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Old 04-10-08, 01:25 AM   #1
stevage
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Weird experience with bike shop

I wanted to compare the tricross sport in size 52cm against the same bike in size 54cm at another place 10ks away. I went to the first, picked it up, rode to the second. But I obviously didn't explain myself well, and got an angry call from them wondering where I was and asking me to please come back asap. So I did a quick test on the second bike (meanwhile this place said I could borrow the bike for "a few hours" no worries), and headed back.

When I got there, they asked me if I was taking the 52cm, and I said I just wanted to gather my thoughts and would decide - both frames felt ok, the 52 was a bit better offroad, the 54 felt better down in the drops, but also the seat heights weren't exactly the same. When I said that, he demanded that I pay $50 for the "hire fee", which he would deduct from the cost of the bike if I chose to buy it there. Then he refused to return my passport which I had left as security against the bike.

I was just astonished, and even said to him, "Are you really willing to jeopardise a $2000 sale for $50?" But apparently yes. I don't see how I could possibly get the bike there - why would I want to deal with someone like that in future? He kept insisting that I pay $50, so in the end I left - without my passport.

I do understand that I communicated badly (I must have thought I had explained to both places what I was doing, but only told one), and that it was a bit presumptuous of me to assume I could test out the bike for a few hours. But I really did want to take it on a long ride to see how it felt as a touring bike.

Am I totally in the wrong here? Anyone had an experience like this? I feel really bad for the sales guy at that place, who helped me choose the bike, then ended up getting caught in the middle of it all when his manager flipped out.

Steve
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Old 04-10-08, 01:39 AM   #2
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Call the cops and tell them your passport has been taken under false pretenses. If you are in a country other than your own, call your embassy or consulate; they don't take kindly to non-government people taking your passport.

BTW, where did this happen?
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Old 04-10-08, 06:36 AM   #3
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I work in a bike shop and if you had taken a bike out for a test ride and not come back for a few hours there would be trouble too. We would just call the police and you would be arrested for bike theft.

You have admitted that you did not tell them your plans, so obviously they are upset. A bike that has been taken out for a few hours can have a 100kms put on it. If they let every customer do this the bike can easily need a new chain on it after a month of test rides.

I do not agree with them holding your passport, but the police should have been called, and a "rental" fee for the bike should probably have been paid.
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Old 04-10-08, 06:55 AM   #4
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I think you were extremely lucky they did not call the authorities. You would probably have been cleared in an investigation because the other bike shop would have confirmed your story. But that might have taken awhile.

It was not fair of them to take your passport. I would pay the $50 and be done with it even though you could probably bring back the authorities and get them in trouble for holding your passport illegally.
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Old 04-10-08, 07:10 AM   #5
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They acted poorly but that was based upon your poor actions.
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Old 04-10-08, 08:10 AM   #6
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Was the potential $50 fee made known to you before the test ride?
Was there an agreed time limit on the test ride?
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Old 04-10-08, 08:17 AM   #7
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Was the potential $50 fee made known to you before the test ride?
Was there an agreed time limit on the test ride?
Assuming the answer to these questions are no, then they have no right to charge you or hold your passport. I do think that you were lax in taking the bike for such a long time without confirming it first. But, the responsiblity is on their shoulders to explain to you what the terms are.

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Old 04-10-08, 08:43 AM   #8
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...in a bike shop and if you had taken a bike out for a test ride and not come back for a few hours there would be trouble too. We would just call the police and you would be arrested for bike theft...
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Old 04-10-08, 08:45 AM   #9
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Ok, to clarify a few things, let's first remember that they have my mobile number (and know that it works), and they have my passport. Theft is surely not an issue here.

Now:
>Was the potential $50 fee made known to you before the test ride?

No, of course not. "Please, test ride this bike you're considering buying from us. If you don't buy it, it's a $50 fee." Apparently this shop does actually hire out bikes, at $15/hr, so making it $25/hr is also odd.

>Was there an agreed time limit on the test ride?

