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Inside Bikes

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George White, Britain’s biggest motorcycle dealer,went into administration last week, making almost its entire workforce redundant and leaving a number of unanswered questions for customers.

Here, we try to answer some of the common queries.

Why has George White gone into administration?

George White went into administration on January 19th 2012, with the blame placed on cash flow problems and “poor trading results over the last two years coupled with the increasingly difficult market conditions and low margins”.  The business, established more than 50 years ago, had an annual turnover of £25m.

Industry experts have suggested that an increasingly aggressive sales and promotion strategy, combined with rapid expansion and a generally difficult trading environment, have contributed to the firm’s collapse.

In total, 61 out of 70 employees were made redundant, with nine remaining to assist the administrator, Deloitte.

Does this affect clothing stores as well as dealers?

Both clothing stores and dealers have been closed by administrators. Administrators have closed outlets at Donington, Bolton, Plymouth, Slough, Swindon and Torbay.

I am waiting for delivery on a new bike, what happens now?

At present, it would appear to depend on the bike manufacturer. The manufacturers are under no obligation to step in but Kawasaki UK has announced that it will be contacting any customers who ordered a Kawasaki motorcycle from George White and will attempt to fulfil those orders through its dealer network.

“These situations are never easy,” said Kawasaki’s Sales and Marketing Manager, Michael Johnstone.” That said, we are doing our very best to ensure that Kawasaki customers who have paid deposits on brand new machines and are expecting delivery will not be disappointed and suffer as little inconvenience as possible.

“As things progress, we will ensure that machines are supplied by the affected customer’s nearest Kawasaki dealer.”

No official statement has been made by Yamaha, Honda, Ducati or the Piaggio Group, but the advice is to contact the manufacturer directly before contacting the administrator.

So can I get my money back?

If you paid a deposit of £100 or more by credit card, you can make a claim against your credit card lender under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (1974). This clause in the act makes your credit card provider jointly liable for the non-delivery or failure of goods. Section 75 does not apply to hire purchase agreements.

If you paid by a Visa debit card, or paid a deposit of less than £100 by credit card, you may be able to claim under your provider’s ‘chargeback’ scheme but you must do this within 120 days of realising that there may be a problem.

Customers who paid a deposit with cash or cheque have less protection. In this situation, you should register with the administrator as an unsecured creditor. However, it is unlikely that you will receive your deposit back in full.

What about warranties?

Warranties on new motorcycles are underwritten by the manufacturer so these should be honoured via the manufacturer’s dealer network. If you have a warranty provided by George White in relation to a used bike, this will no longer be valid, although you may be able to make a claim under section 75 if you paid by credit card.

I have a voucher or pre-paid service agreement with George White, are these now worthless?

In simple terms, yes. Anyone holding a gift voucher or a pre-paid servicing agreement for George White should register with the administrator as an unsecured creditor.

My bike was undergoing a service at George White when it went into administration. What do I do now?

If you haven’t already been contacted by George White or Deliotte, you need to contact the administrator urgently to arrange collection of your vehicle.

How do I contact the administrators?

Interested parties should contact Neil Smith, Senior Manager, GoIndustry DoveBid, 0117 344 5746

Where can I get more information?

Your local Trading Standards Office

Consumer Direct

Citizens Advice Bureau

The Financial Ombudsman

Money Saving Expert – Administration Guide

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