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Old 06-16-12, 08:57 PM   #1
AcornMan
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Tune-up problem - Am I being unreasonable?

So I take my road bike to my LBS for a pretty major tune-up. One of the things they're supposed to do is tighten all the components and clean the bike. Part of that means removing the pedals to give them a good cleaning and also to lube them.

After I picked up my bike, I started out for a pretty long ride, only to have one of the pedals fall off after less than 20 minutes. Fortunately it didn't cause an accident, but as I was on the side of the trail trying to get the pedal back on, I realized that the other pedal was barely attached. It was obvious the mechanic had simply started threading them on by hand but then forgot to go back and tighten them. They weren't even remotely close to being on all the way.

I went back to the shop and told the mechanic what happened, and when he asked what he could do to make things right, I said I think I deserved a refund for the tune-up. Granted, every other part of the tune-up appears to be just fine. And how, really, do you calculate the individual value of attaching the pedals properly? To me either the whole thing is done well or it's not (and I won't even go into the fact that they failed to true one of the wheels, which I caught right after leaving the shop and had them fix before my ride). The mechanic balked and said, "It's just one of those things." Yeah, it's one of those things that could have injured me terribly had it happened while I was standing up cranking hard at a high speed.

Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I think people should stand behind their work and give people their money back if they don't get what they paid for. Am I being unreasonable expecting a bike shop to give a full refund in a situation like this?
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Old 06-16-12, 09:00 PM   #2
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You're right to be disappointed, and to keep the standards you do.

OTOH, you're not reasonable to demand a full refund. You are definitely entitled to a refund of the portion that threading in the pedals represents, but obviously that's a tiny amount. If the cranks had been damaged, or you had been injured it' be a different story, but in this case it's no harm, no foul.

However, you are entitled to something. The mechanic had poor attitude, but maybe the owner or manager might have been better.

When I was in retail, I tried to use what I called a financial apology in situations like yours. We had an Italian pastry shop around the corner, and I'd try to make it up to customers with a legitimate gripe with a cannoli and espresso, or whatever they preferred. For something more serious we'd go better, maybe a discount on something they wanted.

This wasn't intended as a direct one for one value for what the issue was worth, just a way of saying accepted responsibility and cared enough.
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Old 06-16-12, 09:14 PM   #3
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Yes, you are being unreasonable to expect a full refund.
Work got done, work should be paid.
One mistake was made, this does not invalidate the rest of the tune up.

If you had sustained actual injury, then yes it would be reasonable to have them compensate you for your injuries(tuneup fee being least of anyone's problem); but guess what? You got lucky and were not hurt, the shop got even luckier and did not have to go out of business after a long liability and injury lawsuit. Everyone came out of this alive. Congratulations and be grateful.

If you no longer have confidence in the shop, do not return in the future, that is all.
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Old 06-16-12, 09:28 PM   #4
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I don't know. If they did a sloppy job on the thing you did find out, what sort of job did they do on the rest of the tune up? I'd demand the full refund, AND take it to another shop to get the bike checked out.
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Old 06-16-12, 09:39 PM   #5
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You probably won't get a refund without raising everyone's blood pressure more than it's worth. If you want to go to the trouble of expressing your concern about the rest of the tune up with the owner/manager, and have a different mechanic at the shop double check the tune and show you the rest is done accpetably, that would give you better peace of mind. Things like even spoke tension, bolts tight, shifting properly, headset good, and whatever else was worked on.
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Old 06-16-12, 10:07 PM   #6
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I don't know. If they did a sloppy job on the thing you did find out, what sort of job did they do on the rest of the tune up? I'd demand the full refund, AND take it to another shop to get the bike checked out.
Labor isn't like a tangible product. If you bought something, and a part broke right away, you might be justified in bringing back for a refund. But you can't undo a repair*. There's no way you don't continue to have the benefit of the work, so you're not entitled to a full refund. Maybe a partial, maybe a recheck of the work, but you can demand a refund until you're blue in the face, and maybe even get it just so you'll go away, but you're not entitled to it.

*Many years ago someone came to me for a pair of wheels for a long tour. He'd been having bad luck with wheels for years and was referred to me by a dealer. He brought me a pair of hubs, and I interviewed him to assess his needs, and told him I'd have something that I though would solve his problems in a few days. He came back picked up the wheels, and within a minute I could tell he was disappointed. He ragged on about how he expected better and didn't believe I'd done right by him.

