A visitor to Pembrokeshire who hired one of Pembrokeshire County Council’s new e-bikes for a short journey to see a friend was saddled with a bill for £57 as well as a bike that wouldn’t make it up the county’s steep hills and locked and could not be restarted.

Lloyd James ended up having to get a friend to load the bike into his car and drive him to an e-bike pick up point after the bike went to sleep on him and could not be restarted via the app.

He also says that the e-bike was dangerous on hills, stopping without warning on one occasion and requiring him to stand up and pedal hard on the second occasion to get up the hill.

Keen cyclist Lloyd, who was in Fishguard visiting family from his home in Ireland, then received an invoice from Zipp Bikes, who is running the scheme for the council, saying that his day’s bike hire had cost him £57.15, which included a £53.55 parking fee.

He has since been refunded the full amount.

“I am a keen user of public transport and cycling or walking rather than using my car,” said Lloyd who is originally from Fishguard.

“I have used pay as you go bikes in cities in different parts of the world but have never been ripped off as I have been in my hometown.

“It would have been cheaper for me to get a taxi.”

As well as the shocking bill, Lloyd encountered serious problems with the bike during his short journey from Fishguard to see a friend in nearby Goodwick.

“After my second visit to a friend's house the back wheel locked and I was unable to start the bike with the app or push it along the road,” he said. “I had to get a friend to load the bike in their car and drive to the pick up point before the bike allowed me to terminate the ride.

“Even worse, I believe that these bikes are dangerous as they can stop without warning on a steep hill.

“The first time I tried going up a steep hill the bike stopped. The second time I had to come off the seat and pedal hard to get up the same hill.”

Lloyd said that he was surprised that Pembrokeshire County Council chose Zipp Mobility as a provider for the e-bike trial as it has poor feedback online.

“What on earth were PCC thinking when they signed up with an outfit that is only rated 2.5 on Trustpilot?” he added.

“All in all a bad experience.”

He also felt that the pricing structure for the bikes is not clear on the county council website and said that he had contacted both the e-bike scheme and trading standards accordingly.

“I feel that the PCC website is completely misleading,” he said. “They say a week pass is £29.99, but that only covers two hours a day. It's ridiculous to say that one week is 14 hours.

“Looking at their day rate of £7.99 you find the a ‘day’ is only four hours and that the charges for additional time are priced per minute.

“It is sharp practice to mislead with a low ‘daily rate’ when a normal eight hour day could cost a shocking £12 additional charge.

“On top of that there are parking time charges which for me were £53.55.”

Pembrokeshire County Council said that Lloyd had been refunded the £57.15 and that the auto-lock function on the bikes has now been disabled.

“The council and Zipp Mobility are sorry to hear about the customer’s experience and upon receiving the complaint have immediately investigated the circumstances,” said a council spokesperson.

“It is clear that an excessive amount above the hire fee was inadvertently charged in this case and as a result the user has been fully refunded. The true hire fee has also been waived.

“In addition a safety mechanism auto-lock feature on the E-bikes, which activated after 15 minutes of inactivity, has now been removed.”

The spokesperson added that the council’s website clearly states the hire prices in the FAQ section, including the pence per minute cost and that that so far the e-bike trial project has logged 347 rides from 108 users, with feedback being largely positive.

Anyone interested in learning more about the E-Bike project can see more information, including FAQs, at: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/leisure-outdoors/e-bikes