Earlier this year Raj Subramaniam tweeted out a picture of a broken scooter that was owned by Bounce. The scooter was left in an alley near his work in Bengaluru, India and he put in a request to the company to have the scooter removed since it was blocking the alley.
“Ask your customers to be a little responsible. The area’s residents’ association wants the garbage guy to take it away,” Subramaniam wrote. Bounce responded quickly, saying it would clear the obstruction. But on April 4, he again found two abandoned Bounce scooters, which cost about Rs 50,000 apiece, parked on the street. A few weeks later, one of them was wrecked by an annoyed motorist.
Instances of vandalism to rented rides and even theft of their parts have become common in the country’s startup capital amid a surge in interest for the two-wheelers. Many people in Bengaluru now hire them for short trips instead of calling a cab, and poor conduct by some users is, for the moment, a minor concern for Bounce and its investors as the company chases market domination and growth. Bounce, the most well-funded two-wheeler startup in India, is competing with Ola-backed Vogo, an aggressive player in the segment.
“Because our scooters are branded, they get more attention. More than vandalism, theft is an issue of concern if there is a second-hand market value to it,” Bounce co-founder Vivekanand Hallekare told STOI. “We are working on our custom models (which won’t have second-hand market value).”
Many of the firm’s rides have been abandoned on flyovers or carelessly left in the middle of the road and its yellow helmets have been nicked by people for personal use. One estimate pegged the loss of helmets at a few lakh rupees a week. Hallekare is not losing sleep over it. He believes there’s an upside to the problem: helmets contribute to brand building. And their theft can be perhaps viewed as marketing cost.
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