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Old 07-18-04, 10:01 AM   #1
nesdog
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Target botches the sale!

Yesterday, I took my 9 year old ("9-3/4 Daddy!" Whoops, sorry little one) over to Target to get her a new bike. I went to Target over the LBS because she is very hard on things, plus I didn't want to spend $300 on a bike she may outgrow in a couple of years. I'll get her the better bike then.

After much looking over and negotiation (Oh, you other parents know what I mean!), she settled on a nice model. "I've got to have THIS bike, Dad". Whew. $75

I was looking over the bike when I noticed that the front brakes didn't work properly; one side was not contacting the wheel. Should be an easy fix, right?

We took the bike over to Customer No Service. The conversation went like this:

Me: Hi. We want to buy this bike. I see the brake is not working so can we have this taken care of?
Rep: We will repair it.
Me: Great. Do you call someone now?
Rep: No. We will repair it.
Me: Ok. So do I give you my name and then you let us know when it's done?
Rep: No. We just put it back on the shelf.
Me: Excuse me?
Rep: We just put it back.
Me: Well, my daughter wants this bike so what's to stop someone else from buying this one?
Rep: Nothing.
Me: That's insane. We want this bike! We are ready to pay for it right now!
Rep: [shrug]


Now what I should have done is call a manager but I was so pissed off at this point ( and tired, hot, wanting to leave the store), that I put the bike back on the shelf, tolerated my little one's complaints and left. I am sending a note to the store manager today. Now I know why people say don't buy a bicycle anywhere but the LBS.
BTW, I noticed when returning the bike to it's slot that nearly all of the other bikes were missing parts, etc. What a joke!

Sheldon
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Old 07-18-04, 10:17 AM   #2
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what a joke indeed. the employees don't care one bit...they just want the shift to be over. i bought a mtn. bike from k-mart 4 years ago, and when i stood up to pedal for the first time the back wheel came loose, the chain jammed, and i took a spill in an intersection. thankfully i didn't get hurt, but what if a kid bought this and really hurt themselves?

yep - an LBS is the way to go. good luck finding a bike for your daughter.
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Old 07-18-04, 10:48 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nesdog


Now what I should have done is call a manager but I was so pissed off at this point ( and tired, hot, wanting to leave the store), that I put the bike back on the shelf, tolerated my little one's complaints and left. I am sending a note to the store manager today. Now I know why people say don't buy a bicycle anywhere but the LBS.
BTW, I noticed when returning the bike to it's slot that nearly all of the other bikes were missing parts, etc. What a joke!

Sheldon
You really shouldn't be so upset. Seriously, you can't expect much else from a department store. They have tons of inventory varying from toilet paper to bikes. There is no way that they can offer service to go along with the sale. There are no bike mechanics on the payroll. They most likely just have some "assembler" that isn't there all that often.

You shouldn't be angry at the Target employees. They are not responsible for the proper operation of the bikes. I know that most people will tell you to go to the LBS. I will tell you the same but if you just can't bring yourself to do it, than you are going to have to sacrifice. In this case you will sacrifice service and probably sanity. How much are those worth to you?

You mention that you plan to get a better bike later. Why not now? Consider this bike. It retails for $259 so you can likely pick up last years model for around $200.

Now you have spent $200 on a bike that is supposed to take your kid to the age of 13. Or actually you have spent $140 because you already plan to spend $60 on the Target bike. Now fast forward to the age of 13. The bike will still be a Trek LBS bike. It will still have value to someone even if it means on Ebay.

You can probaly still sell it for $50-$100 at that time. So lets say you get $100 for it. That means for only $40 more you could give your kid a safe reliable bike that comes with service to ride instead of the Target special.
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Old 07-18-04, 11:31 AM   #4
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[QUOTE=Ranger]You really shouldn't be so upset. Seriously, you can't expect much else from a department store. They have tons of inventory varying from toilet paper to bikes. There is no way that they


Good advice, thanks. My being upset was more a result of the very hot weather here in Socal yesterday, my spending the entire day with my daughter while mom played with a friend (my choice, I set that up!) and my own feeling of ineptness!

Anyhow, most of this is a vent and I appreciate your thoughtful feedback.

