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1000% markup at LBS

Old 04-10-11, 07:12 PM
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Dan The Man
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1000% markup at LBS

This weekend I was trying to do a tune up of my girlfriend's bike as well as my own. I ended up visiting a few local bike shops for small stuff. Things like loose ball bearings, a nut/bolt/washer combination, a brake cable tensioner. The ball bearings for two wheels cost me $10, $4 for a brake tensioner, $10 for a single nut/bolt/washer to replace the cable clamp on a front derailleur (the tech told me this was for the time it took him to go back and find the right size). These are all parts which should cost pennies, but because they aren't easily available without going to a bike shop or buying online, I am getting gouged on. I know in the scheme of things, $30 for a bike tune-up isn't a lot of money, but I just feel abused.

Where do you guys normally go for a certain sized bolt or whatever cheap part that you don't want to buy in bulk? How much do they cost from the local bike shop?
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Old 04-10-11, 07:24 PM
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Any other shops you can go to nearby? $10 for two sets of wheel bearings sounds insane. I think I pay a buck or two per wheel for bearings. Maybe less, I can't remember offhand.
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Old 04-10-11, 07:29 PM
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http://www.loosescrews.com/index.cgi for that kind of stuff
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Old 04-10-11, 07:38 PM
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I don't know how the transaction went, but you were always free to pass. I've walked away from a lot of sales counters over the years and never regretted it.

Some hardware is available at hardware stores, other stuff is better bought on-line. I do agree that the shop was entitled to top dollar for a hard to find derailleur part, but still $10.00 was high.

The irony is that overcharging for small stuff won't pay the rent anyway, and the cost in customer alienation is greater than what they made. I know I'd think long and hard before being a jerk for a lousy $30.00.
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Old 04-10-11, 07:44 PM
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The derailleur part wasn't a hard to find part because it wasn't a derailleur part at all, just a regular hex nut that fit into the back of the derailleur, a regular socket head cap screw, and a regular washer to clamp down on the cable. I guess I could have passed and spent another day digging around hardware stores for metric bolts or ordering online.
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Old 04-10-11, 08:30 PM
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You might check for a local bolt supplier. Some will sell you a few pieces at a time.

I couldn't find ball bearings at any LBS, but a local bearing supply business ordered them for me. Probably best to order them online.
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Old 04-10-11, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by JTGraphics View Post
+1 on this...great for those little things ya need
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Old 04-10-11, 08:46 PM
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Or just gone to another bike store where the part would have been a buck or even free if you dug through the spare parts box on your own.

The guy at that shop had NO idea of what "good will" is all about.

In terms of some parts that you know will never go bad and that you know you'll use over the years it pays to go to other sources. The bearing balls we all use can be had for about $5 to $10 for a hundred depending on size and grade if you go to a bearing supply house and buy in whatever pre-packaging they offer. If it turns out that they are in bags of 500 pony up the money and then split them into "biker bundles" of 100 each and sell them to your buddy's that ride and wrench their own stuff for cost plus a couple of bucks to pay for your counting time. Or at that point just weigh the 500 and split it by weight.

You can also special order boxes of 100 zinc or nickel plated screws and nuts through fastener outlets. Again if 100 of all the common sizes is too many for you then split them up and sell off the excess in lots of 10 or 20 of each of the common sizes.

The special size of nut that you needed to fit down into the hex recess of your derailleur could have been "made" from a larger size by filing down the flats with a metal file and soemthing to hold the nut. It sounds like a lot of work but the time it takes is far less than riding to a shop to scrounge for a part.... especially when the guy says it's going to cost you $10.

If he'd told me it was going to be $10 for a nut and screw and there was no joking smile to go with it I think my jaw would have hit the floor. And then a few seconds later when the power of speech returned my first words would have been "You're kidding, right? If he launched into some tirade about taking up his time I'd have told him politely that now he's out time AND a future customer for any big items and then left. I'd never be THAT desparate for such a simple part. Especailly when he already gouged me $10 for the wheel bearing balls when there's about maybe a buck and a half max for his cost based on buying them in bulk from the same place I'm suggesting that you go and find.
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Old 04-10-11, 09:01 PM
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The problem that I have with ordering small stuff online is the shipping costs, loose screws has a minimum order of $8 and shipping to me would have been $7.
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Old 04-10-11, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclist2000 View Post
The problem that I have with ordering small stuff online is the shipping costs, loose screws has a minimum order of $8 and shipping to me would have been $7.
http://shop.ebay.com/toolsupply/m.html
Just got me a bag of 100 grade 25, 5/32 balls for $6. Free shipping.
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Old 04-10-11, 09:34 PM
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"Bike tools Etc" has all those things as well.
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Old 04-10-11, 10:01 PM
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except for the derailer bolt, sounds like reasonable pricing to me.
keep in mind that bike specific parts, while small, often pass through many hands on the way to distribution, and each needs to get paid.
he probably charged so much for the derailer bolt because he pulled it out of another derailer and you're actually paying for that... a hardware store bolt would have been cheaper, but then he'd also need to charge you for gas to drive there and get it (not to mention time spent that he could have used repairing bikes instead)