I saw where it was going, listened to all his issues, apologized, and told him to come back the next day and everything would be addressed. So the next day, he came in and I handed him his hubs and a full refund and sent him on his way.
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Old 06-16-12, 10:26 PM   #7
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I sort of disagree on the labour being intangible. After all, it has tangible cost. And a pricelist in most shops for services done defines the tangible money one must pay for the service.

Once a major mistake gets made like both pedals coming loose, something that can be fatal if it was the cause of a crash, then I'd demand a full refund. Any true mechanic worth his salt and running a shop will not let a bike out of the shop without a thorough check of these simple things. And as another person has pointed out, such a mistake warrants the entire service being done again -AT A DIFFERENT SHOP- since this can cause irrevocable loss of trust in that LBS.

Sure, you can try to provide free offers for something else, but to say that the rider benefits from the labour performed on the other parts of the bike ignores the simple fact that without another full inspection, the rider suffers mental distress over the loss of peace of mind of his bike. Who's paying for that? And if you think that's has no monetary value, well, there's precedent in lots of court cases and settlements for that.

LBSs are in a tough spot. They have to charge a lot for labour. But doing so, means they have to be serious about quality and they must be committed to service. If it were me managing the store, I'd give the guy a FULL REFUND -AND- offer to check his bike over by the most senior mechanic for any other potential issues for free on the spot if he'd let us touch his bike. The cost of this mistake is either taken up front, or the LBS will suffer the much higher future losses when the guy comes onto some bike forum and posts about how bad his experience was.
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Old 06-16-12, 10:46 PM   #8
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I sort of disagree on the labour being intangible. After all, it has tangible cost. And a pricelist in most shops for services done defines the tangible money one must pay for the service.

Once a major mistake gets made like both pedals coming loose, something that can be fatal if it was the cause of a crash, then I'd demand a full refund. Any true mechanic worth his salt and running a shop will not let a bike out of the shop without a thorough check of these simple things. And as another person has pointed out, such a mistake warrants the entire service being done again -AT A DIFFERENT SHOP- since this can cause irrevocable loss of trust in that LBS.

Sure, you can try to provide free offers for something else, but to say that the rider benefits from the labour performed on the other parts of the bike ignores the simple fact that without another full inspection, the rider suffers mental distress over the loss of peace of mind of his bike. Who's paying for that? And if you think that's has no monetary value, well, there's precedent in lots of court cases and settlements for that.

LBSs are in a tough spot. They have to charge a lot for labour. But doing so, means they have to be serious about quality and they must be committed to service. If it were me managing the store, I'd give the guy a FULL REFUND -AND- offer to check his bike over by the most senior mechanic for any other potential issues for free on the spot if he'd let us touch his bike. The cost of this mistake is either taken up front, or the LBS will suffer the much higher future losses when the guy comes onto some bike forum and posts about how bad his experience was.
I didn't say that labor was intangible, just that it couldn't be undone. Mistakes happen, and the customer is entitled to some consideration, but not both a full refund and the benefit of the service. He might feel a loss of confidence, and I'd offer to have the work rechecked, but that brings up a cntral question.

If a customer feels entitled to a full refund based on the circumstances described, there's no reason for him to have confidence in the shop, so any offer to recheck the work is pointless. OTOH, if he does trust my senior mechanic (not the one who did the work) then a recheck, but not a full refund is indicated.

In the real world things happen, people make mistakes, and responsible take responsibility for their own mistakes. But in the same world people recognize that things happen, and do dot expect compensation beyond their actual loss.

As a practical matter, if a customer couldn't meet me at some reasonable middle ground, I might offer a full refund, but on the condition that he never darken my doors again. That may seem archaic, but experienced retailers will tell you, that some people will never be happy no matter what you do, so the best way to handle them is to wish them on your competitors.

