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Why do you waste your time with mail order?(26 posts)

Why do you waste your time with mail order?wickedwheels
Aug 11, 2003 9:54 PM
Is your LBS such a bad place? Is saving a couple of dollars that important to you? Don't you realize what you're doing to the cycling industry?

I work in a bike shop and most of the time our customers get MUCH better deals than they would going through mail order. Even if you don't get as good of a deal... is that really the only thing to life? If you are shopping for $800 wheels is it going to kill you to pay the $800 MSRP instead of saving $50? You're helping to keep the bike shop in business. You're helping to pay my salary, my rent, my bills and in return I give you the best advice that I can. I share my knowledge and my experience. I enhance your cycling experience and make sure that it's as good as it could be. I am not a SALES GUY even though I sell bike for a living. I don't get paid commission. I don't push product unto unsuspecting customers. I talk to people that have the same interests as I do about their next purchase. I help people make an educated decision.

All you mail order people insult me by shopping elsewhere. By buying your goods through mail order you tell me that my knowledge is worthless. You tell me that I am a rip-off artist. And what's worse... some of you still come in to have your mail order parts installed.

Please give me (your LBS) and chance. And if you don't, please don't ever bring your mail order stuff into my store. In fact, don't bring yourself into the store. Learn to be self-sufficient. Install your own headsets, build your own bikes, do your own research on products. Don't waste my time. Don't insult me with your presence. Learn the value of the LBS the hard way. Maybe someday you will come back, realizing the value of the LBS. And if not, so be it.
I bought my bike at an LBSSpecialTater
Aug 12, 2003 6:03 AM
and they work on it (mainly warranty and maintenance). Your example indicates a 6% discount. In that case I would buy from an LBS. Real world the mail order discount is around 30-50%, especially on clothes and accessories. Not many can afford a $70 jersey from an lbs when the same one is $30 online. The "sale" on last year's gear at my lbs is like 12%. A joke.

One tip for an LBS...make it easier for someone to transition from a recreational cyclist to a passionate road/mtb cyclist. The price jump from "crap" to middle of the road gear at an LBS is huge and hard to overcome. That 10% discount on keystoned+ gear and clothing is laughable. Just a little help leads to better relationships and more passionate cyclists (who, at least in my case, spend more $$$). Tools are included in this. Why spend $30 on a freaking pedal wrench when I can buy a Pedros toolkit online for $99?
re: Why do you waste your time with mail order?Alpedhuez55
Aug 12, 2003 6:22 AM
I do most of my own repairs. I buy a lot of parts from the local shops but price can come into play. If I am building up a bike, the savings can be significant, even if the LBS. The $50 you describe on an $800 parts purchase can actually be a $100 to $200 savings. Sometimes you can buy parts from mail order near or bellow cost for the same part at a LBS. THat savings may allow me to buy an ultegra groupo instead of a 105. Or I can use the savings to pay my own rent.

Maybe you should complain about the bike parts industry who will sell parts to companies like Supergo & Performance at a reduced rate because they sell their own frames and are considered a manufacturer. This allows them to undercut LBS since they pay less for the same parts.

If someone is calling you a rip off artist, they are probably just a moron. Maybe he will come back to you after he messes up the install on his parts.

Mike Y.
Get over it,TJeanloz
Aug 12, 2003 7:37 AM
As a former bike shop guy myself, I understand where you're coming from. I also understand that your attitude is wrong.

The very best people for you are people who buy high end parts on the internet and ask you to install them. Somebody buys a Chris King headset from you, you install it for free. You made, what, $30 gross margin on the headset. Out of this, you had to pay for shipping from QBP, amortized inventory costs, other costs associated with stocking parts. If they guy brings you the CK headset he bought at Excel, you charge him $20 to install it, which takes the mechanic (who you pay $10/hr) 15 minutes to do, you've made $17.50 - and didn't have any of the inventory costs. The high-end parts business is not a profit center; if bike shops could just fix tubes and tires, they would make real money.

