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  1. #1
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Turn the Other Cheek?

    Long story. Are you ready?
    I was looking to buy a new tandem. Everyone told me that I should use one dealer. Me and SWMBO attended said dealer and discovered they ran the business out of their garage in some suburb. It is probably illegal…but everyone said I should deal with them.

    We saw a bike we liked. The only problem was I thought the bike was a bit too big for my stoker, so I asked if we could rent it for a weekend to see if it was a fit. The seller agreed, but just before we could do that, she emailed me to tell me they have sold the bike.

    From my observation the tandem business seems to be a bit of a closed shop. You are moving in the loop or you are out of it and don’t get common courtesy.

    Here’s my question; are my observations correct and if so, should I make an effort to get a bit closer to the dealer. When someone asked a prophet what he should do if someone struck him on the cheek, he answered ‘offer the other cheek’. Should I ignore what I see as a provocation?

    Final question: I have been dealing with one dealer for years for my touring and commuting bikes. He’s offered to order any tandem for me and sell it to me for near wholesale. Should I take him up on the offer even though he has no knowledge or interest in tandems?

  2. #2
    370H-SSV-0773H linux_author's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    Here’s my question; are my observations correct and if so, should I make an effort to get a bit closer to the dealer.
    - there are a number of tandem dealers down here, with models available off the floor for test rides with no problems... dunno about renting...

    - i hope you find what you're looking for... it must be nice to have a willing tandem riding partner.. .that in itself is quite special and deserves special consideration...

  3. #3
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    Here’s my question; are my observations correct and if so, should I make an effort to get a bit closer to the dealer. When someone asked a prophet what he should do if someone struck him on the cheek, he answered ‘offer the other cheek’. Should I ignore what I see as a provocation?

    Final question: I have been dealing with one dealer for years for my touring and commuting bikes. He’s offered to order any tandem for me and sell it to me for near wholesale. Should I take him up on the offer even though he has no knowledge or interest in tandems?
    There are several tandem-speciality dealers running businesses out of their homes and the extent to which their operations mirror a "professional" business vs. a "hobby business" varies about as much. Not sure which dealer you encountered so I'm hard pressed to offer an opinion on why you may have had a less than satisfactory experience. Moreover, at this point, it's probably water under the bridge. If it was me, I'd probably continue to engage the dealer if they have otherwise been fair, above board, helped you learn more about tandems as you get closer to making a purchase.

    I would note that the "value" a good tandem dealer provides -- regardless of where they house their business -- is expert knowledge in what's available, how to properly fit a team to a tandem, and also basic instruction on how to mount and ride a tandem as well as rudimentary maintenance that is unique to tandems, e.g., eccentric adjustment. So, if none of those things came out of your interaction with the dealer in question, then they didn't add value to your shopping experience and that's really a shame (as well as a surprise). In fact, I would have expected that your preliminary, pre-visit phone conversations (or, heaven forbid, Email only) would have addressed your sizing needs as well as their inventory. If not, bad on the dealer for not broaching that subject. If they did and they had several tandems that were sized properly, but only one appealed to you, then you may or may not have been any better off than you could be buying from your LBS: in other words, did you learn anything from getting your hands on the dealer's inventory?

    Going forward, if your friend is willing to sell you anyone's tandem at their cost, are you really going to honor the tandem dealer's investment of time in your purchasing decision by buying the tandem from them at their advertised price? Or, are you going to hit them with a "thanks... appreciate your time and if you can meet my friend's sweatheart 'at cost' deal I'll buy it from you"? Moreover, if you think you have learned enough about what's available in the tandem market, know what size you need for you and your stoker, and can figure out how to successfully ride the thing with your SWMBO (is 'she who must be obeyed' a Canadian thing?), then I think you've answered your own question so this becomes an academic question.

    IMHO, tandem specialty dealers quickly lose their "added value" once you know enough about tandems to be dangerous and before the explosion of the internet you were hard pressed to get access to the information that you've found here (good, bad or otherwise) and in other forums on tandems. However, for first time buyers and folks who don't waste their lives on the internet, tandem speciality dealers are still -- by and large -- the best place to put your hands on the hardware, learn what's available, and learn how to ride a tandem successfully the first time out vs. trial and error... noting that the latter kills the interest in tandems for a lot of new teams.

    Bottom Line: Again, except for bike-geeks (or tandemgeeks), tandems are odd birds and a good relationship with a tandem dealer will ensure your tandeming experience is the best that it can be. If you fancy yourself a cycling expert, you may or may not find the tandem dealer to be as much of a benefit as the average consumer.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 09-04-06 at 08:24 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek
    Going forward, if your friend is willing to sell you anyone's tandem at their cost, are you really going to honor the tandem dealer's investment of time in your purchasing decision by buying the tandem from them at their advertised price? Or, are you going to hit them with a "thanks... appreciate your time and if you can meet my friend's sweatheart 'at cost' deal I'll buy it from you"?
    That is certainly NOT the way I operate. I would never engage in positional bargaining. That said, when I don't get the service I expect from a tandem dealer, just what is the advantage of dealing with them? At this time I have spent several hours at the tandem shop, mostly waiting to be served. I don't really think at this point I've actually received any quality customer service. The other thing that gets my dander up is that I think they were trying to sell me a bike that didn't fit the stoker. What kind of customer service is that?
    She Who Must Be Obeyed is actually from a series of books about a barrister named Horace Rumpole, later made into a television series. I believe you Yanks have them on PBS
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    Last edited by stokell; 09-04-06 at 04:03 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    A new tandem bicycle is a pricy purchase. There are a few very strong tandem specialty dealers spread throughout the country. I don't know where you live, but my recommendation would be to take a weekend trip to visit one of them. Considering the cost of new tandems, a couple hundred dollar weekend to get it right sounds to me like a smart move.

  6. #6
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Most bike shops can order 'a tandem'.
    Are you experienced enough with tandems to know what you want/need?
    Specialty tandem dealers are worth their weight in gold . . . they know what they are talking about, even if they deal out of their garage! None of them will get rich off your purchase, but you'll be greatly enriched by their tandem knowledge.
    Been there, done that . . .

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  7. #7
    Double Secret Probation R900's Avatar
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    Dealer sounds like a flake, if you have a solid dealer that will help you out, that is the route I would take. I would sit down with them, even call the factory if needed. Better to have a dealer you trust than a so-called expert that can't keep a simple promise. Tandems are different animals, but it ain't rocket science. We've been very pleased with our regular dealer (maybe the "best" tandem shop in the area). But they are good guys and know how to get answers. Heck, call Mel at TandemsEast, he might be able to help you and your regular dealer.

    John

  8. #8
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    That is certainly NOT the way I operate.
    That's fine... and the rest of my posting and comments still apply. If you derived no value from the experience -- it sounds like you didn't -- and you feel comfortable enough with what you've learned thus far about tandems, go with the proven path and buy through your friend.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 09-04-06 at 08:23 PM.

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