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Old 08-15-07, 03:37 PM   #1
CHIROMED0
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Bike Shops Stink. Brick & Mortar Out of Order!

Okay, for the most part I don't hate the traditional bicycle shop. Why? Well, I managed one for 8 years, sold hundreds of bikes and thousands of parts myself. Lead, organized and participated in years of rides, races and clubs. So what's my beef?

After a frustrating and expensive build up of my new super expensive, self indulgent BMC SLC01 I have come to realize bike shops just aren't the same anymore. In the old days it was easier to know most everything a customer would ask. Now days, these young yahoo's don't know !@#$%. As an informed customer you walk in with specific questions and these guys haven't even been taught basic salesmanship, it's frustrating after having spent my youth in a shop and moved on to bigger and better things.

If it wasn't for Online shopping a customer is left to the anecdotal advice from people you assume are experts. Why? Because they work in a shop, however, lest we forget sometimes we hired people to work in the shop for a lot of reasons. Not because they know ANYTHING. Maybe because we got sick of them hanging out in the showroom so we figured we might as well pay them and put them to work.

I spent 200+ miles commuting, several hundred dollars on cables to solve a build up problem. Yes, I SPENT SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS ON CABLES! Reason: shops are conveinent and I'm impatient. I went with the recommendation of the shop mechanic, got hosed b/c the mechanics are known for raiding the packages and taking #$@# out of them for personal reasons or for a repair. Got home and of course, parts missing in an unopened package, sure it could have happened at the factory: unlikely. Call the local branch of the shop..."Uhhh...no you have to take that back to the location you got it from even though we are the same chain store...we don't open the packages and take stuff out". The product wasn't good for me but I've got another bike build I'll use it on...went back and was in the process of buying some overpriced little goodies (Nokon's) when I notice two things; First, the salesman felt it necessary to finish wrapping some bar tape and make me wait 10 minutes to spend $150 bucks on $100 bucks worth of cables, secondly, to witness him raiding another set of brake cables to make my set complete. So they don't raid new packages and they have a reputation built on customer service? Right. Sorry if you're the guy who buys the next set of $@#$@# Nokon's from these guys.

Next was a trip to buy a simple front derailleur clamp, a Campy 35mm (or 34.9mm to be exact) clamp. Sure overpriced junk that a simple Shimano or any other hunk of aluminum would do but what the h3&& it's a fantasy bike. I tell the dreadlocked, half bathed mechanic what I'm looking for...after a few seconds blank stare to figure out what I said off he went...back with a Shimano clamp to which I said I was really wanting the Campy. Well, a few mumbles to another know it all and boing! "They don't make one", was the reply. And I thought to myself....I just told this guy I saw it on the internet..I asked for a highly specific part and I don't look as stupid as he does so why does he think I came in here? To ask for a part that's not made? Someone drew up a graphic, posted to multiple websites with pricing, sku#'s, specs all to fool me. This is a top 100 bicycle dealer? Probably, top 10, in fact both these shops are. Anyway, for the price of thier $3 Shimano clamp selling for $30, I ordered the real deal from Performance online, overnighted it and got it for $35 to my office.

The shop I worked for would be lucky to make top 1000 but IMO it's 1 in a million. Full machine shop, custom paint booth, 40+ years of cycling/racing experience. If we didn't have it, we made it! Fit kit before fit kits were invented, employed "real" cyclists, "real" mechanics, not half doped goofballs and parts changers.

My point? Am I anal retentive...according to Freud...probably. However, these two shops represent the leading edge of an industry that has changed it's face. As consumers we really no longer need to depend on the local brick & mortar shop for anything other than basic service and original bike purchases. The highly educated buyers are probably better off researching things on their own and buying Online. Believe me I wasn't a proponent of this b/c I knew the backbone of cycling are the events and comradery the shops/clubs offer but I am now convinced buying Online is the answer. You get what you pay for, not a bunch of stupidity, laziness and ambivalence.

My suggestion: don't sell the crap unless you know what the #$#%@ you're talking about and don't give me that "personal attention" garbage that local shops offer. Twenty years ago when Arnie Nashbar, Gary Snook and Colorado Cylist/Excel/Branford Bike were the only mail order around...sure. Now days, not hardly. You go into these two particular shops, get wrong information, 2nd rate attention at HIGH PREMIUM PRICES WITH huge margins and these guys expect loyalty? Why? For past benefits? IN DALLAS TEXAS I WOULD SUGGEST YOU BUY YOUR HIGH END ITEMS ONLINE AND NOT IN THE SHOPS.

