Watch out for phony online bicycle scams

My dad always said, “If it's too good to be true, it probably is.” That advice certainly goes for buying bicycles at “inventory clearance” prices online.

The Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona is issuing an alert about a certain Steve's Cycling Store in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Although the website looks legitimate, the street address houses a Flying J truck stop. (Update: Don't mourn the closure of this phony online bike store, Nov. 3)

The bicycle shop offers bicycles at extremely low prices — the entire Trek line goes for $1,000 to $1,300, including a Madrone 5.0. The only problem is, you never get the bike.

Goods are delivered

Customers who contact the store at its eBay listing, for instance, are asked to use the company's own escrow service instead of going through normal online sources, the Arizona Daily Star reports. The goods are never delivered. The customer gets a tracking number to prove shipment, but the package is a small, empty box, the newspaper says.

eBay Forums has a long thread on this bicycle scammer, who changes names frequently. The seller also goes by Ken's, Todd's, Ben's, etc. A similarity in the offerings is the “about us” section, which always says the shop has been in service for 33 years in Cheyenne, Helena, Charleston, or wherever. In spite of that longevity, callers cannot locate the shop and other area bike shops haven't heard of it.

Asks for money order

Here's another similarity, the company asks for a money order. To show good faith, it provides that tracking number to prove shipment before receiving the money. Hmmm, good faith?

There's another thread at the MTB Review forum.

Because of this scam, I'd recommend against buying a bicycle online unless it's from a reputable company, like REI, Performance, Bike Nashbar, etc. Otherwise, check the city directories where the bike store is located or call other bike shops in the area to make sure your bike store exists.

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