Wednesday, 11 August 2010

[Bankname] Cycle Hire Scheme 3

I am rather pissed off this morning. One of the few items on the list of things that can make me angry is my time being wasted by other people's ineptitude, in other words, people not keeping their promise.

So far and despite the various problems I have already encountered with the Cycle Hire scheme, I have been willing to relaxed about it and ascribe all those problems to teething problems as people call them (incidentally, I am still waiting for that callback I should have received on Monday).

However the scheme has now been live for almost two weeks and I do think that most of those problems should have been sorted by now. It is becomeing apparent that the systems behind the schemes are not ready and should not have been launched, even if that meant waiting until next summer to ensure at least some fair weather for people to enjoy the ride at its inception.

This morning, I blithly walked to the second closest docking station from where I live (the closest was not operational all week-end and I was hoping to avoid the disappointment of possibly finding it still in that state) to get a bike and cycle to work. I had left my bike there last night without a problem.

Unfortunately, I couldn't release any of bikes at the station despite trying most of them (I spotted one with its amputated pedal delicately resting on the handlebars). Yesterday, I had read on the London-SE1 forum stories of people's accounts being suspended and £150 fines being applied repeatedly for no apparent reason and I was already thinking that something similar had happened to me while still thinking that there may be something wrong with that particular docking station.

I hopped on the nearest bus and went to the next docking station (the other side of the Elephant and Castle) and again tried several bikes to no avail. I decided to ring Cycle Hire to see what was happening. Uncharacteristically, I managed to get through fairly quickly and to someone actually working for the scheme (not one of those overflow call centres that just take your details and promise you'll be called back within 24hrs).

After acertaining that everything was fine with my account, I was told that the terminals were rebooting and that I would have to wait about 1 hour to get a bike. I am not sure whose idea it is to reboot the terminals at rush hour when the scheme is probably the most used but I think they should think about that again. Hard.

It was time for me to get on a bus to work. My frustration was added to by the fact that I saw Cycle Hire bikes being used in the City. I am now wondering if the guy I talked was just placating me with a lie (he didn't know which stations I had tried and he seemed to be talking about all the treminals being rebooted).

In the end, it took me about 50min to get to work from the time I left home. I probably could have walked to work in about that time.

I should also mention that the "activity log" on the website, which should show me the transactions made on my account and the trips I have made, while not being totally fictious gives a wide range of freedom to the computer's creative licence. Mine lists trips I have never made or even shows me have made two trips at the same time. I have also just noticed an entry for £1 called "subscription" the significance of which completely escapes me. I would call them to ask for an explanation but do I really want the hassle?!

As I have repeated several times, I enjoy the cycling but Cycle Hire are truly on the verge of spoiling it all for me. I am even considering cancelling my account and asking for a refund since they are clearly not delivering the service I have paid for.

Perhaps I should start posting on

View my growing number of posts about the scheme here.


  1. The scheme as it is currently being managed is a disaster. The infrastructure is cheap and out-sourcing to Serco is a failure, on current evidence.

    The call centre system is an appalling experience. I've called about 30 times and managed to get through 4 times. When I'm diverted to the overflow I now just hang up and redial since this system is frustratingly pointless. In the last week, I've waited about six hours in total for callbacks after giving the overflow call centre my details numerous times. I haven't been called back once. There is serious underinvestment in the call centre and given that this is only the first fortnight and that more and more customers are signing up, the planning for this stage is woeful. At present, the only reasonable strategy is to call after 11pm at night when the lines are less busy.

    Of the four times I've managed to get through to customer service operators in the call centre, two occasions have been a disaster where the operators were neither competent nor articulate. They did not how the system worked. On three occasions the operators had to ask a supervisor the answer to my question. Of the four, only one had the minimum service standard I'd expect. There has been massive underinvestment in both numbers of operators, interview and vetting, and training.

    The website has not been working for a week. I cannot login to my account to verify that I am being charged correctly. I have never known a website account system remain inoperative a week after launch. There are so many reports of account information errors and over-charging but no means of checking that I am being correctly charged without entering call centre limbo.

    The software used to recognise keys at docking stations is also failing and although both keys registered to me are active, only one is currently recognised by the docking stations. I have paid £90 for two annual access periods only one of which is currently working.

    I note from a twitter search @barclayscycle that failure is endemic through the system with little or no satisfactory response from Boris, TFL or Serco.

  2. Thanks for your contribution. Sadly I can only agree with you. This is very disappointing indeed.


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