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Broken chain, helped by an LBS in an emergency, and(23 posts)

Broken chain, helped by an LBS in an emergency, andbill
Sep 4, 2001 8:31 AM
I'm feeling ungrateful. Why? Am I just a cheap, ungrateful SOB?
After about 3,000 miles on my chain, I broke a Permalink. Just happened on Friday evening -- I was going to a cyclist's rally at Dupont Circle in DC. It was raining, but I decided not to be a suburban wimp, and I headed out to downtown (as long as there was no lightning). I was feeling rather righteous, taking up a whole lane down M St in Georgetown, 6 p.m. on a Friday evening, diligently and pointedly stopping for every light, accelerating with traffic, stopping with traffic. Stayed in the big ring for quick acceleration, and wham! Chain broke.
Fortunately, there are two bike shops on M Street, and I strolled into one with my chain in hand. They installed a new chain (little wear on the old one, by the way, which they were disappointed to learn -- they clearly wanted to sell me a cassette, as well -- but I was starting to worry about it, anyway), and, because I had no money with me, they agreed to let me pay later. Which was very cool, and I paid on Saturday.
So, what's the problem? Well, it ended up costing me about $60, which I'm still deciding how to feel about. I had to beg for a local club's 10% discount off of the marked price for the chain of $50 (campy 10 sp. about $32 at Colorado Cyclist, other retailers -- so, okay, it would have cost another $7 to ship), and they charged me $10 for labor (plus tax). Am I being silly? I sort of thought that, you know, if you're going to help a guy out, well, help a guy out. In other circumstances, I certainly could have and would have replaced the chain myself; heck, if he had handed me the tool, I would have been happy to do it myself then. And it took him all of five minutes. I gladly would have paid $45 - $50, but that extra ten kind of galled me a little. On the other hand, I certainly had the benefit of an available shop that extended me credit on little more than a smile and took care of my little problem while I waited. Perspectives?
Sep 4, 2001 8:39 AM
just a cheap, ungrateful SOB

what do you think msrp is on that chain? and the tool? I'd say you actually SAVED $ by not having to buy the $60 tool (that's the discounted CC price). BTW, 3k miles is alot for a Campy 10.
I have the chain tool, although I hadn'tbill
Sep 4, 2001 10:29 AM
thought about whether that should have mattered. Interesting point, and maybe they assumed I didn't have the tool. After all, I don't shave my legs; how were they to know I would own the right tool?
I figure that their cost was around $30, probably a little less. I was willing to give them a fairly generous markup, but, like I said, that last $10 or so hurt a little.
The bottom line is that they didn't know me, except that just two days before I had spent $80+ on handlebars there from the same guy who handled this transaction. Whatever goodwill that they generated from that experience probably was squandered, mostly because, when I wrote down my name, etc. before leaving, they wrote the price for the chain down next to my name, but without the labor charge. Right or wrong, I resented their adding the charge when I paid the next day. If they had told me at the time, I probably would have swallowed and said, whatever.
It was the Pro Shop, btw.
What added to my pissiness me off was when I went to pay, I was riding my brand new Pegoretti, sporting the handlebars the guy had sold me two days prior. I was proud of my new bike, and I said, want to take a look at it? Now, I never had seen a Pegoretti, and I kind of doubt that he has, either. He doesn't sell them, he couldn't have sold it to me, and just because he didn't sell me this bike doesn't mean that he couldn't make decent money selling me a bunch of crap in the future, because I spend money on this sh*t. Instead of taking advantage of this bleeding wallet (contrary to popular belief, I really don't expect to get something for nothing; I just want to enjoy my retail experiences and FEEL as if I am getting something for nothing). Instead of smelling an opportunity to cultivate the relationship and instead of maybe just being a little bit interested in fairly rare Italian steel (they sell Colnago, Carrera, and some others), he could care less.
I have the chain tool, although I hadn'tD'Ohhh!!!
Sep 4, 2001 1:13 PM
So because they didn't recognize you from 2 days before (it's a retail store, not Cheers) and because the LBS dude didn't fawn and gawk over your shiny new ride, you feel they didn't give you enough? What if you never came back to pay? Have you ever considered that they actually gave you a short-term loan? They did you a favor, bud. Get over yourself. At least they didn't drop a tool on the frame while working on it.
And you know what? A bike store should be like Cheers.bill
Sep 4, 2001 7:09 PM
Otherwise people will shop price and price only, and bike stores will disappear. It's basically a service industry. If you turn it into commodity sales, there are better ways. A studied unflappability can be just so very cool, but I like to go where my business is appreciated. With retail, yeah, it is about me. If the place doesn't see it that way, there are other places to go. Sorry; get over it.
Which has nothing to do with whether I should have paid straight retail for an emergency fix. But it is about surly people in a service industry. I waited tables for years, and I came to understand that, on the side of the table I was on, if you didn't make the folks on that side of the table feel like it was about them, you didn't make much money. Maybe he didn't care at all, probably didn't, but the guy could have hooked a live one, as they say, and he blew it.
Only if you are a "regular" - are you?deke
Sep 5, 2001 5:03 AM
People (like you) are already shopping for price. Haven't you noticed how many LBS have gone out of biz around the country in the past few years?