This arguement has no end but I had to vent somewhere. I just wished that bike shops would advance their practices like other industries and train their people better instead of still relying on cheap labor to sell carbon fiber, titanium, carbon nanotubes, space age polymers etc., in other words don't take your Enzo to the Dodge dealer. They may be big, move lots of mdse. and sponsor future professionals like LA...but they still hire yahoos!

My .02 and you get a nickel back.
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Old 08-15-07, 03:55 PM   #2
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Compare this thread with all of the threads that complain about how overpriced their LBS is.
The fact of the matter is that things are tending toward specialty retail chains that aren't really specialty retail. Why? Because everyone wants to save a buck.

So yeah, if you can't find an LBS worthy of your dollar, educate yourself and order online. That's what BF is for!
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Old 08-15-07, 04:18 PM   #3
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not just bike shops...retail in general.

Last month at MB car dealer:
salesman: this G-class is fast, it can do 0-60 in like less than 5 seconds
me: uhhhh you sure about that?
salesman: yeah its got a v8 an everything
me: rolleyes

Last week at high end stereo shop:
me: call me when you get the rosewood colored ones in stock
salesman: B&W doesnt make any in rosewood
me: ugh...here's a picture of it in the pamphlet and photos and reviews online
salesman: I don't know...I know they don't make them
me: <gone>

Last year at Infinit dealer
me: do you have the sport package in stock?
saleswoman: no, you don't want that anyways unless you're a serious off road trucker
me: why?
saleswoman: it comes with 20 inch wheels, only good for serious off roading, you want 18" for the road
me: you should check on that


LBS: You want a Record bottom bracket? why? we don't have any.
Me; I want to swap out my FSA Gossamer cranks for the 06 Chorus
LBS: They should use the same bottom bracket
Me: No they don't. And there's the Record BB behind you.

Yesterday at craft store
me: where's the velcro strips?
she: I don't know
me: are you gonna find out?
she: uhh if you want me to
me: yes
she: Brian where the velcro strips?
brian: we dont carry them
she: we don't carry them
me: hey look, that wall over there, sign says velcro, and look nearly 30 kinds of velcro straps
she: shrugs
Brian: I work in the back

Truly pathetic, no desire to help, learn or anything. Just expecting everyone else to be just as stupid as them...sickening.
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Old 08-15-07, 07:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHIROMED0 View Post
Next was a trip to buy a simple front derailleur clamp, a Campy 35mm (or 34.9mm to be exact) clamp. Sure overpriced junk that a simple Shimano or any other hunk of aluminum would do but what the h3&& it's a fantasy bike.
There are so many holes to poke here but an easy one will do. The Shimano and Campy braze on clamps are shaped differently at the interface. You can get the der screwed on but it puts the der at an odd angle unless you file the hell out of it to get a decent fit.

Nokons might be a weight weenies wet dream but they suck for bikes that get ridden.
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Old 08-15-07, 07:54 PM   #5
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Another LBS rant. Yawn. You managed your own store for 8 years and you're suprised there are incompetent LBS's?

Either you're trying to subtley show us your superior "management' or you're a bigger moron than you come across.
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Old 08-15-07, 08:05 PM   #6
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I used to patronize the LBS where I used to live- decent prices for when I needed stuff now and best of all, people who cared about and knew about bikes. Where I live now, everyone that works there has this attitude like, "Don't bother me." None of that makes sense to me from a business point of view, but maybe I missed something by studying social work in school. They have way jacked up prices too on most things. I'm sticking with online stores for now for all of the reasons the OP stated.
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Old 08-15-07, 08:23 PM   #7
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It's not only bike shops. It's everywhere.
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Old 08-15-07, 08:47 PM   #8
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Once you become proficient at bicycle repair and maintanance, it is not beyond possibility that you can be as competent a mechanic as the LBS wrench - maybe even more-so in some cases.

Thus, if you ran your own shop for 8 years and spent a lifetime with bicycles, it would be natural that you would be at least as competent as an LBS wrench or even the owner.

When I talk with our LBS, he knows that I know my stuff and I know that he knows his stuff. When I ask him a question, I don't look at it as if I am asking Zuess. I know it is usually a tough question and I am delighted if I get an intelligent well-informed answer. If he doesn't know the answer, we look at each other and say, "Hum. How about that. I'll be damned. Let me know when you figure it out". And that is that. No frustration or disgust involved.
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Old 08-15-07, 09:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHIROMED0 View Post

The shop I worked for would be lucky to make top 1000 but IMO it's 1 in a million. Full machine shop, custom paint booth, 40+ years of cycling/racing experience. If we didn't have it, we made it! Fit kit before fit kits were invented, employed "real" cyclists, "real" mechanics, not half doped goofballs and parts changers.
:
Online outlets for parts and complete bikes make it impossible for this type of shop to stay open. They have to cut costs to keep in buisness. Eventually, you'll be stuck ordering your parts and bikes from an online place, and if they are wrong, instead of running down there to exchange it, you'll email them, then package it and send it back ( post paid) for them to "inspect"
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Old 08-16-07, 12:45 AM   #10
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"IN DALLAS TEXAS I WOULD SUGGEST YOU BUY YOUR HIGH END ITEMS ONLINE AND NOT IN THE SHOPS."

