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Old 09-13-11, 06:17 PM   #1
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Calhoun Cycle - misleading web ad for Brompton and wouldn't honor their price!

http://www.calhouncycle.com/productc...idproduct=2395

Two employees told me this bike (M6L, raw lacquer, reduced gearing) was available for the $1450 advertised price + $35 shipping.

I spoke to a John there today who initially said yup that's the bike and went through the ordering process with him, adding $32 for the cost of some Ergon grips. When he took all my info and gave me the total, it was another $50 and he said the price of the bike was now $50 more than it was at the beginning of our conversation. Ends up saying, well, the bike on the website was different (even though he'd confirmed it was the bike under discussion). Then, instead of trying to explain the mistake or rectifying the situation, his manner changed to say, that's the price, do you want it? Otherwise he had other things to do.

Man, talk about a pisspoor business model and treatment of a customer. Just my experience in trying to buy the bike advertised on their website and the bait and switch they tried to pull. Fair warning.
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Old 09-13-11, 08:08 PM   #2
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Wow. They lost a $1400+ sale over $50? I know bike shops have their reasons for whether they want to deal or not but it's rather unfair for them to change their price in the middle of your conversation. Terrible customer service. At the very least, they should have honored the price or gave you the ergon grips for free. Is John the manager? It sounds to me like he is just one of the worker bees and doesn't care about the level of service he gives a customer. So sorry.
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Old 09-13-11, 08:16 PM   #3
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This place still has a couple of Bromptons on sale and Chris was very nice to talk to. http://www.towervelo.com/Brompton.html
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Old 09-13-11, 08:25 PM   #4
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Wow. They lost a $1400+ sale over $50? I know bike shops have their reasons for whether they want to deal or not but it's rather unfair for them to change their price in the middle of your conversation. Terrible customer service. At the very least, they should have honored the price or gave you the ergon grips for free. Is John the manager? It sounds to me like he is just one of the worker bees and doesn't care about the level of service he gives a customer. So sorry.
He actually said to me, "You're gonna walk away from this over $50?" The whole thing was just other worldly. I didn't think people still tried to do business this way. Guy went from being my best friend to total jerkoff as soon as he came back on the phone with a new total price. Live and learn, I guess. I just wanted to bring it to the attention of the group here in case anyone thought of patronizing that dealer in the future. I hope they lose a few sales from it.
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Old 09-13-11, 08:30 PM   #5
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CSG check out the Best of Craigslist thread.

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Old 09-13-11, 10:12 PM   #6
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He actually said to me, "You're gonna walk away from this over $50?" The whole thing was just other worldly. I didn't think people still tried to do business this way. Guy went from being my best friend to total jerkoff as soon as he came back on the phone with a new total price. Live and learn, I guess. I just wanted to bring it to the attention of the group here in case anyone thought of patronizing that dealer in the future. I hope they lose a few sales from it.
Actually, take heart, CSG. There have been some big changes for the past several years in buying a Brompton in the US. When I bought my own Brompton in December, 2005, there were far fewer dealers. In CA where I bought mine, there were only a couple. If it were not for Folding Bikes West (they had a small retail store in Oceanside, about 100 miles from my residence then), I would have flown to the Bay Cities area (San Francisco) and visited the bike shop that carried Bromptons in person, test ride, and only then made the decision whether or not to buy it. I don't use the phone or online for important business except for very general questions and making appointments. If you can possibly do so, go in person. Somehow, the insistence on using technological devices to screen ourselves does create some sort of barrier to better basic etiquette and customer handling. Not to mention misunderstanding or plain confusion. Or just plain rude behavior when social cues through voice inflections, eye contact, verbal usage, body language, or visual inspection (yes, I believe in looking over the bike shop I am about to do business with) to make the best decisions possible for my own needs and budget.

Your first order of business is to find what bike shops carry Bromptons somewhat nearby your residence: http://www.brompton.co.uk/dealers/results.asp?dirC=25. I have noted many more bike shops now carrying Bromptons than the last time I checked there just a couple of months ago. When you find one or two nearby (sort of), then you may phone them for general questions first (hours of operation, available Bromptons, etc.). If you like the way it sounds there, then you make an appointment. After all, you will be spending over a thousand dollars on a bike. You have a right to know and feel good about your purchase. Be sure to test ride, and get everything in writing. Then you are good to go.

