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I'm almost done with these forums.

Old 10-17-05, 09:59 AM
  #1  
seely
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I'm almost done with these forums.

It seems EVERY thread I open, such as the Free liftime tune ups thread turns into nothing but people accusing bicycle mechanics of dishonesty and being incompetent. I know every mechanic I have ever worked with has been nothing but honest with a customer, and when we recommend a repair, its to save the customer future/inevitable headaches. A big part of the reason we do lifetime tune ups at our shop is so we can wear and problems before they escalate into big, expensive repairs. We're only looking out for the customer's best interest, honestly. This has been the case at every shop I've worked at.

As a mechanic for the past 4 years, this negative attitude and constant bashing using anecdotal evidence found on the internet of all places really has me questioning whether I should even bother posting here anymore. Obviously, I am incompetent and just trying to rip people off, so the advice I've offered must be of no use to anyone. I don't know where these people that are constantly posting negatively regarding bike shops are going, but I can tell you that the four shops I've worked at, and the dozens I have been in have all treated me well (save for perhaps one or two) and tried their best to help me, even if it wasn't the best equipped/most knowledgeable shop.

One instance in particular comes to mind... my headset came loose while I was riding in Australia, and I stopped into the ONLY bike shop in the town, which just happened to be the lawn mower/bike store. The only new bikes were Huffies and a few Giants, with a few old used roadbikes like you would find at a thrift store. The owner of the shop didn't quite understand about the loose headset, but was more than happy to let me use his tools, and refused even a tip.

When I was rear ended with my bikes on the back of the rack on my way to school in TX (hit and run), the shop upon hearing the story charged me for a rim, and refused to charge labor (where they make the most money) on the wheel because they felt so bad for me. They offered to let me come in and use a stand anytime it was open, which eventually turned into a job for me.

This has been my experience more often than not. I don't come in demanding service or with any pretenses, and don't get obstinate when I know more than the person working at the shop. I probably do know more than a lot of the employees at shops I've been in, but I don't throw it around or belittle them. Not everyone's perfect and most people are just trying to do the best they can. I can only think that perhaps the attitude of the customer is reflected in the level of service they receive.
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Old 10-17-05, 10:24 AM
  #2  
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Only the bad experiences get reported and the good ones are accepted as not worth mentioning so these threads give a distorted picture of the industry. I've had almost universal good experiences with bike shops and their mechanics and only one or two bad ones but guess which ones I remember the most?

Anther problem is the sense of entitlement some customers have. No matter what you do or how much you give them it's not enough. They tend to be the vocal *****ers and complainers while the satisfied customers say nothing.

The bike industry certainly isn't alone in this but they are what you read here.
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Old 10-17-05, 10:25 AM
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Why not ignore the threads about the bad service and focus on creating good threads that thank good mechanics?

Also, not every mechanic is going to be a good mechanic. Just because you happen to be one, or you may have good ones, doesn't mean that every single mechanic out there is going to be the most excellent of the excellent. There are always bad apples. Unfortunately, one bad apple CAN spoil the bunch.

I don't think that every person here necessarily thinks every mechanic is from Dante's seventh circle of hell. However, the forums do offer an outlet for people to vent, and when they have a bad experience, it's natural they'll want to come someplace where they can vent. Unfortunately, when people have good experiences, they aren't usually as quick to jump online and talk about their wonderful experience. When you have a satisfactory experience, it's not like you're looking to vent. It's totally understandable that you're going to see more negative than positive experiences expressed.

For example, there's a bad bike shop in town here that I've had two negative experiences from. The first time, I thought it was a fluke. I'm new to this area, so I thought I'd give them another chance. They were worse the next time around. So instead of me thinking every mechanic is as bad as the ones at this shop, I'm just keeping my mouth shut and my eyes open. Sooner or later, I'll find a mechanic who was as good as the mechanic I used while I lived in Chicago. I have vented about the bad bike shop, but that doesn't mean that I think every mechanic out there is an incompetent rip off.

