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Your LBS? Ripping you off???(42 posts)

Your LBS? Ripping you off???VictorChan
Nov 1, 2001 10:50 AM
No kidding. I was calling few of my LBS concerning about the price of the Dura Ace STI shifters. To my horror, they charge me $309 to $329 for the pair, tax is not even included yet. What's wrong with these shops? I can get the pair for $219 online. $219 is still expensive for me though. Also, I asked about the Campy Daytona shifters (read a site that you can mix the 10 speed Campy shifters with Shimano RD). One store told me that Campy is no longer called Campy. Something like it is called Centurion now? What's that all about?
find a new LBS4bykn
Nov 1, 2001 11:02 AM
I'm a shimano guy and even I know that Campy is still Campy. The gruppo "Daytona" is changing its name, though. Not sure of the new name. I'd check with someone who is very knowledgable before mixing 10-speed Campy with 9-speed Shimano. Could be a rather expensive learning experience.
find a new LBSVictorChan
Nov 1, 2001 11:12 AM
Yeah, that's what I fear though with the whole mixing setup. :-)
call the police!mr_spin
Nov 1, 2001 11:05 AM
What's it about?

Unless your LBS runs out of a van in the mall parking lot, they have rent, labor costs, inventory, and other overhead. Online stores don't have the same level of costs, hence the savings.

Some shops charge more than others, and almost all charge more than online, but I doubt they're trying to rip you off.

It's your money to spend, but don't insult or accuse people who run shops. You'll probably need them someday.
call the police!VictorChan
Nov 1, 2001 11:11 AM
I didn't expect the price to be THAT MUCH different.
but not for parts!! (nm)Rusty McNasty
Nov 1, 2001 12:50 PM
Almost certainly not.cory
Nov 1, 2001 11:06 AM
The bike shop might buy half a dozen shifters a year, so it can't compete with some giant who orders them by the gross. A friend of mine who owns a camera store PAYS more for Nikons than Costco, right down the street, SELLS them for. I'm sure the same is true of bike stuff.
The bike guy has to pay all his overhead, advertising etc. The online place has overhead, too, but it's spread over hundreds of thousands or millions of sales instead of dozens. If there's a problem with the stuff you get at the LBS, you can take it back to the guy. I've returned a few things to Nashbar and been taken care of, but not everybody is good about it. And if you have a problem on the Friday night before the century you've been training for, good luck getting help online.
I buy a lot of stuff by mail and computer, but we'd all lose if the bike shops went out of business, and many of them are barely hanging on.
Almost certainly not.VictorChan
Nov 1, 2001 11:13 AM
Just didn't expect to be over $100 difference in price.
this is whyDog
Nov 1, 2001 11:23 AM
The LBS do give pretty good discounts to regular customers, especially if you race, are with a club, or just spend a lot of money there. They then make it up with those who come in once a year.

Go buy a few things now and then, and pretty soon they might start offering you a 10-20% discount. I'd wait for them to bring it up, though; these things usually only come from the owner, too.

Sure, you can save money on line. What are you going to do when those shifters won't shift or start rattling your ears off? You going to box them up, ship them off a thousand miles and wait two months for a potential warranty job or repair? Or, can you go down the street and tell them about your problem, and possibly have a mechanic fix them on the spot (not every time, but possible)?

I try to buy things on line if they are cheaper and I'm pretty sure won't need warranty (tires), or I simply cannot get locally (new stuff the LBS doesn't have yet). I have blown it a number of times, though, and regretted on line purchases. I usually just eat it and re-purchase rather than messing with returns or warranty. I'm pretty stupid like that.

this is why.vanzutas
Nov 1, 2001 11:52 AM
I agree with you on the discounts. both the shops in my area give me a break for most of my purchases and therfore I do not shop online.
I have always thought they make it up in MY volume not by charging other people more. I Probably spent $700 this year on random things. The Shop got my money cause they gave me a good price.
The people who pay full only spend $25 a year in the shop and maybe occasionally buy a $500 bike. So they make money off them cause they charge them full price. they make money off me because I spend every penny I have at there shop.
Almost certainly not.Bobo
Nov 1, 2001 11:41 AM
Everyone here is making good points - I have nothing to add as regards service, warranty work, overhead etc..

