Imagine saving $2000 off brand new bike that is every other bike shop sells for $5000. What about a lovely Italian Pinarello or a firey Scott road bike, instead of 8K, you have spotted it online for 3.5K, less than half of the going price.
Though you have never heard of the online shop before, it looks professional and they have all of the top brands… all at heavily discounted prices. Lets have a closer look.
Have you ever seen a bike shop (online or physical) with such a wide range, brands which are usally never sold side by side in the same bike shop? Colnago’s next to Pinarello’s. Scotts next to Specialized and BMC’s.
This is one of the first signs to slow down because it is probably too good to be true.
The next tell-tale sign is that payment with Western Union is preferred – or a bank transfer.
Scammers can set up multiple online shops, each with a different design but all with unrealistic prices on brand name bikes and cycling gear to bait unsuspecting bargin hunters. If they can lure you in and convince you to pay then you have lost. As opposed to credit card or paypal payments which have an element of security and customer protection, Western Union and bank transfers don’t have these safety mechanisms making it impossible or extremely unlikely of ever getting your money back.
Yes, it can be hard to tell, the scam sites rip content and images from genuine shop but two easy steps can help get clarity. The first is google and searching for different combinations with the bike shop name and Web Address (URL) to see if customers have shared experiences or if there is any 3rd party information about them.
The second is to ask about the reputation of the online bike shop in forums. If no one has ever heard of the shop, be cautious. If you discover reports of scams and lost money, then avoid.
Sticking with the big name bike shops provides security but does make it tough for the new and smaller bike shops to compete for your business – however the chances are that even the new online bike shops and the small online bike shops have more realistic pricing and accept common and secure payment methods.
One in a while you will spot fantastic deals on bikes or parts, but if they are too good to be true, take care to protect yourself.