It’s a declaration of love!!
I wanted to say how much I’m happy to be part of this great community of unicyclists! I’ve been able to truly experience the mutual help that can exist within it. I’m sorry for those I was supposed to keep informed earlier, so now is the occasion…
I’m hugely grateful to 3 of its members :
- 1st of all, Jure from Slovenia who lend me his brand new 36" so I was able to ride the 1000ish km of the MUT
- Roger Davies who, from the beginning, helped me to deal with British Airways, then with the UK Police, eBay and the shipment…
- Sean known as Into the blue on the forum who helped me for the auction on eBay and decided to buy my Coker for me!!!
but also to lots of others:
- Tom Blackwood who helped me to deal with British Airways in order to be reimbursed (it worked even if it wasn’t a full reimbursement)
- his son who lent me is 36" for several rides
- Zippedy Doo Da alias Christian Mettetal,who even gave me a bike, not a top quality one but really useful…
- semach.the.monkey who told the unicyclist.com forum that a nice custom made Coker was on sale on eBay at a cheap price
- Mike Scalisi who realized it was probably mine and told me right away
- Kris Holm who lent me his totally new - not even on the market Geared Muni 29er during several weeks (lots of fun! except when my shoelace got caught, I had then to be more caution because of a sprained ankle)
- Miark from unicycle.co.uk who saw my Coker on eBay the second time and told Roger.
- Luke Closs who lent me is 36" for several weeks
So here is the story:
June 15th 2007, I was on my way from Canada to France before going to Slovenia for the Mediterranean Unicycle Tour. In Paris, one of my bags, with my Coker in it, is missing. It means no wheel to ride our 1000 km!!
In Slovenia, I’m happy to meet my fellow riders but I can’t start with them. Jure, our host from Slovenia, rides with the group the first 2 days before the Croatian border but accept so generously to lend me his 36" at the border for the end of the ride.
During the ride, several times a day I phone British Airways and Paris airport to get info (which is really complicated because most of the number they give you only work if you’re in the country (ie France), but have nothing except that BA had a big problem at Heathrow airport and 1000 pieces of baggage were lost.
After awhile, it seems they are able to locate them and ask help from other companies to send them back to their owner. They tell me on the 21st that the bag is in Milan. It happens when we are in Italy so I have great hopes… But we move everyday, which probably doesn’t help, I still don’t have it and finally ask them to deliver it to the final address of the tour (my parents’ house).
At the end of the tour, I still have no news and I’ve started to really really like long distance, so I tell BA and Paris Airport that I would like to have my unicycle back in Vancouver Canada, where I live. I try to phone them quite often but all what they do is read my file which is also on the web… nothing interesting and I can’t talk to a manager. Their advice is to send a claim.
So in late July I send a claim to British Airways, asking only money for my expenses caused by the loss (suncream, shampoo, phone bill, shipment of the uni back to Jure, bus pass in Vancouver…), I still hope to receive my bag.
A friend working in a French airport tells my parents that all the lost baggage in Europe go to Milan were they have a big warehouse. I imagine that, since a bag of a big wheel is really unique, they will be able to find it.
A month and a half later, I still have nothing so Tom Blackwood, familiar with the claim departments, offers to help me (it also helps when it’s your mother tongue). My file had been deleted but he is able to reach someone who takes the claim into consideration. 2 weeks later, they say that they are going to give me money for the claim, which I indeed receive a little bit after. I start to understand that I will never see my bag back… I’m starting to write a claim for the good lost, knowing that there is only a certain amount BA (as every airline) can reimburse me, I want to get the most as possible.
And it’s exactly when Mike Scalisi sends me an email saying that my unicycle is on sale on eBay UK, the seller is from Manchester.There is a post on the forum. Like a lot of people around me when I tell them about it, I think it had been stolen (the last news from BA were it was in Milan). I don’t want to contact the seller directly because I’m afraid he is going to cancel the sale and I will never be able to see my unicycle again.
