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  1. #1
    Jonathan
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    Rowlett’s in Richmond, VA - Major Thumb's Down

    I wish not to make this forum a LBS basher, but the previous thread got me thinking about a bad experience this weekend that must be posted.

    I am originally from Richmond but now live in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. I went up this weekend for the Richmond to Williamsburg MS 150. My LBS (Cycle Science) in Florida helped me pack up my bike and ship it up for the weekend. They could not have been nicer and said that if I had any problem putting the bike back together, any LBS in Richmond would be glad to help most certainly.

    Putting the bike back together was not problematic but it was shifting less than stellar afterwards. It was obvious some slight adjustment needed to be made. My riding partner / friend lives close to Rowlett's so we took it over there to ask for some quick assistance. On the way over my friend doubted they would help based on other negative experiences he had there but we had no choice but to give it a shot.

    To make a long story short, they were rude and not understanding of the situation. They said the waiting time for any work was a week and that we should have thought about this problem earlier (obviously they didn't care that I don't live there and could not get the bike there sooner).

    I got the problem sorted out in 2 min by the tech at the start of the ride on Saturday morning.

    In an age where the LBS faces stiff competition from power players such as Performance, it amazes me that a store could act this way. I wasn't asking for any parts or major work - just a simple turning of a screw. I am a business owner myself and paying it forward is just something you do. It always comes back to your benefit.

    Jonathan Schneider

  2. #2
    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    you must be kidding

    I don't know if the shop in question is customarily rude or not, but:

    Let me see if I got this correct:

    You are on your way to an event where there will be lots of bike mechs, but you decide to go to a local bike shop on a busy Friday afternoon, and get that local shop - that doesn't know you from Adam, and it sounds like they don't know your friend from Adam, either - to put you ahead of all their regular customers. Including potentially customers that are coming by in a few minutes to retrieve their own bikes so they can go to the same event.

    And yet you claim you had no alternative but to go to that shop, and try to bully your way ahead of others already in the queue.

    And then in the last bit of your post you reveal that you obviously did have an alternative. Namely, the many bike mechs at the MS.

    I think you either made up this story because you have a grudge against this shop, or you have never stopped to talk to any local bike shop personnel long enough to develop a relationship and learn how the bike maintenance world works. Either way, I think you were obviously being rude.

  3. #3
    Jonathan
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    Skiffrun,

    I think you are being a bit dramatic.

    1. I was lucky there was a tech at the ride start. There was no mention there was absolutely going to be one.

    2. No bullying occured. We simply asked, were turned down, and left.

    3. My friend has bought stuff at the store before.

    4. At 5:45pm when you are 5 mins. away from the store and all the other bike shops close at 6pm, there is not much choice.

    Jonathan

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    I agree...

    When I went to NC to mountain bike, I went to the local bike shop there TWICE to get my bike fixed... they were happy to do so, the year before, my girlfriend broke her seat and went there and they were happy to fix that AND while they had her bike, they adjusted her shocks without even her asking. These guys didn't know me from Adam, I wasn't renting their bikes, They had a ton of work to do for people that were, but they knew I needed help and they were the only game in town.

    A week ago, I went to a different local bike shop and had them make the very same chain adjustment, took two minutes, they guy said: "do you want to leave the bike with me? I said, I think it will only take you two seconds, he said, ok lets see... yeah you're right, here ya go, have a nice ride."

    When I bought my road bike from performance, I went back there after a month and said "I think I have cable stretch..." they said, "ok, lets do the adjustment... ok take it outside and see if that fixed it..."

    Bottom line is, why would you want to buy a bike from someone who won't even spend two seconds dealing with your issue... the answer is I wouldn't... Like I said to you before, I'd suggest you buy your bike at WalMart before shopping at Rowletts in Richmond. They flat out treat their customers poorly.

    (Last thought, it was very generous of you to fly up to do a charity ride for the MS-150 and raise all that money for them, too bad Rowletts couldn't support you in the slightest way to make sure you could do the ride -- I noticed a bunch of bike shops donating their time for the various rides that have been around Richmond. Didn't notice Rowletts, guess they are too busy turning away customers.)

  5. #5
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    Jonathon,

    Couple of thoughts. If you do any more organized charity rides like this again, they all have techs to help. The idea is they want your bikes functioning before you start out. They also have people out on the ride to help.

    The second is you should learn a little something about making simple adjustments and fixes yourself. It's never good to not know how to do repairs when you're alone. Buy a manual at your LBS or read up on the internet. Park Tools has a good site as does Harris Cyclery (Sheldon Brown).