Bike shops that provide good, value-added service to their communities will remain. Those that provide lousy service, with people who believe their customers owe them something, will disappear.
absolutely nmJS Haiku Shop
Aug 12, 2003 10:49 AM
You bet.KG 361
Aug 17, 2003 6:09 PM
I've bought lots of stuff online and had my lbs do the work. I've done this @ 2 shops and both have done it, no questions asked. They (at least these 2 shops) make most of their money by wrenching, not by selling a couple of high-end frames a year or several lower-end bikes. The items that I buy there are tubes, bar tape, and assorted odds and ends-things that are priced about the same on-line. Big ticket items? On-line, baby. Why spend several HUNDRED dollars more on a frame at the shop when I can get it online? The lbs's are happy to take my $$ for a build.
I don't know what kind of shop you work infiltersweep
Aug 12, 2003 7:45 AM
But I live in a major city and only a few shops carry Veloflex tires- and not the particular type I want. Even Michelin Pro Races are relatively difficult to find- especially in certain colors (or lack thereof). Latex tubes are difficult to find- and the specific brand I prefer is impossible to find. Maybe two or three shops in the metro area even know what tubulars are. Nobody carried the Limar helmet I wanted. Last year's PI Microsensor bibs are plentiful, but there are none of this years. If I wanted Specialized or WrenchForce/Bontrager or Icon or Coda I'd be swimming in options.

What? Plenty of low-end Sidis and mtnbike shoes, but none of the model I want in the size I need? Your SPD-L cleats are sold out, but a shipment should be here in a month or so... buying some things online eliminates the wild goose chase I must endure to buy certain items.

Don't get me wrong- I buy everything I can at my LBS (including a very nice bike I had built up from a frameset), but I don't want to deal with the hemped-out snowboarder waiting for winter who was disoriented and wandered into the roadbike section of the LBS... or the the guy who started talking down to me when I wanted a carbon frame, because he would only ever ride steel... or the snobby elitist attitude of half the people working at "performance shops" if I happen to wander in wearing "civilian clothing."

I agree with much of what you say- and I think many people waste money trying to save it (getting a great deal, then being killed on shipping- or buying the wrong size online, using it, then selling it on ebay, etc...). You do have to admit that there is a much greater variety of product available online.

Also, my wife has received nasty attitude from LBS salespeople... I've seen it firsthand. Some of you LBS staff need to put aside your knowledge and insight into biking and substitute some insight into human nature- that buying a bike is a very major and scary purchase to a newbie, that you speak a different language that does more to alienate than impress the customer, that most people are already spending more than they wanted on their first bike (and will likely soon wish they spent more- but that is a separate issue).

I get what you are saying- but there are two sides to every story.
Just like
Aug 12, 2003 9:08 AM
I am in the computer industry and I love the fact that everybody buys computers and parts online to save a few dollars and then calls me to set them up. At $100-$150 an hour I can make a really good living doing this. This is just a sign of our changing economy...we are moving towards an information/service industry based economy.

As for bikes, I purchase as much as I can online becasue I can save a bundle and I have no shame asking the local shop to install it for me.

I have tried the high-zoot shops and the mid-range shops and they all charge full MSRP, take forever to get parts and install them, and are just nasty. This non-sense about having to make a higher margin to cover inverntory costs is silly becasue they usually do not have everything in stock and they end up ordering it from QBP which I can do myself much cheaper through many online retailers. The LBS should just stock "service parts" and order everything else and charge less money for parts.

My favorite local bike shop is one that carries NO inventory of parts except basic replacement parts like tires, tubes, bottom brackets, brake/shifter cable, and some inexpensive headsets. They are a service-oriented shop and do not even sell bicycles but just build them up or repair them. I have been giving them all of my business which has so far included building 3 bicycles which 90% of the parts I got online and when it made sense I got parts from them.

For me, the high-zoot shop is worthless because I cannot afford a custom Ti bike and do not need to sit around with other people that own them and talk about how great are bikes are. I do not need the mid-range shops becasue I would rather buy last year's frame on ebay, last year's Shimano 105 kit from Nashbar or Performance, and have my local bike shop put it togeter for $100 labor. In the end, I am still saving 40% off this years model and at least 20% off last years model "on-sale" from the local bike shop.