Sheldon
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Old 07-18-04, 12:41 PM   #5
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I went along the same lines for my daughter's first 24" bike. I did end up buying a bike at Target, but I paid $100 for a Schwinn w/ a Tourney derailler, promax brakes I could work with, etc. When we got home I had to adjust EVERYTHING ... the brakes were way off, the pedals even needed tightening. The stem was loose ... I was happy with what we got for our money but it really scares me for all those kids who take that bike home and ride it like that. They are so NOT SAFE assembled (in a stretch of the word) the way they are at those stores. After a bunch more miles I'll probably even let the LBS give a go at her bike for a full service tune-up ... just to be sure everything is good. The bike also weighs a lot ... cro-moly ... which for me was the biggest downside of compared to the better brands aluminum offerings. My daughter tho was still 6 (very tall) when we got it and I wanted something I wouldn't be yelling at her to treat better ... besides if she's really into it, by 9 or 10 I'll spring for a better bike.

good luck!
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Old 07-18-04, 07:19 PM   #6
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Department stores put bikes together, they aren't assembled by any means.
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Old 07-18-04, 08:52 PM   #7
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My daughter is 9 and has a friend who just got a 20" MTB from Target. I noticed that the front wheel was mounted backwards. The tread was obviously directional and there was even an arrow on the sidewall showing the proper direction of rotation. If someone as mechanically inept as me can spot this at first glance, one shudders to think of the level of cluelessness of the assembler.

I agree with all that has been said about the service level in department stores, but this is part of a larger trend in the post-industrial economy - where more and more knowledge is captured in automated processes and the minds of the few, leading to the gradual dumbing down and economic disenfranchisement of large segments of the workforce. This is part of the phenomenon recently dubbed the "Walmart Effect" and I don't believe any of us can possibly predict how much further it will go.
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Old 07-18-04, 09:21 PM   #8
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Horray for the LBS, although I've had the misfortune to have dealt with a couple that were about as inept as "Wally World". Actually they weren't inept. They just didn't give a s**t. Fortunately the last dealer I worked with was super. He was 5 stars i my book.

'bent Brian
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Old 07-18-04, 09:35 PM   #9
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A little story:

When I worked in a LBS we did the service for the department store bikes that were too messed up for the staff (16-yr old kids who assemble barbeques) to fix. The bikes were such crap that we cancelled the contract after 6 months or so. There was no way we could (in good faith) send those bikes back out without a complete rebuild (and throwing 1/2 the parts into the trash).
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Old 07-19-04, 05:51 AM   #10
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Your experience is not surprising. Nor is The Target associates response. Target is so big that you, and your entire town can boycott them, and they wouldn't even notice. I saw one with a fork mounted backwards, and I notified the department Manager. His response was "Thanks" and he walked away. Two weeks later the bike was still on the rack with the fork still mounted backwards.

Departement store bikes can be a good deal if you know how to fix a bike yourself. If you don't then you are asking for trouble, or worse.

Mark Stoughton
BikingWithKids.NET



Quote:
Originally Posted by nesdog
Yesterday, I took my 9 year old ("9-3/4 Daddy!" Whoops, sorry little one) over to Target to get her a new bike. I went to Target over the LBS because she is very hard on things, plus I didn't want to spend $300 on a bike she may outgrow in a couple of years. I'll get her the better bike then.

After much looking over and negotiation (Oh, you other parents know what I mean!), she settled on a nice model. "I've got to have THIS bike, Dad". Whew. $75

I was looking over the bike when I noticed that the front brakes didn't work properly; one side was not contacting the wheel. Should be an easy fix, right?

We took the bike over to Customer No Service. The conversation went like this:

Me: Hi. We want to buy this bike. I see the brake is not working so can we have this taken care of?
Rep: We will repair it.
Me: Great. Do you call someone now?
Rep: No. We will repair it.
Me: Ok. So do I give you my name and then you let us know when it's done?
Rep: No. We just put it back on the shelf.
Me: Excuse me?
Rep: We just put it back.
Me: Well, my daughter wants this bike so what's to stop someone else from buying this one?
Rep: Nothing.
Me: That's insane. We want this bike! We are ready to pay for it right now!
Rep: [shrug]


Now what I should have done is call a manager but I was so pissed off at this point ( and tired, hot, wanting to leave the store), that I put the bike back on the shelf, tolerated my little one's complaints and left. I am sending a note to the store manager today. Now I know why people say don't buy a bicycle anywhere but the LBS.
BTW, I noticed when returning the bike to it's slot that nearly all of the other bikes were missing parts, etc. What a joke!

Sheldon
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Old 07-19-04, 08:31 PM   #11
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I was at my local Wal-Mart after, my previous post, and for the hell of it, I went by their bikes. There was a full-suspension Mongoose MTB (scary) with disc brakes (scarier). The front fork, and in turn brake and brake levers, were on backwards!

Also, just FYI, Wal-Mart will not exchange or refund a bicyle, but send it off for repairs.
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Old 07-20-04, 07:45 AM   #12
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Sheldon, is there a trek store (not an LBS that sells trek, but a trek store) near you? There is one in Madison and they have a bike trade-up plan. As your kid grows, you bring the old bike in, and get $x toward the purchase of a new one. I mention this because if they take the bikes back, they probably have some used kids bikes that might fit the bill and would cost less than new, and if not, you don't lose the whole cost of the first bike. Alternatively, ask the LBS if there are any used kids bikes in their inventory (not in the presence of your child as she will only want a new one). I agree with the general comments about buying bikes at *marts: Don't.
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Old 07-20-04, 11:42 AM   #13
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[QUOTE=DogBoy]Sheldon, is there a trek store (not an LBS that sells trek, but a trek store) near you? There is one in Madison and they have a bike trade-up plan.