One other thing to consider re: the price difference - on average, you'll be spending $240-$250 online for Dure Ace STI shifters that are Flight Deck compatible. The price goes down to about what you found online for non-Flight Deck compatible. If the shop was quoting you the price for Flight Deck compatible and your online price is for non-Flight Deck, that will explain some of the difference (apart from the other stuff mentioned earlier).

I will reiterate though that when you say you're being ripped off the connotation is that there is some deceptive/malicious practice at work. This is untrue the overwhelming majority of the time.
That being said...Kristin
Nov 1, 2001 11:32 AM
With internet ordering and large chains offering lower pricing, do you think that single proprieter bike shops will be in business ten years from now? Why or why not? How do you think current economics will change the LBS?

My thinking: They will have to change or become extinct. I remember the whole battle over Wal-Mart taking jobs away from the local chains. And I felt a slight sense of sadness when Caldor's went out of business. But, really, there wasn't anything that could be done about it. Times changed and people moved on. Now we all shop at Wal-Mart and don't think twice about it. We are drawn to lower prices and though we hate to admit it, we don't want to pay top dollar for top services. As a result the LBS will find more and more that people use there time and then buy online. Its wrong, but it happens. (I don't personally, but I'm tempted too.) Being a bikeshop owner (or employee) seems like a miserable way to make a living.
good reasons for LBSDog
Nov 1, 2001 11:38 AM
*Instant gratification - walk in, see, buy

*Can see and feel the product before buying

*Can get feedback and info from someone directly

*Mail order often screws up, and it's a pain to deal with delays, misorders, returns, and warranty

*The "real" cost may not be that much more; ever not return something mail order simply because it was too much of a hassle? If so, you've blown a big chunk of that "savings" buying mail order

I think both will be around, and they'll compete; both will be improved as a result.

good reasons for LBSVictorChan
Nov 1, 2001 11:51 AM
No, no, that's not always the case. I called up about 4 bike shops and none of them have the Dura Ace shifters in stock. They have to order it.
That being said...VictorChan
Nov 1, 2001 11:42 AM
It really depends. Small, inexpensive items are OK if purchased from your LBS. Hell, even the price of highend bikes aren't that much different. NOt sure why the LBS I spoke to over the phone would charge me over $300+ for a pair of the Dura Ace STI shifters. One of the bike shop I spoke to also selling an Easton E90 carbon fork for $375. That's not bad considering that the same fork would cost $350 online.
I don't shop at Walmart. (nm)vanzutas
Nov 1, 2001 11:46 AM
to me there is one main differenceET
Nov 1, 2001 12:15 PM
Either you are handy and can assemble stuff yourself, or you're a klutz like me and can't. I don't think this point has been highlighted enough in this thread. Reading this board, I get the impression just about everyone here is a professional bike mechanic. I just don't have it. I'm willing to work real hard athletically, but I just don't have that knack. I'm not going to install my own shifters. When I have chain rub, those tips I learned to get rid of it never work, so I take it in to the LBS (but do not get charged for this--I did buy my bike there). I try to avoid ever adjusting my seat (e.g. for another rider or to put on a light) due to a fear of never getting it exactly back to where it was or for fear of overtightening the bolt. Laugh if you like. While I wish I were a wrench for the conveniences it would bring, I really just want to run-I mean ride. So I need my LBS. If I can't assemble something myself, what good does the discount do me? There have been differing opinions here about whether it's OK to walk in to your LBS and dump a bag of discounted mailorder parts on the LBS counter and ask them to assemble the pieces. Some say it's OK andbrings them business, but others would say it's chutzpah. If you're a regular to that LBS, you're certainly not going to score any brownie points with them that way, and I would certainly feel uncomfortable doing it. But if you buy something elsewhere for cheaper, the risk for things going wrong is minimal, and you can and want to handle it yourself, you don't need the LBS for that. So one thing's for sure: There's no way I'm gonna buy a certain jersey sold in an LBS when I can get the same thing for $30 less through mailorder and assemble it myself, i.e. put it on. :-)
to me there is one main differenceVictorChan
Nov 1, 2001 12:29 PM
Hahahaha........I can relate to that two months ago. I brought my Dura Ace drivetain and to have my LBS to install it. I bought my bike there too. Well, they got this inexperienced kid to do the installation and he almost screwed up (both crankarms facing down). Fortunately, I was "expecting" it to happen. The crankarms weren't aligned and tighten correctly with the spline on the BB. The left crankarm came loose after 10 minutes into the ride. I brought the bike back to them and to have them redo it. Then, I deassemabled it and redo it myself to make sure. NOthing was broken fortunately. Whether or not my LBS did this intentionally that I am not sure. After that, I forked out the cash for a $70 torque wrench and to do the installation myself, with advices from my online buddies. Guess what? I am very happy I learned how to install the drivetrain. In fact, I repacked the Dura Ace BB once and added more grease. Also, I discovered that the right crankarm would come loose (slightly) after over 100+ miles. If I hadn't gotten the tools and desire to install my own drivetrain, I wouldn't have checked the crankarm until I begin to hear noise.
you need a better LBS (nm)ET
Nov 1, 2001 12:31 PM
I'd buy mailorder velo
Nov 1, 2001 12:33 PM
If that was the level of service I got.
Oh, the arrogance...TJeanloz
Nov 1, 2001 12:33 PM
I love this topic, I just love it.