I agree. I can't stand the bike shops in Dallas. But I love B&B Bicycles in Cedar Hills! I think you will be glad you made the trip to them!

Last edited by ChipSeal; 08-16-07 at 12:46 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 08-16-07, 08:10 PM   #11
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hardware cloth

I went to Home Depot last week to buy some hardware cloth. They'd moved it. I went to the information desk to ask about it because I couldn't find wandering sources of information. They told me that they didn't carry it. I finally found a floor person who gave me directions, but the youngsters at the desk didn't want to be bothered.
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Old 08-16-07, 11:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerglide View Post
not just bike shops...retail in general.


Last week at high end stereo shop:
me: call me when you get the rosewood colored ones in stock
salesman: B&W doesnt make any in rosewood
me: ugh...here's a picture of it in the pamphlet and photos and reviews online
salesman: I don't know...I know they don't make them
me: <gone>
Last year I tried to spend about a grand at a high-end audio (sorry 'home theater' these days) store. They were happy to promise to order what I wanted. So two weeks later I go back and "um, you'll have to talk to the other guy, he's not here right now." So I call back when the other guy is in and he says he'll call when it's in. Still haven't received the call. On-line company got the business.
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Old 08-16-07, 11:13 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
Online outlets for parts and complete bikes make it impossible for this type of shop to stay open. They have to cut costs to keep in buisness. Eventually, you'll be stuck ordering your parts and bikes from an online place, and if they are wrong, instead of running down there to exchange it, you'll email them, then package it and send it back ( post paid) for them to "inspect"
It seems to me that that kind of shop has a better chance of staying open. You can't cost-cut an LBS enough to meet on-line pricing. It's a losing game. You have to compete by offering things the on-line vendors can't, and that means services. At least that's what it looks like from this customer's perspective. When I shop for price, I go on-line. When I'm looking for service, I go to the LBS and I never haggle or complain when I do.
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Old 08-17-07, 03:44 AM   #14
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Quote:
=powerglide;5076816]not just bike shops...retail in general.

Last month at MB car dealer:
salesman: this G-class is fast, it can do 0-60 in like less than 5 seconds
me: uhhhh you sure about that?
salesman: yeah its got a v8 an everything
me: rolleyes

Last week at high end stereo shop:
me: call me when you get the rosewood colored ones in stock
salesman: B&W doesnt make any in rosewood
me: ugh...here's a picture of it in the pamphlet and photos and reviews online
salesman: I don't know...I know they don't make them
me: <gone>

Last year at Infinit dealer
me: do you have the sport package in stock?
saleswoman: no, you don't want that anyways unless you're a serious off road trucker
me: why?
saleswoman: it comes with 20 inch wheels, only good for serious off roading, you want 18" for the road
me: you should check on that


LBS: You want a Record bottom bracket? why? we don't have any.
Me; I want to swap out my FSA Gossamer cranks for the 06 Chorus
LBS: They should use the same bottom bracket
Me: No they don't. And there's the Record BB behind you.

Yesterday at craft store
me: where's the velcro strips?
she: I don't know
me: are you gonna find out?
she: uhh if you want me to
me: yes
she: Brian where the velcro strips?
brian: we dont carry them
she: we don't carry them
me: hey look, that wall over there, sign says velcro, and look nearly 30 kinds of velcro straps
she: shrugs
Brian: I work in the back

Truly pathetic, no desire to help, learn or anything. Just expecting everyone else to be just as stupid as them...sickening.



+ infinity! best post yet on the incompetence of LBS's, car dealers, and retailers in general.
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Old 08-17-07, 09:02 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by CHIROMED0 View Post
Call the local branch of the shop..."Uhhh...no you have to take that back to the location you got it from even though we are the same chain store...we don't open the packages and take stuff out".
"Chain" LBS? What kind of chain? The local shops I use aren't chains - the owners are right there.
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Old 08-17-07, 10:03 PM   #16
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"Chain" LBS? What kind of chain? The local shops I use aren't chains - the owners are right there.
There is more than one line of bike shops in the Dallas area with multiple stores. Bikemart and Wheels in Motion are two that come to mind. There is also a chain of stores in the Ft Worth area called Bicycles, Inc.