A Trek store? They don't show any on their web site. I'm in Socal, just north of Los Angeles so there are generally plenty of shopping opportunities available. I'm planning on calling some of the LBS's to see if they have any trade-ins as well.

Sheldon
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Old 07-20-04, 12:11 PM   #14
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frankly i dont buy anything from target or wall-mart or any of them other big box places...mostly because i dont support there buisness model. that poor bastard behind the counter probly gets paid min-wage and doesnt see any benifits and is made to work double shifts for no over time...i know i was when i worked at places like that. if i was at the end of a 16 hour shift and some guy with his kid came up to me and started talking about how some little part on some bike i couldnt care less about i wouldnt really help either...the moral of this story you pay a person a living wage and you dont treat them like crap and they will be much more helpful when you need something repaired...go to the LBS and support local buisness.
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Old 07-20-04, 03:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nesdog
I'm planning on calling some of the LBS's to see if they have any trade-ins as well.

Sheldon
Let us know how it goes. Just out of curiosity, did you assume the LBS would cost more or did you check out the prices before hand? I've generally found prices at specialty shops to be similar to the Big Box stores and infinately more helpful.

-murray
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Old 07-20-04, 04:11 PM   #16
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The other question is: do you want your daughter to enjoy riding her bike?

If you do, then buying a chain/dept. store "bike" isn't the way to do it. I've been running a kids bike club for over 6 years and many turn up on similar bikes (often full suspension), because they're cheap and mum/dad can get them a better one in a year or two.

Unfortunately, the bike weighs about 40lb (more than the kid in some cases) and they don't want to ride in a year or two because they connect bike riding with hard work and therefore no fun.

With a lighter (aka more expensive at first) biked they can go faster, develop their skills more and flat out enjoy themselves a lot more. If money is tight, then try your LBS's until you can get a good s/h one and it will be safe.

By the way, starting a kids bike club is an excellent way of trading her bike when she grows out of it.

So you don't have to get one she'll "grow into" in about 2007

Good luck
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Old 07-20-04, 05:10 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atbman
The other question is: do you want your daughter to enjoy riding her bike?

If you do, then buying a chain/dept. store "bike" isn't the way to do it. I've been running a kids bike club for over 6 years and many turn up on similar bikes (often full suspension), because they're cheap and mum/dad can get them a better one in a year or two.

Unfortunately, the bike weighs about 40lb (more than the kid in some cases) and they don't want to ride in a year or two because they connect bike riding with hard work and therefore no fun.

With a lighter (aka more expensive at first) biked they can go faster, develop their skills more and flat out enjoy themselves a lot more. If money is tight, then try your LBS's until you can get a good s/h one and it will be safe.

By the way, starting a kids bike club is an excellent way of trading her bike when she grows out of it.

So you don't have to get one she'll "grow into" in about 2007

Good luck
Hmmm now there's an idea.
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Old 07-20-04, 05:18 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murrays
Let us know how it goes. Just out of curiosity, did you assume the LBS would cost more or did you check out the prices before hand? I've generally found prices at specialty shops to be similar to the Big Box stores and infinately more helpful.

-murray

I did check the LBS's. All things being equal (and they are not, of course, but at her level of [non] riding it may not matter), the price difference was pretty big. A 20" or 24" bike at the LBS was running in the $200-$250+ range. Giants, Treks, etc. The 'mart" versions were all under $100. Local sporting goods shops about $200 so you can see why I thought to go to Target. Again, just figured on getting a few years out of it, then going to the LBS for a better machine. Boy you should see how she tosses her current bike around! Anyhow, this thread is getting me wary enough to drop the Target idea.

I did write to the manager of the store. I expect a form letter in return but will let everyone know if it's something different.

Kids Club.. an interesting idea. Have to think that over too.

Sheldon
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Old 07-20-04, 05:20 PM   #19
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You know, I would think that there would be a place where you can buy cro-moly frames for kids. Nothing fancy, but jsut something bigger that you could swap all your old components on. That way, every 2-3 years, you just buy another $70 frame and a $50-70 labor at the LBS instead of dropping tons of cash on a new bike. Seems like it would be far easier to swallow that way.
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Old 07-21-04, 11:53 AM   #20
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What about a folding bike? I met some kids a while back on them... They're a bit more expensive, but you should be able to adjust them so they're rideable through a lot more growing time...
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