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Old 08-10-05, 05:05 PM   #1
velocipedio
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okay... i need to vent...

yesterday, a woman came in to buy new tubes for her 700x35c schrader hybrid tires. another salesman dealt with her and sold her a pair of specialized 700x28/38c schrader tubes. end of sale.

today she comes in, incensed that we "knowingly sold" her the wrong product. she showed me the box for an axiom [norco house brand] 700x30/43c schrader tube and said that she had asked for this exact tube.

me: well... it really is the same tube.

her: no it's not, this is a 700x30/43c tube.

me: true, but the specialized tube will be fine.

her: but the tubes you sold me are for 700x28.

me: no... they're for 700x 28-to-38. they will be fine.

her: it doesn't say that on the box.

me: well... yes, it does... see?

i kept my cool, and politely explained that inner tube rubber will expand to a range of tire sizes and that 35c was well within range. besides, the axiom tubes were probably made in the same plant and just labeled differently, so we didn't mislead her and she didn't really need to return the tubes.

i should say that we're mostly a performance bike shop, though we do have a department for hybrids and comfort bikes, and we do our best to serve both the high end and the low-end of the price spectrum.

my explanations fell on deaf ears, she insisted that we had knowingly sold he a product that she couldn't use and insisted on a refund. i was getting a bit steamed by her strident attitude, but i kept my cool and asked for her credit card to make the refund. she had paid with her atm card, but i explained that we were not set up to refund atm cards. she insisted for cash, so that's what i gave her.

as she's walking toward the exit, she huffs: "just because you're in [an affluent neighbourthood of montreal], you think you can treat your customers like this. i called [insert name of the relatively low-end bike shop in the adjoining neighbourhood] and they have exactly these inner tubes, and they're cheaper! "

i almost lost my cool there. we charge $5 for the specialized tubes, and the other bike shop sells the axiom tubes for $4.50. we cater to a wide range of cyclists, from pro racers and millionaires to students and bike couriers. the insinuation really cheezed me off.

as she turns to leave, i invited her to never shop at our shop again.

okay... rant off.
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Old 08-10-05, 06:11 PM   #2
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I feel you pain brother. I wish we could have a LBS'er subfourm to post rants about these incidents, but then again "they" would see it also
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Old 08-10-05, 06:50 PM   #3
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There's probably a reason why she thinks it's the "wrong" tube. You never know what went on with the sale. Maybe it wasn't explained to her when she came in and bought the tube. As you know, every customer demands a different level of service, whether it's a tube or a $4,000 bike. One thing's universal. Once customers believe that they can't trust you, it's really difficult to regain their trust. Sometimes it may just be a personality clash, sometimes a miscommunication. Nevertheless, it might have been worth your while to invest some time and install the tubes for her in order to try and rebuild the goodwill you had when she walked into your store previously. If it doesn't work, oh well. You're out 15 minutes of your time. If it works, you have a potential bicycle sale ahead of you.
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Old 08-10-05, 06:56 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by kuan
There's probably a reason why she thinks it's the "wrong" tube. You never know what went on with the sale. Maybe it wasn't explained to her when she came in and bought the tube. As you know, every customer demands a different level of service, whether it's a tube or a $4,000 bike. One thing's universal. Once customers believe that they can't trust you, it's really difficult to regain their trust. Sometimes it may just be a personality clash, sometimes a miscommunication. Nevertheless, it might have been worth your while to invest some time and install the tubes for her in order to try and rebuild the goodwill you had when she walked into your store previously. If it doesn't work, oh well. You're out 15 minutes of your time. If it works, you have a potential bicycle sale ahead of you.
On the otherhand, some customers are never worth cultivating. Who cares if she comes in again to get another $5 tube, or a $40 tuneup on a POS wallmart bike? The small amount of money made is offset by the irritating personality involved. Anyone who is so thick as to misunderstand two roman numerals is a good candidate for this category. I'd say the OPs response was okay.
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Old 08-10-05, 07:00 PM   #5
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On the otherhand, some customers are never worth cultivating. Who cares if she comes in again to get another $5 tube, or a $40 tuneup on a POS wallmart bike? The small amount of money made is offset by the irritating personality involved. Anyone who is so thick as to misunderstand two roman numerals is a good candidate for this category. I'd say the OPs response was okay.
True, I know quite a few customers like that. Reminds me that I've been in the Food biz for way too long.

