Used Bike Guide (UBG)

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In the January 2003 Used Bike Guide I had an article on purchasing at auction. In it I detailed my own experiences and to assist I needed a photo of the motorcycle. The only one that I had, portrayed Rose sitting astride it. This is the one that was printed in this national glossy magazine. A magazine that she opened on Euston station to see herself smiling from between the pages!

She was shall we say amazed to see herself as the centrefold in the Used Bike Guide! For your enjoyment that article is shown below.

Where’s my bike gone?” When I went to bed it was in the drive, now it’s gone. It was only an old Suzuki 750 that I paid £900 for, but all the same…

I got on to the insurance and sent them a photograph. Good news, they would pay me £100 more than I paid for it, now for the fun, let’s buy another.
 
I had been to a few car auctions, but never a bike auction and there was one advertised in a bike magazine so we set off for a look. The bikes were in lines in the auction hall and one looked beautiful. It was smaller than I wanted really, but it was pristine. A Kawasaki 454Ltd in black and silver with red piping. It was about 6 years old and a very tidy bike indeed.
“Can I see it running?” I asked the man.
 “No, I’m afraid were not allowed to start them in here, we’ve had it running though, sweet as a nut!”
‘Good enough for me’ I thought, well, I always was naïve.
 
I got it for £900, not bad, an excellent bike for that money, now to try it. No luck. 
“Mr, this bike won’t start,” I said to the shifty looking attendant.
“Not to worry, probably flooded, we can deliver it for you if you want,” and they did.

When I tried it at home, it just would not go so I had it collected by a bike shop for checking over, servicing, Mot, ing and replacing the rubber bung thing on the end of the mirror!

A week later I phoned them. 
“How’s the bike going?”
 “No problem, we have serviced it and replaced the rubber bung thing, you can have it back tomorrow.” Brilliant, The following day I phoned back.
 “Can I come for my bike now?”
 “Er, I don’t know how to say this.”
 “Go on!”
 “Well, we tried to start it and it wouldn’t, so we took the plugs out and turned the engine, all oil came out of one of the plug holes. So we took the head off.”
 “And?”
 “Well, one of the piston chambers had a piston in it.”
 “And the other?”
 “A biro!”
 “A biro, you mean a biro pen?”
 “Er, yes, a biro pen. This engine has been blown up, it is dead, it wont fix, basically it’s fu…””Yes, I get the message, can you get a replacement engine?” 

It was agreed that they would get a replacement and they did. The bike was then as good as new and it had cost me a total of  £1.700, still not outrageous, but I had been mugged and wasn’t having it. Someone had re-sealed the engine leaving a pen in the empty pot and polished the bike up. I started my detective work, well, I was a Detective at the time!

Luckily a bike trader had put the bike into the auction. That is different from an ordinary punter, bike traders can’t do that and get away with it. I contacted him. It transpired that he had suffered the same fate as me, he had bought it for £500 down south, sussed that the bike was a lemon and brought it up north putting it in an auction here where I had bought it.

 “Do the same thing,” he suggested, put it in another auction!

Well, I decided that the buck would have to stop or eventually the bike would become a collector’s piece bouncing from auction to auction. I would seek legal advice!

As a result proceedings where commenced in the Small Claims Court, but my detective work continued. I traced the lad who had put the bike in the auction down south. I told him that action was being taken against the dealer who had bought it and if he lost he would probably be coming after him. If I lose, I probably will, he was not happy but told me of the bikes history.
 
It had been imported by an American Air Force serviceman and used by his wife until she blew it up on the motorway. He had it taken to a garage and it was discovered that it needed a new engine. He sold them the bike for £100 went back to his air base for some hamburger and coke.

A soft lad working for the garage then decided to make a few bob and he polished up the bike, re sealed the engine and made it look nice. He put it in the auction and the dealer bought it. The rest we know.
 
The years passed as they always do when the slow wheels of justice are turned and the dealer denied liability. He sold a bike that wasn’t of saleable quality and as a dealer, he was not exempt from this requirement because it was an auction. I got plenty of help from the auction management, although they could not remember telling me that they had started it up and, ‘it runs sweet as a nut!’

In the meantime, I had the bike and it was a good one, no light switches, because it was a US import and the indicators were illuminated orange lights until activated, then they flashed. The previous owner had lowered the back end and it would not, without the use of a crane, go on to the main stand.

I was trying to pull this relatively small bike on to the main stand one day and I was struggling. Two big Police Motorcyclists came over and intimated that I was a big tart because I couldn’t lift it. Being macho they tried and it took both of them to do it. They went away red faced and I took the main stand off and threw it away! 
 
Because I was doing the suing, the dealer could say where he wanted the hearing. He plumped for Worksop so I had to go on the train.

A Civil hearing like this is very informal where we sit around a conference table and the judge, in our case a woman deliberates. He started out by demanding that there was no case to answer, as it was an auction. Also, if she over rules this and decides that there was a case to answer, it would have to go to a higher court. This was because it may result in a ‘stated case.’ Meaning that the decision would effect the running of auctions and dealers really would have to stop ripping people off!

We went outside whilst she considered the matter and outside I spoke with the dealer. I pointed out that he didn’t have a chance of winning, and why was he fighting for the sake of a few hundred pounds. He asked me how much I was talking about and I told him. He agreed to pay me that amount, I think it was about £800.
 
We went back into Court and the Judge said that she could deal with the case. He told her that we had discussed the matter outside and he was prepared to pay. She said that she would formalise it and we could all go home. I got my money back and I had a good bike into the bargain. I don’t know if the dealer went looking for the soft lad who had started it all off in the first place. I know that I would have if I had lost!

There is only one moral to this story, when buying at auction, beware, there are loads of ‘soft lads’ out there who are quite prepared to rip people off and the auction is the easiest place to do it.