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LBSs, post a comment about your worst clients......(20 posts)

LBSs, post a comment about your worst clients......shopclass69
Nov 21, 2003 1:27 PM
I see a lot of bashing on Local BIke Shops. Time for the shop guys to dish on bad clients. I used to work in a shop and had a client bug me for months about a Klein mtb. Beat me up over little things, but I liked the guy and was ready to hook him up b/c I found a deal for him. Would've saved $300. too. So he comes in with his new ride, a used Klein he picked up on ebay. The probelm was he screwed it when he was cleaning it or rebuilding it or it got busted up during shipping or whatever. Anyway, he was pissed when I told him I had to charge him to fix it.
Wow, he ended up spending more than he would've. He left upset and told me he'd never come back and would tell all his friends.
Oh well, I tried, but that stuff isnt seen by the LBS bashers.
Your turn.
Bad customers are surprisingly rare...TJeanloz
Nov 21, 2003 1:49 PM
Looking back, I can only think of a handful of bad customers. Not counting as "customers" people who stole bikes, were mentally unstable, etc.

We had one woman who was a "famous" psychiatrist in the vein of Frasier Crane - she thought she was a star, but nobody had any idea who she was. Bought a Litespeed, paid full price. Was MISERABLE to deal with. She decided after the bike came in that she didn't like the decals, so she removed them all (fair enough, some people don't like decals). She worked with my boss for months on getting the fit right, and never did, though she was technically flawless, and couldn't describe what she didn't like about the fit. After having the bike all summer, she drops it off for a repair (not uncommon for her). Follows up with a call saying that she didn't like the bike, we should just keep it and give her a refund. We gave her her money back and told her we never wanted to see her again. It was comical by the end - people would see her car drive in and RUN to avoid dealing with her.

I had another guy take me a few rounds for a Litespeed Arenberg - back when there was a special deal so that it cost ~$200 more than the very similar Macalu bike. Did the full fitting, everything you normally would for a top-shelf bike. He comes in a few weeks later with the Macalu, and tells me what a bargain it was. The comedy in that scenario though, was that Excel had botched the design on that size, and spec'd the downtube and seattube bottle cage braze-ons too close together, so you couldn't put a bottle in each at the same time. He was telling me what a good deal he had gotten just while he was trying to jam a second water bottle in...

I'll try to think of some others - but truely bad customers really are rare.
Bad customers are surprisingly rare...lancezneighbor
Nov 21, 2003 9:51 PM
I know Dr. Laura rides a titanium bike. Was that her?
I don't think so,TJeanloz
Nov 22, 2003 7:25 AM
I can't remember her name, but I think she was more of a pop-psychology author than radio personality. This was in Boulder, if that helps any.
Bad customers are surprisingly rare...OwenMeany
Nov 22, 2003 5:51 AM
If this was Dr. L, I heard her pine over her "titanium bike" on her show...I always wondered if she still road it...she need to.
re: LBSs, post a comment about your worst clients......gtx
Nov 21, 2003 1:56 PM
I think my favorite was the guy who brought in his bike for a tuneup with dig sh*t on the tires. Of course I didn't notice this until he was gone and I had the bike in the stand... In general the most annoying people were the shop flies who hung out all the time and asked annoying questions and never bought anything, the know-it-all guys helping their girlfriend buy a bike, the people who accused you of trying to upsell them on stuff if they needed any new parts to make a repair, smelly bike messengers who couldn't fix their own bikes but had no money to pay you to fix it for them, pretty much anyone who acted impatient on a Satuday, etc. etc...
People are people......PEDDLFOOT
Nov 21, 2003 1:59 PM
...no matter who or what they are.Bad people will be bad customers and LBS owners/employees.Good people will make good customers and LBS /employees.Find yourself a good person who owns an LBS and you're set.
yeah, but...gtx
Nov 21, 2003 2:36 PM
I haven't worked any other kind of retail, but I don't think many people walk into a bookstore or shoe store or whatever already on the defensive, which seems to the case with many people who walk into bike shops. I admit that now I'm on the other side I'm always cringing a bit when I walk into an LBS, because if they don't know you, there's a decent chance you will be treated like an idiot. The other day I went in to buy a tube. They didn't have the Michelin tubes which I like (and which I normally get mail order) becuase the valve stems aren't threaded (which is nice beacuse it means I don't have to buy a new chuck for my Silca pump every few weeks). So I asked if the valve stems were threaded and the guy didn't seem to understand the question. So I asked to see the tube before I bought it and got the full blown eye rolling treatment. Now, was it a bit anal of me to care about the valve stem on a tube? Probably. Was I pissed off? Yes. Of course the valve stem was threaded and I bought it anyway, but next time I place an order from Colorado Cyclist I'll make sure to buy extra tubes.
We are right at the south end of the C&O Canal towpath.MB1
Nov 21, 2003 2:10 PM
It has been a very wet year so anyone (and their bikes) that rides the tow path is going to get filthy.

