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Ethical Dilemma (LBS related)(37 posts)

Ethical Dilemma (LBS related)Fatnslow
Sep 23, 2003 6:45 AM
I've always believed in supporting my LBS, but sometimes its tough.

I need a couple of new parts for my mountain bike (I won't specify in case the guys from the LBS are reading...I know they're on here a lot). The quote from my LBS totalled $75.00 for Deore-level parts. has XT level parts for less than 60 bucks (not including shipping).

Should I go back to my LBS and tell them? I'd like to buy from them, but the difference in price is too tough to ignore. I don't even want them to match the price...just get in the ballpark?

Any advice from you folks?
I wouldn'tTJeanloz
Sep 23, 2003 6:53 AM
Buy the parts at Performance. Your LBS knows when they are getting beat on price. They're basically choosing not to compete with Performance on that product. The shop I worked at was in Boulder, and we used to send people to Excel all the time.

Just make sure to back out whatever labor the quote included, to get the right comparison. And it really becomes a dilemma if you didn't know what you needed to begin with - i.e. you went in with a broken bike, LBS diagnosed all of the problems, and you want to use Performance parts to fix it - because there, you have already been provided a service by the shop (for free, so far).

If you knew what you needed, and the LBS quoted way more for the parts than Performance, there is no issue with you buying from Performance.

If you didn't know what you needed, and are working off the LBS' (free) diagnosis, you have an obligation to at least pay them to install the Performance parts - which might eat up all of your savings. The other issue is that you better be sure you get EXACTLY the right parts (bottom-pull, top-swing, 31.8mm clamp; whatever it actually is), because the shop will probably not be enthusiastic about swapping out their parts for yours.
I should have been clearerFatnslow
Sep 23, 2003 7:05 AM
I should have been clearer, I apologize.

The problem was self-diagnosed and I know how to change the parts (and have the proper tools). I just needed the parts and there was no installation or diagnosis included.

If the 15 dollar difference was for the same level parts, I wouldn't think twice about going to my LBS. The difference is that going from Deore level (LBS)to XT level (Performance bike) is a significant upgrade for 15 bucks less money.
I should have been clearerTJeanloz
Sep 23, 2003 7:08 AM
The Deore / XT upgrade isn't actually all that significant - but given the choice, I would take XT.

I think this is a no-brainer. Buy the parts from Performance. The shop knows that there are good deals out there that they can't beat, and they should be o.k. with that.
Deore / XT upgrade not significant....What!?!JFR
Sep 23, 2003 10:47 AM
yeah yeah, Deore works fine but....

Image is everything. 8^0

A Deore/XT upgrade sure is significant.
Not just fine, 99.5% as well...TJeanloz
Sep 23, 2003 11:31 AM
There is as little functional difference between Deore and XT as there is between 105 and Ultegra. Which is to say, none, when properly adjusted.
Who said anything about FUNCTIONAL difference?JFR
Sep 23, 2003 12:14 PM
I thought we were talking about the significance of upgrading from Deore to XT... which IS significant for reasons other than func diff.

As I previously said "image is everything", the image XT has is SIGNIFICANTLY better than the image Deore has... and therefore make the upgrade significant.

So there :)

p.s. No argument here that the func diff might not really be significant
re: Ethical Dilemma (LBS related)PaulCL
Sep 23, 2003 6:53 AM
Will they held you install the parts?? Have they helped you before??

Add on shipping and the $60 parts are nearly $70. For the $5 difference, support the LBS. Of course, it wouldn't hurt to mention the $15 price difference - maybe they will install the parts gratis or throw in an extra tube or something. Paul
depends on how important 15 bucks is in the greater scheme. nmSteve_0
Sep 23, 2003 6:55 AM
Oh, this is easy!mohair_chair
Sep 23, 2003 6:57 AM
This one is a no brainer. $60 plus shipping is close enough to $75 that I would buy from the LBS. I'm not one of these that feels that I have to "support" my LBS, but when I want the stuff TODAY and I can get the stuff TODAY, it's worth a little extra. For all you know, Performance could be backordered or the shipment gets delayed or they get it wrong, etc. Parts in hand are worth two parts shipped. Or something like that....
dont forgetSteve_0
Sep 23, 2003 7:03 AM
tax. after tax in some states, the local 75 bucks would be 82.5.

gearheads who are always buying/upgrading/replacing parts, and who always do all their own wrenching would probably come out ahead mailorder.

The occassional purchaser, as well as those who value the importance of the small businessman, would be wise to go local.
Sep 23, 2003 3:57 PM
You are obligated to pay the state sales tax to the state that you live in when you purchase something from out of state via mailorder or via the web. Just because nobody bothers to send the state a check doesn't mean you are allowed to skip the tax. But if you don't tell, neither will I.