First, you're b!tching about the price, then them trying to sell you a cassette (that most LBS would do). Then you whine about them not giving good "service" (which in your definition must mean oogling customers bikes) and not trying to sell you more stuff later on. Make up your mind!

You did get good service- some shops would have made you leave the bike overnight and would not have given you a 0% loan or the 10% discount. Have you ever been in a bike shop near closing? There are other things to be done. The last thing they want- esp on a Friday night when most have something better to do- is somebody coming in with a emergency repair.

Sounds like you need to realize that you are not the center of the universe. And I have no doubt that you will reply, as you are one that seems to have to have the last word.
Keyword: Emergencymr_spin
Sep 4, 2001 8:45 AM
I starting doing my own work after getting frustrated at the prices I was paying my LBS to do simple things like changing a chain. It's incredibly easy to do if you have a good chain tool, and much, much cheaper.

That said, in your case, you didn't have much choice--that's why it's called an emergency. If you could plan your chain breakages, you'd be better off, right? You'll often get reamed in an emergency situation, whether it's bikes, or cars, or health care.

The question is, did they take advantage of you because it was a) raining and/or b) close to closing time? If they charge the same price on a sunny day at noon, then maybe you don't have a lot of cause for complaint.

As for the prices, there will always be a markup on parts, and you'll get charged a minimum for labor. And suggesting a new cassette isn't unusual when changing a chain.

This kind of thing takes a little of the fun out of it, don't you think?
re: Broken chain, helped by an LBS in an emergency, andMJ
Sep 4, 2001 8:45 AM
better the store is there when you need it even though it's cheaper on the net - labour is a funny one when you have to pay for it unexpectedly and you're used to working on things yourself - but that's the way it is - somebody's got to justify the guy's salary

how much is the Permalink tool?

everything's cheaper on the net - but it won't help you out in a jam and you still got a ride in

to ease the financial discomfort calculate, minus what you would have reasonably paid the per hour enjoyment of your ride - is it worth it now

if still unhappy take a Burley load of tools out next time and see how much you like it :-)
re: Broken chain, helped by an LBS in an emergency, andmlbd
Sep 4, 2001 8:58 AM
i had a somewhat similar experience with my ATB. i discovered a broken spoke while visiting my girlfriend just a little while before we were planning to head out for a day of riding. i had no time (or tools) to fix it myself so i dropped it off at a shop near her house and asked if they could get it done that morning. they had it done in 30 minutes and hit me for $45, which included a few extra bucks because it was an "emergency". i was a bit miffed, but that's what you pay for good (or quick) service.