A couple finished their ride down the entire 184 miles of the towpath and came directly to our store without cleaning themselves or their bikes at all.

They walked in and started dripping mud and dirt all over the service side. They wanted us to pack and ship their bikes for them.

The techs offered to clean the bikes before packing them. The customers said, "No, just pack them and ship them. We will clean them ourselves when we get home in a couple of months."

I can only imagine how awful those bikes were when they finally got around to riding them again. Took the techs over an hour to clean the mud and dirt off the floors and walls once the customers left. Packing the bikes was a mess and even after they were packed the smell of rotting soil hung around until UPS picked them up.

I can only imagine what the UPS workers thought they were dealing with.
How rude!rollo tommassi
Nov 21, 2003 4:04 PM
What lousy people! I hope you charged them labor for a least two hours of cleaning!

Then maybe hang some air fresheners on the top tubes...
My favoriteMR_GRUMPY
Nov 21, 2003 2:30 PM
Back in my shop days, we had a customer come in looking for a 24 X 1 3/4" tube for his kids bike. After checking the tube shelf and the back room, I discovered that we were out of that size. After telling the customer that I was sorry about the shortage, I recomended that he could pick one up at the local K-Mart down the street. He demanded that we give him one off one of the few bikes on the floor that had that size. I tried to explain to him that it was corporate policy not to remove parts from floor bikes. He again demanded the tube. Again, I tried to explain the company policy, and gave him our 800 number for complaints. After telling him that there was nothing that I could do, he still was demanding the tube. By this time, all the other shop rats were in the back room. Even the night manager. I had finally had enough, so I told him that there was nothing that I could do, so please leave the store. He continued to talk, so I went to the door and opened it and said ,"PLEASE LEAVE THE STORE." After repeating that two or three times, he finally left.
After that, all the shop rats came out, and were laughing like crazy. I guess I made their day.
Im not an LBS, but empathize with their plight.funknuggets
Nov 21, 2003 2:43 PM
Lets see, I incur all the risk and costs associated with inventory... meaning rent, utilities and labor to carry such inventory. Then I get some guy that somes in and asks me thousands of questions and usurps my maintenance knowledge and then inspects such inventory items and then expects me to match some online price from some cracker selling out of his basement who has none of these overhead costs.

One of the things that is interesting is that these people complaining about the LBS dont realize that there is inherent value to being able to touch and hold said merchandise. Plus there is the "feel good" stuff with being able to return it or know what you are getting when you walk out of a store...and not having to worry about shipping, etc. Plus most maintenance type activities are either free or discounted... there is value to that as well.

Im not advocating either the LBS or online, but I dont think Joe customer should EXPECT the LBS to meet or beat these online prices. There IS inherent value to the slightly higher cost LBS merchandise. There ARE costs above and beyond their cost of the item.

I just feel bad that in most cases, the LBS holds bike inventory just for people to come in, inspect and test ride the bikes, only to go online and save bucks on the same bike.

-I will go to about any LBS for std parts in an emergency.

-I will go to only ONE shop in town for mechanical stuff, or if I need something I dont want to wait for or I dont trust getting online.

-If it is something that is a relatively known quality and such (ie: components), I will typically purchase online. Plain and simple.

