Wow, I don't like to rant on bike shops. I really don't. I don't think I ever have. And I have had some really great experiences lately with some shops, but I can't not post this...
Turn back the clock to 2003. After a spell of unemployment, I get lucky and snag a job that is, among other things, a job I can bike to. I am living on my boat, though, to save $$$. I don't have a bike, but decide it would be good idea, if I am going to get a bike, to get a folder of some sort. Years ago, I had a Montague folding bike. 'Twas great. I could take it on the boat and cruise around to do grocery shopping in places like Victoria, BC.
Sadly, I look at the Montague lineup online and the more nicely equipped bikes are the "Hummer" model and the camo-painted "Paratrooper" model. It is enough to make me gag and just tell Montague to go take a leap. A Hummer? What the ^&(^*! were they thinking? Gross! I go to a shop that specialized in folders, recumbents and such an they have a "Hummer" on the floor. I can't hack the whole Hummer thing, but the folding frame is pretty much what I want.
OK, so my bargain with the devil is probably where my problem begins. I like the overall bike design, so I sign away my soul...sorta. I go back to the shop and I say "OK, I can't tolerate the concept of a Hummer, and I don't want to reward them (Montague) by buying one, but what I want to do is buy a Paratrooper and pay to paint it. I'm just not comfortable pedaling a camo bike." So we agree I'll buy a Paratrooper and the shop will send the frame out to be painted a generic blue. I also spec'd a few other upgrades: a Zoom stem extension to make my aching neck less unhappy, some Continental Goliath tires that I had used before and liked, and thornproof tubes to cut down on trailside commute repairs (I hope!). And a spare thornproof tube just in case! Being a schmuck, I volunteer to pay up front. I hate it when people just order custom stuff and just walk away or disappear.
So I'm told it is going to take 3-4 weeks. So 5 weeks go by, then 6, 7 and 8. I try not to get too tense, but I start hearing a bunch of "dog ate my homework" stories about the frame painter (supposedly in Denver) -- "his shop burned down....he had an appendectomy" or stories to that effect.
Finally, at about 9-10 weeks out, I get the call. The frame is back and bike is ready to go. It is late in day, but I drive from Ballard down by SeaTac to this shop and there it is. Blue. Hmmm, tires aren't right but I'm told, correctly, that Conti discontinued Goliaths so I just grab the bike and go. I stash it on the boat and go to friend's house.
The next evening, i look over at the bike and realize that the rear triangle is black, not blue, and it has a yellow decal on one side that says "Shimano-Equipped". Then I think a little harder and realize that there are a few other subtle differences...handlebar is a bit angled, not straight.
It dawns on me. They didn't sell me a Paratrooper. They sold me a Hummer.
I'm pretty steamed. It is not like the bikes are so different. Most of the mechanicals are identical. But I am feeling a bit violated, like a chump..."Oh, let's just give him the Hummer. He won't know the difference!". I look at my sales receipt. It has "Paratrooper" printed pretty plainly. So the next night I email the gent at this shop and, more or less, say "Thanks for treating your customers like chumps!" and I send a CC to Montague.
But a few days go by...and I have to get to work...and the bikes are nearly identical...and maybe he was just trying to act in my best interest by getting me a bike. Maybe the frame painter in Denver died and they couldn't find the frame!!
So I just said, "What the hell, I won't call the state AG, I will just move on with my life"
So I started taking the bike to work, and it is a pretty nice rig, maybe I'll get back to Victoria some time. I took several months from bike commuting after some neck problems, but I started biking to work again about a month ago.
This morning, I got all set to pedal to work on a very rainy morning, but discovered the front tire was completely flat. I said "Oh, well, what are you going to do? The thorn-proof tires did pretty well" and, because I was short on time, I ran out to grab the bus to work.
So I come home this evening and get my spare thorn-proof tube out of the closet and pull the front wheel off the bike. Figure I'll swap the spare in and then repair the original thorn-proof tube. Sure enough, as I pop the tire off there is a *really* big thorn stuck in the tire....
....but as the tube falls out it says "Cheng-Shin Tube 26x1.9" and so on...your garden-variety inner tube. So it is dawning on me that the tube in my rear wheel is probably not the thorn-proof tube that I paid extra for either.
Small things, but enough to make me lose faith is the nice, smiling proprietors -- and the smiling gent was the proprietor -- who make such a show of making sure we are happy bicyclists.
Probably too late, but I think I shouid call the AG.