Just my opinion!
I saved $1200 on my last bike by "mail order" vs lbs (nm)JS Haiku Shop
Aug 12, 2003 10:45 AM
So did I ...pack_fodder
Aug 12, 2003 1:21 PM
The original poster suggests that we buy from the LBS because by doing so we're "helping to pay my salary, my rent, my bills..." But the $1200 bucks that didn't go to the LBS for my last bike went for my mortgage payment, my kids clothes, etc. There are two sides to that coin.

If the main point is that we should subsidize the LBS because it's run by nice, knowledgeable people who are entitled to our business then I'm not buying it. No one is "entitled" to my hard earned money - it has to be earned. The difference in price between "mail order" and the LBS has to be supported by some valued added service. This valued added service can take form of convenience, e.g., being able to pick up tubes or inflators on the way home, or wrenching, or advice on which product to buy. There are some cyclists who don't really need (or want) most of the advice or other services offered by the LBS. They know what they want and they simplly need a place to purchase it. For those transactions, the LBS is at a disadvantage because the incremental value (service) they add to the transaction is small. However, when a new rider is buying a new bike, the LBS can be very helpful in choosing and fitting the bike. Of course these transactions link together over time to define the relationship between shop and customer so that you don't have to find economic value in each individual transaction but in the final analysis each customer has to see a benefit in paying higher prices at the LBS and not all customers are the same. Bottom line - most LBS can get better at identifying and articulating the value of the services they deliver.
i don't waste my time with mail ordermoschika
Aug 12, 2003 2:20 PM
if i need something asap, i'm not going to wait a week for it to come in the mail. but if i have time, what am i wasting?

I need a tube. LBS is gonna be the place. I'm looking for a crank i can install myself. it MIGHT be mail order. sometimes, deals can be had locally. I give them the benefit of the doubt and check with them first but if i can save $$5-10+ including shipping and i'm in no rush, it's mail order.
This is in the wrong forum trollspookyload
Aug 12, 2003 9:01 PM
You say about saving $50 on a $800 wheelset. Well I saved $280 on a $800 wheelset. Sorry you don't see the LBS price problems being as you get employee purchase from the major manufacturers(used to work at LBS...I know how deep the savings are).
Stop your whining!jjparkusa
Aug 13, 2003 10:23 AM
Hey dude, this is a free country with a free market. If the value you offer is of value, customers will pay for it. Most LBS's charge to assemble bikes and they charge a fair fee. Do you assemble bikes for free? Get off your soap and learn to be a businessman. Most folks will pay a premium for LBS and service but the problem is that many shops charge way too much. If you don't like it, move to France where the government protects small shop owners so they don't have to be competitive.
My LBS is a jokepappy_d
Aug 13, 2003 3:49 PM
The LBSs in Bellingham WA are, at times laughable. They neither carry, nor have any knowledge of anything Campy. They once had a road bike with Veloce I'm told. When hired to install my BB, they ignored the fact that they had a tork wrench in their hand, set it to the highest setting and bore down on the wrench- it took two guys with a 24" wrench to later remove that BB.
When purchasing my first roadbike, they didn't take a single measurement, just handed me one, that looked like the right size and lied to me about the age of the components.
I happily pay the LBSs for cables, housing and lube- but have quite a hard time trusting them with a repair or installation.
First things, wrong post for this discussion group...msmootsiemartin
Aug 15, 2003 6:18 AM
and secondly, nobody is holding you hostage working at a LBS. If you don't like it, leave! It is a free country. And, FWIW, I buy some things at a LBS and others mail order. Some of the shops in my area are total crap and others are really good. Don't insult me with your presence. I'll make my own decisions where to shop.
Do post the name your shop...Crankist
Aug 20, 2003 10:10 AM
I for one don't want to insult you.
Go to your LBS if you can't do anything....tiedupinknots
Aug 27, 2003 9:09 AM
Hi, I prefer to pay more. I'm going to my LBS. Can someone install my pedals? I'll go to my LBS. I have a flat. I'll go to my LBS.

If you can't compete, get off the field. Why don't you add a website and sell mail order so you can compete? Why should I urinate on money?
To be fair, it's not that simple...TJeanloz
Sep 1, 2003 10:11 AM
"Why don't you add a website and sell mail order so you can compete?"