    Perhaps Rowletts would have been more accomodating if you told them it was a quick and simple adjustment. The way you presented the problem might had lead them to think you are looking at a several hour tune-up. That's another reason to become more knowledgable.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  6. #6
    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jschn04 View Post
    Skiffrun,

    I think you are being a bit dramatic.

    1. I was lucky there was a tech at the ride start. There was no mention there was absolutely going to be one.

    2. No bullying occured. We simply asked, were turned down, and left.

    3. My friend has bought stuff at the store before.

    4. At 5:45pm when you are 5 mins. away from the store and all the other bike shops close at 6pm, there is not much choice.

    Jonathan
    I am being dramatic? You are the one posting the slam.

    1. You were not lucky there were mechs available. There are always mechs available at all MS-150 rides. There is usually a queue.

    2. You tried to jump the queue. That is bullying.

    4. There are always bike mechs at the MS-150 events. Read the literature.

  7. #7
    Member esperoquesi's Avatar
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    I have to agree

    ...I am a local and I have had the same issues with Rowletts. I recently called to inquire about a new Chris King headset for my MTB. I was told it would be $160 to start (which the part is advertised for around $125-130 from performance and online) finally they said they had one there and they could do it for $135...ok I thought, LBS my cash to a good cause, a little break on the install, I'm ok with that. Well I brought it in and it was a friday and they were like well we can get your bike back to you in about a week.....since it was the weekend I thought "well why don't I order the color I want since this is an extremely expensive piece and bring the bike in when they get it in so I can ride this weekend". Well when that happened they called me back and said it would be $150 for a "custom" order. I didn't know changing the color of the piece was that custom. I haggled with them to get the price more reflective of what every other LBS in town is charging for the headset.....$130....that never happened although they did bring it down some and when they ordered it they ordered a 1" headset instead of a 1"1/8....woops....The guys that work there are real nice dudes but honestly this type of customer servcie will put them out of buisness fast....especially when one of their old mechanics has gone out and started another bike shop in town (carytown bikes). Just my experience.

  8. #8
    aspiring Old Wart Sluggo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiffrun View Post
    I am being dramatic? You are the one posting the slam.

    1. You were not lucky there were mechs available. There are always mechs available at all MS-150 rides. There is usually a queue.

    2. You tried to jump the queue. That is bullying.

    4. There are always bike mechs at the MS-150 events. Read the literature.
    I don't know Rowlett's from Adam, but I am sick of people defending bad service in bike shops. Arrogance and elitism are way too common, and if it is a freakin week wait for a simple repair, maybe they need to hire some more people (and pay them a living wage). I worked in bike shops for a decade, and I learned a little about customer service, but not enough -- but I did learn how easy it is to alienate customers.

    If bike shops want to reach out to customers in a competitive market that are not hard-core hammerheads , they better learn how provide decent service.

  9. #9
    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sluggo View Post
    I don't know Rowlett's from Adam, but I am sick of people defending bad service in bike shops. Arrogance and elitism are way too common, and if it is a freakin week wait for a simple repair, maybe they need to hire some more people (and pay them a living wage). I worked in bike shops for a decade, and I learned a little about customer service, but not enough -- but I did learn how easy it is to alienate customers.

    If bike shops want to reach out to customers in a competitive market that are not hard-core hammerheads , they better learn how provide decent service.
    I'm not saying there aren't poor performance shops out there.

    But bicyclists, be they hammerheads or occasional riders need to learn something, too. Namely that you ain't the only one in the world with a bike problem.

    I always thought the now retired mgr of my preferred local bike shop was kidding when he described the typical maintenance encounter like this:

    "Nice weather Saturday or Sunday in late Spring, someone goes out to the garage to get the bike they haven't ridden in 2 months, 2 years, 6 years, and go for a ride. Or they take it off the trainer where it has been "permanently" attached for X years. Funny thing, the tires are flat, or the chain is messed up, or the steering tube is locked into the position in which it has been stored, or something.

    "They bring bike to shop, explain situation. Can they get it fixed? Today?

    "What do you mean that you are backed up and bikes coming in now are not going to be ready until Thursday!

    "Stomp out of store."

    Then one Saturday afternoon, I was picking up my bike after some work on it. In comes someone with a bike that he explains has been on the trainer for 5 years, but since it was such a nice day, he thought he'd go for a ride outside today. But the steering tube won't turn, and the brake and gear cables won't budge. Can they have the bike ready in a couple hours? What do you mean you are now on a one-week promise for return? Harumph!

    So ... yes, there are shops that are rude, inefficient, etc.. But there are also a LOT of cyclists of all abilities, sizes, and creeds that have huge chips on their shoulders and think they should be put to the front of every line.

    When you go into a shop and start throwing a tantrum, you shouldn't be surprised that people treat you the way your grandparents treated your parents when your parents threw a childish tantrum.

