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I feel like a schmuck...(21 posts)

I feel like a schmuck...BrianOR
Apr 9, 2001 6:59 PM
...but a well intentioned schmuck. I'd been wanting to replace the cheap, horribly uncomfortable, stock CODA saddle on my bike. So I went to my friendly LBS and tried out a couple of saddles and left with the Selle Italia Flite (which I'm very happy with). Now I knew before I went in that I could get any saddle for much cheaper over the internet or mail order. But the thought of trying out saddles then buying online felt wrong and exploitative. So I didn't and I got hosed. Don't get me wrong, I like my LBS and I'll go back, but knowing how much I could have saved makes me feel like a schmuck!

No real point here, just wanted to rant/whine...
Don't beat yourself up...boy nigel
Apr 9, 2001 8:30 PM
You did what you felt was moral and right; don't second-guess yourself for this. Good trait, Brian.

On the plus side, you a)scored some points in your LBS; b)got to know LBS policies; and c)got a saddle you were comfortable with MUCH sooner than if you'd mail-ordered one, tried it, then sent it back and repeated the process. Could've taken days/weeks and lots of back-and-forth shipping charges (and frustration). Time is money sometimes, and we all have enough stress in our lives. Paying a bit more for quicker results and sanity retention is often worth it in the long run.
Moral and right?Woof the dog
Apr 10, 2001 10:08 AM
What is moral and what is right, then? You gonna play a good human now? Come on. It is all a bunch of crap. It is all beliefs and nothing beyond them. Too bad people don't exploit the rules of the game fully, since all the manufacturers do so every second. LBS ripped you off and you SHOULD feel bad because your saddle isn't worth the price put on the tag by conglomerates of society, including LBS. Scored some points in LBS? Excuse me? Maybe if you buy two bikes there, they will give you a third one for free.....yeah right. You could know LBS policies without buying anything. You are right about feeling like crap, you SHOULD, because you got screwed over.
Nice babbling.Helper
Apr 10, 2001 11:23 AM
Morals are just "beliefs and nothing beyond them? No shit there, Plato.
How did the LBS rip him off? Did they sell him a broken saddle? Did they force him into buying a saddle he didn't want? He got a saddle that he likes, which is a victory in itself. He has a reputation as a good regular customer.
What the hell is a "conglomerate of society?" Should be assume that WOD rides without a saddle, so he can avoid getting ripped off by the evil conglomerate mail order society?
"You could know LBS policies without buying anything?"
Does anybody know what this means? It appears to be two totally unrelated ideas that just happen to form a single sentence. Somebody please tell me what the hell WOD is babbling about!
oh no, he hates me....Woof the dog
Apr 11, 2001 8:28 PM
I may have been extra rough yesterday, but that is no good reason to make fun of my post, Helper. It is sad that you seem to post only when I post something rougher than usual, like others do all the time. But that doesn't really bother me because I don't really care. Of course, I ride with a saddle, and I don't necessarily dislike LBS. I scrolled through other's responses and there are many good points. In my view, LBS is good to have around to fix bikes, but with my quickly disappearing budget that is based on my summer jobs, I become more bitter every time I spend another hundred dollars at LBS. I do believe that the prices on almost everything there are just too much. There is that ugly sinking feeling when you walk in to buy a new saddle for 80 dollars and know that you could've had it for 50. I don't know about you, Helper, but I don't have 30 bucks to blow away like that. Jeff's (are you the original poster?) message reminded me of my crappy situations. You must be really rich if you think my post is babbling. Another thing: I said that 'you could know LBS policies without buying anything' in response to the above person who said that by buying a saddle at LBS you learn of its policies. I disagreed with his view. I hope that clears things up. Next time ask yourself why do I sound bitter. Put yourself in my place, and maybe then you would understand. Oh, and what does WOD mean?
Woof the dog
I Have the Curegrz mnky
Apr 12, 2001 4:00 PM
Get a real job. No one is forcing you to do whatever it is that you do instead of working. Crying poor when you have the ability to easily change the situation is bad form. Ya' know the signs that the homeless folk hold up that say, "Will Work for Food"? Well the rest of us do work for food. And shelter. And bike parts.