No matter how many times I explain it, nobody wants to believe it.

The cycling enthusiast- which anybody who visits this board is- is not going to 'save their LBS'. Of all the things in a bike shop, the things that the enthusiast buys have the lowest markups. Quick, what part category has the lowest markup? Record. Second lowest? Dura-Ace. What category has the highest markup? Alivio/stuff so bad it doesn't have a brand.

Despite how important you all like to feel, the impact that your sales have on the profits of a bike shop are infintisimal. The bike shop bread-n-butter is the 35 year old mom with 4 kids in tow, who think it's a great deal that it costs $11.55 to have a flat repaired. You people would be up in arms if we tried to charge $5 in labor to change a flat. Soccer mom loves us. Tells her friends. Brings us cookies. Soccer mom isn't going to be buying inner tubes on-line and having Jeeves install them.

You don't want to know what the markup is on tubes...
Oh, the ignoranceDog
Nov 1, 2001 12:43 PM
Not arrogance, it's our ignorance. The bike shops have just done a good job of making us feel important, too.

You are important...TJeanloz
Nov 1, 2001 12:46 PM
I did leave out one thing. Bike shops LIKE having bike people around. Even if they don't bring us cookies. It is truely a treat to sell and or work on Dura-Ace and Record parts, or talk to somebody who knows what they're talking about.
Nov 1, 2001 12:54 PM
So, they don't mind my walking in twice a week just to see what might be new, and talking about the new carbon whatever's that came out at Interbike? I've been worried they think I'm a pest (well, I probably have spent - no, won't go there - you got the idea).

So, if I refer a single mom with 4 kids there, then they damn well ought to kiss my butt? *That's* why! :-)

Funny StoryKristin
Nov 1, 2001 2:29 PM
My local LBS--because they are convenient (close by) and very nice--often does small labor requests while I wait at no charge. One day they were doing a repair for me and made a remarked that I could make up the cost later. I replied, "Yeah, I'll bring in a 12pack." Then I realized I was talking to a room full of minors. Ooops...I meant a 12 pack of brownies.
What do you think?TJeanloz
Nov 1, 2001 4:34 PM
Because they're minors they don't want a 12 pack? They'd work triple hard for that, and put you to the front of the line for the rest of your life.
Oh, the arrogance...VictorChan
Nov 1, 2001 12:53 PM
You are right. You make money off people who are not really into bikes but just want to ride. Same thing can be said about computer. I build my own. :-) I rarely visit my local computer shop. I order computer hardware online, period, like most diehard computer geeks. :-)
Shops will survive.dzrider
Nov 1, 2001 12:48 PM
Lets look some of the things my lbs has done that benefitted our family of riders

support local events
Tune a bike the night b4 your event
Help our friends and family because we asked them to
Take our kid's bikes in trade
Call us with a good deal on a used kid's bike