There's also REI with two stores and Performance recently moved into the area with several stores, though some people don't consider either of these to be an LBS.
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Old 08-18-07, 11:05 AM   #17
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There's also REI with two stores and Performance recently moved into the area with several stores, though some people don't consider either of these to be an LBS.
When Performance had their grand opening in Austin I went in and picked up an armload full of items... tires, tubes, water bottles, ect. Then walked back to the mechanics counter and asked if they sold cable end crimps? The girl asked cable housing ends? The guy said, no, he means the crimps. She said we don't sell them but I can give you a few. I said I need about 25. Oh no, we can't give you that many. I put everything on the counter and walked out, never to return. Then went to a nearby LBS and bought the 25 for $2, along with a bunch more stuff. No more chain stores for me!
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Old 08-18-07, 11:52 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matimeo View Post
I used to patronize the LBS where I used to live- decent prices for when I needed stuff now and best of all, people who cared about and knew about bikes. Where I live now, everyone that works there has this attitude like, "Don't bother me." None of that makes sense to me from a business point of view, but maybe I missed something by studying social work in school. They have way jacked up prices too on most things. I'm sticking with online stores for now for all of the reasons the OP stated.
I have a feeling that LBS employees are familiar with the line from "Clerks": This job would be great if it wasn't for the f****g customers.
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Old 08-19-07, 07:39 AM   #19
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Whenever I read these posts about LBS' incompetence or lack of caring my great fear is that if NOT true, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. That those shops that aspire to serving the customer's needs will become bowed under the weight of popular opinion and lose their will.

Currently I don't have a great bicycle shop in my area. I'm not giving up hope, though. And if a great shop does open up near me, I guess I'll buy some high-ticket items as well as tubes and supplies, as a way of showing support for a business that has my interests at heart.
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Old 08-19-07, 08:51 AM   #20
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When I read threads like this, I'm glad to have my LBS. Every employee is a cycling nut, and knows much more than the basics - they are fanatics. They also treat me fairly. I love my LBS!

... Brad
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Old 08-19-07, 02:09 PM   #21
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Houston has Bike Sport. A bike/triathalon shop that has kept the same employees for years. The repair shop is almost as large as the retail area. That should tell you something. Great service by knowledgeable people. I have no monetary interest in this shop. Just a lot of confidence.
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Old 08-20-07, 11:15 AM   #22
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I've said elsewhere and I'll say again here . . . Performance and Nashbar are sponsors of this forum. . . do we owe them nothing?

As a side issue: I make it a general rule that when somebody is nice enough to simply give me something -- free -- I try to be gracious enough and polite enough to accept it. And I find the world is filled with very nice people.
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Old 08-20-07, 12:24 PM   #23
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I've said elsewhere and I'll say again here . . . Performance and Nashbar are sponsors of this forum. . . do we owe them nothing?
I used to think that too so I spent a bunch of money with both companies for over a year. In exchange I got very slow shipping, incomplete orders coupled to more slow shipments, damaged goods, and credit card statements that didn't match my invoices. The final straw was Nashbar having me jump through several hoops to get those Free Shipping fees credited back to my credit card.

As a result I decided to support this forum by sending them the $25 to become a member instead of supporting their advertisers. You might consider helping the forum directly by getting your red star too.

Quote:
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As a side issue: I make it a general rule that when somebody is nice enough to simply give me something -- free -- I try to be gracious enough and polite enough to accept it. And I find the world is filled with very nice people.
If you were referring to my post, I wasn't looking for a handout, I simply wanted to buy what I needed. They didn't want to sell or give me what I needed so I took my business to another bike shop that did.

BTW... we're talking about them giving me a few worth a nickel but not 25 worth 50 cents, and my armload of stuff worth $100. That's what I ended up spending at the nearby non-chainstore bike shop that *was* willing to sell me all that I needed. God save the *Local* Bike Shops!

Last edited by McDave; 08-20-07 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 08-20-07, 01:17 PM   #24
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The retail sales in more areas then bicycles is a money looser. Most likely the online dealers are selling parts cheaper then the local shops can purchase from thier vendors.
I purchase parts from my LBS with that understanding.

Don
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Old 08-20-07, 02:05 PM   #25
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Okay, for the most part I don't hate the traditional bicycle shop....
One of the matters you seem to be complaining about here is that the local bike shop cannot stock their shelves to match the vast array of merchandise available online. That is true, and it isn't going to get better.

As for the quality of the help--that is tied into the target market--which is the same market that doesn't want to hassle with buying pieces online, or doesn't know how to.
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