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Old 02-19-13, 12:14 AM   #1
Angio Graham
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bike shop owner dies, customer bikes stuck in shop

So the owner of my local bike shop passed away 2 days before Christmas. He was a super great guy.

However, immediatley after he died lawyers for his estate closed the shop pending resolution of his estate.

There were over 30 customers who had bikes in the shop for repair or waiting for assembly after purchase.

There are maybe 50 customers who ordered parts or complete bikes that were returned to the shipper.

Customers are STUCK and no one has contacted them and there is NO WAY to get their bikes out of the shop or their money refunded from orders.

Recently there was a notice posted by a former employee of the shop who said that the estate issues were being sorted out by the attorneys and there was no time table for resolution.

Its been 2 months now.

I know that my fathers probate took over a year to complete.

Really sucks for these customers to have their bikes locked up like this.
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Old 02-19-13, 12:25 AM   #2
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I'd be extremely mad if my prized bike was stuck there. Wasn't there at least some sort of tracking system or receipts for bikes turned in? I know my LBS files a little card with the customer name and bike on it when someone drops off a bike.
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Old 02-19-13, 12:29 AM   #3
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I'd be extremely mad if my prized bike was stuck there. Wasn't there at least some sort of tracking system or receipts for bikes turned in? I know my LBS files a little card with the customer name and bike on it when someone drops off a bike.
yes of course the shop had a system like that. the problem is the lawyers closed the shop and the doors are locked.
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Old 02-19-13, 12:34 AM   #4
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To be honest, I'd find the other customers and have everyone chip in for their own lawyer to get the bikes back. Seems like something could be done some way.
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Old 02-19-13, 12:38 AM   #5
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To be honest, I'd find the other customers and have everyone chip in for their own lawyer to get the bikes back. Seems like something could be done some way.
that would be a good idea i just wonder how you would find the other customers.

personally, if it was my $9,000 bike in there that i rode everyday and needed, i would just break the window at night and take it.

no fricken way i would wait 2 months or possbly a year !!!
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Old 02-19-13, 03:56 AM   #6
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It seems like perhaps a little niceness might help.

Things are a tangled mess. Maybe if one or more of the bike owners would volunteer to help the lawyers by sorting out which bikes belonged to customers, what work was done, parts used and whether they had been paid for, and let them know what the status of each bike is, so that the work and parts can be paid for and the bikes liberated. I think this would be the win-win solution. The lawyers want the money not the bicycles.
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Old 02-19-13, 04:14 AM   #7
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that would be a good idea i just wonder how you would find the other customers.

personally, if it was my $9,000 bike in there that i rode everyday and needed, i would just break the window at night and take it.

no fricken way i would wait 2 months or possbly a year !!!
Odds are the LBS has/had a facebook page- try that for starters. Place a CL notice. Contact the local cycling clubs. Contact the local television station of your choice that has a 'consumer advocacy' type of reporter.

Might be a good idea to start scoping out the legal section of the local newspaper as well. Those lawyers may decide to post a public notice that the shop will be opened on a certain date/time and all interested parties that have a stake better show up (with proof) or vacate any claims after that point. Double check all the legals from now to when the shop closed, just in case...
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Old 02-19-13, 08:46 AM   #8
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First, be sure to file an appropriate and timely claim against the estate just as a creditor would. If the issue is not resolved in a reasonable amount of time, put a notice in the local paper seeking other bike owners with the same problem "for possible legal action". The lawyers want the money, not the bikes, so if it looks like they may have to waste a lot of time on a class action, or worse, 30 separate small claims, they may be more likely to expedite what they know they will eventually have to do anyway. The most important thing is that each owner will need to be able to show proof of ownership. Be very careful about keeping statements factual and civil. You don't want to open yourself up to charges of slander or liable.

Disclaimer: I'm not an attorney

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Old 02-19-13, 10:17 AM   #9
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Do you know the names of the attorneys, and has anyone called them? That'd be my first step.
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Old 02-19-13, 11:33 AM   #10
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I'm not an attorney either, but it seems to me that if you could take proof of ownership to the local police station, you could report the bike as stolen. In the simpliest form the estate is holding a piece of property in which they have no legal claim. This would especially be the case if the bike had not yet been serviced. If it had already been fixed I guess you now technically owe the estate the service/parts fee which may complicate things - again I'm not attorney.
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Old 02-19-13, 12:14 PM   #11
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no idea why the attorneys wouldn't make use of an employee/store manager to sort out what belongs to customers and what's the shops/belongs as part of the estate.
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Old 02-19-13, 12:35 PM   #12
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Don't blame the estate lawyer since he is bound by the estate laws and court oversight in the state where the death happened.

Clear ownership of all property in the shop has to be established before the court will let the executor release anything.
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Old 02-19-13, 12:45 PM   #13
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no idea why the attorneys wouldn't make use of an employee/store manager to sort out what belongs to customers and what's the shops/belongs as part of the estate.
Because that would cost money as no employee/manager would do the work for free. And the lawyer doesn't care about how long things take, but they don't want to spend any more money than necessary doint it.

So the only people who really want the bikes extricated are the owners. They can pay another lawyer hundreds of dollars or roll up their sleeves and help the estate lawyers themselves. What have they got to lose by trying?
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Old 02-19-13, 12:58 PM   #14
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He died , the estate is probably in Probate court.. contact the Courthouse for information.

wages owed employees is a different part of the courts, state wage and hour, Dept of Labor,

Inventory, new bikes and parts may be tied up in Bank Loans..

Owner's ex wife may be a part owner, more legal hoops.

good luck..

