An international bicycle company with distributors across Canada has publicly apologized to a Nova Scotia man after he was refused the sale of a bike he purchased online because of his weight.
“We’re in the wrong here so how do we go about fixing it? So, rather than digging in my heels, I spent all of yesterday apologizing and trying to make it right with Mr. Barsetti,” Steve Devantier, the marketing supervisor with Giant Group Canada, said in an interview Friday.
When Global News published a story March 10 detailing the roadblock Sebastien Barsetti encountered when picking up a Giant bicycle he ordered online, Devantier said he sought the advice of the company’s lawyer.
“His advice was definitely that human rights kind of trump consumer safety,” Devantier said.
Barsetti, who is from the Halifax suburb of Eastern Passage, said he spent months saving up for a bicycle on his path towards a healthier lifestyle. Due to a lack of in-store opportunities to purchase a bike because of the pandemic, he said he researched his options and bought a Giant model bicycle online.
When he got an email notification that it was ready to pick up at the Halifax location, he phoned the store to ask a few questions about any adjustments he may have to make.
That’s when the conversation went sideways for both Barsetti and the company.
“Deep down inside of me, I knew they were in the wrong. I get that they were looking out for my safety but they were not in the right to deny me to get the bike,” Barsetti said.
WATCH: Man buys bicycle but refused pickup because of his weight
Devantier is standing by the decision that Barry Misener, the owner of Giant Bicycles Halifax, made when he told Barsetti that he had significant safety concerns about the bike he purchased because he weighed more than its maximum weight limit of 300 pounds.
Barsetti said he brought his weight up during the phone conversation about proper adjustments and didn’t take issue with the fact that safety was part of the discussion.
However, Barsetti said when Misener told him that he couldn’t pick up the bicycle he paid for unless he signed a safety waiver stating that he wouldn’t ride it until he lost enough weight to meet the design limit – he felt like his rights were being violated.
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“I knew I was over the max weight a little bit but I wasn’t even intending on using it until I was under. Also, I wonder, would they weigh everybody going into the store?” Barsetti told Global News on March 10.
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Misener also spoke with Global News on March 10 and said his main concern was for Barsetti’s safety. He also wanted to ensure that he wouldn’t be liable for any bicycle malfunctions, or injuries that Barsetti may encounter as a result of currently weighing more than the design limit.
“Three-hundred pounds is the rider max and my staff is not comfortable dealing with that and I end up doing it because it’s so important. And, I know it’s no fun telling someone, ‘You know what? I have to tell you this.’ Because everyone takes it as a personal insult,” Misener stated.
An email statement Devantier sent on March 10 partly read, “When we can offer Mr. Barsetti a bicycle the can be operated safely, we will do everything we can to get him said bicycle, but unfortunately at this time we simply do not have that in our line up.”
On March 11, that position changed.
Giant Group Canada publicly apologized to Barsetti after having discussions with him throughout the day and are now compensating him with a bicycle and extra gear, including a helmet.
“The interaction with him has been nothing but positive now at the end. And, I really do wish him the best and I hope that he does integrate cycling into his life and there might be possibilities of a follow-up story at the end of this,” Devantier said.
Devantier said there are about 200 Giant Bicycle distributors across Canada and they are being told that if situations like this occur again, they just need to make a note on the purchase order that safety discussions were had but sale refusal unless a waiver is signed won’t be necessary.
“We’ll be releasing some statement like that to our dealer network in the coming days I would say. Just to advise them on how to protect themselves,” Devantier said.
On Friday, Barsetti said he was happy he stood up for himself and he fully accepted the apology given by both Misener and Giant Group Canada.
“If you’re like me, if you’re overweight, don’t be scared. Go out and get a bike for you, for your health,” he said.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.