i wouldn't be too mad if i were you. the most expensive thing in the world is good service, and sometimes, because of bad luck, bad timing or whatever, you have to pony up. plus those shops on M street (was it revolution or the other one?) are in an expensive location so they have to cover their costs.
re: Broken chain, helped by an LBS in an emergency, andfuzzybunnies
Sep 4, 2001 5:12 PM
I hate to say it but while the other guy got a fair deal when you consider the price of a record 10sp chain, you got screwed. Spoke is .75, trueing is 12-18 and is part of the installation, a rush installation might be as much as 10.00, something the local shops around here don't mind doing for out of towners in an emergency. Grand total should have been around 30.00 not 45.00. TTFN
Had the same thing happen recently.PaulCL
Sep 4, 2001 9:31 AM
While on vacation in Colorado, I broke my 10spd permalink chain (after 200 miles). I went to the LBS for help - they had no permalinks, but sold me the chain. I gulped at the $56 pricetag - mentioning that I had just replaced the chain the week before (after 3800 miles) for $35. He cut the cost to $45 and installed it for me for free. Mine wasn't a critical emergency, but it would have ruined my vacation. You paid for the emergency service and their markup. Chalk one up for experience.

P.S. If my permalink (tempolink?) pops out again, I'm not using it. I'll just re-attach the chain the 'old fashioned' way with a good chain tool.
i'd feel the same way, but you got what you paid for.Spiritual Haiku
Sep 4, 2001 9:54 AM
I have the WORST problems with buying from the local shops, as the price markup over nashbar/performance/excel/totalcyclng/cc/etc. is 15-20% or greater. however, you got what you paid for--last-minute, ride-saving service and parts that you could not provide yourself in that situation. i'd have been glad they were able to help. it's a trade-off...your money for them pulling your chestnuts out of the fire, so to speak.

if you'd been overcharged based on your situation, not given the 10% discount, or been made to wait and wait on the chain and repair, then (had i been in your shoes) i'd have been p1ssed.
re: Broken chain, helped by an LBS in an emergency, andpeloton
Sep 4, 2001 9:58 AM
I don't think that you got treated all that badly. You would have paid $45 for the chain through mail order once tax and shipment was added in, and you would have had to wait for the chain. You also would have needed that $60 Campy chain tool to install it (which you may already have). So instead of $45 through the mail, you paid $60. For $15 you had the chain installed immediately, and the shop guys were nice enough to even let you come back later to pay. I think the extra $15 you spent was a bargain when you consider the alternatives. You should be very happy that shop was there. They didn't rip you off, they saved your ride. No mail order company would have gotten you a chain right then, and let you pay later.

That was my biggest pet peeve when I was working in a shop. People expected you to give exceptional service immediately like in the above story, and then to undercut even Nashbar's prices. Good, quick service is priceless when you are in a jam.
I agree. Completely! So, how was the ride? nmMB1
Sep 4, 2001 10:54 AM
The ride ended up being a bit of a bust. I had been trying tobill
Sep 4, 2001 11:06 AM
get to this rally that started at 6:15. I was late, and everyone had moved on, and so I just went home to help with bath and bed for the two little girls, although the mist rising over the Potomac on the return over Key Bridge after the sun came out was incredible and was probably worth the whole durn thing.
The ride ended up being a bit of a bust. I had been trying topeloton
Sep 4, 2001 7:43 PM
Hey Bill,

