I bought an Apollo Scooter – don’t make the mistake I made.
Three weeks ago I received my new Apollo City Pro, 2023 model. I was very excited to ride this scooter, it being quite well reviewed and a premium quality product. While it was priced accordingly I was prepared to pay a little extra knowing the company was based in Canada and I should expect a level of service reflecting this.
The idea of flitting around the Vancouver streets in my short tennis skirt on the little device was a picture I found very appealing. I am also very committed to the environment and having an electric solution to short journeys fed a part of my soul that feels a little awkward about leaving my children a world that is destined to be burned to a cinder in a few years. Perhaps this was part of the solution.
To be fair to Apollo the design and build quality appear good. And for two days it was. Until the first flat in the ‘self sealing’ tubeless tires. Here’s where things began to go wrong. The tires don’t ‘self seal’. As the tire deflated so did my spirits, however it’s just a tire change, right? Well, no. First I got hold of customer service through the chat system on their site. I was told a new tire would be dispatched immediately and that I should expect it within two business days. That was over two weeks ago. I am still waiting.
Eventually I decided that I should take the old tire off the scooter, so that when the new tire did arrive it would be ready and I could start to enjoy the last of the warm weather. After all, I fix motorcycles, I’ve changed the main bearing on a D6 Caterpillar – this should be well within my ability limits. And that’s when things really went awry. At first I followed the instruction on the video describing how to remove the old tire. I was directed to this via Apollo’s support pages. The only problem was that it was not for the model I had bought. But you only find that out when you’re already deeply into the exercise. The video described the removal of a tire from a split rim wheel. The City Pro doesn’t have a split rim wheel. Instead it uses a tubeless tire on a 10 inch rim, which in practice is virtually impossible to remove without a tire press. Not many of us have such a unit in our Vancouver apartment.
Surprised that I’d been misdirected to this video I searched for other videos without luck. Eventually I contacted Apollo again, and found that yes, there was a video. It wasn’t mentioned on their support pages, but their customer service dweeb sent me the URL. I started working on this until I found I couldn’t get the tire off the rim. Perhaps there was special technique. I contact support through the website again. I was promised a call back. That was 2 days ago. Nothing.
These are nylon tubeless tires and are notoriously hard to remove from the rim. You can use a little washing up liquid to lubricate the bead of the tire to make it easier, however, even using tire pry levers they are still hard to remove. And in doing so you’re sure to knock around the paint work on the engine casing. After several hours of trying I finally decided to paint my nails and go to the spa instead.
Still without a tire I finally gave up. Not before I received this priceless advice from one of their customer support people –
Gio here from Apollo Scooters, thanks for your patience.
I’m sorry to learn that you’re experiencing an air leak with your tire.
I’m not entirely sure what the issue is except for the flat tire. It may sound silly but have you tried pumping air into it? You’d want to use an electric pump rather than manual.”
Now, as you know I work for an advertising agency. In more than two decades of working in the field of marketing I can honestly say that suggesting to your client that they are a complete imbecile is not a winning strategy.
To be fair, the scooter industry is still in its infancy. We can expect Apollo to go tits up like many others before one or two sound companies emerge and dominate the field. I guarantee that Apollo will not be one of them. No company with this kind of customer service culture will survive long. As these great devices develop further some competent companies will emerge. In the meantime we will have to come up with our own fixes and create our own support networks, just as early adopters have had to in many other fields over the years. Apollo clearly have no idea how to run a business, although they don’t build a bad scooter. However, their pricing suggests that you’re paying a little extra for customer support. They don’t deliver this in my experience. Instead the buying experience has been stressful, humiliating and entirely unpleasant. Not what anyone expects from a Canadian company.
When Sylvester, my mechanic, stopped by for coffee this morning he said one of his friends will pick it up and deal with it. Apparently it’s not the first time he’s had to do exactly this with an Apollo scooter.
So, sitting here looking at a partially disassembled scooter I can honestly say, No, don’t waste your money on an Apollo scooter. There are other options. Trying to find a company that provides credible back up, instead of one simply claiming to, is probably a good idea. It’s not a mistake I will make again. I will never buy a product of theirs ever again. My best advice to my readers is to not make the mistake I did.
I should point out that this company is not representative of most Canadian companies. Generally companies here are geared to a level of customer service that excels. Sadly Apollo doesn’t appear to value this approach.