Something spooky is lurking on your social media feed. It knows you’ve been searching for e-bikes, and it wants to trick you out of your hard-earned money. Online scams are nothing new. However, the amount of fake ads, counterfeit e-bikes, and imported products with zero support services has exploded with the escalating popularity of electric bikes. Since Juiced was founded 12 years ago, we’ve heard every ghoulish story out there. So gather round, as we share our tales. They may be grim, but these four tips will help you avoid a terrifying online buying experience.
Evil Twins: Knock-Off Bikes
“Hey, haven’t I seen this e-bike before but for way more money?” You probably have, and there’s a reason for the price drop – it’s a fake. Don’t be deceived by these e-bike doppelgangers. These copycats go the distance when it comes to the look, they can even photoshop on brand logos. This is a long-running scam to get your money and information. If you fall for this you won’t be getting an e-bike, but you will be making a call to your credit card company. So, how can you tell if a model is real or fake? The best piece of advice is to go directly to the actual company’s website - not eBay or other online third-party resellers.
It’s a Trap!: Deceptive Social Media Ads
Be on the lookout for social media scams! If you’re on Facebook or other social media sites and see an ad for brand-name e-bikes for only $99 (GASP) or $199 or even 70-90% off, don’t click or give them any personal information! That price wouldn’t even cover the shipping costs of an electric bike, no matter the brand. Also, watch out for any ad that doesn’t lead you to an active social media account when you click it. If there’s only a handful of posts, it’s most likely a scam. Your best bet is to purchase from a verified social media account – look for the blue checkmark!
The Old Switcheroo
So, you've settled on an e-bike brand and, like millions of online shoppers, type in that brand name into your search engine. Most likely, the first 3-5 results will all be paid ads hoping to lure you away from that brand you're looking for. Before clicking, make sure you look past the headline and check out the destination URL. If the brand name you're trying to visit isn't in the URL, then it's a fake ad. In the image below you will see what looks like a Juiced Bikes ad but is actually a different e-bike company practicing some shady tactics. So even though it says Juiced Bikes in the text, the URL above shows that it is leading to a website that is not Juicedbikes.com.
The Jeckle and “Hide”: Scam Sites Hide or Misrepresent Bike Specs
Scam sites are one of the most challenging things for new e-bike shoppers to spot. Seasoned shoppers know to look at the product specifications – things like motor size, battery voltage (power) and amp-hours (range), torque sensors, and other premium features. Can’t find specifications anywhere on the website? Move on to another brand. Also, keep an eye out for sites that include specs and prices that don’t add up. For instance, if you're searching for a bike with a large battery and a decent-sized motor (750 watts or higher), the model will most likely be $1000 or more. If you find an e-bike with a 52V battery and a 750W motor but it’s only $500, then it’s probably a scam site. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
A Stranger Approaches - Some New E-bike Companies Likely to Crumble
Over the last year, many new e-bike companies have been haunting your social media feed. But pop-up e-bike companies are entering a market with some unique challenges. Supply chain issues and increased component pricing may wipe out these companies before you get a bike. Avoid purchasing a bike that is on pre-order for more than six months from new companies. Be sure to buy from companies that have been around for a while. Juiced Bikes has been in the industry for over 12 years. Yes, we once were a new company with longer shipping lead times for e-bike orders, but things have changed since then, and navigating complex supply chain issues cause much greater disruptions for emerging companies. You can check to see how long a website has existed by entering it into http://archive.org/. Proceed with great caution if the site is brand new and offers steep discounts!
Bonus Online Security Tips
1. Always check if the website address is listed as HTTPS instead of HTTP. The S stands for secure, so you can trust that site with your personal information.
2. Did you know clicking the little padlock on your browser will show more information about the site? Always verify a website before giving any personal or billing information!
3. Make sure the company has a customer service team, a phone number, and a way to submit questions/comments. Do they offer a warranty on their product and a return policy? If any of these things are missing from their site, be afraid... be very very afraid!As you begin your search for an electric bike, keep these tips in mind while shopping. And remember, it’s always best to shop directly from a reputable brand with an established track record. To ensure your new electric bike is a treat and that you don’t get tricked out of your cash, check out our full line of official Juiced Bikes.