Most dealer agreements prohibit web sales of a good percentage of what a dealer would stock. The other items would still need to be purchased from normal wholesale channels, and you couldn't really cut prices a whole lot. Selling things over the web ain't as easy as it used to be, just ask Branford Bike.
LISTEN MISTER, I'll tell you why:Synchronicity
Sep 10, 2003 12:28 AM
When I bought my first bike for about $550 from a LBS, the salesman **LIED** to me and said it had an alloy cassette, alloy handlebar, alloy stem, alloy this, alloy that. IT WAS A LOAD OF BS!!!!!!
TEN YEARS AGO, alloy cassettes weren't even available, certainly not in that price range. WHAT A JOKE!

We don't owe you anything mate. If you've got that attitude, I can see why you're losing customers. Its all a down-hill spiral from here...........

............You might as well sell up now, before your buisness goes kaput and you lose everything!!

Ha ha ha.
Not exactly,TJeanloz
Sep 16, 2003 12:45 PM
Steel is an alloy. In fact, just about every part on a bike is "alloy" of some kind or other.
Not exactly,Synchronicity
Sep 16, 2003 4:40 PM
I know that already, really I do.

But in that context, the gits at the bike-shop were referring to it as if it were an aluminium alloy. In the bicycle industry this is unfortunately a common practice. Normally I make the distinction, but with this annoying post I didn't bother.

But if I had have asked whether he meant it was an aluminium alloy, I bet you he would've said "yes". Well what do you expect when you're 15, eh? I mean we're pretty naive at that age. Probably why I did materials science at uni. At least I'll never have anyone pull the wool over my eyes about things like that.

I even had some LBS owner say that titanium was a type of steel. I set him straight, basically gave the guy a lecture over the phone.
Titanium could be a type of steel,TJeanloz
Sep 17, 2003 6:32 AM
Ritchey makes a tubeset trademarked as Nitanium which is a titanium-alloyed steel. It has like .0001% titanium, but titanium nonetheless. Calling that tubeset titanium would be no more incorrect than calling any tubeset "scandium", which was very in vogue five years ago.

FWIW there are no aluminum alloy cassettes currently in production, and the only one that ever existed, to my knowledge, was the TA Kheops, which was extraordinarily expensive, lasted about 500 miles, and didn't shift very well. It was light though...

Isn't marketing grand?
Titanium could be a type of steel,Synchronicity
Sep 17, 2003 4:38 PM
Well actually, you can't technically call it titanium, because it is a HSLA steel. (high strength low alloy)
The base metal (the highest concentration) usually dictates what the metal is called. In this case the base metal of steel is iron. Tool steels can have well over 30% alloying elements such as tungsten, molybdenum, nickel, etc - but they're still termed STEEL. If the metal only has about 10 or 20% iron, then it is generally termed a "nickel base super-alloy; " or whatever, which are mainly only used for high-temperature applications.

To my knowledge, there are about FIVE alloy cassettes that have been available in the past:

Marchisio Aviotek
Specialites TA Kheops
Light Bike (machined from one piece!)
Tiso K7

To my knowledge, the light bike & tiso cassettes are the only ones that are 10 speed. Not only that but they look like they are still available.
Sep 17, 2003 10:10 PM
Regarding the bike-shop guy that said titanium was a type of steel:
- the only titanium frames the shop sold were made if traditional 3/2.5 alloy.
- I wouldn't have minded so much, but this was coming from the head salesman at one of the most reputable bicycle shops (if not the most reputable) in the whole Australia!

Who knows what he was telling his customers? I hate it when people hear these things or read them in magazines and tell others: It's like chinese whispers. By the time the story gets around, it isn't accurate. I mean half the time, the articles in the magazines aren't entirely accurate.

Probably the best materials section I've seen was written in the bikepro/pedal pusher's immense catalogue. Entirely accurate, and very detailed for the intended audience.
Is that the Clinton definition? (nm)TFerguson
Sep 24, 2003 1:17 PM
re: Why do you waste your time with mail order?Louis_G
Sep 22, 2003 5:56 AM
"And what's worse... some of you still come in to have your mail order parts installed. "

You have to be kidding me. My LBS has earned my trust because they have specifically told me "Buy those off Ebay and we'll install them for you." Even the owner has sent me other places before. That's why I buy stuff from them and take my bikes there for repairs/new parts chains, etc...