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Old 09-26-08, 10:32 AM   #1
Yen
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Bike shopping ethics

This is something I've wondered about for a while, and I thought I'd run it by the sage folks in the 50+ forum.

Say you're looking for a particular bike. A near-by LBS said they could get one for you to try, but it turns out they can't. You call around and find one built up, in your size, ready to ride at an other LBS which is at least a 30-minute drive from home. You ride it, you like it. There isn't anything you don't like about it. They say they can get a frame and built it to your specs. You say you need to think about it (the truth), take their card, and leave.

Next day, you think to check with your favorite LBS which is a 20-minute bike ride away and has an excellent, highly reputable bike builder. This shop (and the owner) knows you. You ask if they could get the bike or frame. They make a phone call and, yes, there are frames available in your size.

Now here's the issue: You want to take another, longer ride on the one in your size already built up at the other store, telling them you want to make sure it's the right size (the truth). However, now you are planning to buy it through your favorite LBS.

This feels.... sleazy to me. If I were totally honest with the shop further away I'd say I'm buying it elsewhere but just wanted another test ride. That doesn't seem right either!!!

Is this just typical bike shopping that all LBSs aware of and accept? I hate this part of bike shopping. It doesn't feel right, but maybe I'm being too extreme about it. It's very important to be sure a bike fits. It's good to go to a favorite LBS who has an *excellent* builder. But it's not the shop that has the built-up bike?

Your thoughts?
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Old 09-26-08, 10:35 AM   #2
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I think this is along the same line as going to your LBS to try on shoes and, when you find the ones that fit, you order them online.
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Old 09-26-08, 10:38 AM   #3
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Similar, but different. If I order on-line it's only to save a buck. I wouldn't want to save a few dollars by purchasing on-line if my favorite LBS carries the shoes.
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Old 09-26-08, 10:43 AM   #4
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I think I would buy it at the shop that has it.
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Old 09-26-08, 10:44 AM   #5
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One approach is to speak to teh owner of the 30 minute shop (not your favorite), explain the situation,and see if they are willing to help you by allowing a test ride. Several outcomes are possible:


1. "no" - you know where you stand.


2. "yes" - you get what you want , and I'm sure they hope to get your business down the line or benefit from your good recommendations.

3. "yes, and what can we do to get your business and recommendation?" - they want to help you , sell to you, and do better for you if they can than your favorite shop. Plus your store should try to compete, too. Prob'ly you want to somehow inform your local store.

None of these is really bad for you, and I think they are all above-board.

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Old 09-26-08, 10:57 AM   #6
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It's your money, do whatever you want.
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Old 09-26-08, 11:05 AM   #7
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It's your money, do whatever you want.
I agree. And if it helps you feel better, go take another longer ride at the farther away LBS, and buy something from them (an accessory or whatever).

Then buy from the closer store.
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Old 09-26-08, 11:12 AM   #8
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Is this another ethics and the 50+er question??.............


I have trouble with this question over and over in all aspects of modern life and business. I guess the answer to the question is to be found in.............has the first shop invested a lot of time (your definition of lot here) and money in you and the test bike. If not, its comparison shopping. If yes, then what are you doing to pay for that effort. Will you bring other business there...........

I make distinctions between stores that sell for price (big box) and stores that provide service.
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Old 09-26-08, 11:18 AM   #9
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You have a situation that I envy. My LBS is 90 miles away.

Are both shops offering the bike at the same price? That could factor in, too. Having said that, another take on Road Fan's plan would be to explain your situation, and offer the 30-minute away shop a small fee to take another long test ride. Say $15 or $20, and give them the chance to say yes or no. They still have the bike to sell, and you haven't "wasted" anyone's time.

Just my $.02.
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Old 09-26-08, 11:21 AM   #10
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If the bike I test rode fit me, I'ld want to strike a deal on THAT bike.
Go back and test it till the wheels fall off in anticipation of your purchase.
If the shop insists on ordering a bike and building it up, thank them
for their time and explain that you already have a mechanic that you like
and if it comes down to ordering a bike, you'ld rather order from his shop.

I assume your regular shop will gladly work on anything you bring to
them regardless where it was purchased. You could end up with two
shops that you can trust.

Just my opinion of course.
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Old 09-26-08, 11:26 AM   #11
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If the shop has the correct size already built up, why would you order a frame and wait for the other shop to build it for you? The first shop invested the time money in having a bike in stock for your immediate satisfaction. What is the advatage to you in buying at the second shop?
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Old 09-26-08, 11:46 AM   #12
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Be up front, ask each shop what their policy is in demonstration rides. My bike manufacturer makes their dealers do the demo but you must register with the manufacturer first.

Also by being up front, say you're shopping and are narrowing it down to two shops, yours and another one.

Last edited by Garfield Cat; 09-26-08 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 09-26-08, 11:46 AM   #13
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My general principle is to purchase from stores that have invested in making the sale to me. That can be in terms of advice, special services (like swapping stuff out), or just having the inventory on hand.

In your situation, I'm guessing you might be a bit uncomfortable because you would be buying from the shop 30 minutes away but taking it in for service down the road at the shop that is closer (and which you already know).

A possible solution:

- Call the closer shop that you know and like. Tell them you prefer buying from them, but that the bike is available somewhere else in your size. Would they be willing in to bring in the frame you want, build it up, and let you test ride it - understanding that you might not end up buying it? (If this is the LHT you've been asking about, I would assume the answer would be yes - it's a popular bike and they may not mind having one on the floor.)