    If you want a special relationship with some shop, then you got to invest in that relationship. Time is as important, if not more so, than money to that investment.

  10. #10
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    I live in Richmond and am very familiar with Rowlett's. I have had several negative experiences there as well. I can almost guess who it was that you spoke to. Like you, I've often wondered why shops like this aren't doing all they can to compete with shops like Performance, who as you probably know set up shop in Richmond about 18 months ago. After Performance came to town I still tried to support some of the other local shops that have been in Richmond forever. But, I'll be honest, Performance has been the most accomodating shop in my opinion. (And no, I don't work for Performance!)

  11. #11
    Jonathan
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    It's been interesting to read this thread.

    I admit that I do need to learn more about bike maintenance. My friend and I tried to make the adjustment but just couldn't get it right. So that's when we headed to the store. The problem actually turned out to be something entirely different according to the tech at the ride.

    I am thinking that maybe bike shops should have something akin to the oil change service in car dealers. There are certain service procedures that are routine and can be done quickly with no parts. Then there service procedures which are more involved. You could expect to wait for the former but do a drop off for the latter.

    Thanks for all the good posts here.

    Jonathan

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    Jumping on this bandwagon as well.

    Ive had a problem with Rowlett's in the same department.

    Just bad customer service all together

    Went in to get a headset for a Giant TCR SL. 1in steerer 0 stack, not that rare right?

    Waited 3 weeks for them to order a part that they said they could have in 2 days.

    At the end of the 3rd week I called Cane Creek directly and got the part in 2 days like it was supposed to be.

    Every time I called to check up they seemed very rude.

    Im still waiting for the call back.

    It's the only time i've dealt with them but it was very bad and

  13. #13
    Senior Member kenseth03's Avatar
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    I never shop at Rowlette's. I'm surprised they have stayed in business they way they are there. Performance is only 10 minutes from there and is open till 9:00 so that is where I have been going.
    2012 Trek Marlin
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  14. #14
    Just Peddlin' Along SaddleBags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jschn04 View Post
    I am thinking that maybe bike shops should have something akin to the oil change service in car dealers. There are certain service procedures that are routine and can be done quickly with no parts. Then there service procedures which are more involved. You could expect to wait for the former but do a drop off for the latter.

    Jonathan
    Interesting concept. However, it would be hard to pay an extra wrench to do the easy jobs.
    I hang out at my LBS since they are my team's sponsor (and friends) and have seen the spring/summer influx of bike repairs come thru the doors (with the "rusted chains...a week wait?" conversation too).

    No experience with Rowlett's in the retail/repair side but they did sponsor a great cross race in Bryan Park last fall and gave away glass pints.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaddleBags View Post
    No experience with Rowlett's in the retail/repair side but they did sponsor a great cross race in Bryan Park last fall and gave away glass pints.
    I'm drinking from one of those right now. My "trophy"

    They were closed after the race, but since they are a Carrera dealer, they might see some of my money.

  16. #16
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    Back when I worked retail, I heard that if a store treats somebody right, they'll tell one person. But if a store treats somebody poorly, they'll tell 17 people.

    That said, yesterday I broke my rear shifter cable on the way to work. On the way home I stopped by Rowlett's and 10 minutes later I'm on my way, new cable installed. They've always been good to me.

  17. #17
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    I know this is an old thread, but I can't let Rowlett's -- my favorite Richmond LBS -- suffer this review without response. Even though I didn't buy my bike -- a Trek 2.3 -- from this store, the staff there has always been eager to help. The shop staff is incredibly knowledgeable and always finishes repairs before the time they promised. This is the only store in town that will actually talk me down on purchases, telling me that they'll sell me such and such if I really want it, but that I may not need it. They'll point me to other stores that have a better selection - Rowlett's doesn't have a ton of cycling clothing, so they've sent me to REI or Performance. I am known by name when I walk through the door, they take all the time I need and more to talk, and several times they've made small adjustments to my bike for free. The only downside to the shop is its access by car -- the driveways in and out are narrow. That's a small price to pay for a great little shop that's been around for 95 years: they must be doing something right.

    As for Performance: they have a great stock of accessories, especially clothing, but twice I have stood at the counter waiting to make a purchase, and no one came to help me. Both times I put the items back and left; the last time I did that will literally be the last time I visit that store.
    Last edited by RidingRev; 12-03-11 at 08:13 AM. Reason: addition

  18. #18
    Senior Member joeprim's Avatar
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    Was the tec at the MS150 Cycles Ed? He and several others are at every MS ride and he only charges for parts since it is a charity ride. Also I believe there are techs there from Performance bike (on Broad street) all willing to help.
    Joe

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