Sep 24, 2003 4:10 AM
(technically, you are only obligated if your individual state requires it. Tax laws vary by state).

Having said that, I can't imagine there's a state that wouldnt have such a law.
Second that!dzrider
Sep 23, 2003 7:14 AM
When the shop says "We can order it for you." I order it myself. If they have it there, I usually buy it there. Here in CT, Sales Tax often equals shipping so that's not much of a factor. I'm inclined to agree that for anything but the simplest part swap, I'd pay the $15.00 to get out of doing it myself and support my local shop.
Trick question!filtersweep
Sep 23, 2003 8:13 AM
It's apples and oranges or rather Deore vs. XT- not the same parts.
I think its fairSprint-Nick
Sep 23, 2003 7:01 AM
I'd say walk in tell them straight up your situation and that you don't expect them to match and go from there. Lots of shops can knock 15-25% of the price like that. And economically as long as you promised to keep a secret they would have a lot more to gain than lose.

sure, CAN be that simple...Steve_0
Sep 23, 2003 7:06 AM
but one should consider the value of that 15 bucks to the owner vs the cyclist.

Like the guy who pulls into the LBS in his Range Rover, Kestral up top, haggling over the a couple dollers. Meanwhile, the shopowner's driving around in his 79 Mercury Zephyr, riding only what wheels the bike rep leaves him. Means a lot more to the shop owner than the cyclist in that case.

As I said, I think the decision lies in the value of the difference in the greater scheme of things.
For clarification, see my response to TJeanloz above. - NMFatnslow
Sep 23, 2003 7:08 AM
re: Ethical Dilemma (LBS related)kissthedemon
Sep 23, 2003 7:12 AM
I have a similar dilemma every time I buy a part (or a bike for that matter). I want to support my LBS, but just cannot justify the prices they quote most of the time. Here are two examples: 1 - I bought my Giant TCR1 over the internet for $1400, my LBS quoted me $2000. How could I possibly pay $600 more for the same bike? Next I was quoted $180 for a Shimano Ultegra crankset by my LBS!!!! I got it at performance for $99.99. I could have gotten Dura Ace for the price they quoted me for Ultegra.

I'm beginning to think it might be specific to my geographic area (I live in central New Jersey). All of the bike shops quote roughly the same price for parts and bikes. To me, it is worth it (over time especially) if you learn how to tinker with your bike yourself. Even though I do strongly believe we should support out local bike shops. Hence the dilemma!

What dilemna?Dropped
Sep 23, 2003 7:14 AM
First, many responses mistakenly think the comparison is XT to XT at $15 difference. The comparison is Deore level vs. XT with the XT being $15 cheaper.

To translate for roadies, his LBS is offering to sell him 105 components for $15 MORE than Performance is selling Ultegra.

Buy the XT from performance. You have no moral obligation to buy inferior parts from your LBS for more money.
That changes everything! Buy from PerformancePaulCL
Sep 23, 2003 7:19 AM
As a roadie, I didn't catch the component differences. No question on this from Performance.
MTB to Road Conversion ChartTWD
Sep 23, 2003 8:18 AM
My roadie to MTB conversion chart looks something like this

Dura-ace = XTR
Ultegra = XT
105 = LX
Tiagra or Sora (not sure which of these two is the higher)= Deore

I don't see a dilemna here. The shop is asking too much for inferior parts, unless that includes installation. I would buy online in this case.

I do all of my own wrenching and own my own tools, everything except for some specialty stuff like frame alignment tools. So, in most cases, the LBSs services are of no value to me since I like working on my own stuff. I buy most of my tools from the LBS though.

I have no problem supporting the LBS, and I would prefer to if the shop is friendly and helpful, but they have to be willing to get in the ballpark with the price. Since we have no local sales tax, my rule of thumb is that I will buy from the LBS if their price comes out to no more than mail order + shipping + maybe 10%. That is, if I only need one thing, and I need it now.

If I can get something on line for $70 +$6 to $10 shipping for a total of $76-$80, I'd be willing to support my LBS if their price was lets say $90 or less. Some shops are really good at charging fair prices and giving good service, and others aren't. When they want to charge me $150 for that $70 part, I just walk out.

