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  1. #1
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    In Fear of your LBS...why so many "no-no's"?

    I have read some lines about extending special courtesies to an LBS because some issues would be a no-no. Like there is some code for dealing with LBS's one has to adhere to or else you would be considered a barbarian or something.

    I understand not wasting an LBS's time, and if you ask lotsa time consuming questions about a product they have, yeah, you prolly should buy it from them.

    But not bringing them an off brand bike you own for them to help you with, or being afraid to ask them to match prices - I just don't agree.

    I think it is in their interest, whether you bought the bike from 'em or not, to help you with your bike needs. And in this economy, I think asking to match a price you saw elsewhere is just sensible, with no offense to the LBS intended. I think asking them to match a price is actually a good way of telling them "I'd rather give YOU GUYS my business." When you could have just bought what you saw elsewhere right off the bat.

    So why all the behavior mores about LBii? I don't get it. And I like to think that I am a courteous and respectful person. I am with my LBS. I love those guys. They have always been great, and didn't mind me bringing in my off brand bike for repair.

    How do you feel about this issue and what is fair in dealing with an LBS?

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    A bicycle shop is a business just like a hardware shop, an electronics shop, a clothing shop, a grocery store, etc. etc. I really don't know why LBSs are treated like something special and different from an other business.

    I don't shop at one and only one clothing store. If I see something I like for a good price in a particular clothing store, I buy it there. If I see something else I like for a good price in a different clothing store, I buy that there. Same with a bicycle shop. Just like I have no loyalty to any clothing shop, I have no loyalty whatsoever to any particular bicycle shop.

    And if a clothing shop wants my business, the clothing shop had better have what I want at a price I want to pay, complete with decent customer service. If not, I'm going to the next shop. Same with a bicycle shop. Same with a hardware shop, electronics shop, bookshop, newsagency, etc. etc. etc.

    So, if you would ask an electronics shop to price match on a new TV, why not ask a bicycle shop to price match on a new bicycle? If you would bring a TV you bought from one electronics shop into an electronics repair shop elsewhere, why not take a bicycle you bought from one location to another location for service?

  3. #3
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    I don't get the point of this thread, as it involves topics that have repeatedly (and generated some heat in the process) in the past.

    -By "off brand", do you mean something that one would purchase at a national, non cycling specific, chain of retail stores? Some shops have gotten tired of being 'burned' by customers who brought in BSO's that balked and walked when they got the bill.
    -"Price match" what, exactly? A bike or an accessory or a part? Very little margin on bikes, but their is a fairly sizeable mark-up on the accessories. But they can't compete with an online source. Hell, even Wal-Mart retail stores won't even price match from walmart.com.
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  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    not that $89.00 bikes are refused service, but if it rises to cost more to fix it,
    than $90 ..

    people may not pick them up, after hearing the repair bottom line .
    externalizing the scrapping of them.. & taking a loss on work performed.

  5. #5
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    I take my "on-brand" '85 Trek 460 to the local Trek dealer 2blks down the street and they look at me like I'm from another planet. Shoot, I might as well bring them a high-wheeler or a unicycle.

    This is how I became a better wrench. Some just want to work on the new stuff, I guess. We still have a good relationship, I just dont need their service.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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  6. #6
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    A bicycle shop is a business just like a hardware shop, an electronics shop, a clothing shop, a grocery store, etc. etc. I really don't know why LBSs are treated like something special and different from an other business.
    Around here, and in many other places, bike shops provide a community and advocacy role. Mine has weekly shop rides, organizes larger events, provides free mechanic services at charity rides, creates maps of safe cycling routes, lobbies local government for better cycling facilities and laws, and so on. They are so much more than 'just another store'; they do a lot of things that will be sorely missed if pushed out of business.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    Around here, and in many other places, bike shops provide a community and advocacy role. Mine has weekly shop rides, organizes larger events, provides free mechanic services at charity rides, creates maps of safe cycling routes, lobbies local government for better cycling facilities and laws, and so on. They are so much more than 'just another store'; they do a lot of things that will be sorely missed if pushed out of business.
    In addition mine has mechanics able to help people on the spot. These include racers as well as commuters. They sponsor teams and offer advice and assistance to anyone walking in. They stock and have most sizes of all the bikes they sell, which are generally high end. That's something very few stores anywhere do
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    When working in bike shops I've had the experience of trying to talk people out of servicing a bike when the repair was going to be uneconomical. I have even declined to take in bikes when I could see that the project was going to go bad.

    In the end however, customers have no responsibility to make the LBS people happy. LBS folks earn their money by making the customers happy.

  9. #9
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Just like I have no loyalty to any clothing shop, I have no loyalty whatsoever to any particular bicycle shop.
    When I lived in the state capital, there was a menswear shop that I very much liked. They provided excellent service and the guy who owned the place knew clothes like the back of his hand. He understood his product and business in a way seldom seen. It's been 12 years since I've moved, and still I wish I could go back and shop there.

