I originally posted this on the NorCal forum, but I thought this forum would benefit as well.
This is about our purchase of a Co-Motion Periscope 700 tandem. It was a tough and frustrating experience, but ultimately the Outfitter was able to make me happy. Here's the story.
The saga started back in October, when I finally got the green light to put an order in for the tandem I've always wanted for us to own and ride. The test ride went very well, and the Doctor Missus was convinced she wanted one. I called the Outfitter and got the ball rolling. However, the first red flag came up as the sales guy asked that a 50% deposit was required for the order (he had initially told us that there was no deposit required on the day of the test ride). I said, fine, here's my card, charge it you %@#$^%. He estimated that the frame should be in mid December.
Fast forward to Holiday season 2007. We stayed in touch throughout the 2 months in between, to get componentry correctly, and whatnot. They said they'd been having no problems getting all the components up till Dec 15. Two weeks before Dec 21 it was confirmed to be ready for delivery on the 21st, and I told myself, perfect, a Christmas present! There was also a hangup about the wheels because apparently they had ordered the wrong wheels (they had a Shimano hub body, not Campagnolo as I had ordered). This was still a Co-Motion issue and it was to be resolved prior to shipping it to the shop. Co-Motion was taking care of the frameset and wheels. The shop had the rest of the components. We stayed in touch almost every other day after that. A week before delivery, I was informed that the frame was ready to ship. The Wednesday before the due date, I spoke to the sales guy again (different guy from the one that sold the bike to us) and he informed me that the frameset still had not arrived!! I asked him again, whether it would be ready for Friday, and he said yes, if the frame arrives later that day, it would be built by Friday. Thursday rolls around, then Friday, no frame, no phone call from the Outfitter. I called them again Friday, but this time he said that even if he received the frame, they wouldn't get to work on it until after Christmas!!
I should stop here and say that the sales team was not in communication (as I found out much later) with the manager, which is why Co-Motion hadn't overnighted the frameset to the shop. I would have paid the extra shipping to get it there on time.
So we got to miss an awesome weekend of great weather here in the Bay Area during the Christmas break. We had made a few plans to go riding that weekend, and I had promised my wife that it was going to be great!
The frame finally arrives Wednesday after Christmas (great timing). By now I'm pretty disappointed and angry that I was promised a date and they completely missed it. In addition, their cavalier attitude about not even attempting to get it there on time really added to my frustration. I believe that they could have had Co-Motion overnight the frame after it was built, and have the tandem built by Friday the 21st because the frameset was ready a week before the delivery date.
On time delivery is something that my company struggles with every day. We are pressured to perform to the date of shipping. I don't see this any differently.
Once the frame was there, the wheels were still wrong, the tyres were wrong, and the saddles were wrong. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say that they've had 2 months to get the order right, and they didn't. I had personally verified that they had ordered the right components 3 times during those 2 months as well.
But I must credit them the fact that as soon as they received the frame, the bike was built within 2 days and they delivered it on the 28th, a week late. I realize that a week is nothing in the world of bicycle ordering, but a week is still a week. The industry really needs to get their heads out of their @#%$# and keep their promises, or pay for breaking them. The night of the delivery, I got involved in a heated discussion with the manager about the deal, and finding out that he knew nothing of it, and that this was the first time he had heard of me. I told him that I wasn't happy, and that this deal was a huge disappointment because of the critical delivery date (Christmas). Also, the fact that the deal wasn't inexpensive (total came to be almost $4200 after tax), I would expect better from them.
Perhaps this was chump change for their shop and they didn't feel the need to service me as well as someone who would, maybe, spend $10000 on a bike there. Hey, it's Los Altos, I wouldn't put it past them.
As delivered, the bike had the wrong tyres and saddles. They fixed the wheels overnight, which showed the efficiency that the shop is capable of. I can't understand why they didn't do this for the rest of the bike??? I let the saddles stay on (they're Brooks B17 Standard, I ordered the Specials). And placed an order in for the tyres (Schwalbe Marathon 700x28). The tyres they installed on the bike, for now, were piece of crap Contis that blew out within 3 miles of home and couldn't get repaired. I eventually replaced them with Vredesteins.
A week later, the manager calls and informs me that he is willing to place a $450 credit on my account at the shop, store credit. I think that this is acceptable, and ultimately, places my anger at ease. My biggest beef was that certain shops don't seem to care for their customers. I had come from an extremely good experience at my LBS (Eden Bicycles in Castro Valley), where they went out of their way to make me happy. They still have my business, and I go there for almost every bicycle need. I was shocked that the Outfitter seemed so uncaring and unwilling to help me make this tandem a Christmas present for my wife. But it all boiled down to miscommunication between management and production; the manager was the ultimate authority where shipping was concerned, and he knew nothing of the deal.
I think that even if they had given me back $450 on my credit card, I would have gone back and did more business with them anyway, because I feel that they really did try their best (albeit a little late) after getting the frameset. I am happy about the deal overall, and the bike rides very well. We will be going back for a bike rack for the car, and maybe a trailer or a pannier rack later down the road.