One of the less attractive aspects of the tax free bike purchase schemes such as Cyclescheme is the fact that few on-line retailers participate in the scheme and most that do exclude sale items and special offers. I've even encountered some that charge an additional fee for processing Cyclescheme vouchers. For sure the operators of the scheme are commercial companies that charge the retailer for handling the vouchers and some smaller retailers cannot absorb this cost and have no choice but to pass it onto the consumer. Love them or loathe them, Evans Cycles have bucked this trend by offering the Cyclescheme customer the opportunity to buy on-line through their website. This provides the potential to pick up a discounted bike in the sale as well as discounted accessories such as lights lock, luggage and helmet.
Armed with a £1000 Cyclescheme voucher I decided to put the Evans on-line voucher redemption process to the test. I chose a bike in the sale with a £100 pound reduction and various accessories to go with it totalling just £2.63 shy of a £1000. The first problem I encountered was when I attempted to complete the order, receiving a message that some of the items I had in my basket were not allowable for purchase with Cyclescheme voucher, but the real problem was that the site did not identify which were the prohibited items. So by a process of trial and error I discovered that while I could purchase for instance pannier bags... I could not purchase a rack to mount them on!? Eventually I had a basket full of allowable items and hit the order purchase button once again, only to be informed that I had not spent the full value of the voucher and that I needed to add more items in my basket... but I couldn't find anything for exactly £2.63 so I ended up fudging the value of the voucher so it equalled the value of the order, so far this had taken me over 4 hours! An on-screen message informed me that my order had been taken but I was less confident. Over the following 3 days it took 4 phone calls to Evans to confirm that my order hadn't been processed, during the final call the order was taken manually over the phone in less than 5 minutes and email confirmation was received within the hour.
It's a brave attempt by Evans to introduce an on line facility for Cyclescheme customers, but unless you're buying items to the exact value of the voucher the process is simply not workable. Top tip, ring your order through and you should have no problems and get the benefits of the on-line pricing and offers.