BIKE IN BITS: Ben Devlin holding parts of his Yamaha YZ 250 F motorcycle. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
BIKE IN BITS: Ben Devlin holding parts of his Yamaha YZ 250 F motorcycle. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Family, business clash over motorbike dispute

A BUNDABERG family and business are at loggerheads over a motorbike which - after a few hours of the new owner riding it - needs repairs worth $2500.

Benjamin Devlin, 18, bought the used Yamaha YZ 250 F for $3200 from Gateway Motorcycles in late March.

It is now in pieces in boxes as the dispute over who is responsible for repairs heads to a tribunal.

Mr Devlin said the bike began malfunctioning about an hour and a half into his first ride.

But business owner Jeremy Schouten says the bike was not designed for the type of riding Mr Devlin was doing, and he has offered numerous compromises to settle the dispute.

Mr Devlin said problems began quickly during his first ride on his dream bike.

"We weren't even doing tracks. We were on our way to a track and the bike stopped like it was running out of fuel," he said.

"So we started driving back and the thing locked up and threw me off and the bike went sideways.

"My mate who is really cluey with bikes tried to start it and it seized so that's when we knew it was pretty damaged."

Mr Devlin said he returned the bike to Gateway Motorcycles where Mr Schouten quoted him $2500 for repair work but said he would negotiate.

"He said if I pay him $1000 we would call it there. I wasn't happy with that. I wasn't prepared to spend $4200 all up on a bike," he said.

"I wanted my money back."

Mr Devlin said he called his parents, Julie and Paul McCracken, about the situation.

Mr Schouten replied to their first email, saying, in an act of good faith, he would fix the bike for $1000 and included a written quote.

"We wrote back and said it was not good enough and we wanted a full refund and would give him 10 working days to respond," Mrs McCracken said.

After weeks of trying to finalise the matter through the Office of Fair Trading, Mrs McCracken said Mr Schouten asked Benjamin to meet him to come to a conclusion.

"Jeremy agreed to give Benjamin a refund and said to come by the next afternoon and he will have the cheque waiting. So Benjamin went in on his lunch break and there was no Jeremy," she said.

"So my husband and I went in ourselves. Jeremy told us that he had decided he doesn't have to give a refund."

Mr Schouten said he had been willing to negotiate with the family the whole time.

"Benjamin and his dad met me at my business where I said I would do the repair for $1000 and they weren't happy with that," he said.

"So I brought it down to $800 and then $500 and they still weren't happy. I said 'Look, I wasn't riding the bike - it was your son and it was his hand on the throttle. He has to show some responsibility'."

"I got down to $200 to fix the bike. I told them I would put the $2300 in which is my time and cost of parts. They said no and threw it back in my face."

Mr Schouten said the motorbike was a specialised race bike used for competition on closed courses, not in bushland or forest areas. He said it did not come with any warranty.

"You would usually only do about 45 minutes of riding on a bike like this all day. Mr Devlin has put two hours on it. They are not meant to be a constantly ridden bike," he said.

"We check our bikes over to make sure there are no oil leaks, to make sure the brakes are working and make sure the engine is good. The bike was running smoothly here. I rode it over to Mr Devlin's car myself."

Mr Schouten said he told Mr Devlin and his parents that he would give a full refund but was unable to say when due to financial difficulties.

Mr Devlin and his family have now decided to take Gateway Motorcycles to a tribunal in order to get the money back.

"Benjamin is an 18-year-old kid. He can't afford a solicitor. He got himself a loan just to get this bike. All the kid wanted was a bike that he could ride with his mates," Mrs McCracken said.

"It has affected him. He has been in trouble at work because he isn't concentrating. He has had time off work because of stress. We are devastated for him."

Mr Devlin said when he went to pick up his motorbike from Gateway Motorcycles on the advice of Fair Trading, he was given it back in boxes.

"All of the electrical stuff was just hanging out and there were odd parts in boxes. I don't even know if there is a whole bike there," he said.

Mr Schouten defended his actions and said the bike parts were in boxes due to the dismantling process.

"The bike was in parts because it was dismantled to establish what had caused the failure. The bike hasn't been reassembled because of the cost involved, this being the dispute about who is wearing the cost of the parts. At this stage, it's Mr Devlin's bike."

Mr Schouten said the whole ordeal had greatly affected him.

"This has been a family business for over 25 years and it is not something that I usually deal with," he said.

"I feel sick from the stress. It has caused me a lot of angst."

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