I have done business with Calhoun Cycles one time. I bought a pair of MKS Sylvan Touring pedals for one of my bikes a while ago. They took a long time (over 2 weeks) to arrive at my residence. When they did arrive, the plastic wrap was torn, the box was damaged, and the pedals were, well, passably usable. After that, I no longer order online from anyone-no exceptions. I have my Local Bike Shop handle all my bike ordering needs from now on. I don't find bike business personnel very appealing to deal with in most settings anyway.

Last edited by folder fanatic; 09-13-11 at 10:29 PM.
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Old 09-13-11, 10:41 PM   #7
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I do Biz with Clever Cycles in Portland , and Wasson in PaloAlto Cal myself.
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Old 09-13-11, 10:56 PM   #8
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http://www.calhouncycle.com/productc...idproduct=2395

Two employees told me this bike (M6L, raw lacquer, reduced gearing) was available for the $1450 advertised price + $35 shipping.

I spoke to a John there today who initially said yup that's the bike and went through the ordering process with him, adding $32 for the cost of some Ergon grips. When he took all my info and gave me the total, it was another $50 and he said the price of the bike was now $50 more than it was at the beginning of our conversation. Ends up saying, well, the bike on the website was different (even though he'd confirmed it was the bike under discussion). Then, instead of trying to explain the mistake or rectifying the situation, his manner changed to say, that's the price, do you want it? Otherwise he had other things to do.

Man, talk about a pisspoor business model and treatment of a customer. Just my experience in trying to buy the bike advertised on their website and the bait and switch they tried to pull. Fair warning.
Perhaps it is you who didn't read Brompton's fine print?

The Bromptons you see listed are basically stock pricing with normal "stock" gearing. In your case, it is a normal stock 6 gear you see from the Calhoun website. You can raise (+8%) or lower (-12%) the gearing setup for an "additional cost" of $25 over standard ratio and since you ordered a lowered gear option, that's your additional charge right there (or at least half of it). But perhaps, installing the Ergon grips is considered an option too and will cost another $25?!?

The thing about Brompton is that, every single modification we add to the bike cost money. On the Brompton UK website, it will list the cost of options over stock in several countries. While it is the same bike, changing stock by customizing will start racking up money.

Perhaps this will help you.

http://clients.squareeye.net/uploads...nt_20x20_2.pdf

Dealers usually list bike prices as stock bikes. Any changes you make will change the price of the stock bike. It is not uncommon for dealer staff to think that the price of a stock M6L is the same as a raised or lowered geared M6L, because they think it's no big deal. But it does cost extra. They will realize their mistakes as soon as they plug in the options into the pricing, but clearly I wouldn't go so far as saying they are dishonest. Perhaps ignorant over $50?

Last edited by pacificcyclist; 09-13-11 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 09-13-11, 11:20 PM   #9
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Actually, take heart, CSG. There have been some big changes for the past several years in buying a Brompton in the US. When I bought my own Brompton in December, 2005, there were far fewer dealers. In CA where I bought mine, there were only a couple. If it were not for Folding Bikes West (they had a small retail store in Oceanside, about 100 miles from my residence then), I would have flown to the Bay Cities area (San Francisco) and visited the bike shop that carried Bromptons in person, test ride, and only then made the decision whether or not to buy it. I don't use the phone or online for important business except for very general questions and making appointments. If you can possibly do so, go in person. Somehow, the insistence on using technological devices to screen ourselves does create some sort of barrier to better basic etiquette and customer handling. Not to mention misunderstanding or plain confusion. Or just plain rude behavior when social cues through voice inflections, eye contact, verbal usage, body language, or visual inspection (yes, I believe in looking over the bike shop I am about to do business with) to make the best decisions possible for my own needs and budget.

