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Old 04-12-08, 10:41 AM   #1
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Deal Breaker...

A lady I've never seen before came into the shop this morning and asks if we have a bike box because she wants to ship a MTB to Massachusetts.

I said, "Yes...they're $15".

She says, "Let me go check..." and walks out, then they drive off.

Right across the parking lot the UPS store charges $20 for a box plus packing materials. Is there some unwritten law that bike shops have to give the boxes away for free?
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Old 04-12-08, 10:47 AM   #2
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AIs there some unwritten law that bike shops have to give the boxes away for free?
No, they just do it that way. No law needed.
Ive known lots of people who ship bikes and never known them to be
charged for what usually ends up in the recycle bin.

Try to think Random Act of Kindness
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Old 04-12-08, 11:00 AM   #3
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I wish more people would think Random Act of Kindness.

We never used to charge for boxes until people would take them from the rear of the shop, dump the trash inside into the parking lot and drive off. Now we have to store them, hence the charge.

For the $15 I do make sure they have the proper dropout and axle protectors, plus whatever packing material, zip-ties, etc they need.
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Old 04-12-08, 11:01 AM   #4
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A lady I've never seen before came into the shop this morning and asks if we have a bike box because she wants to ship a MTB to Massachusetts.

I said, "Yes...they're $15".

She says, "Let me go check..." and walks out, then they drive off.

Right across the parking lot the UPS store charges $20 for a box plus packing materials.
Is there some unwritten law that bike shops have to give the boxes away for free?
is there some written rule that states that bike shops should sell their garbage?
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Old 04-12-08, 12:08 PM   #5
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is there some written rule that states that bike shops should sell their garbage?
Yes, it's called the Law of supply and demand.

They can either go across the parking lot and pay $5 more or drive 60 miles and hope the nearest other shop gives boxes away.

Also, if it has a use...can it really be called garbage? We pack and ship bikes for customers and set some aside for that purpose. If we give them all away and have a bike to ship, then we have to go pay $20. Fair is fair.
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Old 04-12-08, 12:17 PM   #6
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Yes, it's called the Law of supply and demand.

They can either go across the parking lot and pay $5 more or drive 60 miles and hope the nearest other shop gives boxes away.
with that endearing attitude to customers, i think i'd start calling the shop that's 60 miles away my LBS.
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Old 04-12-08, 12:23 PM   #7
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with that endearing attitude to customers, i think i'd start calling the shop that's 60 miles away my LBS.
The shop 60 miles away charges double what we do for a tuneup.

I can see by your responses that free boxes are indeed an expectation of a bike shop. What I wonder at is why the same expectation is not put upon the UPS store. When they sell out of $20 boxes, they call us.
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Old 04-12-08, 12:24 PM   #8
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If a bike shop charged me 10 cents for a bike box, I would never shop there again. You can reason why you have costs associated with them or whatever, I am just saying from my point of view you are gouging me.

You say that if you leave them out back, the trash gets dumped and they take the boxes. I thought everyone was separating trash from recyclables these days. Why haven't you been?


Nearly 20 years ago, I was about 25 miles from home and noticed a screw missing from downtube shifter. I popped into the nearest bike shop went to the back and the mechanic looked through his spare parts can and came up with one, flipped it to me and said "have a nice day'. Just then the owner came up and insisted I pay for it, she even looked the part number in the Shimano catalog and charged me $2. I gave her the $2 cause I wanted to get home but I told everybody i knew. I posted things on BBS's. I got it in a local bike newsletter.

That shop went out of business 6 months later. Certainly not what she did to me personally but that same attitude probably didn't sit well with others.

So,keep charging $15 for your trash. it is a pretty safe bet that lady will no longer come to your shop. Do you have any idea how many people she is going to tell?
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Old 04-12-08, 12:25 PM   #9
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The shop 60 miles away charges double what we do for a tuneup.

I can see by your responses that free boxes are indeed an expectation of a bike shop. What I wonder at is why the same expectation is not put upon the UPS store. When they sell out of $20 boxes, they call us.
does ups sell used boxes that would end up in the scrap pile? didn't think so.
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Old 04-12-08, 12:47 PM   #10
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we keep them separate but to put the bike in the box is 50$
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Old 04-12-08, 12:47 PM   #11
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does ups sell used boxes that would end up in the scrap pile? didn't think so.
When they get boxes from us, yes they do.
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Old 04-12-08, 01:08 PM   #12
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When they get boxes from us, yes they do.
do you charge them $15 for the boxes as well?


btw - why is this in foo?
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Old 04-12-08, 01:10 PM   #13
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We gave them away. The ones we didn't give away ended up in the recycling van once a week anyway.
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Old 04-12-08, 01:21 PM   #14
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btw - why is this in foo?
Because it's really about the psychology of the thing. All I wondered about was why there is a perception that something of obvious value for shipping a bike must be given free of charge. You've convinced me...I'll give boxes away for free and double our tuneup rates.
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Old 04-12-08, 04:07 PM   #15
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Last summer I had my LBS ship my bike to enable me to do a charity ride. I don't recall a charge for the box, but I happily paid a handling charge, above the shipping rate, to have my bike professionally packed with proper protection. I was very happy to do so.
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Old 04-12-08, 05:35 PM   #16
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If a bike shop charged me 10 cents for a bike box, I would never shop there again...
Wow, that's an amazing story!
You singlehandedly started a campaign to defame a shop because they charged you $2 for a part that fixed your bike, and they made sure to charge you the correct price? To me that doesn't sound like gouging at all, but I respect that your perspective is your own.