If we continue to use the LBS for info, sizing, fit, etc. then fire up the Net for everything the LBS won't be there when we need them. If you have to do returns and then the shipping really cuts into your savings. For someone getting into the sport and wanting to learn more a good LBS provides a valuable service in terms of their advice, service and experience. I knowingly buy some things at the LBS for more than I could get online just to suport them so they'll continue to be there. When it comes to largish dollars I'll shop around quite a bit and get a good price - sometimes the shop will work a deal. We once had to completely change the planned route of a long Sunday ride in the mountains b/c one of the riders had cut through a tire and it wasn't going to last long. The first shop was closed, but fortunately the second shop was open and we gladly paid the full pop retail so that we could finish our ride. Waiting for UPS wasn't an option.

No one says that every LBS is owed a living, but have you seen what the "chain LBS's" carry - pretty much just common denominator "popular" items from Trek and Specialized. Find a decent shop and throw them some of your busines - skip the ones that aren't worth it. Why stop at buying things on the net when you can go to Viet Nam and get the stuff for $5 and cut out all the middle men? Oh right, the plane tix cost money.

Ya' know the LBS guys aren't exactly getting rich and buying Porsche Boxters. No, they do it for love of the sport - making it in retail is one tough way to make a living.

I ain't rich, but I still think your righteous take on things is babbling - actually more like diarrhea of the keyboard. And yes, it is a good reason to make fun of your post - he just happened to beat me to it.
a little rough around the edges, woof, but 100% agreed.Haiku d'état
Apr 10, 2001 11:42 AM
why in the heck would i buy an xyz widget from the corner store for $10 if i can get it for $6 online? especially if i don't need it's good and fine to support your local businesses, but this certainly does NOT translate across product lines for me. i can empathize with you in the saddle situation, where the LBS would be providing a benefit by allowing you to ride the saddle and perhaps another after, until you found the one that you like. i haven't found an LBS 'round here that will, and it's not buyer-specific.

i'm not going to buy a leafblower from home depot for $80 if the same one's on sale at lowe's for $65, or if i can get it from abc hardware online for $40. we all know i'm not comparing yard equipment to cycling toys here, but...

to me, the LBS offers two things: hands-on and kicking the tires for stuff i can get 30%+ cheaper online, and mechanical expertise. it matters as much to me how the LBS owner makes his mortgage as my source of income matters to him; if he can't or won't be competitive with his rivals, then so be it. this is about business, not friendship, and i refuse to throw a bunch of cash into the wind to winover people at a bike shop that are blatantly overcharging for basic stuff that can easily be had elsewhere. would you buy a PC from the local appliance store for 30% more than you could order the same basic unit from an online retailer, rationalizing that you're supporting the local economy and paying a cover charge for occasional admittance to his store? i would not. but, if there was a hardware problem that i could not fix on my own, i would take it to him (if he were capable) to fix rather than sending it off in a box and waiting a month for the repaired product.

case in point: one of the best-reputed shops in town charges quite a bit extra for nearly everything accessory, bike prices are about median, but their wrench work is about par (as far as price goes) and above par as far as ability and reliability. those cages i was asking about on the board last week wound up on the wall of the shop for $24.99 +tax. the darned things are $18.99 +shipping at colorado cyclist; that makes the LBS price a 30% mark-up. i'll find a couple other things i need this month and make the call to CC, thus reducing shipping COSTS (not the total) per item and coming out WAY ahead. and, on top of that, the LBS is happy to get and keep my business, even if only for mechanicals here and there and a few spare parts and tools that i need TODAY.

i've read from several of you folks that there is little or no choice on the shop side regarding the price difference between shop and internet...but, i have to ask myself, what am i really paying for with that extra 30%+? granted, there are those (1) without internet access, (2) without knowledge of the stuff you can get via mail-order, (3) without ANY patience, and (4) that just don't care because they either have the cash to burn, want to be a part of that bike shop atmosphere, or are just not thrifty (read: cheap) like me, who will and do pay that extra 30% and then some, but...why should I?
What am I paying 30% extra for?TJeanloz
Apr 10, 2001 5:37 PM
As a LBS employee, one of my pet peeves are information pumpers. The people who ask a thousand questions, try on everything, and then shop around for the best price. There are two products that really stand out: saddles and shoes. Finding either a good fitting shoe or a good fitting saddle isn't easy. My #1 pet peeve is having somebody try on shoes (a process that typically takes an hour of a salesperson's time), decide on a model and size and then "think about it." It doesn't bother me if they don't buy them- that's their decision. But if they come in two weeks later with EXACTLY the shoe that I spent an hour recommending for them (bought on-line etc), I feel like I have been cheated. You took an HOUR of my time; you cost my shop at least $10. We got nothing. To be honest with you, I'm really happy when you come in complaining of knee pain three weeks later because you didn't have a RAD Adjustment done (something included in the price of our shoes). And then you complain when we tell you the RAD will be $30 (a bargain for 1/2 hour of the most experienced employee's time). I like to think that we provide 30% more in service than most mail order places.