TO the OP, in my opinion, based on having been on both sides of similar situations, your entitled to an apology, some consideration for the inconvenience, and if you believe the rest of the job is suspect, a recheck, but you're not entitled a full refund.
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Old 06-17-12, 08:46 AM   #9
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sorry guys, but there's no way you can defend a bike shop for screwing this one up.
there's no excuse for such poor service, and there's no excuse for not making it right.
shop owner should have immediately refunded the service fee and offered to redo the
work himself (or senior mechanic).
.
those of you who want to go the 'tangible loss' route........provide an itemized bill.
you spent an hour pushing your bike back to the trailhead, followed by a taxi back
to town, plus additional time and expense coming back to the shop. jeepers, looks
like the shop owes you money now.
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Old 06-17-12, 08:56 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
You're right to be disappointed, and to keep the standards you do.

OTOH, you're not reasonable to demand a full refund. You are definitely entitled to a refund of the portion that threading in the pedals represents, but obviously that's a tiny amount. If the cranks had been damaged, or you had been injured it' be a different story, but in this case it's no harm, no foul.

However, you are entitled to something. The mechanic had poor attitude, but maybe the owner or manager might have been better.

When I was in retail, I tried to use what I called a financial apology in situations like yours. We had an Italian pastry shop around the corner, and I'd try to make it up to customers with a legitimate gripe with a cannoli and espresso, or whatever they preferred. For something more serious we'd go better, maybe a discount on something they wanted.

This wasn't intended as a direct one for one value for what the issue was worth, just a way of saying accepted responsibility and cared enough.
That's what I think too.
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Old 06-17-12, 08:57 AM   #11
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A good cyclist does a safety check of their own bike before the ride..

a good shop test rides after every tune-up, and assembly..
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Old 06-17-12, 09:15 AM   #12
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and there's no excuse for not making it right.
shop owner should have immediately refunded the service fee and offered to redo the
work himself (or senior mechanic).
.
I don't see the logic of both. If the work is redone to the customers satisfaction then there shouldn't also be a refund. OTOH, if a refund is made, then the customer is made whole and isn't entitled to a freebie.

The OPs question was fairly straightforward, was he reasonable in expecting a full refund?

And my answer remains no. He's entitled to be made whole so there's a range of possibilities to discuss to achieve that end. If he finds that the pedals are part and parcel of the whole job done poorly or not at all, then it leans to full refund, but if the pedals are an isolated thing then he's entitled to only the job being completed, plus some compensation for the inconvenience.

Of course he's free to never do business there again, and the shop owner is free to do what he can or wants to try to retain the customer, but if the rest of the job is OK, then a full refund isn't reasonable because it puts the customer in the position of having received a freebie. It's nice but not something he's entitled to. Reasonable is a two way street and involves some give and take on both sides.

I hate appearing to defend a sloppy shop, but that isn't my intent. I'm not talking to the issue of well run shops, nor even to what a shop may do to keep a customer, but to the simple question of what is a reasonable expectation in the specific circumstance described.
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Old 06-17-12, 09:32 AM   #13
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This is shoddy work and someone could have been really hurt or stranded in the middle of no where. If you took your car to an auto shop to get the wheels rotated and the front wheel falls off 5 blocks later there is going to be some serious butt kissing going on, even if 'no one was injured' or nothing was damaged. The shop owner wouldn't come back and say, well , we rotated the other 3 tires correctly, so we will give you a 25% refund. The amount of labor in tightening the pedals is negligible, the impact of not doing it is huge.

Not truing a wheel, shifting off, etc = fix it, a little customer butt kissing
Not tightening pedals, handlebars, stem, etc properly where someone could get really hurt = serious butt kissing and PR work
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Old 06-17-12, 09:36 AM   #14
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Maybe a good solution is to let the shop recheck the bike (a loss of time on their part). Then, instead of taking money OUT of the drawer, ask for a coupon for your next tune up to be free. Mistakes happen, but it's not always necessary to run away from that shop never to return. Let them fix their mistake, keep the money, and offer you something tangible in return. Cool out, they might be a bunch of great guys that can appreciate your concerns and your willingness to let them make it right, while retaining you as a customer.

Or you can learn to work on your own bike. Then you have no one to blame but yourself.
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Old 06-17-12, 09:58 AM   #15
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First, the small LBS I use occasionally never lets a bike out of the shop without a short spin - loosely-threaded pedals should have been immediately noticed.

If this is a shop that the OP otherwise has a good relationship with he should bring this to the owner's attention immediately and while a refund doesn't sound reasonable I would expect the shop to reinspect all the work and offer an apology.

