Mum 'fobbed off' after bike failure

By Steve Deane

Concern over safety of Kmart bicycle after wheel buckles, tossing woman in front of car

Nimeesha Odedra with her son Shiv want to see a report on their failed bike. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Nimeesha Odedra with her son Shiv want to see a report on their failed bike. Photo / Jason Oxenham

A woman involved in an accident when the front wheel of a bicycle she purchased from Kmart buckled is angry a report into why the bike failed has been withheld by the Australian-owned company.

Nimeesha Odedra crashed while riding her bike with 9-year-old son Shiv in Red Beach in September.

She fell in front of a black Audi Q7 but luckily avoided serious injury as the car - which was being followed by a police car - managed to stop without hitting her.

The accident was witnessed by Orewa police officer David Mitchell, who wrote in a statement that the "front of the bike just collapsed".

Constable Mitchell attended to Mrs Odedra and gave her a ride home.

Mrs Odedra returned the Bellavista bike to Kmart and received a full refund of the $159 purchase price despite the warranty having expired. She was also offered a $1000 settlement from Kmart's insurers, Wesfarmers, to help cover her medical expenses, which included two trips to her GP, an X-ray surcharge and ongoing physiotherapy.

However the offer included no admission of liability, and neither Wesfarmers nor Kmart would tell her why the bike failed.

Mrs Odedra declined the settlement and asked instead for $50,000 if the company wasn't prepared to let her see the report.

An email she received from Wesfarmers on November 4 stated the company "do not have access to the full report compiled by Kmart but are still pursuing it".

An email from Kmart's customer feedback department to Mrs Odedra on November 1 stated that all documentation had been passed to Wesfarmers.

Both Wesfarmers and Kmart had now stopped responding to her emails altogether, Mrs Odedra said.

"It's like I'm being fobbed off."

The issue wasn't about money but whether Bellavista bicycles, which can still be purchased at Kmart, are safe. She had only raised the issue of a $50,000 payment after becoming angry at Kmart's refusal to produce the report into why the bike failed.

"I wrote back saying 'I don't want $1000, I want the report'," she said.

"I just want to know what is wrong with my bike. I'd ridden the bike for 18 months and never had an issue," she said.

Kmart's Australian-based corporate affairs spokeswoman Anita Agosta said the Bellavista bikes were safe.

"From our perspective the bike is fine," Mrs Agosta said. "We haven't had any cases of this as far as I know before."

An initial report had been compiled by the company Kmart contracted to assemble the bikes, and Kmart was now doing further testing on Mrs Odedra's bike.

Kmart would tell Mrs Odedra the results of its testing but wouldn't provide her with the reports.

"We can't supply any of those reports to customers. That's just policy."

Mrs Odedra was in no doubt a mechanical failure had caused the accident. "The wheel just buckled under me."

- NZ Herald

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