So the big operations begin: I take a day off and write an email to all my friends to explain the situation. I need advices, I don’t know much about eBay. I ask Gilby to delete the post about on the forum because I don’t want the seller to know we think it is stolen (just in case he knows about the forum), i contact the police in Manchester, they say I have to contact my local police even if it’s in Canada. I contact the police in Vancouver, they say they can’t really help me but their advice is to find someone who can win the sale for me so we will be able to locate the seller in any case. If we win, it doesn’t mean we will have to pay for it. I contact eBay (by email because they don’t give any phone number), they say they can only do something if the police ask them, but they will be happy to do it if so.
Roger Davies offers to help me and contacts the police. I send him proof that it’s mine, (even the bell is the same!!) and I send him the claim sent to British Airways. I also take the night “off” so I can phone in Europe, talk to different people…
I contact Into the blue on the forum, who was planning to buy the Coker for himself before knowing it was mine, through pm. He immediately accepts to help me and tries to win the auction in order to be secure. We watch the auction carefully while the police is working on it. Into the Blue wins it at £80.
Shortly after, he receives an email from the seller:
“There has been inquiry over the ownership of this bike? the unit had been acquired from a lost parcels auction (the parcels are legally disposed off in this way days after an item has been unclaimed for or considered lost for a period of time ? it comes directly from parcelforce /royal mail )…were told not to proceed with this transaction until this is resolved .Due to unknown implications It would be best for the transaction to be cancelled all together and we will get in touch with ebay and supply the case numbers ect .We apologize for the confusion”
The police tell us that the seller proved he bought it from an auction from Royal Mail and he paid £23 for it and was willing to sell it to me at that price.
My guess is that Royal Mail was one of the companies British Airways asked help from, and I don’t know why, they were not able to find me (BA had my cell phone number) and more especially they did not send it back to the sender (BA). But after 3 months, if they did not receive any claim, they sell it! Of course, they did not receive a claim from me, I had no idea they had it. But I did send a claim to BA!!
The eBay seller was away for a while but I was finally able to contact and I tell him I will be willing to pay for it. but he asks me £200, which is far from what he paid for it and far from the last bid at the auction. I don’t tell him I know the guy who won the auction but I tell him there is no way I would pay that much. (also knowing that I will have to get it back to Canada and the shipment is really expensive).
I think they ask me that much for 2 reasons, they probably saw how much I claimed for it to BA (I imagine the police showed them) and they didn’t like that the police came to their place and want me to pay for it. But they say they won’t sell it until the problem is solved. I answer that I can understand that people make money by selling things that people have lost.I wouldn’t do it but someone has to do it. Royal Mail can’t keep everything… But, by making money on other people’s misadventure, they take a risk, so, sometimes it’s normal that it doesn’t work They can’t win all the time…
We’re in mid November. They don’t answer.
I’m starting to be very tired about the whole story, and don’t really know what I can do, do I don’t really do anything.
January the 21st, Miark sees the unicycle on eBay again (it’s the same seller, with a different logging, but we can tell since he has his name in the logging). Roger informs me. This time, it’s not an auction, it’s a “buy it now” so the price is fixed. I’m furious: Into the blue won the auction the first time, so the seller can’t “resell” it. I contact eBay but can’t really have an answer. I inform Into the blue.
After 2 days Into the blue tells me “Just bought your coker.I thought I’d get in there before someone else did.” I’m so surprised and so happy to see how some people can be so nice (I was starting to think the contrary because of the seller)
He receives it more than a week after and fortunately can give it a try before Roger picks it up and sends it to me.
I received it only few hours ago and I’m so so so happy!!!
Tomorrow I’ll be able to ride the Critical Mass Ride in Vancouver with it (I got it just in time for that). I’ll take the occasion to celebrate! 8 months and a half after!!! It’s crazy but right now I’m happy!!
Sorry it’s a bit long and can understand that’s it’s a bit boring when the English is not perfect… but I told different people I was going to give news and tell them the whole story so I had to explain everything.
I love you, the unicyclist community!!