunch of emails where Jason mentioning the bike is stuck in customs and this bike can’t be imported to AUS (well, somebody did not do the homework before ordering the bike).
Len was already going through lot of pain because of the fire incident at his store and with the insurance. I think he got upset when Jason started blaming him for the bike stuck in customs. Len agreed to refund his money minus the 15% restocking fee for all the effort that went into this and shipping charges. But, Jason wanted Lenny to absorb all the cost of shipping back n forth, Australian dollar exchange fee etc. I don’t see any email exchanges after that.

What got Lenny real mad was that without mentioning to him even once, Jason complained to Master Card saying the store sent him a defective bike or something like that and he wants a full refund ASAP. So, MC did a chargeback of $7000+ on to store’s account and gave Jason his money back.

What really baffled me was when I learned that throughout the entire transaction over many months, Jason hasn’t spoken with Lenny even once.

I have known the man for many years. He is truly a very kind man and also great businessman but it is really painful to see how the whole story is portrayed here. From what I see in emails, nobody said “we will ship to Australia, no problem”. You arranged the shipping yourself and why are you mad at somebody?

Any lawyer can go through all the email exchanges and see who is at fault.

Right now, all I know is Len is real mad at this whole thing (someone going behind his back and trying to portray him in bad light to Master Card). Anyone who has met or spoken with him knows that he is a wonderful guy. He has many friends and customers here and he is one of the easiest to work with.

Jason, I am sure Len would have helped you if you were honest and respectful. I can see why you are embarrassed to mention the store name. Instead of spending inordinate amount of time here asking for advice, if you had called him once and spoken with him, he would have helped you. Not just him, anyone would be angry if you try to incite some response by posting on forums etc. instead of working with them.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
Wow (again). Glad we get to hear another side of the story. But what happened to the bike? Was it returned as we were led to believe? And in the same condition as it went out? I'm assuming Jason pays/has paid the shipping direct since he made the arrangements. He should be out that and not the store. Seems like some sort of restocking fee is appropriate too. Sounds like the store spent a lot of time on this transaction.
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
Wow (again). Glad we get to hear another side of the story. But what happened to the bike? Was it returned as we were led to believe? And in the same condition as it went out? I'm assuming Jason pays/has paid the shipping direct since he made the arrangements. He should be out that and not the store. Seems like some sort of restocking fee is appropriate too. Sounds like the store spent a lot of time on this transaction.

I am really not sure. I did not see the bike when I was at the store this summer or after returning from my summer ride. I am inquiring about it. I am also not sure why he keeps saying he did not receive a refund.
 
D

Deleted member 803

Guest
Please don't take advice from this forum. Contact a good international attorney that has expertise in dealing with US law and have them pursue the issue. If you paid for any of this with a credit card, most cc companies have the ability for you to report fraud (as mentioned in a previous post) and receive your monies while an investigation if conducted. Based on the state where the retailer is located you might also have your attorney contact the attorney general of that state as well.

My best to you.
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
Ravi, this is a complicated situation to say the least. With Mastercard however, Lenny would have had an equal opportunity to fight a chargeback showing documents that prove that the shop wasn't responsible for the overseas shipping. That is never done without several attempts to work out a resolution, although the credit card companies don't always seem to be fair to the merchant even with more than adequate documents. Been in those shoes a few times and it's never fun - thus the need for lots of documentation, including the old fashioned paper kind with every sale.

Lenny's issue comes from agreeing to sell an electric bike that was not to be shipped in the US or Canada. Given that there has been a problem with international credit card fraud within our industry as well as others for over a decade, to agree to hand over a product to an international freight forwarder after being paid by credit card is risky. Wire transfer to a bank is really the only secure way to make that sale. I continue to receive emails on a weekly basis from people wanting to buy product from my shop using a credit card and then they will provide the freight pickup for an overseas shipment. You lose the product when it leaves the shop and you lose again when that person claims it never arrived or the banks discover that the credit card was stolen, so the credit card company takes the money back. It happens here in the US every holiday season.