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    In the end however, customers have no responsibility to make the LBS people happy. LBS folks earn their money by making the customers happy.
    Exactly.

    And that may mean that the LBS needs to "provide a community and advocacy role" in order to draw in customers and make the customers happy. LBSs do that sort of thing to get their name out there to attract more customers.

    In the same way, a small mechanic shop may sponsor a speedway race, and provide free tune up service in order to get their names out there to attract customers.

    It's all about making money.

  11. #11
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    I got better service at the LBS that I DIDN'T buy my bike from. As a result they've become my go to shop and I've bought 2 bikes and tons of other stuff from them. Whenever I order stuff through them, they look at their cost then mark it up a bit. The price ends up being 20-25% or more below retail and even cheaper than what I could get the same item for online.

    I don't do anything special for them other than continuing to give them my money.

    When the other shop in town gets busy they decline to repair anything that they didn't sell. The shop I go to will repair anything, though they do sometimes have to stop accepting bikes mid-week when the backlog gets well over 100 bikes.

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Being on a couple busy Bike Tour routes , the on tour folks
    get sorted out as they come ..

    as best possible..
    high end stuff is harder to deal with because other than the next 90 days.
    transient traffic is gone.. those folks don't live here.
    so spares are not stocked on Spec for 10 & 11 speed ..
    the XTR, D A and Campag Kit.

    LBS here and one further down the Coast , communicate often,
    they get the parts order going, so the parts are there,
    a couple-3 days down the road..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 07-09-12 at 10:16 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    LBS here and one further down the Coast , communicate often,
    they get the parts order going, so the parts are there,
    a couple-3 days down the road..
    So you diagnose a problem for a touring rider, and then call ahead to the next shop on down the road for them to order the parts? That's actually pretty darn clever.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Exactly.

    And that may mean that the LBS needs to "provide a community and advocacy role" in order to draw in customers and make the customers happy. LBSs do that sort of thing to get their name out there to attract more customers.

    In the same way, a small mechanic shop may sponsor a speedway race, and provide free tune up service in order to get their names out there to attract customers.

    It's all about making money.

    Nobody is saying you have to support your LBS if it sucks. Let's get that straight. There are a lot that do; people who are downright rude to customers, etc. In my book, go ahead and cease doing business with them.

    But to state that the LBS only does these things to make money is quite shortsighted and perhaps just a bit too cynical. The people at my LBS genuinely love bicycles and bicycle culture. The owners of my shop just invited all of the customers following them on Facebook to come on over to their house yesterday for a Tour de France picnic. It's people who love bicycles, creating a community, who also make a living off of servicing bicycles and selling parts.

    They've done an incredible job of fulfilling this role in our town, and if they go out of business it'll be a gigantic blow to this community overall. They treat us like friends rather than customers, and I am happy to pay a bit more than to ship my money to some faceless business across the country, or hell, the world.

  15. #15
    Goodbye Leeroy Jenkins tagaproject6's Avatar
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    I don't fear my LBS. Apply common human decency when dealing with people...LBS or not, and you should be fine
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
    I have read some lines about extending special courtesies to an LBS because some issues would be a no-no. Like there is some code for dealing with LBS's one has to adhere to or else you would be considered a barbarian or something.

    I understand not wasting an LBS's time, and if you ask lotsa time consuming questions about a product they have, yeah, you prolly should buy it from them.

    But not bringing them an off brand bike you own for them to help you with, or being afraid to ask them to match prices - I just don't agree.

    I think it is in their interest, whether you bought the bike from 'em or not, to help you with your bike needs. And in this economy, I think asking to match a price you saw elsewhere is just sensible, with no offense to the LBS intended. I think asking them to match a price is actually a good way of telling them "I'd rather give YOU GUYS my business." When you could have just bought what you saw elsewhere right off the bat.

    So why all the behavior mores about LBii? I don't get it. And I like to think that I am a courteous and respectful person. I am with my LBS. I love those guys. They have always been great, and didn't mind me bringing in my off brand bike for repair.

    How do you feel about this issue and what is fair in dealing with an LBS?
    For the bike shop I deal, I do not mind paying a higher price and would feel bad about asking them to match it. They offer sooooooo many perks that others shops do not offer and no online place offers perks like this either.

  17. #17
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    One of the ones I go to they seem nice enough, but sometimes not the most knowledgeable about older things (odd because most of the bikes I see in for repairs are old). Then I went to another one one time because it was convenient on the way home. The dude treated me like crap, so I haven't been back.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    I don't get the point of this thread, as it involves topics that have repeatedly (and generated some heat in the process) in the past.

    -By "off brand", do you mean something that one would purchase at a national, non cycling specific, chain of retail stores? Some shops have gotten tired of being 'burned' by customers who brought in BSO's that balked and walked when they got the bill.
    -"Price match" what, exactly? A bike or an accessory or a part? Very little margin on bikes, but their is a fairly sizeable mark-up on the accessories. But they can't compete with an online source. Hell, even Wal-Mart retail stores won't even price match from walmart.com.
    1. Just a friendly discussion.
    2. Off brand, meaning not the brand they sell at their shop.
    3. Price matching anything.

