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Dutch cargo bike company Babboe was “well-aware” of its sale of faulty frames, finds investigation

The Accell Group-owned brand has stopped further sale of its cargo bikes, amidst reports that the staff “had to lie” to customers about the issues

An investigation into the Dutch cargo bike company Babboe has revealed that the company knew about its sale of defective frames and that the staff were forced to “make up stories” to hide the issues from customers.

On Thursday, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) ordered the company to stop selling its bikes due to safety risks. The organisation further stated that Babboe had received hundreds of reports about broken frames, but had failed to report them to the regulator despite being required to do so by law.

Babboe, which makes pedal and electric cargo bikes and is owned by Netherlands-based Accell Group, also the owner of the British bike industry’s stalwart Raleigh, has been ordered to recall eight of its bike models.

> Raleigh owner Accell Group to cut jobs and streamline European production to "simplify operations and enhance efficiency"

RTL Nieuws, which undertook the investigation, spoke to 12 Babboe employees, both current and former. They found that the company directors were “well aware” of the defects and that the staff were often instructed to “lie” to customers to keep the issues under wraps.

“We always had to lie,” a staff member employed by Babboe BV told RTL Nieuws. “I made a story to the customer: ‘this never happens’, and gave them a free cargo bike rain cover and a free cushion.” 

Another employee said: “A new boy came to work with us. He told a customer: ‘This happens every day.’ Then they said, ‘You really should never say that.’”

Babboe Dog-E 04

Eleven of the 12 employees interviewed, all of whom wished to stay anonymous, claimed management was aware of the frames breaking, and that the problem seemed to be “the most normal thing in the world”. In fact, the issue was so widespread it was reported that an ironmonger would come weekly to collect the broken frames.

Several current and former employees said they’ve delivered flowers to customers who got hurt on a Babboe cargo bike. A former employee told the broadcaster: “In my role, I had access to files and have seen that an employee has been reporting this for years.”

Another former employee added: “No, no, I didn’t say anything. Your income depends on it, and your rent, your children have to eat. I felt like I was lying because I wasn’t allowed to say what happened. Then you have someone standing in front of you with their entire face damaged, tears on their face, but it is your job.”

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The NVWA said that it had been receiving “hundreds of reports” on frame breakage from customers, and launched its own investigation last December when it found out that Babboe had failed to lodge any formal issue with the body. 

The regulating body has also announced that it will assess if the apparent improper and unlawful approach to the problem by Babboe’s management deems a proper criminal investigation. Although, it is unclear why the NVWA decided to order Babboe to halt the sales after the investigation by RTL Nieuws was made public.

Babboe has declined to offer a comment on the investigation to RTL Nieuws, but said: “We take the situation very seriously and all aspects are part of our ongoing research.” road.cc has also contacted Babboe for a comment.

Recent times have proven to be quite turbulent for Babboe's parent organisation Accell Group. Earlier this month, the company, which owns brands such as Raleigh, Lapierre and Ghost announced its plans to “simplify operations and enhance efficiency” by merging facilities and relocating production across Europe, as well as cutting up to 150 Netherlands-based jobs.

The news came just weeks after redundancies at Raleigh were also confirmed as part of a restructuring process at the iconic British bike brand's Nottingham headquarters. The firm’s parts and accessories business was also announced to be facing closure, with responsibility for warehousing and logistics transferred to a third party.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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7 comments

Avatar
Sredlums | 1 month ago
2 likes

Soulless, greedy corporations like PON, Accell Group and the company that own Chain Reaction/Wiggle etc. (I forgot their name) are fucking up the bicycle industry, and I wish them ass much misery and losses as possible.
Buying up nice bike brands, turning them in to generic, run of the mill brands without a real identity or heart, in the mean time selling crappy products without decent support or warranty, squeezing them for all they're worth, and then selling them.
Hope they face criminal charges over this.

Avatar
Greenpedal | 1 month ago
1 like

It's a tough call when management insist on staff lying. I feel for the staff who have families to feed.
I my youth I would have done it but now I'm older, have more life experiences and confidence I tell people the truth.

Avatar
eburtthebike | 1 month ago
0 likes

The Dutch equivalent of the Post Office scandal, with the same motives.

Avatar
john_smith replied to eburtthebike | 1 month ago
5 likes

There might be similarities, but surely it's hardly an equivalent. How many of the victims have been jailed, bankrupted, driven to suicide?

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
1 like

john_smith wrote:

There might be similarities, but surely it's hardly an equivalent. How many of the victims have been jailed, bankrupted, driven to suicide?

...and then they have to hear that a boss (Paula Vennells) was awarded an honour for it!

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
2 likes

john_smith wrote:

There might be similarities, but surely it's hardly an equivalent. How many of the victims have been jailed, bankrupted, driven to suicide?

I was thinking more in terms of employees lying through their teeth, and telling people that they were the only one.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 1 month ago
3 likes

Hope the management face jail time if this is correct.

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