Free Bike Protection Is Neither Free Nor Protects All Bikes

Brian bought a new bike lock recently. What led him to purchase a nice, expensive lock from On Guard was the package’s promise that the lock came with insurance—if his bike was stolen while using the lock, the company would pay for a replacement. He asked a salesperson, who verified the information. Sweet! Then he went online to register his new lock, and learned how the bike lock “protection” really works.

I recently bought an expensive bike lock because the package clearly indicates that the bike lock offers “protection of up to $1501 for bicycles” (see attached pic). The salesperson assured me that this was a legitimate offer and that if I had my bike stolen, all I had to do was make a claim, and would be compensated in full. I bought the lock despite being skeptical of the theft protection guarantee. After getting home, I went to the lock’s website to register the lock, and found these restrictions:

1. To make a claim, you must have original bike lock receipt
2. “This limited anti-theft program offer is not to be construed as insurance.”
3. It is void in New York
4. You must mail in a registration form to Todson, and mail it in within 15 days of purchasing the lock.
5. The coverage is void if the accompanying chain was cut (only the U lock)
6. A receipt of the stolen bike (“or if your sales receipt is not available, a signed and dated appraisal of your motorsport vehicle/bicycle by a reputable authorized dealer on that dealer’s business stationery.” Which of course would have to be done within 15 days of buying the lock)
7. This coverage is not free, you must pay for it
8. The coverage is void if “Torches, battery operated tools or power tools were used to open the lock.”
9. You must file a police report within 72 hours
10. Must notify Todson by certified mail within 7 days of the theft
11. Must send in your broken lock
12. “Todson reserves the right to deny claims that it cannot substantiate or that it deems to be false, misleading, or fraudulent.”

Those are the restrictions in Brian’s words, but that’s how the program works. What’s most curious is the pricing scheme:

If you qualify for the anti-theft program, you may purchase one (1) year of coverage for $1.00 (USD); two (2) years for $10.00 (USD);(3) years for $15.00 (USD).

Now, this post isn’t to criticize the company for having the program in the first place, since it’s interesting marketing, even if it’s a bit of a hassle. The question is, how many of these limitations are disclosed on the back of the package? The “void in New York” thing, for example, would be nice to know. The front reads “Anti-Theft Protection Offer,” emphasis mine. That implies that you have to pay for it.

Should Brian have checked the offer more closely before letting it affect his purchasing decision? Wouldn’t it be cheaper and easier just to buy actual insurance on his bike?

Registration [OnGuardLock Blog]