No. The mechanic suggested that going around the block would be sufficient, but I made it clear that I wanted to go for longer than that. I don't think it was clear to me that there was a "limit", nor was it apparently clear to them that I wasn't intending to return immediately.

>I work in a bike shop and if you had taken a bike out for a test ride and not come back for a few hours there would be trouble too. We would just call the police and you would be arrested for bike theft.

No, really? You'd call me up, I'd say "ok, I'll bring it back asap", I'd bring it back, and you'd still call the cops? I don't think so.

>A bike that has been taken out for a few hours can have a 100kms put on it. If they let every customer do this the bike can easily need a new chain on it after a month of test rides.

Sure. There are lots of costs of doing business. In the course of choosing this bike, I've probably had over 20 salesman hours invested in me, from various shops. And this isn't "every customer". This is me almost at the point of purchasing the bike, having narrowed it down to a 50/50 split between two bikes. I'd agree with your point if I was taking some $6000 racer for a joy ride with no intention of buying, but this was really a genuine attempt to assess whether this was indeed the bike for me.

Even after returning, it was still maybe 25% chance that I'd buy it - until they behaved like this. I can understand why they were nervous. I can understand that they got upset. I can't understand why, having gotten their bike back intact, they would then piss off a customer on the point of purchasing, ruining any prospect of a sale, for the sake of $50.

Steve
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Old 04-10-08, 08:47 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ziemas View Post
Call the cops and tell them your passport has been taken under false pretenses. If you are in a country other than your own, call your embassy or consulate; they don't take kindly to non-government people taking your passport.
Fortunately I'm at home. I do believe there are laws against using passports as security, but I'm not sure whether they apply to the passport holder or the one taking it.
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BTW, where did this happen?
A bike shop in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. I don't think naming it is necessary.

Steve
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Old 04-10-08, 08:49 AM   #11
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Am I totally in the wrong here? Anyone had an experience like this? I feel really bad for the sales guy at that place, who helped me choose the bike, then ended up getting caught in the middle of it all when his manager flipped out.

Steve[/QUOTE]

You are not in the wrong, I was asked to leave a $50 deposit in order to test drive a car several years ago. I said no, and walked out. The manager of the dealership later called me at home, apologized and asked that I come back. I said no, that is a sh**** way to do business. THEY ARE NOW OUT OF BUSINESS. There are too many options of where to spend our hard earned money, we need not put up with poor or discourteous service!
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Old 04-10-08, 11:20 AM   #12
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Too many assumptions made here.
Taking this bike out for that long, and especially to another bike shop is way out of the norm.
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Old 04-10-08, 01:28 PM   #13
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If I owned the bike shop I would refuse to sell you a bike based on your story.
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Old 04-10-08, 01:40 PM   #14
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a three-hour test ride is excessive, imo.

a rental fee for the time you spent on the bike would seem to be fair.

keeping your passport is out of line.

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Old 04-10-08, 02:12 PM   #15
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Taking a test ride for that amount of time and distance was out of line, in my opinion.

Keeping the Passport? I wouldn't have used that for security. But now I'd be on the phone with everybody I could think of that could get that bike shop in deep kimchi.

And I would let them know that they blew the sale.

No, on second thought I would pay the $50, and get my Passport back...for the satisfaction of cussing out that manager.
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Old 04-10-08, 02:13 PM   #16
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I think they are being pretty clear about not wanting to sell you the bike, at this point. Wanting to 'gather your thoughts' made it clear to him he was being used. Under these circumstances, I wouldn't sell it to you either. I might have a real hard time finding that passport, too. bk
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Old 04-10-08, 05:33 PM   #17
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Thanks for the comments, all. The thing was, I really felt I was acting in good faith. I'd been pretty upfront with both shops that I wasn't certain which frame size I wanted, and wanted to try them out. Riding from shop A to point B wasn't some evil scheme to secretly borrow the bike for nefarious purposes - it was literally for me a way of seeing how the bike handled for a longer ride, would I feel comfortable etc. All I can think of in his reaction was that he saw me operating some kind of scam.