Chris
Im not an LBS, but empathize with their plight.russw19
Nov 21, 2003 4:47 PM
What you just said about the inherent value of being able to hold the items.... lots of people don't think about this, but they should every single time someone posts an "ebay scam of the day" post. If you go into the LBS and can actually pick up and hold the handlebar or stem or even bike that you are planning to purchase, you can sure as heck be sure that at the very least, the item you are interested in is a tangible item and not the figment of some Nigerian scammers imagination.

I would hate to see anyone get scammed, but sometimes I have to think that had that person who is only loyal to their wallet and not any LBS just paid a little more and gone to a brick and mortar business operated in a real town and subject to real law enforcement instead of trying to save $10 on a thousand dollar item putting their trust in some nameless faceless person via a computer screen, maybe we wouldn't see so many people getting ripped off.

I think buying online is gambling with your money. But then again, there is something so fun about gambling.

Russ
My shop is in an odd locationrussw19
Nov 21, 2003 4:58 PM
We are near the downtown area. The area is in the process of some nice renovations, but it's also right on the fringe of the 'hood.' In about another 5 years, our owners decision to move to that location will look brilliant as the property value is going thru the roof right now and there is some great development around us, but right now, we are right on the border of Crackville. Anyone who lives in a downtown environment knows exactly what I am talking about. It's not the customers that come in that are so bad, but the other fringe elements. There is a low budget crack whore hotel across the street and they don't have phones in the rooms, so every so often we get some crazy hookers coming in asking to use the phone, or a crackhead here and there trying to sell us some beat up old huffy for $15 so he can get a rock. It's insane, but it's also funny as hell too. We used to have a resident bum named Johnny who would come in every weekend and sleep on the couch in the back. He was a good guy most of the time, and would come in and sweep the floors or dust the bikes for a few bucks, but after a while he got out of hand. I think we let him stay around just because it was so entertaining, but he was also the biggest pain in the butt that we had at the shop.

Other than hookers and crackheads, most of our customers are OK, but there are a few that are looney enough that if you see them coming you find a way to be busy quick. But nothing I would rant about. It's mostly just entertainment.

Russ
How much time do you have?!Tig
Nov 21, 2003 7:15 PM
Most customers and shop flies are cool. Others drive you nuts and some provide entertainment. Our shop is a bit old and not as flashy as the others here, but we price things a little lower and build long time customer relations. This is the only shop in the area that people hang out in. That says it all. Now for just a FEW of the annoying customers...

Like so many other's, the people that pick your brain only to buy it online and then expect you to install it/fix their failed installation for free. I'm all for giving people a good deal, but we aren't a charity.

People that try to impress us by bragging how fast they are (especially the ones who brag about dropping their wives on a ride) or by mentioning what bike they ride. How many people think that owning a Cannondale or some other bike will make us stop in our busy tracks and worship them as cycling gods? Shut up and RIDE! Come to the next fast group ride and lay it down if you want to impress a few underpaid shop employees! LOL

The guy who bragged about his $50 eBay Specialized MTB find and needed us to "get it running" was a hoot. This bike was a POS... the hubs needed overhauling, new cables and housings, major tuneup stuff, tires and tubes, etc... We told him it would likely run about $150. As we found more problems, we called him for approval to do the extra work and he agreed. I always try to keep costs down for customers and we managed to stop the damage at $200. We've called him about 6 times over the last 2 months but he won't pick it up. It is about to go to our used bike section (outside on the sidewalk) since we have to roll it out and in each day anyway. Hmmm, how about $200?

People who come in and think $300 is too much for a bicycle. They won't even consider a $230 MTB and go to Toys-R-Us or Walmart and buy a POS for $100-150, but it is so poorly built, they bring it to us to fix or expect us to have the same crappy parts in stock that it came with (which failed the first month).

The list could go on, but I think the point has been made.
re: LBSs, post a comment about your worst clients......Spoke Wrench
Nov 22, 2003 4:59 AM
Almost everybody who walks into the bike shop is thinking about having fun and consequently is fun to deal with. The people that I enjoyed least were the ones who haggeled excessively over prices. I never got the sense that they left completely satisfied.

We used to get a fellow who never bought anything from us. He'd always bring in his bike at lunchtime and ask us to fix this or that - while he watched. So, after my mechanic interrupted his lunch to take care of the guy, then he would ALWAYS haggle over the price. We're not talking about a one time deal here either, this happened several times and every time. The last time that I saw him I told him the job was free PROVIDED he promised to never come back. I guess that defines a win-win because he got his service for free and I got rid of him.

