Students who rent from Swapfiets, a bicycle company that rents bikes for fifteen euros a month, returned to find angry flyers swinging from their handlebars on the Roeterseiland campus last week.
The flyers warn students of some of the finer details they may have missed in the fine print – that they can’t lend bicycle to others, can’t make a spare key and that the subscription is renewed automatically – and urge them to terminate their contract. It also sheds a sharper light on the fines: a lost key is 15 euros, theft in the case a bike wasn’t double locked 60 euros, and not reporting a theft in time: 350 euros. There’s even a fine if you lie – for example about that double lock – 100 euros as a ‘dishonesty fee’.
It is unclear who spread the flyers which are also critical about Swapfiets’ presence at the university's welcome week. The flyer prompts: ’You can ask why such a perverse commercial enterprise has been invited to Intreeweek via email@example.com.’
Steven Uitentuis, managing director of Swapfiets, believes the conditions are ‘very reasonable’ and are in place to prevent abuse. Anouk Stolwijk, a board member of Marketing & Communications at Intreeweek, says the conditions are very realistic. ‘With “normal” use, there’s nothing to fear. The purpose of working together with Swapfiets is to provide all students with a good bike, especially international students who need more help to get going in a strange city.’
Swapfiets has 14.733 users and is active in Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Groningen, Leiden, Nijmegen, Delft, Rotterdam, Tilburg, Utrecht and Enschede.