Sometimes it's not that people aren't smart enough to understand, sometimes they just don't feel comfortable with you. Stupid things ensue... happens at every level, from $0.25 to $250 million.
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Old 08-10-05, 07:02 PM   #6
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I went through the same thing with someone the other day, wanted a tube for the exact size not the 1.95 -2.125 size we had. I also had a woman call and ask about rentals and than ask how long she gets the bike for is she rents it for two hours, I told her 120 minutes. I told a woman the other day I would order her a new shifter and it would be here Tuesday or Wednesday and she goes so I can pick it up Tuesday morning then. Like any business there are going to be pain in the a#$ customers. I always laugh when people come on here and complain about us, you should try being on our side of the counter on some days.
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Old 08-10-05, 07:07 PM   #7
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It's like that show Bridezillas.
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Old 08-10-05, 07:15 PM   #8
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I also feel your pain. I've been on your end of the conversation more times than I can count.
I've learned to get through each with a smile and even appologize for their misunderstanding.
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Old 08-10-05, 07:31 PM   #9
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these types of customers are often not worth the trouble. You can go way above and beyond but the only thing they will remember is the way you tried to "mislead" them in the first place, remedying the problem only when your transgression was pointed out to you. I see these people all of the time in my business (I am a bail bondsman) and when I see them in my LBS I often feel embarrassed myself. It boggles my mind that people insist on acting this way and will not listen to reason...either that or think that they know it all.

Keep your chin up Velo.

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Old 08-10-05, 07:32 PM   #10
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it's the same in any retail environment.

i'm in the auto repair business, and we get the same kind of idiots. problem is, most customers are cool - but the a******s tend to be so over the top, they're the ones you remember.
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Old 08-10-05, 07:36 PM   #11
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And the worst thing is that you can have 100 terrific customers in any given day and that one idiot will be the one that ruins your entire day
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Old 08-10-05, 07:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuan
There's probably a reason why she thinks it's the "wrong" tube. You never know what went on with the sale. Maybe it wasn't explained to her when she came in and bought the tube. As you know, every customer demands a different level of service, whether it's a tube or a $4,000 bike. One thing's universal. Once customers believe that they can't trust you, it's really difficult to regain their trust. Sometimes it may just be a personality clash, sometimes a miscommunication. Nevertheless, it might have been worth your while to invest some time and install the tubes for her in order to try and rebuild the goodwill you had when she walked into your store previously. If it doesn't work, oh well. You're out 15 minutes of your time. If it works, you have a potential bicycle sale ahead of you.

In my experience, customers like these are better off lost or chased away. No amount of education will penetrate their ignorant minds. It doesn't matter if she was buying a tube, a TV or some other service. He tried showing her the box and explaining that the tube fit a range of tire sizes. She is a complainer and will continue to cause this business untold amounts of grief and headaches.
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Old 08-10-05, 07:56 PM   #13
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People are stupid. You don't want that customer to ever return. God forbid she buys a bike from your shop.
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Old 08-10-05, 07:59 PM   #14
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And the worst thing is that you can have 100 terrific customers in any given day and that one idiot will be the one that ruins your entire day
The great thing is that you can have one idiot for a customer and 100 terrific customers who brighten your day, and your cash register of course.
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Old 08-10-05, 08:02 PM   #15
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i should say that we're mostly a performance bike shop, though we do have a department for hybrids and comfort bikes, and we do our best to serve both the high end and the low-end of the price spectrum.
Prejudice any.

Quote:
i almost lost my cool there. we charge $5 for the specialized tubes, and the other bike shop sells the axiom tubes for $4.50. we cater to a wide range of cyclists, from pro racers and millionaires to students and bike couriers. the insinuation really cheezed me off.
Tubes here are $2.60 USD.
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Old 08-10-05, 08:05 PM   #16
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Like another said, god forbid she ever buys a bike at your shop. SHe will pay you guys a visit every other day. So by dealing with this little bit of aggravation, you insure that you wont have to deal with her again with a larger item with more to complain.
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Old 08-10-05, 08:12 PM   #17
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Tubes here are $2.60 USD.
w00t! Who wants to go to canada and get cheaper tubes with me, ala prescription drugs?
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Old 08-10-05, 08:14 PM   #18
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I really believe in giving the best possible customer service--but twice in my life I "fired" a customer. I really tried to go above and beyond for them, but they just kept putting the smackdown on me. Good decisions on my part both times.
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Old 08-10-05, 08:15 PM   #19
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Don't let it get to you. There will always be some ****** that knows nothing and thinks they know everything. They are usually offset by the many good people you meet every day. From this thread I would say the ratio is about one in twentyone.


"Tubes here are $2.60 USD." (He, operator, is in Canada)
That is due to the government subsidies.



"i should say that we're mostly a performance bike shop, though we do have a department for hybrids and comfort bikes, and we do our best to serve both the high end and the low-end of the price spectrum.


Prejudice any."