Each is of some value although some are not easily quantified. Mail order places have done none of these things for us. I'm willing to pay some extra for these services and I don't feel suckered when I do.
That being said...Canada
Nov 1, 2001 11:36 PM
There isn't any thing like leaning against the counter shooting the poop.
Once you become a regular (deals aside) I favor the locally
owned and operated business any day. I've learned more leaning
on the counter when the store isn't busy than I ever have in
magazines or especially from mail order stores, not only about
bike maintenance etc. but local clubs, rides, races and met
other local riders.
And by the way I hate Walmart
Nothing is wrong...TJeanloz
Nov 1, 2001 11:09 AM
You might well be able to buy Dura-Ace shifters on-line for $219. You might be able to buy them for $1 online. Your LBS is offering to sell them to you for $329. You aren't obliged to buy them from your local bike shop, but if you want to, they have them and are willing to provide you a service by selling them to you. Your bike shop paid about the same amount for the levers as you would online. The economics of high-end bike parts aren't good for bike shops- and they have no choice but to charge a higher price. You are not required to buy from your bike shop. It's the beauty of the open market- it requires a willing buyer and a willing seller, so you can't be "ripped off".

As for Daytona, they are correct, the Daytona 500 people told Campy to stop infringing on their trademark, and Campy renamed the group Centaur.
Nothing is wrong...VictorChan
Nov 1, 2001 11:14 AM
"As for Daytona, they are correct, the Daytona 500 people told Campy to stop infringing on their trademark, and Campy renamed the group Centaur."

I see. :-)
I suppose that will upsetJohn-d
Nov 2, 2001 5:41 AM
all those challenged people who got themselves stuck down the neck of a horse. I ask you? Daytona 500 huh!
re: Your LBS? Ripping you off???Js Haiku Shop
Nov 1, 2001 12:26 PM
all good points here so far. agree that there are some advantages to "establishing a relationship" with your LBS, in some cases. i don't find it relevant for me, though. i'm not going to spend hundreds of dollars at the LBS that i could save online to earn the discount, or earn quick, efficient and coherent service.

i'm all for the little guy, so long as they're running a coffee shop or restaurant. otherwise, the mass marketers are getting my hard-earned bucks. i'm guilt-free about shopping at Costco and Sam's, wal-mart, k-mart, target, big mall department stores when they have good sales, you know the scoop. if i could go to the corner store owned by mom & pop jones and buy a pack of gum for $2 that i could get across the street from the maxi-mart for $1, guess where i'm headed?

that being said, there's some value in instant gratification. i moved a couple months ago, used my chain lube last wekend, but now it's lost amid boxes of low-priority stuff in the garage. i stopped at lunch for another thingy of lube, couldn't decide, talked to the LBS owner and was happy to suggest a $6.99 bottle of boeshield, marked down from $7.99. checking nashbar at the office after lunch, it's $5.99. not a big deal. but, checking out at the LBS, saw their cateye enduro II behind the counter for $34.95. checking online, $21.98. rediculous. this is why i give 99.5% of my hard-earned bike monies to catalog and internet retailers.

speaking to the quick service argument: if these guys want me to bring them my business, they need to have quick and efficient turnaround, and stand behind their work. most of this stuff i can do myself, including nearly the most complex mechanical processes. i'll buy the parts online, saving 30-60%, add the necessary tools to my order, pay shipping LESS TAX, and use the rest of the money i saved to take my wife to a fancy dinner at the Krystal (like WhiteCastle) drive-through and buy a six-pack of PBR & a spicy Slim Jim on the way home.

