I'll start by saying there are two main LBSs in my area. One has an excellent reputation, the other is ... well ... not so great.
So I had to run an errand over my lunch break and my route took me past the no-so-great shop. I recently respaced my frame and I need a few axle spacers as well as some tubes, so I decided to stop in and save some time since the better shop is pretty far out of my way.
The guy who helped me was obviously very new (like first day of work new) although he did seem to know a little something about bikes. It took fifteen minutes for him to find the tubes I needed, although he tried very hard. I felt bad for him, because there were several mechanics working on bikes in the back, and they didn't come show him where things were and weren't particularly nice when he asked for help. After he found the right tubes, I asked about axle spacers against my better judgment. As I expected, he was absolutely lost, so he asked the head mechanic to help him. The mechanic came up looking impatient, and I explained what I needed, but he didn't seem to know what I was talking about. Finally he went into the back and brought out a complete axle assembly with lock nuts, washers, cones, and skewers, and said, "Just look at this and tell me what you need." I pointed to a washer on the axle and said, "It's like this, only wider." "Well, I don't have any of those, you'd have to buy the complete axle," he said. I told him I only wanted the spacers and that the cones probably wouldn't fit my hubs anyway, and he said, "You'd need to bring your bike in so I could look at it." At that point, I just told him to forget about it, paid for the tubes, thanked the first guy who'd tried so hard to help me, and left.
I came back to work and told my story to one of my coworkers and he laughed so hard he almost fell off his chair. He worked for the better LBS about 20 years ago, and he said he heard those exact same stories about this shop when he was a mechanic. He said he could even remember a few times that a mother with children came into the shop in tears after leaving the bad LBS because she'd spent over $200 just to get the family's bikes tuned up for the summer and the shop had replaced entire assemblies instead of individual parts, and the bikes still weren't working right.
So I think I'll leave work a bit early and swing by the good LBS on the way home. I wish now that I hadn't bought those tubes there, and I hope the guy who tried to help me gets a little respect from his fellow co-workers, because he certainly tried to help me hard enough to deserve it.