This may be a learning opportunity for the owner or manager. Perhaps this was a summer intern in whom the owner had misplaced confidence?
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Old 06-17-12, 10:22 AM   #16
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This wouldn't be a problem if you knew how to do the job yourself.
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Old 06-17-12, 10:28 AM   #17
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This wouldn't be a problem if you knew how to do the job yourself.
That's not relevant. This isn't the nineteenth century, and we're not pioneers living in sod huts on the prairie. Whether it's bikes, cars, our homes, medical or legal, we can't all be 100% self-sufficient, so we depend on others for work in many areas. Yes, one could do his own work, but shouldn't have to.

So to some extent we're going to deal with vendors of one kind or another, and not all that work will be perfect or nearly so. Mistakes will happen, so in this highly imperfect environment we all need to consider what is a reasonable recourse or remedy when they do.
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Old 06-17-12, 11:18 AM   #18
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First, the small LBS I use occasionally never lets a bike out of the shop without a short spin - loosely-threaded pedals should have been immediately noticed.
The OP rode the bike twenty minutes before he discovered the problem. It is entirely possible the shop did a test spin without spotting the problem, especially if the pedals were initially tightened hand tight with only the final torquing missed.
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Old 06-17-12, 11:28 AM   #19
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My first job was assembling (and sometimes fixing) bikes at a small shop. A couple of the first new bikes I built I did not properly tighten the pedals and they fell out when the customer took the bike on the first couple of rides.

The next shift I had the owner took me aside and told me what had happened. I admitted my mistake and promised it would not happen again. I don't know if when he first took me aside he planned to tell me not to bother coming back, but he didn't. I went on to a long and poorly paid career as a tech at that and several other shops over the years. I don't know if he made any reparations to apologize to the customer.

Looking back, I still feel bad for having screwed up something so simple and obvious (and potentially dangerous), but I also now see the responsibility was partially on the owner and senior tech at the shop - why would you let an inexperienced 15 year old kid build a bike and assume it safe to ride just on his say-so? Part of a proper quality control program is having a second set of eyes look over the product or service before it is represented to the customer as perfect. If the work is being done by a seasoned professional then these checks can be less frequent (an occasional 'audit' of the work instead of checks on every item), but still should happen. And even the experienced tech should be test riding or occasionally asking for a double check if there is anything in doubt.

There are a couple of problems I see in the way the OP's situation was handled:

1. No oversight or second check or test ride that left at least two obvious problems unfixed
2. THe tech Not getting the manager to deal with the problem as soon as he realized the customer was not going to be made happy
3. The tech trying to downplay the severity of the problem - this suggests to me that he has more confidence in his abilities than he should, and thinks mistakes like not properly attaching the pedals are not a big deal.
4. THe OP not contacting the manager or owner when this happened... the mistake was entirely that of the shop, but tring to get the guy covered in grease in the back of the shop to fix it is like complaining to the garbage man that your property tax is too high - he may sound like he appreciates your problem, but he's not really able to do anything. Also, if there is a serious quality control problem, something needs to be done before someone does get hurt.

In response to the OP's question - Are you being unreasonable? I don't know. Were you screaming or threatening? If not, then no... being upset over work not properly completed is not unreasonable, and asking for your money back is also not unreasonable. The shop has the right to suggest some other solution, though, and if you listen to their suggestion without rejecting it with prejudice then you are also not unreasonable.

Best of luck to you! I hope everything works out for the best!
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Old 06-17-12, 03:15 PM   #20
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Which pedals?
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Old 06-17-12, 04:20 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post

*Many years ago someone came to me for a pair of wheels for a long tour. He'd been having bad luck with wheels for years and was referred to me by a dealer. He brought me a pair of hubs, and I interviewed him to assess his needs, and told him I'd have something that I though would solve his problems in a few days. He came back picked up the wheels, and within a minute I could tell he was disappointed. He ragged on about how he expected better and didn't believe I'd done right by him.

I saw where it was going, listened to all his issues, apologized, and told him to come back the next day and everything would be addressed. So the next day, he came in and I handed him his hubs and a full refund and sent him on his way.
I love this!!! Here's your hubs.

Free complete service for one mistake is asking too much. +1 Discount on the next service, perhaps a large one.

Regardless, shop may well assume you will not trust them again for service, so any concession will not yield customer loyalty. So they may conclude to do nothing.
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Old 06-17-12, 04:40 PM   #22
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I was a mechanic, service manager, and mobile repair service owner for a total of 20 years, also formally and informally trained other mechanics. This is my view.