Your first order of business is to find what bike shops carry Bromptons somewhat nearby your residence: http://www.brompton.co.uk/dealers/results.asp?dirC=25. I have noted many more bike shops now carrying Bromptons than the last time I checked there just a couple of months ago. When you find one or two nearby (sort of), then you may phone them for general questions first (hours of operation, available Bromptons, etc.). If you like the way it sounds there, then you make an appointment. After all, you will be spending over a thousand dollars on a bike. You have a right to know and feel good about your purchase. Be sure to test ride, and get everything in writing. Then you are good to go.

I have done business with Calhoun Cycles one time. I bought a pair of MKS Sylvan Touring pedals for one of my bikes a while ago. They took a long time (over 2 weeks) to arrive at my residence. When they did arrive, the plastic wrap was torn, the box was damaged, and the pedals were, well, passably usable. After that, I no longer order online from anyone-no exceptions. I have my Local Bike Shop handle all my bike ordering needs from now on. I don't find bike business personnel very appealing to deal with in most settings anyway.
I have no experience with Calhoun Cycles, but I think it is unfair to blame any online bike stores being at fault if it takes a long time for the package to arrive at your residence and the package to arrive damaged. That's the responsibility of the carrier, be it USPS, DHL, Fedex or UPS. As with anything in life, you have a choice between paying express service or regular mail.
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Old 09-14-11, 02:11 AM   #10
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You might want to consider sending an email to the manager of Calhoun cycles with your complaint, along with a link to this thread. He might be interested to find out what 'John' has been up to.

As to the question of if the web-price is misleading or not, surely when the OP called to confirm the price the person on the other line would be aware of the charges for the a la carte build (or at least it's reasonable to have that expectation as a customer). Assuming the mistake was an honest one, it sounds like it could have been handled better.

Like Folder Fanatic says, plenty of other places to get your Brompton these days...
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Old 09-14-11, 06:57 AM   #11
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Thanks for the warning.

Why didn't you just "add to cart" and paid online. You can get ergons at any LBS nowadays. Personally, the less interaction I have with an employee the better. Most of the time they're just kids who would rather be doing anything besides helping a customer.
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Old 09-14-11, 08:18 AM   #12
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Most of the time they're just kids who would rather be doing anything besides helping a customer.
Let's be honest the reason they are kids is because everyone wants stuff at bottom dollar so a bike shop can't afford to pay wages to an adult with a family. You want to save $50 then be okay with the result.

Margins on bikes are low and $50 may be a deal killer for them and the fact there is a price on their website which may be incorrect doesn't mean they must sell it to you for that price.
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Old 09-14-11, 08:20 AM   #13
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To answer the somewhat insulting comments from pacificcyclist, of course I discussed these options with Calhoun and was told by THREE employees there that the bike advertised on their website had the reduced gearing and was available at the price advertised. I told them what I wanted and asked if they had an ML6 with the 12% reduced gearing. I was told the only one in stock was the bike linked in the first post. I know what the cost of Brompton options are.

pacificcyclist seems to be an industry person from the nature of his posts but I thought I was quite clear on what Calhoun tried to pull. Sorry, but what they did was unethical if not outright criminal (bait and switch). We'd discussed the fact that the bike in question seemed to be priced lower than their competitors but they said they sold them for a bit less. It was THEIR OFFER TO SELL AT THAT PRICE that suddenly disappeared after they took my info and credit card number. Suddenly, the total was more than we had been discussing.

There is no defense or excuse for what they did. But the guy didn't even apologize if indeed all three employees were wrong, he just got rude and told me he had other things to do if I wasn't going to buy at the new, higher price. Had he come back saying they had made a mistake and apologized that would have been one thing, instead he just became rude when I asked what suddenly happened to the prices we had been discussing.

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Old 09-14-11, 09:33 AM   #14
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I've placed a couple of small orders with Calhoun, strictly via their web site, and received prompt and good service.

I do most of my shopping over the Internet and 99% of the time the experience is positive. The 1% of the time that I encounter a bad seller, the process is so frustrating that it inordinately clouds the whole virtual shopping experience. My nightmare web purchases to date have not been bikes or bike related.

Folding bikes are such a narrow niche that we're at the mercy of tiny shops willing to sell remotely when we have our hearts set on obscure models and components. Thankfully, we're blessed with many reputable dealers. The OP is lucky there are many US competitors selling Bromptons.