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Old 02-19-13, 02:59 PM   #15
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that would be a good idea i just wonder how you would find the other customers.

personally, if it was my $9,000 bike in there that i rode everyday and needed, i would just break the window at night and take it.

no fricken way i would wait 2 months or possbly a year !!!
Contact the local cycling or triathlon club...
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Old 02-19-13, 03:19 PM   #16
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For those that paid with a CC. I suggest you call your CC to request a full refund. Not sure about VISA, Master Card but I know AMX will, unless their refund policy had changed recently.
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Old 02-19-13, 06:57 PM   #17
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Are you referring to PV Bike Center, in Palos Verdes? there's been a bit of chatter on their Facebook page. Unfortunately, it seems that the owner passed without any immediate family (or, at least any in SoCal); and it seems that there were no business contingency plans in place to transition ownership. Somewhat surprising, given that PVBC was a Specialized concept store. I would have thought that Specialized would have required some plans in place in order to keep the shop open.

If he died without a will then his estate goes through the probate process - in LA County. Could easily take a year to resolve. It would seem at some point the court makes a decision to deal with the shop and the property it is holding that belongs to others.

May want to explore filing a creditor's claim in the probate court. I believe the owner lived in Long Beach, so if there is a probate case it may be in the Long Beach courthouse.

Sad situation, the proprietor Steve Bowen was well liked and respected in the SoCal cycling community.
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Old 02-19-13, 07:53 PM   #18
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Are you referring to PV Bike Center, in Palos Verdes? there's been a bit of chatter on their Facebook page. Unfortunately, it seems that the owner passed without any immediate family (or, at least any in SoCal); and it seems that there were no business contingency plans in place to transition ownership. Somewhat surprising, given that PVBC was a Specialized concept store. I would have thought that Specialized would have required some plans in place in order to keep the shop open.

If he died without a will then his estate goes through the probate process - in LA County. Could easily take a year to resolve. It would seem at some point the court makes a decision to deal with the shop and the property it is holding that belongs to others.

May want to explore filing a creditor's claim in the probate court. I believe the owner lived in Long Beach, so if there is a probate case it may be in the Long Beach courthouse.

Sad situation, the proprietor Steve Bowen was well liked and respected in the SoCal cycling community.

Yes I was refering to PV Bike Center. Steve was an awsome guy and i'm sure he would want people to be able to get their bikes ASAP.

I personally dont have any property at the store but I know people who do and they are totally fed up at this point. There is no word from anyone about the status of their bikes but now that they realize it could take a year they are pissed !!

I erally dont see how it could be a crime to just break the damn window and take your own bike out.
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Old 02-19-13, 08:56 PM   #19
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I erally dont see how it could be a crime to just break the damn window and take your own bike out.
Just be sure you have your attorney on Speed Dial before someone does that...
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Old 02-19-13, 09:13 PM   #20
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I wonder how long it will be before local pro bike thieves get wind of the unattended shop and make off with everything one night...
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Old 02-19-13, 09:29 PM   #21
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You need to get creative in these situations. Similar thing happened to a friend of mine. He knew someone who knew the building owner. They had to carry out repairs for the owner and needed access to the shop. During the repairs other items were returned to their rightful owners.
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Old 02-19-13, 09:33 PM   #22
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I wonder how long it will be before local pro bike thieves get wind of the unattended shop and make off with everything one night...
The shop is in a very upscale, low crime neighborhood.

I dont know if that makes any difference though, lol
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Old 02-19-13, 10:13 PM   #23
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More advice from a nonlawyer.

Whoever has stuff in there should consider consulting an attorney. The people that have stuff in there are probably considered some sort of creditor, hopefully not an unsecured creditor. They should also make sure that whoever is handling the probate has a detailed list of what they want back. ie not "My bike is in there.", but "He has my 2011 Specialized model XXX Ser number XXX which was in for the following service. And here's a copy of my claim ticket." Or "I ordered and paid for the following items and here is a copy of my receipt." Finally, make sure that whoever is handling probate has your name and address so they can contact you about your claim.
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Old 02-19-13, 10:42 PM   #24
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More advice from a nonlawyer.

Whoever has stuff in there should consider consulting an attorney. The people that have stuff in there are probably considered some sort of creditor, hopefully not an unsecured creditor. They should also make sure that whoever is handling the probate has a detailed list of what they want back. ie not "My bike is in there.", but "He has my 2011 Specialized model XXX Ser number XXX which was in for the following service. And here's a copy of my claim ticket." Or "I ordered and paid for the following items and here is a copy of my receipt." Finally, make sure that whoever is handling probate has your name and address so they can contact you about your claim.
Question from non lawyer to non lawyer.....Since the shop is apparently going to be sold to a new owner, wouldnt it be better for customers to just wait for the new owner and then just finish the transaction with the new owner ? The shops new owner will legally assume all things business related with the shop.
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Old 02-19-13, 11:25 PM   #25
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Question from non lawyer to non lawyer.....Since the shop is apparently going to be sold to a new owner, wouldnt it be better for customers to just wait for the new owner and then just finish the transaction with the new owner ? The shops new owner will legally assume all things business related with the shop.
NOoooo!!!! They may likely just sell it as "inventory and assets"- rather than an actual business (even ongoing businesses are often sold that way for liability purposes)- In which case, the new owner would likely count everything in the shop as his inventory, and/or it might all just get trucked away one day.

You'd think there would be some kind of standard protocol for a situation like this.....

If it were me, I'd consider filing suit against the estate- not just for the value of my property, but for loss of use and any other related damages.

[I'm not a lawyer...but I play one on a bike forum!]

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