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what kind of service to expect from LBS?(9 posts)

what kind of service to expect from LBS?mlbd
Aug 16, 2001 9:06 AM
i just dropped $1400+ for a new bike at a local shop i've been using on and off for about 6 months. i also spent $500 on wheels there for my mt. bike about 3 months ago. i'm trying to shift some of my spending away from performance and nashbar to support the local guys, figuring i'll get some service for the increased price. i'm starting to doubt the service part. i had to order a new freehub for the wheels and i already ruined a braze-on on the new bike. on both issues they said they would call me, but forgot. i've called back a few times and no one seems to know anything. i was expecting they would keep track of these things so that whomever is working could look in a file and say "oh yeah, says in the file that joe shmoe called on monday and the part is on back order...should be X weeks" or whatever. am i expecting too much? i will say that they are nice and try to be helpful, they're just disorganized i guess.

any thoughts?
Horrible Service, but an invaluable resourceDAS
Aug 16, 2001 9:26 AM
I live in a popular bike area so there are dozens of good bike shops around. I find that they all have high prices and poor variety. I also find that they ALL have horrible service. Lots of flakey teenage kids, messages never get back to the mechanic, notes are written on postits and put on some random wall. From a Customer Service perspective, a fiasco.

But, I don't really care. Bike shops are slammed in the Summer, empty in the winter. They have revolving employees and it's hard to get good mechanics. Floor sales guys are pure BSers and rarely know how to speak to their audience. But, so what? They don't have to emulate a Nordstrom level of Customer Service.

I've found bike shops to have dedicated cyclists who will always give you time and offer their opinion. Sure, it's never cheap and labor seems to cost a lot, but it's worth it. They can't compete with online bike shops prices, but you get face to face opinions in the shop and lots of good help. Sometimes they will throw in a part or two just to be cool. Sometimes they will fix something that you didn't even know was broken. And, the quality of service is always impressive. Even wrapping cork is an art form to these guys.

So, my point is not to expect great service. Sometimes they forget to order something, sometimes they forget to take messages, they're not the best business men in the world. But, the LBS is an invaluable resource that we need to support. This is where the biking community starts and this is where we get our advice, expertise, last minute help, borrow tools on the way to a ride.

So, support your LBS but don't be snooty with your expectations.
Get the parts yourselfmr_spin
Aug 16, 2001 9:55 AM
If they bother to tell you they don't have a part, go get it yourself. I've found that if they have to order anything, it takes forever if it comes in at all.

There are a lot of shops around my area, some within blocks of each other. But one shop does the best work, so all my bikes go there. I've bought $4000 bikes there, so they know me. But still, it pisses me off when they call me up and tell me they don't have an easily found part, like a bottom bracket. Why can't they just go to the shop three blocks away and get it? Pay the normal price, add their usual markup--I'm fine with that, because that would be great service. Instead, I have to go get it and bring it in, and then make sure they don't charge me for it in the end.

My expectations are low, but then I'm learning how to do all the work myself. That's the best solution.
Try to deal with proprieter and/or head wrenchWhatever
Aug 16, 2001 9:32 AM
My experience is that if you know the proprieter/owner and the lead mechanic and are working with them directly, things may go smoother. At least then you won't have to worry about hand-offs and missing messages, etc. Chances are (for small, one-store LBS's that is) that the owner is also the guy who processes all of the paperwork, handles special orders, etc. And the head wrench handles most of the non-standard work (the junior guys cut their teeth by unpacking and setting up the new bikes). Do anything you can to make sure that those guys know who you are and want to take care of you.

Here's one thing I did...I bought a new seatpack ($14) that I didn't need because it had the LBS logo on it. The owner was there when I did it, and they've seen it on the bike several times. Now I always get greeted by name (and greet them by name too), and the owner calls me if needed (the new hub I ordered is going to be late, for example.) They appreciate the support and publicity they get, and I appreciate the extra TLC that they give me.
re: what kind of service to expect from LBS?alex the engineer
Aug 16, 2001 10:03 AM
If the place was the typical fancy-schmancy bike boutique, with lots of lycra for sale, and the average age of the help is 16.5, then don't expect much. Shops like this seem to have cornered the market, and provide horrible service, and even worse advice. It's partly because of this that places such as nashbar are proliferating. My experience has been that nashbar will get you the same part QUICKER, and the telephone advise is usually better!
If you are looking for service, your best bet is the small, out-of-the-way shop, usually run by some cranky old guy. These shops never have more than about 2 dozen new bikes on hand. Decor usually consists of OLD bike signs and posters, with tires hanging from the wall as accessories. It's always a good sign when older guys with immaculately maintained retro machines stop in. These places usually lack even a single mountain bike.
good observations! a good ol' bike shop is hard to findTig
Aug 16, 2001 10:31 AM
The very best service I ever received was while traveling. A place in Woonsocket, RI called AA Vittorio had a beautiful Tommasini Diamante frame on sale. I had to buy it! They had all the good Campy stuff available so I let them build it up, except I didn't need any more wheel sets. The owner and mechanic took great care to set up the brakes for a pair of Rovals that I didn't even have with me. Since I couldn't fly back with an extra bike, they shipped it to arrive the day after I got home. He even wrote all kinds of instructions for adjusting it in. None were needed, and the brakes worked perfectly out of the box. Top quality service, attitude, and even good prices. A place called Daniel Boone Cyclery here in Houston is as close as I've seen.
re: what kind of service to expect from LBS?Aristotle
Aug 16, 2001 10:40 AM
I've ended up teaching myself the fine art of bike repair because of the hit or miss chances with the local shops. I guess I've just resigned myself to it. The Zinn book is pretty good, and I learned a bit from it. So far, so good.
DIY and learn the hard wayHaiku d'état
Aug 16, 2001 11:04 AM
instead of one bike at $3k i have two at that *total* value, and here recently one's always offline with some different problem (or even just worn tires waiting for nashbar to deliver).

instead of paying an unholy amount for a wheel true or derailleur adjustments or simple mechanical work, invest the money instead in a tool at a time and a couple books and take some small risks on the bike. you may be without a ride for a few days (if you're all thumbs like me) while you wait for the LBS to fix what you broke when you were trying to fix it yourself, but you'll learn and eventually be able to DIY.

some benefits of doing it yourself:

* top-level customer service
* quick turnaround time
* no shop hours
* quality work
* lots of care taken with your bike
* pride in your work
* higher level of reliability
* knowledge that it was done right
* you get along well with the mechanic
* learn it in garage=better chance of fixing it on road
* SAVE MONEY that can be spent elsewhere
* tools, lots of strange tools

some negatives of doing it yourself:

* don't get to hang out in swanky LBS
* must wait for delivery from online/catalog source
* must ask rbr veterans for advice (this is actually a benefit!)
* frustration with learning curve
* tools, lots of strange tools
re: what kind of service to expect from LBS?ashleyrenfroe
Aug 16, 2001 11:52 AM
I have found a shop here in Charlotte that is just what I looked for in Atlanta and Birmingham, but could never find. It is run by an older ITALIAN guy who has been there since 1974. He sells mainly road bikes only, but tries to keep some mountain bikes on hand. Much more knowledegable (sp?) than REI or Cahaba Bikes in B'ham. And he has a super layaway!! Otherwise I wouldn't be able to buy anything!!