- If they say no (or if their time frame is unreasonable), go to the further store, test ride the bike, and buy it there. They deserve the sale if they had the bike in stock.

For service - take it wherever you like the service. Your closer bike shop ought to be happy to work on it; they had a shot at your business and passed.

Last edited by BengeBoy; 09-26-08 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 09-26-08, 11:53 AM   #14
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To me, you're over-thinking this.

If you try the bike again at the closer shop, and like it in that size, buy it and quit expending brain-sweat over it. If you really want to push for positive karma, make sure you work the sale through the same salesperson that helped you before, so they get the commission. You can always use your preferred shop for service.

If you try the bike again (one time) and you're still not quite sure, walk away and order exactly what you want at your preferred store. There'll be plenty of opportunities to frequent the closer store.
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Old 09-26-08, 12:02 PM   #15
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Reading through the other posts, I think BengeBoy has my vote for the most ethical approach that gives your "home team" the opportunity to step up to the plate.

I personally would just order it. If it felt good on the test ride you had. Any additional fit issues would be resolved by component switches anyway. Any obvious sizing or other issues would have been obvious imediately. Of course, I bought a vintage bike and had it built up using moderm components without ever test riding it before spending $850 on upgrades. I would have felt stupid if it was the wrong size.


However, the bottom line is that you said it feels sleazy to you. If the thought of an additinal test ride when you aren't planning to buy from the shop doesn't feel right to you, then it probably isn't right for you.
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Old 09-26-08, 12:05 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luv2cruz View Post
You have a situation that I envy. My LBS is 90 miles away.
Doesn't that make it a RBS (Remote Bike Shop)? I don't think I would call 90 miles local.
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Old 09-26-08, 12:18 PM   #17
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I think that if it 'feels sleazy' to you, then you already know the answer for this situation.

The better way would be to be up front if you plan on following through in your scenario.

But why buy only 10 minutes closer if the other shop has THE BIKE? If you would save a LOT of cash, that's one thing but still IMO you should be up front if you are going to take the other bike for a longer test ride with absolutely no intention of buying it there.

I would buy from who has the bike and who treats me the best. If the bike fits and the further dealer has it and has been interested in my business, that is who I would buy from.

Just my two cents worth...
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Old 09-26-08, 12:20 PM   #18
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Money talks- See who can do the best price. Then the one that you do not buy from knows why you haven't bought. (After the test rides of course).
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Old 09-26-08, 01:20 PM   #19
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You are asking the further-away bike shop to provide fitting and test-ride services, and your morals are telling you to buy from them. So do what's right! Don't screw them by making them do all the footwork and then taking your business elsewhere. If you want to give the closer shop some business, buy your accessories there.
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Old 09-26-08, 01:44 PM   #20
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I can understand your loyalty to your local shop where you like to do business. If the other shop had invested hours setting the bike up and answering hundreds of questions, making adjustments etc., I might feel a little uneasy, but simply letting you test ride a bike is not so much of an investment that I would let it trump getting the bike from my preferred shop. I would be more inclined to feel guilty about not buying the bike from the local shop.
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Old 09-26-08, 02:45 PM   #21
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I have similar issues on occasion.
For example,I like watches - if my local dealer has what I want and can come within 10% of a fellow out of town, I buy from him, I figure the 17% (with tax) is worth it over some outta town guy because of the service issue. And he understands that in return for my business I expect to be taken care of. It works well with no hard feelings. I get good service from him, but at some cost- in your case it will be time, not cash, but time has value also. Is it worth it to you?
But- I recently spent alot of time looking at my LBS and then bought a 100 mile used bike already set up perfectly for me- for less than half what the LBS was selling it for. I felt like a butt pimple telling the saleperson what I had done although she was actually very understanding. Bought some shoes from them, but I know it'll be a long time before I don't feel embarrassed when I walk in.
So there you go, that's my take on it. Good luck.
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Old 09-26-08, 03:44 PM   #22
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For once this question is easy for me. We have three LBS within ten miles of me. A forth is about to open about 7 miles out. The one I bought two bikes from I do business with because they service my bikes. I can walk there and they have always been friendly and honest. But best of all if I get my bike from them I get free normal service for as long as I own the bike. So if I test ride a bike and my LBS can get it I am willing to wait.
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Old 09-26-08, 03:48 PM   #23
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Bike shops are having a tough time these days - - not just because of the economy woes but also because of alot of folks ordering on-line. I wouldn't jerk either of them around.
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Old 09-26-08, 04:06 PM   #24
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Thanks everyone. I feel better about my feelings now.
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Old 09-26-08, 04:11 PM   #25
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I am a small business owner, not a bike shop, but a jewelry store. You might be surprised at the similarities though. This happens to me all the time. People come in to try on a ring or a watch or something they know they are going to buy elsewhere. I wouldn't mind if they tell me what they are up to. I would ask if there is any way I could earn their business, but I would not be upset if they are set on going to another shop. It's their money, they spend it where they want to.

Now if someone has me making calls looking for something special, has me order something for them to see and then goes to another shop and buys it for way more than I was offering to sell it for; well that raised my blood pressure a few notches. And when she closed a car door on her finger on a Sunday and needed the ring cut off, and I was the only jeweler she could call for help; I came to town, met her at my shop, and cut the ring off her swollen finger. For only three times what I usually charge. And it didn't bother me a bit.
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