The really unfortunate thing from my point of view is that had I done it the other way (starting at point B), there wouldn't have been a problem - they said I could borrow the bike for a couple of hours. But I live much closer to A.

So overall I think I stuffed up and did something that wasn't reasonable, and in response, the owner was also unreasonable and did something that was probably illegal.

Steve
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Old 04-10-08, 05:41 PM   #18
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I'm still test riding my bike, its been 17 yrs. now. Still havent decided if I like it. The thing is the bike shop I got it from closed 3 years ago. What should I do?
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Old 04-10-08, 06:03 PM   #19
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I remember at least two shops that have offered to let me take a bike for a test for a couple of days, or the weekend, to give the bike a thorough test on familiar roads. This was their offer, not a request by me. Acutally, I was somewhat surprised at the offers. I thought they were more than generous. And I had never been in either shop previously. I didn't take either up on the offer, but I was impressed. Of course this would have been agreed on, with the expected return time, before the bike left the shop.
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Old 04-10-08, 06:24 PM   #20
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They charge for test rides? Wow. Please, please go shop somewhere else. They really don't deserve one penny of your money.

I do have to say, 3 hour test ride without prior notification is pushing it.
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Old 04-10-08, 08:41 PM   #21
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We rent and sell both bikes and snowboards, and things are handled like this:

Obviously snowboards cannot be test ridden in the parking lot, so any board a customer wishes to try goes out as a Demo with the same credit card deposit that any rental requires. Since this is usually on a nicer board than we carry as rentals, the price is higher to cover the loss in value as the board always comes back showing signs of wear and is now classified as "used", selling for less than full retail. The increased price also covers the labor to install/uninstall bindings and waxing after it is returned. The price of the Demo is refunded if the board is purchased, even if several boards are Demoed until a selection is made.

Bikes can be either test-ridden in the parking lot under supervision for free (with a driver's license as deposit) or taken out for a longer term as a Demo with the same requirements as any other rental. Again, the increased price covers inspection for damage, adjustments, cleaning and loss of value.

It's too bad that the shop didn't or wasn't able to make you aware of their policies, but FYI 4 hours is a standard half-day rental, not a test ride. If someone interested in buying my car took it out for a spin and wasn't back after 3 hours...I'd be freaking out and calling the cops too.
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Old 04-10-08, 10:19 PM   #22
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This comes down to some very simple concepts.

1) You screwed up: You should have been very VERY clear with them that this was a long distance test ride and had an agreement up front about any possible fees.

2) They screwed up: Unless they had you sign a document agreeing to a fee up front they have no legal right to charge you a fee after the fact unless they can prove damages. If they feel you "damaged" their property then they have every right to take you to court (small claims or otherwise).

3) They have now broken the law by illegally impounding you passport. Call the authorities and let them handle that part of it if the shop refuses to give the document back. It will get very ugly for them quickly.

Now with the above said. I would walk in and apologize for the misunderstanding and hand them what I deemed to be a fair amount of cash for my part in the misunderstanding. Based on your comments above I would give them $30 as a rental fee and never cross their threshold again.
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Old 04-10-08, 11:01 PM   #23
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We call the cops after 35 minutes. Dude, it's a test ride, not a demo. We sell new bikes, not bikes that have been test ridden to the ground.
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Old 04-10-08, 11:41 PM   #24
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At this point, you have no leverage for getting your passport back. If you wait too long, the price may go up. You ought to be worrying about this. bk
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Old 04-11-08, 01:28 AM   #25
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I don't think there was anything wrong with them keeping your passport until you paid the money. After all, if you use a hostel, they will quite often take your passport when you check in and give it back when you check out, after you've paid the bill. That's normal practice. The shop has to have some sort of security measures if they are going to let a person out with a $2000 bicycle.

As for the test ride ... all the shops I've test ridden bicycles at have taken my driver's licence, and the keys to my car (if I had a car at the time), and a member of the staff has stood outside on the sidewalk while I rode up and down the road right beside the shop. Taking off with the bicycle would likely have gotten me arrested.
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