On saddles; I get to hear about your four prostate surgerys and where they put the knife, and where you go numb, and how it hurts. I listen carefully and recommend a saddle that I think will improve your lot. How do I do that? I've listened to a hundred people with your problem, recommended saddles for them, and they are kind enough to give me feedback so that I can help people in the future. For you to steal my advice and shop mail order, to save a few bucks (all right, on saddles it's a lot of bucks) is an insult.

End of Rant.
i can agree with that to an extent, butHaiku d'état
Apr 11, 2001 5:26 AM
I don't feel i'm one of those folks who's a time sucker. i've done the brunt of the research before hitting the shop, and require none of your time to look at or try on a pair of shoes. and i would rather you not know about my prostate or foot problems (were there any).

I've been working in the technology field for some time, and, as with anybody who specializes in anything (bikes, computers, people in the medical field, financials, etc.), there are going to be those schmucks out there who want free advise and to use you for your knowledge, no matter of your time spent and other responsibilities. for friends, it's not a problem. for those fair-weather folks, it is.

on top of that, even though i've been doing high-level network stuff for years, i'm constantly hit-up with "what's the best PC for me?" and "is this a good deal?". if i knew, i probably would not want to spend the time to deal with that kind of question. as is, i haven't done any pc ordering or repair work in years, so...that's the intro to my rant, which won't be disclosed further.

on top of that, i can also empathize with the customer service standpoint. those folks that spend an hour of your time are also the types who blame their inefficiency in the office on the computer or technology support, and also the types that run a waiter ragged and tip 10% or less. you guessed it, i was a waiter before and during my first years in the corporate world. CUSTOMER SERVICE SUCKS, but--regardless of your job--you're going to have customers of some type. take the good with the bad. i was hired for my learning ability and technical experience and training. were you hired to work on bikes? or sell them? OR BOTH? your job is harder than many--car dealers (not comparing you to a car dealer) don't have to work on them, too, just sell them. one guy's job is selling the car, the other guy's job is repairig it. you wear two hats.

so, i can empathize/sympathize with your woes, but that's part of the job. part of my job is dealing with people who can't or refuse to adapt to the two thosand+ dollars of technology put on their desk and the million+ bucks of equipment in the backoffice designed to make their 8 hours punching the clock easier. part of my job is electronic sanitation worker. part of it is data cop. they all suck in one way or another, but i wouldn't trade you for anything. i would, however, take a job hand-washing dishes in a quiet corner of the kitchen of a small restaurant, provided i could take a lateral move in salary.

know of any?
a little rough around the edges, woof, but 100% agreed.fuzzybunnies
Apr 10, 2001 6:28 PM
Another thing is who says the shop is happy to do the work, the work is done since it's work but all you get is axactly what you pay for. I a customer is purchasing a component and while doing the work we find the headset is loose on the bike we'll tighten it for the customer. Customers who bring the part in they bought elsewhere don't get the same service, we install the part, if the headset is noticed we might inform you of the fact but don't expect us to tighten it for you for free. Parts bought at a shop also tends to include free or seriously reduced shipping. If you buy a new frame from us all threads are cleaned and the headtube and bb faced, don't expect the same from mail order. Also toss in any warrenty potential and the extra 30% seems a little less important. TTFN
still not worth it to me.Haiku d'état
Apr 11, 2001 5:50 AM
pointing out the other problems encountered when fixing the problem for which the bike was brought in is simply good business. it's a sign of thorough work and a good work ethic, and--were a shop (or any other business in the field of repair work) NOT to do such, i would not frequent their establishment again. sure--agreed--you're not required to fix the problem, only to point it out (not even required, but hey, do you want to build a reputation for good work, or no?).

provided it's a major problem, i'd fully expect someone who wants repeat business to disclose anything they find in the course of repair work. i'd do the same in my job, as would anyone else who takes pride in their work. i'm not asking for free work, just a good job. agreed? or no?