What else might be wrong is a legitimate question. Anyone who installs a pedal and does not immediately tighten it is not following good work habits, and we know there was a problem with the truing as well. I agree that the proper fix is to have the head mechanic go over the entire bike.

The whole tuneup being worthless if one item is not done properly - even as far wrong as this case - is not a reasonable position. However, the mechanic did ask what he could do to make it right, and the OP answered him with his opinion. The mechanic should not have asked the question if he was not prepared to deal fully with the answer, and certainly if all he said to that was "it's one of those things" he made a bad situation worse.

What is "reasonable" is not the question, as obviously everyone who responded here, let alone the original parties, has a different opinion. The parties involved need to agree on a solution that takes into account all the circumstances. In addition, the service manager or owner should be the one doing the negotiating, as a mechanic does not have the authority or objectivity required.

As to the general solution of requesting a full refund on a service: I have done so before and received what I asked sometimes, and other times not. One should ask for a full refund for a service only if one has no faith in the merchant having performed the service properly nor in their ability to do so in the future. In that case the logical next step would be to no longer use that merchant, and to pay for a different merchant to provide that service.

Going over the bike again should rectify any concerns if one is generally satisfied with the shop. I do think it is a legitimate point that doing so does not compensate for the time and stress of the customer having to deal with the shop's mistake. Again, if one retains faith in the shop then a discount on a future purchase or service should be sufficient.
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Old 06-17-12, 07:00 PM   #23
Kimmo
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Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post
As to the general solution of requesting a full refund on a service: I have done so before and received what I asked sometimes, and other times not. One should ask for a full refund for a service only if one has no faith in the merchant having performed the service properly nor in their ability to do so in the future. In that case the logical next step would be to no longer use that merchant, and to pay for a different merchant to provide that service.
This seems like the crux of it to me. If you give up on that shop, by all means ask for a full refund. Not unreasonable if the manager thinks this mistake is no big deal.

But if the manager (never mind the mechanic) is sufficiently mortified about this bit of epic brainfade and wants to make it up to you, I think it's a bit unfair to ask for one; he should be able to provide satisfaction for the money paid.

Also, I'm surprised something like this could happen without damaging the threads in the crank. I'd say a free pair of crank arms are likely in order.
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Old 06-17-12, 07:13 PM   #24
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IMO is relevant, we read these rants all the time here, the easy way to fix it... just learn to do the job yourself. Big chance next time he or she sends the bike to get fixed, the OP will know what the guy did and when the guy explain something as simple as, we adjusted the RD, the op will know what it means or even discuss why they touch something when that was not required or even spot a problem right away after 30 secs of riding the bike. How many here battle with the car dealer mechanic when they add stuff to the bill that had nothing to do with the problem??? I bet many of you had done it. Just making a point

For the record, I dont work in a LBS so I rather ask, why the guys took the pedals out?? To clean them or something??? Asking because this is not the 1st time I read about this issue with the pedals after a tune up. Just to know, not judging, maybe there is a logical reason for losing them and tight them back again?

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That's not relevant. This isn't the nineteenth century, and we're not pioneers living in sod huts on the prairie. Whether it's bikes, cars, our homes, medical or legal, we can't all be 100% self-sufficient, so we depend on others for work in many areas. Yes, one could do his own work, but shouldn't have to.

So to some extent we're going to deal with vendors of one kind or another, and not all that work will be perfect or nearly so. Mistakes will happen, so in this highly imperfect environment we all need to consider what is a reasonable recourse or remedy when they do.
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Old 06-17-12, 07:53 PM   #25
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I have run a bicycle shop, owned several other business as well as worked in customer relations for almost 30 years.

The bicycle in question was arguably sent out in worse condition than it came in, i.e. with a serious safety defect at worst and a condition that could render it useless at best.
There is only one right response for a business to take in a case like this (IMHO) and that is a prompt and unhesitating full refund accompanied by a profuse apology and the owner or lead mechanic dropping all other work to immediately go over the bike to assure there were no other dependencies.

The best boss I ever had put it best.
"Treat customers like they are king and they will tell their friends, Treat them any less and they will tell EVERYONE THEY KNOW."

Thank You Vince.
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