Online bicycle store is a fraud
BBB says many cheated by elusive scam artists
By Thomas Stauffer
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 10.31.2006
The Better Business Bureau is warning local bicyclists about a fraudulent Internet bike store that changes names quicker than some can change a flat tire.The BBB of Southern Arizona has yet to receive complaints from Tucson-area residents about a company most recently operating under the name Steve's Cycling Store, and it wants to keep it that way, bureau spokeswoman Kim States said."We're wanting to give the cyclists in Southern Arizona a heads-up that this seems to a be a popular and lasting scam," States said. "We'd rather get the word out now to people before we get a complaint."The company's Web site, www.steves-bikes.com, shows images of scores of bikes and several employees eager to serve you at a shop in Cheyenne, Wyo. Trouble is, there are no bicycles or employees at Steve's Cycling Store in Cheyenne, because there is no such store in Cheyenne. The address listed on the Web site is actually the location of a large truck stop.That hasn't stopped hundreds of people nationwide from being taken for tens of thousands of dollars through an elaborate scam that uses the company's fake online store and eBay, said Barbara Read, communications supervisor for the Mountain States BBB. Steve's — aka Todd's, George's, Kent's, Stan's, Jones', Max's, Moby's and possibly dozens other names — offers high-end bikes at ridiculously low prices on eBay, Read said. A common scenario is for a customer to call or e-mail about a particular bike, she said. When the customer asks about the eBay listing, he is told that rather than paying through conventional online sources, the company prefers that buyers use its own escrow service. The service is not legitimate, and the goods are never delivered, Read said.To "prove" that a bicycle has been shipped and is on its way to a customer, the company often gives tracking numbers. While the tracking numbers are valid, the package that can be tracked is not a high-end bicycle but rather a very small, empty cardboard box, said Jack Ailion, owner of Alpharetta, Ga.-based Ibex Bicycles.The Web site for Steve's Cycling Store features testimonials from customers stolen verbatim from Ailion's own site, he said."I investigated them far enough to find out that there is no way of tracking them down," Ailion said. "EBay catches them pretty quickly and will take their listings down and suspend their I.D., but then they just come back with a a different name and a different URL for the same phony deals and the same phony Web site."
###The moral of the story is - if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Find a store you're comfortable with and confident in their abilities to meet your needs and be loyal to them. A good store will reward your loyalty with outstanding service and prices that may not be the lowest, but are fair enough that you don't have to worry if it's a scam or where the part came from. Best of all - your trusted local bike shop cares about you and your safety. When you're in a jam, where's "Steves-bikes.com" going to be? If they're still in business - they certainly won't be the shop around the corner with the knowledgeable, helpful, friendly staff who wants to help you love your cycling experience!
Edit; Nov. 15, 2006: The URL for steves-bikes.com has been suspended as a part of the investigation.
Enjoy the beginning of your Holiday Season. My favorites: Thanksgiving and Christmas; are right around the corner!