on free or seriously reduced shipping, i still feel i'm getting the better deal if i get it online, especially if i'm buying other stuff on the same order. i could buy $100 worth of miscellaneous stuff from an online retailer and pay $6 for shipping. i could get the same for around $130-$150 from the local shop. we're talking tubes, cables, tires, general use/replacement stuff, nothing specialty. plus, as another poster pointed out, i'm not going to have to wait two weeks for my tires to come in (usually). that's $6 versus $30-$50. come on, it makes sense here.

i'd have to agree that warranty items are another issue. however, i've had excellent luck returning (for refund OR exchange) items that have been faulty upon receipt or failed after a good amount of use. granted, i'm not buying ultra-high-ticket items,'s all about work/business ethic. MOST OF THE TIME i don't have to be hand-held or coddled, and when i do, i'm willing to pay the difference.

again, restating what another poster noted, bike shops serve a purpose, and a majority of that is the off-the-street, casual consumer. mail-order places (and online) cater to those high-end (or cheap) folks out there who do some or all of the work themselves. i'm not pretentious enough to think that i'm a high-end rider, but i've enough sense to do some of the basic work in my garage, and don't feel it's necessary to pay you $24 for an $18 bottle cage.

one more thing -- it's commendable that you would as much as point-out problems encountered in the course of a repair job, as there are local shops that would not even consider it, EVEN IF the bike and parts were all purchased there (as has been my experience). these are the same shops that would sell you a bike that's too small/doesn't fit, or a $3 brake cable that cost them $1.50 for $6. then there are others (few and far between) that are conscientious enough to go the extra mile. not actually doing the work for free, but saying "this is going to need to be done", which does two things -- earns respect/reputation, and earns repeat business. hard to find good help these days. i should know, i'm good help (in my line of work), and there's not much competition.
Buying powerLazy
Apr 12, 2001 2:23 PM
I was speaking with an LBS owner one day and I asked him about the common price discrepncy between his shop and the internet/mailorder houses. He told me that basically they didn't deal directly with mfg's, but bought all their stock through a clearing house of sorts. Apparently they don't buy enough units to get a decent wholesale price direct from the mfg's. Further, I seem to remember him saying that there were only a few of these clearing houses in the US and that competition was very low. He felt he was at their mercy, and could not get a better price anywhere else.
The way I see it, the LBS industry is going to have to come up with some creative ways to make money. Internet/mailorder is here to stay, and since they have a MUCH larger customer base they can buy and sell things MUCH cheaper. The people who will pay a higher price to support the "local" business are a pretty small percentage I would think. Seems to me that a forward thinking LBS would advertise that they'd be absolutely thrilled to put a bike together from parts bought elsewhere. The times they are a changin', so ya gotta change with 'em.
I will still go to the LBS for a lot of things. Most things in fact. Most of the stuff I buy is stuff that I need/want now, not next week. I'll pay a few extra bucks for that. I usually get so excited when I'm gonna get new bike stuff that I can't stand to wait for it in the mail.
Anyhow, the way I see it, any business is good business (just about). The LBS's need to fight and grind for everything they can get. The competition certainly isn't going to feel sorry for you.

Just some thoughts, all of this is IMHO, and I have nothing but respect for the LBS guys that I deal with. That goes for in real life and here.
LBS's still have a place in todays internet worldDave Hickey
Apr 10, 2001 12:19 AM
I still buy alot of items at my LBS. I always buy my saddles, clothing,tires,tubes, cables,etc.. at my LBS. They also build my wheels, fix my mistakes(without complaining). I brought at pair of rims and hubs into my LBS last Saturday to build a new set of wheels. They knew I bought the parts via the net and they didn't complain because they are still getting business. I will pay a little more for certain times at my LBS because they treat me well.
you did the right thingDuane Gran
Apr 10, 2001 3:39 AM
In my opinion you did the right thing, and I would generally encourage others to follow your lead. I support my LBS (to a fault maybe) and know most of the staff on a first name basis. They provide excellent service that I can't find from a mail order shop.

That said... I'm going to order a replacement saddle online. Before you call me a hypocrit, let me explain. I absolutely love my San Marco Era saddle and I know how hard it is find a good saddle fit. I'm afraid that they will change the saddle, so I'm ordering another one just to be safe. Assuming my butt doesn't change too much, I should be fine.

I buy most things from the LBS because they provide a service, namely their staff expertise and wide array of stock. If I shop for it at the LBS, I buy it there. However, if I know exactly what I want (like my saddle) then I order it online. In short, if I don't use the resources of the LBS then I don't feel compelled to purchase through them.