I was in a shop a few months ago to buy 2 year old sun his first bike. The shop had a good price on the bike so I bought it. While I was there, I looked in their display case. I saw an RX-100 rear derailluer for $70. Hmmmm, I can get a Dura-ace derailluer for about $10 more

I will support the LBS when it makes sense.
Not inferior, just differentZman
Sep 23, 2003 8:26 AM
The price of something does not decide if it is inferior. Both parts are actually EXACTLY the same quality of build, they are just built to diffent levels of expectation.

dile<b>mm</b>a not 'dile<b>mn</b>a'_rt_
Sep 23, 2003 9:04 AM
sorry, it was really bothering me. there are no dilemnas just dilemmas.

I'm so happy I have friends at the shop...biknben
Sep 23, 2003 7:55 AM
Word of advice to all. Do whatever you have to to get "in" at the bike shop.

I fell into a great situation just by inquiring about rides in my area. I was riding with the shop manager later the same day. He is now a good friend. Although he is no longer in the bike business I made a point of keeping the good relationship with the store. The current manager and employees are all great to me.

I often make a point of returning the favor. I show up with food and drinks often. I help customers with little things when they are swamped. I recommend them to potential customers. On big purchases, I return some of the discount they gave me as a tip. I have literally saved thousands and let them know I'm greatful.

Find a LBS that does "shop rides" and work your way into the inner circle. A loyal customer is treated better than the avg. Joe off the street.
You don't have kids, do you? (nm)53T
Sep 23, 2003 8:16 AM
Actually, two kids...I bring them with me to the shop often...biknben
Sep 23, 2003 9:56 AM
My four year old does laps around the store on a bike while I take care of whatever I need.

I was surprised to hear TWD's opinion. This treatment is not exclusive to the LBSs. I get preferred treatment at a local restaurant because I go there regularly, am easy to deal with, and tip well. I get better than average treatment at my VW dealer because I bought 3 cars there and bring them back for service.

I'm not some rich guy throwing money around either. I just respect those who show respect for me.
That's nice.TWD
Sep 23, 2003 8:41 AM
Please don't take this personally, since my response isn't directed at you personally,

But that "inner circle" discount, is the main reason why I don't give a sympathetic ear to the "plight of the small shop owner" drivel that gets posted here all the time. And the reason I spend far more mail order than at the LBS.

I have a friend who is in the same situation as you, where he is in really good with a local shop, since his dad happens to be a doctor who spends his money freely at that shop. My friend gets everything at cost, hasn't paid a cent for labor in years, has gotten all kinds of stuff warantied that are far outside of any normal warranty, and has his bikes in to the shop damn near every week to fix every little creak and squeek known to man for free.

The first few times I walked into that shop, I got ignored and treated like dirt. Nobody gave me any discounts (or any service for that matter). The only time I ever go there, is if my friend needs to stop there to pick something up when we head out for a ride. When they see that I'm with him, they automatically start giving me a discount(25-50% depending on the item).

It's insulting as all hell, and it pisses me off to no end. Apparently, I'm not good enough to shop there on my own, but if I walk in with one of their "regular customers" I'm suddenly "worthy" to shop there.

I tell my friend that I refuse to shop there, because every time I do, I'm paying for HIS discount.

I think it's total B.S. to charge one customer through the nose, and damn near give stuff away to another. Sorry, but I don't need to EARN the right to shop anywhere. They need to earn my respect in order to earn my business. I can shop elsewhere, and I do.

Funny thing is, that I can gaurantee you that I spend more money on bikes than my friend and his dad do combined, not including thier special discounts. In the long run, they would come out far ahead if they just gave everybody a fair price. I spend thousands of dollars a year on bike stuff at other shops and online, and not at their shop. It's their loss, not mine.

My $0.02.
Sep 23, 2003 9:10 AM
The "friend-of-the-shop" phenomena is actually an interesting one to think about. How it works has a lot to do with a particular shop owner's personality. The fact is that bike shops do have some pricing leeway. It's not unusual to have a specific discount regime for "club" members, or other regulars. Real FOTS pay the same as employees. The reason for this is that they are, oftentimes, effectively employees. We had FOTS who would ride on Saturday, and spend the rest of the day hanging out at the shop, helping us out, keeping us entertained, etc. - despite the fact that they had a real job. Doctors are the best, because they tend to have odd schedules that enable them to spend a Tuesday morning in the shop. This group isn't so much customers as they are fellow employees.

They also refer every one of their friends to the shop, and we generally give their friends a cursory discount - but it all works out for the shop in the end to have these guys around and enthusiastic.
That's nice.ochsen
Sep 23, 2003 10:39 AM
Well, if everyone paid everything at cost, there'd be no profit and no LBS as well. Why wouldn't the owner give his buddy's perks?

You're not paying for anyone's discount, the owner is just passing goods on to his friend as a favor. If his friend didn't get that offer, he may very well shop somewhere else just like you or I.