For every dealer who says there is almost no profit margin on bicycles, there is an industry insider who says the profit margin on high-end bikes is around 35%, thus I always assume retail prices are driven by supply and demand, not by profit margin.
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Old 09-14-11, 09:55 AM   #15
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I have no experience with Calhoun Cycles, but I think it is unfair to blame any online bike stores being at fault if it takes a long time for the package to arrive at your residence and the package to arrive damaged. That's the responsibility of the carrier, be it USPS, DHL, Fedex or UPS. As with anything in life, you have a choice between paying express service or regular mail.
I don't blame Calhoun Cycles themselves for that fiasco. I really blame myself for even buying a product online that was probably better handled through my favorite LBS. Let me put it this way. I would not have bought those same exact pedals (same condition) under the same circumstances from a store that I physically visited. I would have passed. I am about to order a sewing machine online through a established dealer. The shipping will be through Store Pick Up. I have the option of refusing the product should it be in a similar condition. I like that.

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To answer the somewhat insulting comments from pacificcyclist, of course I discussed these options with Calhoun and was told by THREE employees there that the bike advertised on their website had the reduced gearing and was available at the price advertised. I told them what I wanted and asked if they had an ML6 with the 12% reduced gearing. I was told the only one in stock was the bike linked in the first post. I know what the cost of Brompton options are.

pacificcyclist seems to be an industry person from the nature of his posts but I thought I was quite clear on what Calhoun tried to pull. Sorry, but what they did was unethical if not outright criminal (bait and switch). We'd discussed the fact that the bike in question seemed to be priced lower than their competitors but they said they sold them for a bit less. It was THEIR OFFER TO SELL AT THAT PRICE that suddenly disappeared after they took my info and credit card number. Suddenly, the total was more than we had been discussing.

There is no defense or excuse for what they did. But the guy didn't even apologize if indeed all three employees were wrong, he just got rude and told me he had other things to do if I wasn't going to buy at the new, higher price. Had he come back saying they had made a mistake and apologized that would have been one thing, instead he just became rude when I asked what suddenly happened to the prices we had been discussing.
The employees might unconsciously feel that you are not "real' in the sense that you would give off if you were there physically. The phone provides a barrier or mask from usual proper forms of polite behavior & social cues. Don't give it another thought. Just pass to the next Brompton dealer. You are on the right path. I had similar trouble with locating purchasing my own Brompton until I decided to go the extra hundred miles-literally. I still have it and would not give it up for the world. The saddest, most laughable thing is......your money and your intent on purchase is very real.

What I used to do before my favorite LBS was even in business to take now care of my Brompton as a new Brompton dealer themselves of such and restored my Raleigh Twenty to it's present updated state:

I sometimes patronize C M Wasson Company http://www.foldabikes.com/ (and still do for the most hard-to-find or even unique to this store Brompton accessories and components) before there were even Bromptons offered in the Los Angeles area. This company was in business selling and shipping Bromptons all over the USA long before anyone even heard of Brompton Folding Bicycles. This company was the one I was going to fly to to see about purchasing my present Brompton. I had my sister who lived nearby there at that time checked it out. Almost as good as myself physically going there. If you have to ship the bike, I would talk to them first. You will be treated very well.

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Old 09-14-11, 12:48 PM   #16
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Yeah, Channell seems to be a pretty good guy and has sent me an invoice of a bike he's got in stock. I may go with him unless I convince myself to wait to check out the H types due next year.
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Old 09-14-11, 01:36 PM   #17
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To answer the somewhat insulting comments from pacificcyclist, of course I discussed these options with Calhoun and was told by THREE employees there that the bike advertised on their website had the reduced gearing and was available at the price advertised. I told them what I wanted and asked if they had an ML6 with the 12% reduced gearing. I was told the only one in stock was the bike linked in the first post. I know what the cost of Brompton options are.

pacificcyclist seems to be an industry person from the nature of his posts but I thought I was quite clear on what Calhoun tried to pull. Sorry, but what they did was unethical if not outright criminal (bait and switch). We'd discussed the fact that the bike in question seemed to be priced lower than their competitors but they said they sold them for a bit less. It was THEIR OFFER TO SELL AT THAT PRICE that suddenly disappeared after they took my info and credit card number. Suddenly, the total was more than we had been discussing.