Just a little something else about shops that I've found. A lot of shops are owned by people who just love bikes. They are trying to make a living off of their passion. It's a hard thing to do. A complete bicycle really doesn't make a shop a great deal of money once overhead is factored in because the markup is actually very small. It's often the little things that keep a shop in business. Selling tires, drivetrain bits, and other accesories. That is the reason you will see those parts at full retail in most shops. Another thing that kills local shops like this is mail order. When I worked at a shop I would sometime order things from Nashbar or Performance because they were cheaper there than they were in my wholesale distributor's book! It's hard for little shops to keep up when they can't even buy the parts at wholesale as cheap as the big box stores are selling retail. That is the reason you don't usually get a big cut on items like chains and the like. They simply can't afford to if they want to stay in business. It's the service that you described that keeps shops like that one alive. You just don't get that from any mail order company, and it means something. Any time someone is in a jam for a part, or doesn't know how to fix something the service that a local shop can provide is invaluble, and worth the added percentage one pays on such parts. I've even seen the owner of the shop I used to work at take parts off his PERSONAL bike to help someone out in a jam. That is the kind of service that might go away if we all started to worry and complain about paying five bucks more for a part. It's worth supporting and telling people about a shop that will go out of it's way to help you out.

Sorry the ride turned out to be a bust.
Me thinks you complain too much ...bianchi boy
Sep 4, 2001 12:33 PM
They charged you the usual LBS prices. They helped you out in a jam, while you waited. Sure you could have gotten the chain for less from Colorado Cyclist, but would CC have installed it for you?

I buy most of my clothes, tires and components I can install myself from mail-order outlets. But when I need some service or repairs done, I gladly pay my LBS what they charge. They do good work for a fair price. Sure, they mark up the parts more, but that's how they make a living. You're also paying for their expertise, whether you need it or not.
I hear you. Fair enough. I don't necessarily disagree. I toldbill
Sep 4, 2001 12:59 PM
you that I didn't know how to feel about it; so maybe now I'm feeling a bit better. I still think that he should have made more of a fuss over my bike. Whining? Sure. Do I patronize businesses who listen to me? You bet! (as a lawyer, listening to beefing is a big part of what I do -- one man's whine is another man's beef, or something like that).
LAWYER- that figures (nm)D'Ohhh!!!
Sep 4, 2001 1:15 PM
I hear you. Fair enough. I don't necessarily disagree. I toldRoy Zipris
Sep 4, 2001 3:24 PM
You mentioned earlier the shop squandered good will. If I had been in your shoes, the shop would have earned back some of that good will by taking your good faith promise to pay the next day. That's a pretty customer-friendly, old-fashioned way to do business. BTW, did they know you were a lawyer when they said, "Oh, sure, come back and pay us when you can"? :)
What is it with you guys and lawyers? Do you actually knowbill
Sep 4, 2001 6:50 PM
any lawyers? If you did, you would know that some are good, some are bad, most are just plain folks who have a little bit of book smarts and happen to make a living doing law. But, we actually have a code of ethics. Clients don't, and it shows. Ask anyone who knows who are the real bums. It ain't the lawyers. Lawyers don't lie; clients lie. And then they don't want to pay the bill. Don't tell me about credit.
Sorry. You got me on a bad day. A lot of people owe me money. Left the store with the chain and then never came back, so to speak. And, I spent several hours today giving free advice, to boot. To be fair, I hoped to one day get business out of it, maybe, but I probably won't, and I knew that at the time.
At least I went back and paid. I would say his trust was not in the least betrayed. By a lawyer, no less.
And he did remember me. The f*cker could have smiled and humored a guy, even if he didn't give a sh*t. Lord knows I do it every day.
I think the LBS guys get kinda OD'd on nice bikesbianchi boy
Sep 4, 2001 6:29 PM
I had a similar experience with a LBS where I had a frame-fitting done. They were real nice about the fitting, and they should have been because I paid them $80 for it. Anyway, based on the fitting, I ended up ordering a Gios frame from Excel because the geometry fit me perfect. I brought my Gios by the shop to show the guy who did the fitting, and he didn't even take the time to look at it. Of course, he might have been miffed because I didn't buy a bike from his shop, but I was very upfront when I had the fitting done that I intended to mail order a bike. On the other hand, my Gios was probably just another bike to him with all the Colnagos and Serottas and other nices frames they sell.
I think the LBS guys get kinda OD'd on nice bikesdeke
Sep 5, 2001 5:04 AM
In reality Gios is nothing special.