Wheelstreet Andaman/Port Blair bike rental experience/feedback!

I had planned a trip to Andaman. This was my second visit. Last time we had visited Havelock, Ross Island (Now Netaji Subash Chandra Bose island), North island etc. This time my plan was to visit places in the Port Blair and nearby areas.

To get around, I thought of booking a two wheeler. My first preference was Royal Brothers- but their rental was expensive and had daily limit in terms of usage and speed limit and various other rules. So it didn’t sound attractive.

Next I checked Wheelstreet- had rented once from them earlier in Pune (read detailed experience here)- Wheelstreet serves Andaman,  had 2-3 delivery locations and had fairly good range of vehicles. I selected TVS N Torq as I had not ridden this power scooter before. Ntorq is relatively new model so should be in good condition and had 5 litre fuel tank (compared to Activa’s 3 litre) giving us better range. There was only 1 unit available and then I got the confirmation after paying some 734 Rupees- one third of the total amount payable.
This booking was done about 5 days prior to trip date.
Everything looked great and we were looking to explore Andaman on two wheeler for couple of days.

The day before pickup date, we tried to call the service provider to ensure everything is in order-our calls went unanswered.

On the day of pickup, we went to the address specified, full one hour ahead of time- reached there by 9 AM while our booking was from 10 AM. However, the place had no signboard- had to take help from another shopkeeper to locate this Maharaja Travels. Below is the location of Maharaja Travels in Port Blair-the shop behind the PAN CARD centre board.
Once we went inside, staff there had no clue of our booking, there were no TVS NTorq in the vicinity.  Lady staff there asked us to wait. I called the contact number again and explained him we have come to collect the vehicle as per booking. He asked us to wait and will be here shortly.
9.45 AM this person arrives, says TVS Ntorq is NOT available. His claim is he never got any booking confirmation from Wheelstreet. Claims internet is weak in Andaman (which is true) and he wasn’t aware of our booking. At this stage I gave him benefit of doubt. Next he says he can provide Dio or Activa within 5 minutes.  If you want you can cancel the booking- I don’t want any bad reviews or complaints later as they hold our payments- he says. I ask him to provide Dio- immediately he says only Activa is available. I ask to be upgraded to a motorbike- his explanation was weird “sir we have passion but it is not in good condition- if it develops problems you won’t get any help- listen to me- take Activa”. Adds that Activa is less than 6 months old and is in very good condition.

Our booking was till 9 PM on Monday, but this person says we need to return earlier as his shop won’t be open till 9 PM- then why accept bookings? (he offered us to return it next morning but that wouldn't work as we had early morning flight)

He asked me to cancel the booking on wheelstreet and deal with him directly- I refused. Why deny the platform their rightful commission?

At this point we didn’t have much options- he was trying to downgrade us from Ntorq to Activa, intimidating us to cancel if we are not comfortable and few more lies to trick us into submission.
I was annoyed but still felt we could salvage the trip even with an activa, so asked him to get the vehicle so that I can check its condition. He said 5 minutes.

One hour passed, it was 10.45 AM, well beyond our start time. The Activa which was supposed to arrive in 5 mins hasn’t arrived yet. Upon insisting he changes his story again- says vehicle developed a problem enroute- if I can join him he will take us to where his vehicles are and will handover to me. This was the last straw- I decided to not to believe in his lies anymore and walk away from the scene.
I wrote to Wheelstreet support explaining the scenario- they promptly offered to initiate the refund of 734 Rs I had paid. They couldn’t do anything else.

Wheelstreet customer care number works only on weekdays and after 11 AM. So there’s no 24x7 support. Neither their partners nor customers can reach Wheelstreet in case of any issues on weekends or morning/late evening hours.

We managed our Andaman trip using public transportation, walking and auto where essential. A bit inconvenient but I think we saved a fair bit compared to 2200 Rs rental + fuel I would have spent.

Analyzing our experience, below are the ground realities in bike renal business
-Rental companies like wheelstreet prefer to be asset light- not own any bikes and outsource actual bike handover and collection to 3rd party service providers.
-These service providers have their own tricks to maximize their income- they would trick customers to cancel the booking and deal with them directly- to save 10-20% commission they have to pay.
-These service providers probably list same bike on multiple platforms-honor most profitable booking and trick rest of the customers into downgrading to other options
-I don’t think the service provider often owns the bikes- he might be coordinating with several bike owners in the town- now one more party to deal with and more variables/loopholes
- By not communicating any non availability/delay upfront, they game the customers into submission as at the last minute customer has no reaction time, not enough alternate options and can be forced to accept whatever is offered to them.

Immediate feedback to Wheelstreet:

  • Your customer care should be operational during entire business hours- if bike rental starts at 9 AM, customer care should be operational from 8.30 AM to support any issues.
  • Send some of your own staff as dummy customers, learn how your partners are gaming the system and inconveniencing customers. Be bold to take action against them if found guilty.
  • Being asset light is alright- but then you need to put extra effort to ensure that customers get their bookings honored as per initial promise the very first time. Losing time at collection point and being forced to cancel/accept downgraded alternatives won’t leave positive impression.
  • Being asset light startup seems cool and head ache free- but it is more prone to failures and customer disappointment as each party tries to outsmart each other and maximize their return.
  • Even for cancelled bookings do include a feedback/review option so that people can explain why they had to cancel the booking
Tips to Wheelstreet/bike rental customers:
  1. Don't expect a happy day scenario. Do your bit to predict and prevent inconveniences. Call up a day or two prior, talk to the vendor and confirm everything is in order
  2. Don't plan anything serious on day 01. Even if there's a delay of few hours or worst case booking had to be cancelled, keep a plan B in mind or enough cushion to find an alternate transport.
  3. Be ready to walk out if you feel you are being intimidated or arm twisted into accepting an alternative you are not comfortable with.
Similar: Royal Brothers Phuket bike rental experience * Royal brothers Mangaluru Experience *Onnbikes Hyderabad Activa experience * Tips to avoid bad experiences with Zoomcar * ONN Bikes vs Royal Brothers

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