The fact of the matter is, there are good people and bad people in every profession, and it'll be the bad ones you'll hear about before you hear about the good ones. If you decided to join a forum for bakeries, you're going to have a plethora of complaints about bad bakeries with cockroaches and rats before you hear one good story about the bakery that passes inspection and uses universal precautions for cleanliness. If you join a forum for car dealerships, you're going to hear all about the rip off dealerships that sold lemons at full price before you hear about that one great dealership with electric cars, high standards, and great warranties. That's the nature of the beast. All you can do is focus on yourself and doing the best job you can at your profession. And if you don't like what people have to say, don't click.

I hope you stay. This is no reason to leave the forums.

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Old 10-17-05, 10:30 AM
  #4  
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So stick around, continue to contribute, and -- potentially -- help make the case for honest, competent, trustworthy, caring bicycle mechanics.

Bicycle mechanics tend to be people, too ( ). They also tend to work in shops owned by people--in this case, people who set the rules under which the wrenches work, the prices, the labor rates, the return/repair policies, etc.

People can be good, bad, or somewhere in the middle. The fact that you've had nothing but good experiences with other wrenches is encouraging, but ... still anecdotal.

We all make mistakes--the customer, the wrench, the shop owner ... everybody. Nobody likes to leave their bike for ten days, pay for the repair, then--when they ride the bike--find out that the problem is no better, or even worse.

It happens.

You have to expect they're going to be a little angry at the world's wrenches in these cases. Our job: talk 'em down, cool 'em off, explain the possibilities, and try to suggest a productive resolution for their problem that allows the shop to redeem itself, the customer to be satisfied, and all to go about their merry way.

You give good stuff here. It'd be a shame if you stopped.

My $0.02.
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Old 10-17-05, 10:30 AM
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Don't let people w/ ego problems influence your behavior. Some of us enjoy sharing knowledge and learning new things.

Ignore the rest.
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Old 10-17-05, 10:31 AM
  #6  
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Geez, Koffee...

If I'd waited a minute until your post came up, I wouldn't have had to type mine
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Old 10-17-05, 10:43 AM
  #7  
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Seeley,

Thank you for sharing both your thoughts and knowledge in this thread and many others I have read that you have contributed to. I feel the same way that you do on this issue. Though I am not a mechanic, I have been riding since the 80's and find that most bike shops are full of friendly, knowledable, sharing people. I can't recall a negative experience with a bike shop or mechanic in all those years. Please take some time to reconsider before you abandon the forums. Your thoughts and input to matter and do help people.

Regards,

Jeff Sharrock
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Old 10-17-05, 10:44 AM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by neil0502
Geez, Koffee...

If I'd waited a minute until your post came up, I wouldn't have had to type mine
Sure saved me a bunch of typing!
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Old 10-17-05, 10:49 AM
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i think they get treated unfairly a lot of times too. one thing i kinda hate about these forums are the people who have one problem, complain about it here, and include the names of the employees working there along with the shop and it's location. and often later in the thread you find out that they didn't even try to rectify the problem with the people there first.
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Old 10-17-05, 11:02 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by rmfnla
Sure saved me a bunch of typing!
Ditto.

I would add however, and I am as guilty as anyoneof this: Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that every penny we spend at the LBS is going into the pockets of the owner or people who work there. When I pull a hundred-dollar bill from my pocket and hand it to you, I feel as though I am paying you personally. I often forget that your shop has bills to pay and also must purchase the parts you used on my repair. I need to remember that the LBS share is only the mark-up, or that the mech's share is only the hourly wage.

I also need to be more tolerant of you when you don't seem as excited as I over a repair which you have already made for others a hundred times this week. What to me may be a matter of desperation, is routine and boring to you. That's OK. I am pleased when you get me back on the road without making me feel stupid, especially when it is your advice in this forum which helps me.