  19. #19
    Senior Member eja_ bottecchia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mithrandir View Post
    nobody is saying you have to support your lbs if it sucks. Let's get that straight. There are a lot that do; people who are downright rude to customers, etc. In my book, go ahead and cease doing business with them.

    But to state that the lbs only does these things to make money is quite shortsighted and perhaps just a bit too cynical. The people at my lbs genuinely love bicycles and bicycle culture. The owners of my shop just invited all of the customers following them on facebook to come on over to their house yesterday for a tour de france picnic. It's people who love bicycles, creating a community, who also make a living off of servicing bicycles and selling parts.

    They've done an incredible job of fulfilling this role in our town, and if they go out of business it'll be a gigantic blow to this community overall. They treat us like friends rather than customers, and i am happy to pay a bit more than to ship my money to some faceless business across the country, or hell, the world.
    ^^^this^^^
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  20. #20
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    If the price to 'match' is what you pay for it wholesale, what would you do?

    .. do you do your job for Free? trainee, Intern?

  21. #21
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tagaproject6 View Post
    I don't fear my LBS. Apply common human decency when dealing with people...LBS or not, and you should be fine
    This, as well as common decency. Do you go to Walmart and ask for a discount? How about your doctor, dentist, the local McDonalds? Then why go to the LBS and ask for one? As far as price matching, you can ask but why should they cut their marginal profit to price match with a "store" online that doesn't pay the kind of overhead they do? For some reason too many people seem to think that small business owners are made of money and should be forced to give discounts. Why?

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  22. #22
    Senior Member Hoshnasi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    ...

    But to state that the LBS only does these things to make money is quite shortsighted and perhaps just a bit too cynical. The people at my LBS genuinely love bicycles and bicycle culture. The owners of my shop just invited all of the customers following them on Facebook to come on over to their house yesterday for a Tour de France picnic. It's people who love bicycles, creating a community, who also make a living off of servicing bicycles and selling parts.

    They've done an incredible job of fulfilling this role in our town, and if they go out of business it'll be a gigantic blow to this community overall. They treat us like friends rather than customers, and I am happy to pay a bit more than to ship my money to some faceless business across the country, or hell, the world.
    What the shop does is good for cycling and the community. With that said the extra money you may pay is all a cost for the higher benefit for the extra things the shop provides. Which is great for you the individual and for your community. The small shop in question has identified that while they may have higher prices that they can stay in business by offering a set of "perks". The shop most likely looks at their prices and perks often to maintain the right balance of profit to costs.

    With that said though, customers perform value assessments differently regarding perks and everyone has a different yard stick for where the balance lies. Should I as someone who does not partake in the LBS perks still choose to spend my money there where my dollar buys less? Is there an un-seen net positive to me where by strengthening the community also helps me? I'd say probably "yes" but I would not make all my purchases there. Just some and when I couldn't wait the shipping time to receive a tool or a part for example.

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  23. #23
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    But to state that the LBS only does these things to make money is quite shortsighted and perhaps just a bit too cynical.
    Not at all. They are a business, just like any other business. And they have a budget for promotion ... advertising in whatever seems the most effective way. That may be turning up at events and offering free tune-up service, or inviting people for a picnic, or whatever.

    If there's a cycling event in town which draws 100 people, and one shop in town makes itself known there, but the other doesn't ... who do you think people are going to remember when they have a broken spoke that needs replacing? Showing up at an event isn't an act of goodwill on the part of the shop, it's a clever business move.

    Other types of businesses will sponsor other types of events for the same reason.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Koobazaur's Avatar
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    I'm with Machka on this. There's people who love donuts, spending their free time admiring, appreciating, researching and baking the most perfect doughnut. Yet, when you go down to your local Mr. Chang's YumYum Donutshop you don't think about that, you give him his dollar fifty and walk away grumbling because the sugar and caffeine rush hasn't kicked in yet.

    Such is business.

  25. #25
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    If the price to 'match' is what you pay for it wholesale, what would you do?

    .. do you do your job for Free? trainee, Intern?
    Precisely. If you find a great deal somewhere, buy it. That's fine with me, even if you buy it elsewhere and bring it in to have us install it or work on it. I sincerely don't care... heck, I bought my Ultegra crankset off Ebay because it was about $80 below what I'd pay wholesale. You see a good deal? Go for it.

    What's not OK, is asking us to take a net loss (after overhead) so you can have it right now, instead of having to order it yourself. We invested money in that item and we need to make our overhead plus some net profit on it. If we want to stay in business, that is.

    Labor's one of our highest-margin products, it's in our best interest to work on anything you've got. So off-brand bikes are fine with me as long as they're actually servicable. The really bad X-Mart bikes sometimes don't make the cut... easy example, twist-shifters that you can NOT replace the cables in, or hub/BB bearing cups made of such thin metal that they just cave in with use.

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