Sounds like a simple statement. If he had said "We prefer not to work on the cheap hybrids", that would would have been prejudicial.
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Old 08-10-05, 08:17 PM   #20
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"Tubes here are $2.60 USD." (He, operator, is in Canada)
That is due to the government subsidies.
The canadian government subsidises bike tubes? WTF??

uh. Why?
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Old 08-10-05, 08:18 PM   #21
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5 bucks i think is about average for a new tube. Except in Albany NY i went to this shop called Down tube (the only shop for 65 miles of where i was staying) and they charged 6.25 a tube!
As for the prejudice thing, there was none in that statement.
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Old 08-10-05, 08:25 PM   #22
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. . . what happened to 'the customer is always right?'
No hassle, explain, offer a refund, smile and say 'thank you!'
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Old 08-10-05, 08:30 PM   #23
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In my medical office we call it the 80:20 rule. My nurses and I spend 80% of our time dealing with 20% of our patient population. Ironically enough, it is the 20% with the least serious conditions that demand the most of our time. Those 20% I call the "serotonin depleters." They leave you feeling completely drained. The patients I see who are dying of horrible illnesses are my most grateful, pleasant patients. Perhaps its all in the perspective?
Your client made a federal case over a 50cent problem.....she needs bigger problems.

You should throw a little party to celebrate her leaving your shop!
Some of our serotonin depleters eventually get mad when we won't fufill their every demand (oxycontin...NOT) and they "fire" us. We do a little happy dance. ;-)
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Old 08-10-05, 08:31 PM   #24
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People are stupid. You don't want that customer to ever return. God forbid she buys a bike from your shop.
Disagree 100%

And the problem is, every single bicyclist she comes across is going to get the story that you give bad service & told you telling her not to return to your shop. I know if I were in your store at the time and you say that to another customer, I would never shop at your store again either.

The way to handle it is assume she is right, even if she isn't. I would have said, "these will fit on your bike but I apologize for the misunderstanding. What can we do to correct the situation?" Then do what it takes to correct the situation from refunding her money to exchanging the tubes.

And treating a $10 customer the same as a $2,000 customer will be profitable in the long run. That's one of the problems I have with most LBS's is that they seem to cater to customers based on what they spend.

So it's not just her loss of business but the potential loss of other customers that she tells also. Word of mouth is very important.
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Old 08-10-05, 08:36 PM   #25
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in a related story...

we have a customer who's an elite level duathlete. we sponsor her -- supply her with team clothes, do free maintenance on her bike and sell her products at the sponsored rate. yesterday, on shop-ride day, she drops off he bike, announces that she wants work done [okay, i can live with that] and then informs me that she's like the bike delivered to her place of work so because she'd really like to get a ride in tomorrow [wednesday].

uhhh... no... i'm not the pizza boy.

the funny thing lis that, if she was in the habit of asking rather than demanding, i probably would have done it.

having said that, i have some favourite customers:

the sponsored duathlete who always brings me coffee and insists that the fit work i've done for him is partly responsible for his great performances...

the girl on the hybrid who always says "you guys are great!" and brings us vegan brownies.

the friendly guy on the chrome fixie who always waves.

the cancer survivor who rides insanely great distances every day and likes to come into the shop to shoot the **** and talk bike stuff.

the sponsored mountain biker who knows every line of every blackadder episode.

the physician who races masters and asks for me personally for road bike advice.

the college student who got into cyclo-cross and likes to talk about latin american history. [my minor field.]

the tv producer who innocently flirts with me and refers to her bike as if it's a living being.

the mother of a three-year-old who just got into road cycling and is having a blast, and just loves bikes.

the self-confessed sleazy lawyer with the off the wall sense of humour who gladly does pro bono for our little community ["helps me sleep at night."]

my buddy who comes in to "treat" himself and has white tape on his cf bike just to irritate me.

the "kona kids" -- 12 and 13 year-olds on scraps and shreds and stuffs who like to hang out and look at the cool bikes and thing the guys at the shop are rock stars.

the psychiatrist who bought a litespeed this year, loves it and likes to remind us of how much he loves it.

the semi-retired college professor who rides a trek hybrid and likes to chat about japanese literature.

the law student with the beautiful and charming wife who doesn't have the time to ride as much as he'd like, but thinks we do amazing work.

the couple who both run local businesses and treat us all as equals.

the kid who just bought a trek 1000, and plans to ride from toronto to montreal.

the father who got his son a specialized hotrock this year and just loves the whole idea of cycling.

... and so many others.

if any of them are reading this, they are greatly appreciated, and they make my day.

the lady with the tubes is the exception rather than the rule. i think she'll be happier at the other shop.
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