Please stick around. To some extent, it is the advice I get in these forums from folks like you who make it possible to recognize either good, or bad service. Thanks for that.
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Old 10-17-05, 11:18 AM
  #11  
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I have had wonderful experiences with mechanics in the one LBS where I have used them. I have also had very good advice from another (since moving) even though I have not brought him any work yet.

I had one negative experience... hardly worth noting since the guy who did it is a retired LBS owner, although if he was still in business I would have pointed out his error (stem too loose).

But, I can't reasonably say "Gosh, I brought my bike to a mechanic and he did a great job" rather than just getting what I expect. It is tough to work in a field where there appears to be little difference to the typical customer between adequate and extraordinary, but a significant difference between adequate and marginally inadequate.

I used to find it hard to ignore the negative threads (on a variety of topics), but in this case I find it hard to believe that every hack with a wrench is better than every professional mechanic... even though that is how the forums read sometimes.

Stay in the forums, stay involved, don't worry about defending the craft too much (although if you voice your opinion to the contrary, it may help to offset the negativity). Any of these generic attacks on mechanics, riders of hybrids and other general classes are hogwash, and most of us readers know that.
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Old 10-17-05, 11:59 AM
  #12  
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My experience with most things bicycle related has been fantastic. Even ebay seems to have less fraud and more genuine interest from the bike folks. I've basically concluded that bike people are the best kind of people. Mostly they are noble and healthy and friendly and honest and energetic and just can't wait to help others. I aspire to those qualities some day.
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Old 10-17-05, 12:49 PM
  #13  
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As a mechanic these stories from hell, can serve to make you better at dealing with the ill informed ranters! I've found that you have to listen to people's gripe, determine if there is anything that you can do and fix it if you can. Be upfront if you cannot fix the issue bump it up to the owner and move on. Sales people have to make sure that the customer understands and is educated about what is being purchased.

Mostly everyone in retail knows that if you piss off one influencial person, 500 people will find out about it. Sure their are idiots who work and own LBS's and idiot customers. Definately people are more inclined to talk or write about the bad experiances rather than the good. Ever tell your friends when your girl friend or wife was extra nice, or only when she was a b?

Much of the time a sales person might have set too high of an expectation and that bounces back on the repair and support staff. I know of one shop that had a 3 week backlog on "free checkups". I bet that wasn't mentioned by the sales person.

Sometimes customers are too afraid or stupid to get satisfaction with out pitching a rage. Mostly only the owners of LBS can even give credit. What is the sense in fighting with a mechanic about that? Ive known very very few bad mechanics. Some times the problem is the sales team who promised the world or the customer who only heard what they wanted to hear when policy was being explained.

While bs-ing in an LBS I heard about another shop that charged a woman $500 to fix a shifting problem on her recumbant. The original shop didn't even get that right and she still had a problem and that is why she wound up in the bad part of town at the oldest shop in town. The owner there found that the shifter/derailer combo that the shop in the high rent area sold her could never provide proper shifting. He fixed the problem by trading out the derailier. $500 and the first shop didn't even fix the problem! I dont think that the woman even went back to the first shop to get back her cash.

I've seen that same shop use humiliation and lack of awarness to sell a person a $5000 bike, when all they needed was a $500 one. I think that buyer should educate themselves about the choices but often they do not. Educated customers are great for business and tend to hear what they want to hear less.

I know of another case where a sales person neglected to tell a woman that the price on a particular bike was a sales price and only good for a few days. The woman came back in after the sale was over and wanted the sales price. The manager was not able to give her the discount, she did not make him call the owner and so she left and bought a bike at a nearby competitor for 30% more! No doubt that the orignial shop in this case lost more than just the sale. They lost the ever profitable repeat customer accessory sales and I am sure that the woman continues to tell the story of how they would not give her the discounted price and how nice the other store was.

