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Old 04-06-07, 10:27 AM   #1
fthrud
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Bicyle Rental question

Business took me to LA recently. I saw that Santa Monica had numerous bike rental shops, figured I'd have a nice day with some great scenery. Not so easy.

Every place I went to wanted to physically retain both my credit card and my drivers license. I'm sure the vast majority of people willing to comply with that have no problems. But potential horror scenario's include identity theft, cards being misplaced (how do you get on the airplane home without a DL?), card usage (you could buy a car with my credit limit), cards being stolen while the attendant is outside working with customers, etc. Plus, what if I NEED my DL and CC during the day. Anyway, I just won't do it. I understand the bike shop has to protect themselves from theft, and I'd be perfectly fine with them pre-authorizing a $1000 charge on my card for security, then canceling it when I return the bike. I've rented many tools and other items that way.

The question - is this the norm around the country, or specific to the tourist joints like Santa Monica? I don't need a high end bike, just something servicable to do 10-15 miles on, take in a little local flavor, and offset all those sportsbar meals I eat on the road. I travel all over the US, but LA, Dallas (Plano), Chicago and Winston-Salem are my most frequent destinations.

Any bike rental experiences or recommendations?

***ouch, mispelled bicycle in the topic on my very first post. An inauspicious start.

Last edited by fthrud; 04-06-07 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 04-06-07, 11:01 AM   #2
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I hear ya! They can do a preauthorization and be done with it.

Now, I've left a dl in Albuquerque to do test rides, but no way am I leaving either a dl or credit card for the duration of a trip. This is just outrageous
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Old 04-06-07, 11:48 AM   #3
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Good question and I agree, I AM NOT leaving my credit card with anybody or my DL. If you go to the same locales over and over it might be worth trying to find a place to stash a beater bike, with one of the company reps you deal with or a motel. I have left a bike at a hotel before when I was in and out over a 2 year period. They kept it in the boiler room for me, so no matter if I drove or flew in it was there for me to use. I have never had to rent a bike other than one of those beach trikes and there the just did a pre-authorization on the card.

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Old 04-06-07, 12:59 PM   #4
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I rented 3 bike in Albq a few years ago - had to pre-authorize my AmEx for a few thousand, but that was it - but then, I was with one of my brothers who lived there & left his DL#. That might have been the difference.

Everybody holds DLs for test rides, though.
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Old 04-06-07, 08:41 PM   #5
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Rented in CD 2 weeks ago and no hassles like this. Kept my card and my DL.
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Old 04-06-07, 08:54 PM   #6
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The reason is that a stolen card can have any amount put on it. Stolen cards can take several days to clear as stolen and then the bike shop gets stuck for the value of the bike. We have had bikes and parts ripped off using stolen cards. We always end up the ones paying the price.

However. I would use a hi-res scanner and take a copy of the cards with that, then let the customer keep the DL.
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Old 04-06-07, 09:27 PM   #7
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Come to my city! We rent out bikes and just take the credit card details down on paper then when the bike is returned we get rid of the evidence.
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Old 04-07-07, 03:56 PM   #8
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Thanks Rev...do you work in a bike shop, do you find that to be the norm? I've emailed a couple of shops in Nashville, where I'll be next week, no reply yet.

Alas, if my company would send me to Sydney, I'd definitely love to ride there, but that's not too likely...

So, anyone have any recent experience with rentals in or near the major US Metros? I hadn't asked earlier, but the quality of the bikes would be of interest too. I'm a newbie, so don't need much. Many of the Santa Monica tourist rental bikes were pretty ragged, but there were a few good ones as well.
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Old 04-07-07, 04:46 PM   #9
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Also sounds like a folder or Bike Friday might be in your future. My long range plans include getting a good high quality folder that will fit in a suitcase. Right now the leader is the Brompton.

Aaron
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Old 04-07-07, 07:13 PM   #10
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We rented bikes for several years, but it was a big money hole. If we ever did it again the charges would need to be much higher and the customer would need to wait for a post use damage check.

If you want the best "travel bike" get S&S couplers put on a bike you already own or buy one of the Comotion travel bikes. I have ridden the Norwester, very nice, and it comes with a suitcase.
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Old 04-09-07, 11:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
Also sounds like a folder or Bike Friday might be in your future. My long range plans include getting a good high quality folder that will fit in a suitcase. Right now the leader is the Brompton.

Aaron
I agree. I have three for various use and purposes.
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Old 04-09-07, 12:05 PM   #12
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Whether they hold your card for 10 minutes or 10 days, they can still write down the numbers and charge up a storm. Every time you let that card out of your sight, such as at a restaurant, someone who gets paid chump change has the opportunity to write down the numbers.
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Old 04-09-07, 01:47 PM   #13
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Sheesh, why would anyone rent? I needed to go to San Diego for a convention. I just went on to Craig's List, bought a bike over the phone for $60, then when the trip was over I boxed it up and shipped it home with our booth. If I hadn't been able to ship it home I would have wandered over to the local park and given it away to a homeless guy.

Read about it here: http://www.salt2salt.com/scans/SD/SD.html
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Old 04-09-07, 07:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowandsteady
Whether they hold your card for 10 minutes or 10 days, they can still write down the numbers and charge up a storm. Every time you let that card out of your sight, such as at a restaurant, someone who gets paid chump change has the opportunity to write down the numbers.

Just like every customer has the opportunity to stick a $60 dollar set of gloves(Or brake pads, carbon cages, folded clothing, etc) in their pocket and walk out. The fact is, it is way easier for a customer to steal stuff than it is for an employee to steal CC numbers, because the stolen card is somewhat traceable. The guy that asked to look at the Oakleys and then vanished along with a pair of M frames and Half Jackets, is not.
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Old 04-10-07, 10:12 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev.Chuck
Just like every customer has the opportunity to stick a $60 dollar set of gloves(Or brake pads, carbon cages, folded clothing, etc) in their pocket and walk out. The fact is, it is way easier for a customer to steal stuff than it is for an employee to steal CC numbers, because the stolen card is somewhat traceable. The guy that asked to look at the Oakleys and then vanished along with a pair of M frames and Half Jackets, is not.

No need to get defensive. It is very easy to steal, period. You can take a credit card number and charge up a couple thousand dollars in a few minutes and toss the card. My cc numbers have been stolen a number of times. There is nothing to trace since the perp is long gone by the time the CC company figures it out. My card is still in my wallet, so no reason to think anything is amiss.

Many years ago I worked at ToysRus during the holiday season. I did reshop. Reshop basically means I put things away that the customers moved from their original location. Every single day there were dozens of things that were stolen. There were a lot of empty boxes or train sets missing a few trains.

We had at least 40 employees on the floor at a time. These shoplifters must have been very good because it was only one time where we actually caught someone in the act despite having only 17 aisles and 40 employees.

It was a real eye opener for me. We also averted a robbery when one of the employees who was getting carts from the parking lot noticed a bunch of guys with ski masks sitting in a car. Fortunately the police apprehended them before they entered the store. They were armed. Scary stuff.

There was also an employee that was fired for stealing a pack of baseball cards. They had him on tape. Idiot. I had only worked there for 3 months and saw all of this. This was in a so called good suburban area.

All I am saying is that a lot of people steal. Maybe not the employees in your store, but in many stores. Not everyone is honest and many people feel entitled to other people's things when they see someone who clearly has more money than they do.
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