seriously, though--i'm no economist or forecaster, but i'd bet that eventually mail order and online retailers are going to put a few of these shops out of business, unless we see a pretty sizeable resurgence of bikes in the public conscious. i understand from this same topic coming up every few months, and the most (recent) coherent and well-thought (and emotion-free) answers, that the majority of folks keeping the LBS on its feet, save those actually buying bikes, are the weekend warrior MTB and "comfort bike" riders looking for someone to fix their flat or adjust their gears or other simple stuff they can't do themselves. having worked for years with or supporting execurives that move around millions of dollars in assets and make corporation-make-or-brake decisions every day, i often watch them drool and swoon over the "bleeding edge" of technology toy on the end cap at Best Buy. probably the same thing happens at the LBS, given that busy exec is into the two-wheeled "bleeding edge" and thus inclined.

if the profit-fringe local shops go outta business, does this mean that the few left in business are going to see a higher volume of more intricate mechanical work, and hire a better class of mechanic? will this mean their prices will go up and turnaround time will go down? either way, i'm willing to pay the few more dollars and wait another day for something i can't do myself, especially if it means i'm going to save hundreds of dollars a year in mail order for "expendables" (tubes, tires, bar wrap, saddles, shoes, etc.) and learn to do the intermediate stuff myself.

back to those stupid $16 elite cages, $24 at the LBS. this kills me. i'd agree, though--free market. buy it from them if you want, or don't know any better, or just don't care. nobody has a gun to your head.

(no ruffled feathers intended in this message.)
It's time to remove your head from your butt.Pack Meat
Nov 1, 2001 12:27 PM
And maybe find a better LBS. In Colorado we are lucky to have a high concentration of quality bike shops to choose from. Most of them will tell you flat out that it is almost impossible for them to compete with online and catalog companies when it comes to components (like shifters, deraileurs, etc) and groups. Normally if they meet catalog pricing they are losing money. Catlogs buy in huge quantites and get discounts from the manufactuers. Please keep one thing in mind most bike shops are not rolling in money. They eek out a living as best they can considering the competition that they face from catalogs and online markets like ebay. They also can not afford highly trained expert help. The only people willing to make minimum wage are the generally kids that just love bikes and work more for the discount than the money.

I guess I'm not saying anything that's already been said. It bugs me that people don't respect bike shops.

