Bike lock failure and restitution

Principal author:
John L. Clark


Here is the story of how my bike lock failed, but how Kryptonite, its manufacturer, shouldered the financial consequences.

This tale is a bit stale, but I hope you will forgive me: I wanted to see how it ended before writing about it. About a month ago, on Saturday, August 14, I was using my bike to get around between gardening and the showing of Arithmetic, Population and Energy that I had scheduled that day. After parking my bike and locking it to a rack near the bookstore that was letting us use their space, I realized that I had forgotten something at my apartment. I wanted to bike back to get it, but my key wouldn't work in the lock. I had just opened this lock successfully 20 minutes ago! Aggravated, I thought I would just leave the bike and try again after the video, but then I couldn't remove the key from the lock. Now slightly panicked, I tried again to twist the key in the lock, and then the key broke off. Feeling suddenly very isolated, I left the bike more stuck than locked to the rack, to deal with later.

After the video, I decided to head over to the library. One of my friends who works in the local library system tells stories about the great variety of questions that she fields from patrons on a regular basis, so I figured I should give it a try myself and see if anyone there had any suggestions. At the very least, they'd have a yellow pages that I could riffle through. On my way over, I ran into another friend and activist who had turned up for the video, and we ended up having a substantial conversation about the challenge of organizing a movement for change. Thus, some good did come of my little crisis.

Once I did get to the library, a friend other than the storyteller was working, so I briefed him and he suggested checking with the hardware store or just calling a locksmith, and he printed out a list of local locksmiths for me to contact. I had thought about trying the police, but they probably would have just forwarded me to a locksmith. One scary thing about bike lock failure is that without some sort of bike registration, you have no way of proving that the bike is, in fact, actually yours. I didn't even think to call Kryptonite; I should have, but if I had, it would have been fruitless, since they are only available between Monday and Friday.

I decided to try the hardware store first, and set off in that direction. Very shortly after leaving the library it started raining very hard; I probably should have retreated to the library, but I decided to press on. That was more foolishness; eventually I had to take shelter anyway, and by that point I was nearly drenched. But I got to watch the rain, which is always a pleasure. When it had let up, I continued to the hardware store; they had a hefty bolt cutter, but I didn't think that it would work on my lock. So I called a locksmith. He came, eventually, and used a power saw to cut most of the way through my lock, sending sparks flying, and then used a manual bolt cutter to cut the rest of the way through. The bill was not small.

I was not happy about that, so I decided to contact Kryptonite, the manufacturer of my lock, to see if they had a policy for handling such situations. It turns out that they do. The woman who took my call explained immediately that they have a lifetime warranty that covers the failure of the lock. All I needed to do was send in a note describing the incident, the lock that failed, and a copy of the bill from the locksmith. She arranged for a replacement lock to be sent without delay, and said that after they had received the artifacts of the incident, they would reimburse me for the other expenses. I was able to reuse a padded envelope, which another friend had used to send me something, to send the requested items to Kryptonite.

I still needed my bike for getting to work while I waited for the replacement lock, so I ended up bringing it with me into the office and putting it in a corner. It turns out that winding my way up a parking garage is kind've fun (and coasting all the way back down is a lot of fun), although I suppose that may be in large part due to my strange affinity for biking along with car traffic. About 10 days after making the call I received the replacement lock, which is actually a newer model, and last week I received a check in the mail for my locksmith expense. I thank Kryptonite for their service in this case.

This page was last modified on 2010-09-16 13:38:00-04:00.

This page was first published on .

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

See the version of this page with comments enabled to read or add comments.