Years ago when I was 16 I worked at a shop. One day a cop came in and I was startled out of the back shop because I heard a fight. The cop had punched the owner and was yelling and jumping around. Turns out that the hot-head cop's wife had come in and oked the repair. Patric Nudi the owner got a black eye out for his troubles. Pat would not give up the bike without the $30 for the repair. Not sure there is anything you could have done to prevent that.

I think that these stories are amusing because they show how poorly people communcate and how much room there is for improvement. I do not condemn any of the shops involved becuase of these stories. But I would urge the LBSs of the world to consider these issues or lose some money.

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Old 10-17-05, 01:10 PM
  #14  
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All Season Cycle in London Ontario is a shop worth frequenting. I had bad indexing in my headset and I thought I'd have to replace it. Not the case! The friendly, competent and helpful mechanic removed the bad bearing retainer and bearings and replaced it with a larger number of free bearings. Voila! no more indexing problem. Instead of the $100++ dollar repair I though i was looking at, the bottom line was a mere and very fair $25.00 service fee. Hats off to All Season. The mech even wants to buy my bike!

Charles
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Old 10-17-05, 02:22 PM
  #15  
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In all my dealings, I try to give preference to local business people when I can. This is especially true with LBS'es; not only can I do business locally, but I've had positive experiences with their mentoring (both sales and repair) as I've gotten started with road bikes. I won't say that I always agree or take their advice, but I always respect it and consider it. Plus, it's really great to be able to go ogle bikes and talk about them as I did for a couple hours last weekend when it poured rain all day.

Of course, when you think you're being bashed on this forum, just think what it must be like to work for Supergo or Performance!
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Old 10-17-05, 02:44 PM
  #16  
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I miss my LBS. I haven't stopped by in months after previously stopping by a couple times a month. But I have no current materials needs and all the work that needs to be done I can do. I've been looking for an excuse to stop by, but none are compelling enough.

Point is I like the work my LBS does, the staff, etc. They go out of their way to make me a happy customer.

I have had minor bad experience with one LBS (not my primary one) where the mechanic forgot to reconnect brake cable once and didn't tighten the rear wheel quick release the other. I was cursing them as I found out riding away, but also mad at myself for not checking these things first as a matter of habit. But same LBS has helped me in a pinch before.

Al
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Old 10-17-05, 02:54 PM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by HillRider
Only the bad experiences get reported.
Sorta like only the crashes and deaths getting reported in the Advocacy and Safety Forum. One would think that a safe bike ride and an honest bike mechanic are both impossible to find.

I do agree that GOOD service is hard to find. Not just in bike shops but EVERYWHERE. Reason? I think the big box mentality that has led to the prominence of Walmart and other gigantic retailers as well as the internet etailers, has spoken. Consumers have said, "We don't give a crap about service, just give me cheap!" Then when they need good service and can't find it, they complain.

My LBS left me high and dry enough times that i decided to start doing stuff on my own. Like i said, however they are not alone. I really can't think of one thing that i have paid someone to do that I didn't end up wishing, i had done it myself instead. It is hard to find someone that cares about your stuff as much as you.

Last edited by Portis; 10-17-05 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 10-17-05, 03:51 PM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by Ranger
It is hard to find someone that cares about your stuff as much as you.
And when the rare occasion arises when we do find that person, do we pay for value received?
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Old 10-17-05, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by webist
And when the rare occasion arises when we do find that person, do we pay for value received?
Yeah...I know I didn't tip the wrench that disappeared into the back to replace two spokes on my MTB rear wheel and then re-emerged 20 minutes later having done a quick true on both front and back, adjusted my brakes and my indexing! Felt like a whole different bike after that! Of course, I go back to the shop frequently!
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Old 10-17-05, 05:03 PM
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There is a Sherlock Holmes mystery in which the key clue was that the dog didn't bark so the killer had to be a person the dog knew.