I also had a fellow who priced a bike in my shop then bought one like it across town to save $10.00. Then he brought the bike to me to adjust the stretch out of the derailleur cable. He was really incensed that I wanted to charge him for a derailleur adjustment. He thought I should do it for free because it wouldn't take me very long. He really coundn't understand the difference between providing free service for a bike that I sold and free service for a bike that he bought from my competitor. "But it's clear across town. How am I supposed to get there?" "Why won't you do this for me?"

The shoe samplers can be a trip too. Shoes are a major loser for most LBS because they are a fairly high ticket item to inventory, you have to stock so many sizes, and they don't turn over very fast. A fellow tried on shoes in my shop, bought a pair, and had me install the cleats. A week later he strolls in with the identical pair that he bought from the internet - sans cleats, and wants to return them. He couldn't understand how I would be out anything and thought I should be glad to do that for him.
After thinking a little more about it,TJeanloz
Nov 22, 2003 7:45 AM
A lot of people ask you to do outrageous things - clean gross bikes, discuss the merits of their vasectomy and how that will impact their riding, etc. These aren't bad customers, these are just people you have to deal with as part of the job.

Bad customers are the ones that you go out of your way to please, and they aren't happy. They're the ones that you have a part FedExed in (at your cost) and they complain that the repair took two days because you didn't have the Dura-Ace 8 speed bottom bracket, italian thread, in stock. They're the ones who spend two years agonizing about buying a new high end bike - that you spend HOURS and HOURS working with, to make sure everything is perfect. And they come back and say: "it's o.k., but it isn't what I hoped it would be." The bad customers are the ones who are never satisfied, never thank you for your help, and generally leave unhappy (or at least, less than really happy). The thing is, with the jackass customers, you can write them off - guy is just an idiot, whatever. Truely bad customers are the ones that you are really trying to please, and nothing is enough.

And I thought of another egregious example last night. We had a customer who was in "good" customer status. He had been a quasi-regular for many years, and we customarily gave him a 25% discount on everything he bought, as we did for our "good" customers - but it's an unspoken rule of thumb, not a formal policy. So, one day, his wife comes in and buys him a jersey for his birthday [we didn't know, at the time, that she was his wife]. He comes in a week later, IRATE that we didn't give his wife 25% off, and demanding that we give him the 25% back in cash. He almost went to blows with our service manager (keep in mind, these guys have been cordial for years), and finally we say: you can return the jersey for a full refund if you don't want it, or you can keep it. So, being the smartass that he is, he says: I want to return it; and buy one just like it with my discount. So we give him his money back, he says: now I'd like this jersey. The Boss says: it's not for sale, and get the fcuk out of my shop and don't come back.
Probably the hardest thing for me and working at the shop...RyanC
Nov 22, 2003 9:39 PM
was the fact that I'm fairly young (19) and sometimes get customers that show some dissatisfaction or lack of confidence in my ability to help purchase....well.....almost anything. I've had customers really put me to the test with things like FS mountain bikes, suspension, frame materials, that sort of thing. A select few obviously were just trying to catch me saying something contradictory or incorrect. Sometimes I wouldn't know the answer to something, in which case I simply say that I didn't know the answer to their question but I could get someone else who did know to help them. I think some customers don't always realize that there are too many products, technology, etc. that a single person could memorize and know off the top of their head. I see rants on this board every once in a while about how such-and-such LBS really sucked because the person that helped them didn't know anything about such-and-such product. Yes, I know, I know, some are justified, but just acknowledge that shop employees don't spend their free time paging through catalogs to know every single difference between Ultegra and Dura-Ace components or tires or whatever. If I did that, I'd go insane (and I don't get payed enough to go insane).
-Ryan
I started at my first shop at 14, so I can relate...russw19
Nov 22, 2003 11:28 PM
I like your attitudeNatC
Nov 23, 2003 7:10 AM
It really bugs me when a shop employee gives me incorrect info, expecially when unsolicited. I like that you can admit to not knowing the answer but could find it. Nothing is worse than someone who just makes up an answer.