I also don't like purchasing books online, but that is another story altogether. The real irony here is that I operate a web development company.
just think...must_pedal_harder
Apr 10, 2001 5:28 AM
How you would feel if you had gone back to the LBS after getting the saddle off the web, the guy turns to you and asks you if you still want it. *ouch*
Actually, a schmuck would have done the oppositeSpoke Wrench
Apr 10, 2001 5:39 AM
What you did was to buy a saddle and take advantage of some associated services that you don't get mail order. You went to a convenient location that the LBS pays rent for, probably took more employee time than you would have taken on line, and took advantage of the opportunity to see, touch and even try a variety of saddles. If those servies were offered separate from the actual product purchase, I'd think most fair-minded people would expect to pay something for them.

The fact that you made the choice you did just proves that you are basically a fair-minded person. I wouldn't be ashamed of that.
Apr 10, 2001 7:52 AM
How much would it cost to try out two or three saddles via a web-order catalogue? Factor in shipping & time and you saved by going to the LBS.
actually the LBS is cheaper in this case..doug in co
Apr 10, 2001 8:55 AM
I've been saddle shopping, tried to do it on the web to save time, but it's cost me more in both money and time than going to a LBS would've. After 2 returns by insured mail, time in line at the post office, etc etc, doing what you did would have been faster and quicker. Bah. I guess I'll have to spend the time to find a decent LBS nearby..
re: I feel like a schmuck...jacu
Apr 10, 2001 11:55 AM
i still get bicycle retailer (an industry newspaper) and am amused monthly by the letters from shop owners whining about mail order, and how mail order is the absolute scourge of the industry. yada yada yada.

i cant help but buy stuff mail (or net) order. here's a typical scenario: i needed a new front derailleur for my mountain bike. noting fance, a simple xt would have sufficed. go to the local shop. they have one xt front derailleur in stock, 2 model years old and the wrong size anyway. price, $40. the mechanic offers to order from quality (bike parts wholesaler). how long, i ask. well, he says, we order on mondays (it's a tuesday when i go into the shop). so, we could order next monday and you'd probably get it the end of next week of the beginning or the following week. hhmm, how much? $40 plus shipping. i gotta pay shipping on a regualrly scheduled parts order? yup, he says. so, it will take 1 1/2 to 2 weeks to get the part and cost about $45, right? yeah, he says, and we need at least half now to order.

needless to say, i passed. went home. logged onto to excel. ordered the derailleur. got it in 3 days for $25.

moral of this story? none really. i just don't get why so many riders feel obligated to support shops that have lousy inventory, high prices, and poor service. i mean, supposedly what you get for paying an lbs premium price is service and immediate gratification. but, in all the cities i've lived and all teh shops i've frequented, this has never been the case.

i think that lbs' best serve the casual cycling community, and mail order or net shops serve the high end.

Cheers and happy riding

jacu (still looking for a pro shop, and still freqenting local shops waiting to be surprised)
re: I feel like a schmuck...markedman
Apr 10, 2001 2:14 PM
Paying suggested retail on high end gear is always a no-no. Do some research on the net, then go into your LBS prepared. Give them a fair markup and everybody will be happy. ALways keep in mind the hassles and shipping involved with enet shopping. Then again, I did get that Marzocchi Z5 shock for my beater for $160 dollars when the LBS told me that $230 was below their cost. Fact of the matter is, the shock is well worth $160, but I would have rebuilt my old MAG21 rather than pay $250 plus install. So, by all means, use the enet prices as a bludgon and if the LBS can't at least come close then that will be their problem right? I'm still a little streamed about that LBS also trying to sell me a XT deraileur for $70 when I got one off the web for $25. They heard about that one too....they finally got the idea that I won't be jacked around and now treat me with a little forethought now.

A Jewish friend of mine who always likes playing these ethnic games once paraphrase " suggested retail pricing is why God made Gentiles ". Believe it..on some items they'll have %40 to %50 markup so they got room to bargain.
It is a service issue.Ian
Apr 10, 2001 4:59 PM
You go into a shop and look for saddles. Maybe even sit on a few in the store. A local shop in Orlando will even let you purchase one and if you don't like it, return it with packaging and receipt. So, pay $99 for a saddle from them or $69 through mail order. It is a service issue, not just a goods issue. You don't get that kind of service from mail order.

Brian, you did the right thing. Good for you.