The same thing's true with mechanic service stories. Most of the time, people take their bike into the shop and bike gets fixed to their expectation. Those customers don't bark.

There is another type of thread that's really a variation of the "I raced a guy who was wearing a full discovery kit and I beat him." In this case, the poster claims to either know more than the bike salesman or do better work than the shop mechanic. All three can be condensed to "Aren't I wonderful for exposing these undeserving people."
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Old 10-17-05, 09:23 PM
  #21  
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Stuff 'em. Some guy goes on the 'net, thinks he knows a thing or two about bikes, and puts down someone who's been getting dirty with bikes his whole life. Don't leave because of a few rude people. You wouldn't quit your job because of a few rude customers, would you?

Some people are just obnoxious, that's a fact. But it wouldn't be fair to single them out. By the way, when you were in Oz, did you climb the Harbour Bridge in Sydney?

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Old 10-17-05, 09:40 PM
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I just wanted to throw in a note on the positive side. While I haven't had much experience with North American bike shops I have a great deal of experience in South Korea where, believe it or not, there is an amazing amount of off-road riding in Seoul and an amazing amount of people pursuing it. Over here they don't even think about charging for labour. I used to try and pay my LBS for small adjustments and repairs on a bike I hadn't bought there but he always refused. I tried to explain that his service was worth money but he just charged me the discounted price for the parts. My only complaint would be that if you're in a hurry, good luck as the shop is also a club house/hang out/dinner spot/do it yourself repair shop and it takes up to 2 hours to get things attended to.
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Old 10-17-05, 09:42 PM
  #23  
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Good points all, I just feel like lately that anytime someone asks a question about a problem with their bike, someone immediately chimes in that the LBS was screwing them and to never let an LBS touch your bike because all they do is screw up... its getting to be really depressing for me after working so hard at trying to do everyone right. Oh well.
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Old 10-17-05, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by seely
Good points all, I just feel like lately that anytime someone asks a question about a problem with their bike, someone immediately chimes in that the LBS was screwing them and to never let an LBS touch your bike because all they do is screw up... its getting to be really depressing for me after working so hard at trying to do everyone right. Oh well.
You just have to choose your battles wisely. I hope you got my joke too.
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Old 10-18-05, 05:35 AM
  #25  
biker7
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Originally Posted by seely
Good points all, I just feel like lately that anytime someone asks a question about a problem with their bike, someone immediately chimes in that the LBS was screwing them and to never let an LBS touch your bike because all they do is screw up... its getting to be really depressing for me after working so hard at trying to do everyone right. Oh well.
I hope you stay. Koffee responded most elegantly. We need experts like yourself in the mechanics forum to keep information dispensed on this forum at its highest level. Honestly, I never go into my LBS. They aren't particularly friendly and don't work on Italian bikes and sell only Shimano...so we live in opposite universes. Are they bad people? Of course not...they are fellow cyclists who share the same passion.
The cultures of LBS vary widely...there is a huge gulf from one to the next. The same is true incidentally of car dealerships...including very high end European car dealerships....the tone is generally set by management or ownership, not only how they lead by example but in terms of what type of people they hire...and filters down.
I don't bash LBS's because I believe it is simplistic and unfair to do so and I do all my own wrenching so I am one who hopes you stay and contribute to the wealth of knowledge offered on this forum.
The other thing to consider is take ranting in general with a grain of salt. Many that use LBS's for tune ups can't differentiate good work from bad or aren't really sensitive to the tradeoffs involved. An example is trying to get a high mileage driveline that has been abused to shift perfectly by a simple adjustment without changing out all the components...many have unrealistic expectations. If they were more discerning...they would be building their own bikes and be performing routine maintenance themselves.
For me, as with many that contribute to this forum, I like building bikes and swapping out components to change performance characteristics as much as I like riding.
Cheers,
George

Last edited by biker7; 10-18-05 at 06:45 AM.
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