A Nova Scotia man is sharing his disappointment over the experience he had buying a bicycle that he wanted to use towards paving the way to a healthier lifestyle.
Instead, his situation led him down a road of discouragement.
“Honestly, I spent my afternoon hiding and crying because I was really upset about it and it really affected my self-esteem,” Sebastien Barsetti said about what he went through.
Barsetti, who lives in the Halifax suburb of Eastern Passage and tips the scales at just over 300 pounds, said he spent months saving up for a bicycle and eventually decided to go with a Giant model. He said he made the purchase online through the Giant Bicycles website and received notification that it would be ready to pick up at its Halifax location.
Prior to heading into the shop to pick up his new bicycle, he said he contacted the store to ask some questions about proper adjustments.
“I told them my weight, my height and shortly after they told me they wouldn’t sell it to me because of my weight. Because I was a little over the max weight,” Barsetti said.
He said the refusal caught him off guard and he ended up talking to the owner of Giant Halifax over the phone. Barsetti said he stated that he didn’t intend to ride the bicycle until he weighed in under the maximum limit.
Barry Misener, the owner of Giant Halifax, said his refusal to give Barsetti the bicycle was strictly rooted in his concerns over safety.
“I told him the maximum rider weight is 300 pounds. I said, ‘You cannot ride the bike safely,’” Misener said.
Misener noted his primary fear is that the components of the bicycle would fail and result in Barsetti enduring serious, possibly life-threatening, injuries.
“I will not compromise anybody’s health. I just can’t do that, I can’t live with that,” he added.
Misener said he told Barsetti if he wanted to pick up the bicycle he could but he would have to sign a waiver.
“So, he fully understood that the bike is not safe to ride. It’s not designed to support his weight, it would void the warranty. And at that point he hung up on me,” he said.
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Barsetti said he appreciated the safety concerns but he shouldn’t have to sign a waiver in exchange for picking up a product he already purchased.
“I knew I was over the max weight a little bit but I wasn’t even intending on using it until I was under. Also, I wonder, would they weigh everybody going into the store?” he said.
Barsetti ended up getting a refund through Giant Group Canada.
In an email statement, the company stood by Misener’s decision.
“As much as it is a very slim possibility, using a bicycle outside of its design limits can lead to catastrophic failure. We would rather disappoint a consumer by clearly stating those design parameters than put them at risk of a worst-case scenario,” wrote Steve Devantier, the marketing supervisor with Giant Group Canada.
Devantier did say the situation has led to internal discussions about how to make safety information, particularly design limits, easier to find online.
He also wrote that they offered Barsetti the option of “holding a bicycle” in inventory until “he reaches some of the targets he is aiming for.”
Barsetti said despite the setback, he’s still going to push forward with his active lifestyle goals.
“I’m hoping to find a bike and just commute to work,” he said.
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