Be that as it may, I won't be doubling the price of our tuneups. My apologies if my answer there was a bit facetious, but part of my job is to make sure the shop is profitable for the owner, and it was his policy to charge for boxes...I was merely doing my job. We will still set aside the undamaged and usable boxes for the packing and shipping jobs we get (so we don't end up having to pay UPS the $20...it's happened. Botto, I'm not sure what they gave for our boxes, it was credited to our account), but thanks to the responses in this thread, public opine obviously says that bike boxes are free...when they come from the bike shop, not UPS. I'll just say we don't have any other than what is in the recycling pile, help yourself...just please, don't leave a mess.
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Old 04-12-08, 06:34 PM   #17
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A lady I've never seen before came into the shop this morning and asks if we have a bike box because she wants to ship a MTB to Massachusetts.

I said, "Yes...they're $15".

She says, "Let me go check..." and walks out, then they drive off.

Right across the parking lot the UPS store charges $20 for a box plus packing materials. Is there some unwritten law that bike shops have to give the boxes away for free?
The two times I shipped bikes I went into the dumpster behind the a bike shop here, and in phoenix, took a box for free, and packed it myself.

15$ for storage? Yea.. no.

I really don't blame the lady, I would have laughed in your face.
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Old 04-12-08, 06:39 PM   #18
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The shop 60 miles away charges double what we do for a tuneup.

I can see by your responses that free boxes are indeed an expectation of a bike shop. What I wonder at is why the same expectation is not put upon the UPS store. When they sell out of $20 boxes, they call us.
...because at UPS they sell brand new boxes for SHIPPING, they are a shipping company.

Is you're LBS primarily a shipping company? Are the boxes you normally throw away used? Most likely yes. They are garbage/recyclables, who'd want to pay for your trash? I can think of 5 bike shops within 10 minutes of me that has tons of those boxes in the dumpster.

It's not an expectation. But it just seems nitpicky to think I can't get a free piece of cardboard.

Another thing you don't even think of is the effect that has on the customer. Last time I got screwed by the LBS I always frequented, summit bicycles, I stopped shopping there. I dropped easily 50-100 a month in there, now.... nada. There are so many bike shop choices, one bad experience or ahole employee.... yea I'll take myself elsewhere.
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Old 04-12-08, 06:43 PM   #19
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Because it's really about the psychology of the thing. All I wondered about was why there is a perception that something of obvious value for shipping a bike must be given free of charge. You've convinced me...I'll give boxes away for free and double our tuneup rates.
If you're business relies on revenue from recyclable boxes you're going to need to up alot more than just tuneups.
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Old 04-12-08, 06:54 PM   #20
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Wow, three posts just chock full of helpful info. Thanks. I hope that didn't put you out too much.
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Old 04-12-08, 06:59 PM   #21
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I wish more people would think Random Act of Kindness.

We never used to charge for boxes until people would take them from the rear of the shop, dump the trash inside into the parking lot and drive off. Now we have to store them, hence the charge.

For the $15 I do make sure they have the proper dropout and axle protectors, plus whatever packing material, zip-ties, etc they need.
Why not just take a razor to the box and make it useless if this is such a problem? I wouldn't charge $15 for a box because i certainly would never pay for it...not to mention, it's going into the garbage.

I know LBS's run on tight margins but crikes...

Performance gave me the box to ship my Leader...free of charge. How nice of 'em

Lastly, if you had never seen her i'm assuming you're indicating that she wasn't a customer. What a good way to win a new customer but to charge her $15 for a piece of garbage that is over priced when it isn't garbage (My local UPS store wanted to charge me $25...talk about a markup)
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Old 04-12-08, 07:00 PM   #22
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Because it's really about the psychology of the thing. All I wondered about was why there is a perception that something of obvious value for shipping a bike must be given free of charge. You've convinced me...I'll give boxes away for free and double our tuneup rates.
There isn't very much psychology at play here...you are charing more than what she was willing to pay. It isn't much deeper than that.
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Old 04-12-08, 07:07 PM   #23
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with that endearing attitude to customers, i think i'd start calling the shop that's 60 miles away my LBS.
Personally, if my LBS will pack up everything so it's safe for shipping, I'll look past that $15.

It wouldn't be a deal breaker for me if they're willing to do the services the OP said they do. It would be if it were just a used box.
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Old 04-12-08, 07:09 PM   #24
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Also, if it has a use...can it really be called garbage? We pack and ship bikes for customers and set some aside for that purpose. If we give them all away and have a bike to ship, then we have to go pay $20. Fair is fair.
Wait. Is the packing of the bikes/materials included in the 15$ for the box?
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Old 04-12-08, 07:10 PM   #25
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Wait. Is the packing of the bikes/materials included in the 15$ for the box?
If I read the first post correctly, yes.
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