Personally, if I were in the position to hook my friends up, I would.
Sure, it is the shop owner's choice, but...TWD
Sep 23, 2003 3:40 PM
In my opinion, the problem is when they hand out the "Friends of the Shop" discount to everybody and their brother, yet charge ludicrous prices to Joe Blow who walks in off the street.

If the shop owner wants to give handouts to friends, that is his/her choice. They need to be a little smarter about it though, and not give that discount out to every loud mouth who hangs out in the shop, who then goes out and brags to every person they know about all the stuff they scored from the shop at cost.

Believe me, word gets around quickly. Pretty soon you have the friends of the owner getting the discount, the friends of the mechanics, the friends of the sales guys or gals, everbody that races for the shop team, the guys going on the shop rides, the girlfriends of all those mentioned above, and anybody else willing to spend their time hanging out in the shop, all getting that discount.

I wonder who is left to pay full price? I guess it's me, since I ride with my friends or non-shop affiliated clubs and teams, race either unattached or for non-shop teams, and don't have time to hang out at the local shop.

And I wonder even more how much lower their full price would be if they weren't giving handouts to damn near everybody in the local cycling community? I find it funny that all these people say, the "LBS is great, just get in good with them and look at all the money you'll save."
If everyone subscribed to that philoshophy, your LBS would look like Starbucks because everyone that shops there would be hangind out trying to get the discount. The shop would be giving all their stuff away at no profit to all of their new found friends and would be out of business in a month.

I figure, I have a choice. Shop on line, or only buy stuff from the LBS when their price is reasonable ( usually closeout rack, sale items, and stuff where the manufacturer basically sets the price).

Of course, I'm a hypocrit, since if the shop was willing to just hand me a discount I would probably take it. I'm just not willing to go through all of the brown nosing B.S. to get the FOTS discount.

All I ask is that a shop, give me a fair price, friendly attitude, and good service, and I'll be a loyal customer and tell everbody I know about how great your shop is. I don't need to be bought with a discount. I have yet to find a shop that delivers these three points on a consistent basis.

Until I find that shop, the LBSs in my area will loose thousands of dollars worth of my business every year.
Hell, for $15 MORE go for XTR!Zman
Sep 23, 2003 7:58 AM
If you were already considering paying the $75 I would jump up to 03' XTR. Similar price I would think.

Is an LBS related discussion forum needed?Mg1
Sep 23, 2003 8:56 AM
I've been watching this board for 2 months now and 2-3 times per week a lengthy LBS posting comes up. Maybe even an LBS Review category.
re: Ethical Dilemma (LBS related)JimP
Sep 23, 2003 9:11 AM
Although I don't always buy through my LBS, I do maintain a good enough relationship with the managers that it does help on some items. I did not purchase my Aegis bike through this LBS since there was another shop in my area that was handling them but I have purchased parts, tires, clothing, etc. from them on a regular basis. I went in yesterday to see if they had gotten the new Shimano cork filled brake pads for CF rims in. The shop manager was surprised at the price - $33 per pair and verified that it was the correct price. He then gave me a 15% discount on these pads. He didn't have to even offer the discount but I know that this shop does offer discounts to their regular customers. On many items this shop is only a little more expensive than the mail-order houses so it is much quicker to stop in and not have to wait for the shipping.

most LBS guys...gtx
Sep 23, 2003 9:47 AM
don't buy Shimano stuff through their LBS. When I worked in shops, I always got my Shimano stuff through Nashbar, etc. It was cheaper that way, even after my discount.
Sep 23, 2003 11:12 AM
And even more true today because of recent Shimano importing/distribution practices.

Performance retail prices on Shimano products can be less than the LBS wholesale costs... especially if the part is on sale at Performance, and if you're a "team memeber" you get 10% back in store money... and with their return policy (no questions asked), they're hard to beat... and the deal closer is if there is a Perf store near you, which eliminates shipping costs.
I try to support the LBS when I can, but . . .CRM
Sep 23, 2003 10:30 AM
The LBS is an invaluable resource for any serious cyclist. Just having a good one in your area often means increased promotion of cycling and all its accompanying benefits. For that reason, I try to get equipment and necessities at the shop. However, most significant component purchases are done WAY less expensively online. Just as in the example above, the LBS is so far above the online marketers on component pricing that I can't ignore the difference. The end result is that I buy all my tubes, lube, most tools and occasional clothing from the LBS. I buy my Shimano components and most other stuff for the bike online. The LBS is a business, of course, and it has to figure out how to survive in the internet age like everybody else.