As you said, it's different in ColoradoDave Hickey
Nov 1, 2001 12:53 PM
In the Denver area alone, you have Excel, Colorado Cyclist, Performance, Schwab, Wheatridge and others. Your prices are very competitive with mail order. Here in Texas, the LBS's prices are at least 50% more. My LBS tells me to buy online because their cost is more than what Excel and others sell Shimano parts for. I understand bikes shops are not rolling in money, but I'm not either. If I can buy Dura Ace STI's for $215 online or mail order, I'll do it. My best price for Dura Ace STI from my LBS is $305. That doesn't mean I don't support my LBS. I give them as much business as I can, I just cannot afford to make all my purchases locally.
In defense of my LBSJon
Nov 1, 2001 1:16 PM
As always, I read TJeanloz' comments with great interest. When I bought my first "good" bike
four years ago, I not only researched high end road bikes thoroughly, with respect to materials,
characteristics, pricing, etc., but all the bike shops in the Edmonton area. I settled on a small
shop run by two ex-racers who cater to the triathlon crowd, based on their attitudes and apparent
knowledgeability. I paid about $100.00 more for my bike from them than from a competing larger
retailer. In retrospect my choice has paid off in spades! I have developed an excellent relationship
with the owner. Although I comparison shop regularly, I always buy my stuff from Tom. He
gives me competitive pricing, sometimes below that which I could get on the internet. And he
gives me outstanding service, shares knowledge and advice, and overall helps make the whole
cycling thing fun! In turn I spend about $1500.00 per year in his shop and refer my friends.
He's making a decent living doing what he loves. He says he doesn't want to get big because
he would lose some of the personal involvement with his customers and his emphasis on
quality, customized service. I applaud his approach. Oh yeah, the competing larger retailer
just went out of business after forty years. For anyone in the Edmonton area, this shop is
Way Past Fast, and I HIGHLY recommend them.
good bike shops are rare.Rusty McNasty
Nov 1, 2001 1:08 PM
If you are lucky enuf to have a really good bike shop near you, then you are lucky. In my city of 3/4 million people, there is only 1 shop which I would consider good. 1!!!
My experiences with the 4 or 5 other shops in town have ranged from (worst) lousy help and/or service 4 out of 5 visits to (best) lousy service half of the time. And for results like this I pay a premium???? If automobile shops and dealers treated their customers like bike shops do, half the population would stop driving!!
My experience locally has been that, come June, ANYBODY who can tell the difference between a 10mm wrench and a vice-grip suddenly becomes a 'mechanic'. Those who don't become 'salesmen' or 'counter help'. They mean well, but these dolts are about as useful as a screen door on a submarine!
As a result, over the years, I have amassed quite a collection of tools for bike repair, as well as a large stockpile of parts (mostly obtained by mail order), repair manuals, and more knowlege on the repair of recent (but not always the latest) models than probably all but 5 or 6 local mechanics. I'm sure that I know more about cottered cranks, tubular glues, and obsolete headsets than any 16 year old does. I no longer trust the work by ANY mechanic save two.
Perhaps the problem isn't always with the shop owners themselves, but more with the public expectation of costs associated with bike ownership. In a world where you can buy a complete junk bike for $69, few people will spend $50 on a repair. On the other hand, you would think that the shop owners would at least not drive away the high-end buyer by grossly inflating the price of a component that can be had in 36 hours for nearly half the cost at Nashbar. Perhaps they catch a few suckers like that, but I'd bet they lose 2 customers for every idiot they find.
LBS saved my keisterFILTERSWEEP
Nov 1, 2001 4:10 PM
consider this: I purchased a new bike this summer, and the more I rode it, the more I hated it. After three weeks, I worked up the nerve to call them. They gave me full credit for a trade in and I handed them an extra thousand for a bike I'm really happy with. Their return policy was for two weeks, BTW, but they didn't bat an eye or offer the slightest disdain. Try that with your online shop! My LBS created a very loyal customer by being very accommodating. I do buy a lot of clothing online, but that is all.
LBS saved my keisterVictorChan
Nov 1, 2001 7:38 PM
Wow, some bike shop. I bet it is only an exception though.
That's the pointJohn-d
Nov 2, 2001 6:06 AM
I bought a new bike 6 weeks ago, the price at my LBS was not that different from on-line. What you can't do on-line is test ride before purchase. I was invited and allowed to try every bike in the shop, in fact thay sort of insisted saying that better I like the bike than come back complaining.

In addition my LBS is 25 miles from home, so while you home mechanics are getting your hands dirty, I, am out riding. I ride to the shop, leave it, have a leisurely lunch in the pub opposite, stroll back, pick up the bike fully serviced for FREE, and ride home. That's worth a few bucks, and dont forget all those tools and stands you have sported out on.
My LBS giving great deals ...Humma Hah
Nov 1, 2001 9:02 PM
A few weeks ago I heard about a "great deal" here -- and it was, a good light for about $80, available on-line. I bought one, with an additional $8 S&H tacked on. Still a pretty good deal.

But a couple of days ago, I dropped by our local Performance outlet and saw a similar model, a little less powerful, for that price. Then I went to my regular LBS and saw the exact same light I bought, same power, for the same price, on the shelf, no S&H. Several times they've beat Performance, and they're more likely to try to be helpful on my hard-to-find stuff.
shopping or ridingfishwheel
Nov 2, 2001 12:39 PM
I think its funny how much of this board is related to buying stuff. I know all hobbies or sports require some investment. But the number of posts here and the people I see when I ride make me think cycling is more a consumer activity than anything else. My solution to the LBS online debate. Stop buying so much stuff, and don't worry about the price you paid. If I spent $1500 a year on cycling and was not a professional cyclist, I would feel I was getting ripped off no matter where I shopped( although I don't keep track of how much I spend, and maybe I should check my records). That said, I shop online and from my LBS depending on what I need. Personally, I've had no need for the services of an LBS, except that they are open now, and I can buy something and have it before my next ride (which is generally when I get on my bike outside the shop). I do hope they stay around though, so kids, non-wrench types, beginners etc. can ride safe bikes, and have them repaired correctly.