Truth has many perspectives; hope this all gets settled soon.
 

Jasonpb

Member
OP - you left out several details and were not very forthright and honest before coming to the forum for advice. That was bad form.

I think that's a little unfair, I appreciate there's always two sides to the story but I've not left out any details here, in fact I attempted to contact lenny the other day and Ravi responded to me, then refused to answer any of my questions and stated I need to call Lenny, so perhaps in front of this audience he might answer some of them.

Ravi on an email dated 14/04/2016, Lenny offered to sell me multiple different bikes and stated he could only send them to a US address, that I would need to organise my own shipping which I clearly stated I did in my original post via FedEX/DHL and not some unknown shipping company that he suggested I use. The company he suggested I used informed me I wouldn't have to pay any duties so clearly didn't know what they were talking about. I'm not sure how that is being dishonest, and in a subsequent email on the same day he told me and I quote "Shipping is not a problem" he just doesn't ship internationally himself due to the time involved.

So the bike travelled from Lenny's store, to Florida, to Hong Kong and then onto AU, and it returned in the same fashion when it didn't clear customs due to no ADR compliance tag. Now I don't live in the USA, Lenny knew this yet sold me a bike that couldn't be imported into this country claiming he'd done so many times, I have the full documentation from Customs that I'm more than happy to share with Ann M if required backing this up, it doesn't matter what ebike he tries to sell me it won't be importable into this country.

Lenny did in fact sell me a much cheaper bike than what others were offering me, no dispute there, but the cost of the bike is irrelevant when I have no bike and no refund. Just for the record I did ask for them to mark down the invoice for tax avoidance purposes, that doesn't make me a "bad person" and I'm sure a lot of you do the same.

For the record all of my costs were posted in AUD if anyone is confused by the discrepancy.

Ravi can you confirm my statements or answer these questions for me please
  • In the email correspondence you would have clearly seen Lenny try and charge me a 20% restocking fee, not the 15% you're claiming, why are you saying 15%?
  • He sent the payment receipt that showed a 15% restocking fee after I'd already paid in full and the bike was on the plane, why not be upfront about the cost since I'd asked many times?
  • Lenny never offered to ship the Bike directly even though I requested he do exactly that, he clearly stated I'd have no problems though using a third party.
  • Lenny has never processed any refund, why is there a dispute with mastercard if he has. Why would I make this thread if he refunded me my money?
  • Not only did Lenny receive the bike (see attached fedex confirmation), he's sold it again, can you tell me where the bike is?
  • You talk about currency conversion and shipping costs, can you explain this to me please since I paid in USD and covered the shipping costs.
  • Ravi, can you tell me how the bike was removed from my Stromer account and assigned to another individual if it never turned up at the store?
A vendor telling a customer they can ship the bike to their country and then not being able to deliver said bike and expecting a "20% restocking fee" when returning the bike at their own expense, then claiming the bike didn't turn up, that's when we ceased communication and I lodged the dispute.

I can post up letters from the shipping company confirming it was returned, pictures of it being returned but for those that are satisfied with just the FedEx delivery docket here it is.
 

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Jasonpb

Member
I'm assuming Jason pays/has paid the shipping direct since he made the arrangements. He should be out that and not the store. Seems like some sort of restocking fee is appropriate too. Sounds like the store spent a lot of time on this transaction.

There's approximately 46 emails in total, ~20 of which were asking questions relating to what bikes were available what one was best for me and then I made the purchase. The rest are around asking when it was shipping, the problems I encountered with Customs, and working towards a refund.

I didn't ask any abnormal questions that one wouldn't ask if able to visit the store, plus the bike wasn't a special order or anything like that.

I covered the shipping, I was torn about if I should since I was informed I'd have no problems bringing the bike into the country, but I thought I should wear some of that responsibility and I paid the shipper directly who did what they were paid to do.

In 20 years of having a mastercard/visa this is the first time ever I've instigated a chargeback, I generally don't have any problems.
 
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