There is no defense or excuse for what they did. But the guy didn't even apologize if indeed all three employees were wrong, he just got rude and told me he had other things to do if I wasn't going to buy at the new, higher price. Had he come back saying they had made a mistake and apologized that would have been one thing, instead he just became rude when I asked what suddenly happened to the prices we had been discussing.
CSG,

I am not sure why you called me an insulting person, because you seemed to infer that Calhoun Cycles web advertising for the limited edition M6L has the reduced gearing. I can not seem to find any mention of this on their ads. There's not even an option to choose gearing on the checkout portion. Wouldn't that be odd not to tell people that upfront on the website that this is no longer a stock bike? Besides, wouldn't that be a dumb idea to be stocking reduced geared bikes if you're an online seller? Wouldn't you want to stock the standard 6 gearing instead which is a standard option and let the customer decide if he or she wants to customize the gearing. That's how most to all bike shops operate. Reduced gearing would be helpful for someone in Seattle or San Francisco, but a disadvantage from someone living in flat as pancake states. And wouldn't you think that the next online buyer be pissed if he or she bought this bike online, checkout and paid without even calling in and realized later it has the reduced gearing and it didn't mention that on the web?!? Perhaps, Calhoun is extremely generous -- on the house for some upgrades, but that does not seem to make sense to because some of their other Brompton bikes come with options you can add for the additional cost on the checkout counter. And could I tell which Brompton they sell has reduced gearing or increased gearing without calling in? That sort of defeats the purpose on web online ordering don't you think?

I am not saying I don't believe you. I think, like Folder Fanatic said, that there was a breakdown in communication somewhere caused by the phone, which was the barrier. Again, I'm just hearing your story only. You are painting Calhoun as the villain, but then for any dispute there's always another side to the coin. I was providing you with some explanations why they charged you extra. You said you knew all the options. Funny you didn't flip out your calculator and use the form I provided you. You will see that their prices are in line pretty much with Brompton's US MSRP price. I would rather go for a local Brompton dealer if I'm paying that, but sometimes some people do not have a local Brompton dealer around to check things out.

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Old 09-14-11, 03:46 PM   #18
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A. I didn't call you "an insulting person", I said your comments were somewhat insulting and I feel your most recent ones follow in the same vein. I am quite aware of what the website doesn't show which is why I called then asking if they had what I was looking for in stock. You need to pay closer attention to what I wrote, what I said to them, what they said to me AFTER THEY FIRST CONFIRMED THE LOWER PRICE. I didn't "infer" a thing about the advertised bike I linked. It was Calhoun that TOLD ME *THAT* BIKE HAD THE REDUCED GEARING and then after stating that the $1450 was indeed the correct price for THAT BIKE with the REDUCED GEARING changed the game AFTER THEY TOOK MY CREDIT CARD INFO. Emphasis added to try to be sure you're clear on what I said starting with my initial post and follow-up comments.

B. I'm not even slightly concerned whether you believe me or not; I have no idea who you are, what you do, or what your actual knowledge is. As I said earlier, you come across as an industry person.

I just wanted to relate what happened to me with this dealer and people can decide for themselves if they want to do business with that company. Between the other dealers I was more familiar with (NYCE, B-Fold, Electra-Bikes, Folda-Bike, Clever Cycles, etc.) none have been in slightest way deceptive about their pricing. What attracted me to the Calhoun bike was that it was below standard pricing which I already addressed earlier in this thread.
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Old 09-14-11, 04:17 PM   #19
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Hi CSG,

I wish you good luck in your search for a Brompton and hopefully other Brompton dealer(s) will serve you better. As I said before, you are not saving much money anyhow with Calhoun if you plug in the numbers on the form versus paying for a store front dealer which includes free annual service and local support on your bike.

Cheers!
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Old 09-14-11, 05:00 PM   #20
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If you noted, I live in Idaho. There are no local dealers.
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