Where did the GoBike go? Customers charged with hefty 'missing bike' fees for returned bikes

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- At 7 on Your Side, we previously reported on a San Francisco man who rented a Ford GoBike, docked it properly an hour later... and then was charged $1,200 for a missing bike. Since then, others have come forward with the same problem. For them, a quick bike ride turned into a huge financial penalty.

Brandon Leitner was trying to get across town to his volunteer job packaging food for the homeless when he decided to hop on a Ford GoBike. He biked to his destination, saying, "I hustled, it took me 20-plus minutes." Leitner docked the bike, and a text message showed the charge for his completed ride. "And I thought that was that," he said.

Unfortunately, it wasn't. The next day he got a shocking email from Ford GoBike that said, "The bike's still out, the trip's still in progress so I was thinking, what are they talking about," Leitner recalled.

RELATED: San Francisco man returns rented GoBike, company claims he didn't

Ford GoBike claimed he never returned the bike -- and if he didn't get it back soon, he'd have to pay a $1,200 missing bike fee.

"$1,200 -- yeah, pretty absurd for a used basic bike," Leitner said.

Brandon was sure he docked it properly at the GoBike station. "I know I pushed it in firmly and I heard the lock engaging sound when you push it in the stalls."

He says he jiggled it like this to make sure it was locked. But Ford GoBike said he better go back and find it. "5807, this is your fault, you lost our bike and we're gonna take this stance," summarized Leitner.

So he raced back across town, searched rows of identical blue bikes, and thought he found the right one. GoBike said he didn't. "You lost this bike and it's on you and you're hopeless," said Leitner.

Brandon wasn't the only one. He and three other GoBike customers contacted 7 On Your Side with the same complaint saying GoBikes falsely claimed they never returned their bikes. All faced the possible $1,200 fine.

We contacted GoBike, and the company reviewed the cases. They waived the fees for each customer, saying, "Ford GoBike is committed to providing a seamless experience to the thousands who hop on our bikes across the Bay Area each day. We work directly with customers who experience docking issues and routinely inspect and maintain our docks."

The very next day, Leitner received an update: his bike was located nearly two days later, docked at a different station. The app showed he rode for 21 hours and burned 6,900 calories!

If you rent a Ford Gobike, make sure you see the green light when you dock it. Also, look for a notification that the ride has ended -- take a screenshot in case you need it. And if you still get a false charge, be sure to let 7 on Your Side know about it.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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