at the shop where i work , jobs must bring in 1$/min to break even. is your time worth more?
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Old 04-10-11, 10:41 PM
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is this the price for 100 bearings? http://www.loosescrews.com/index.cgi...d=834967514828
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Old 04-10-11, 10:43 PM
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go to an industrial bearing supplier, they sell bags of a thousand..

FWIW, standard margin: 30% 0n bikes, 50% 0n accessories and parts.

Remember the dealer has overhead, payroll rent heat ,insurance on the inventory
workman's comp , maybe even health insurance,
for the wage slaves.

Lobby your congress critters for single payer health care.

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Old 04-10-11, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by fishymamba View Post
is this the price for 100 bearings? http://www.loosescrews.com/index.cgi...d=834967514828
Yeah, looks like 2.90 per hundred. But not to nitpick that's just for the balls. More correctly "bearing" refers to the whole assembly made of inner and outer races and the complement of balls.
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Old 04-11-11, 06:56 AM
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Don`t want to be offensive - but feel its pretty unfair to post something like that. It might be interesting to hear the other side of the story as well. If you walked in and didn`t have a consise list of exactly what you wanted and needed everything explained to you and the parts guy had to look everything up and chase down the info - he lost money on you anyway. And a 1000% markup was more than a bit of an exaggeration so don`t know how seriously to take the rest of your post.

Some parts that seem expensive are thrown in with a tune-up at no cost if the customer brings in the bike, is on a buget and there are second hand parts available. But time IS money and personally I did 60 hours this week trying to keep customers happy with a turnaround time of three days or less. Same day or while you wait for simple things like flats.

Then there was the guy who came in and wanted to know why his chain was skipping. Maybe because it was so long it was contacting the rear derailleur hanger cause he`d installed it himself without cutting it. And it was the first time I`d ever seen rollers so badly damaged and gouged that some were actually missing.

But he wasn`t ready to cough up $20 for a new chain or $7 for installation and just left. He`s well known to the shop and although everyone is polite - the guy is a waste of time and his own worst enemy. Hope thats not the LBS`s opinion of you in this scenerio.
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Old 04-11-11, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Burton View Post
Don`t want to be offensive - but feel its pretty unfair to post something like that. It might be interesting to hear the other side of the story as well. If you walked in and didn`t have a consise list of exactly what you wanted and needed everything explained to you and the parts guy had to look everything up and chase down the info - he lost money on you anyway. And a 1000% markup was more than a bit of an exaggeration so don`t know how seriously to take the rest of your post.

Some parts that seem expensive are thrown in with a tune-up at no cost if the customer brings in the bike, is on a buget and there are second hand parts available. But time IS money and personally I did 60 hours this week trying to keep customers happy with a turnaround time of three days or less. Same day or while you wait for simple things like flats.

Then there was the guy who came in and wanted to know why his chain was skipping. Maybe because it was so long it was contacting the rear derailleur hanger cause he`d installed it himself without cutting it. And it was the first time I`d ever seen rollers so badly damaged and gouged that some were actually missing.

But he wasn`t ready to cough up $20 for a new chain or $7 for installation and just left. He`s well known to the shop and although everyone is polite - the guy is a waste of time and his own worst enemy. Hope thats not the LBS`s opinion of you in this scenerio.
Let's see, the first shop, I went in with my bike and said that I needed a replacement front derailleur cable clamp. I pointed to where the old one had fallen out. The tech tried a nut that was too big for the recess, and then went back and found a nut that fit, and then put a bolt and a washer on it.

The second shop, I brought in two bearings, and I said I need 18 of this size bearing and 20 of this bearing. The kid (didn't know much about bikes) put the bearings through a bearing size gauge and went and got them. I then gave him a broken brake tensioner and said I need a replacement brake tensioner. It should look like this and it should thread onto this. I also gave him the collar that it threads into. He went back into the brake parts bin and came back with a brake cable tensioner.

A small nut bolt and washer purchased at a hardware store is typically about 25 cents. So at $10, that is a mark up of well over 3000%. 38 bearings cost $10. That's 38 cents a bearing. From what I have read in this thread, a bag of 100 bearings can be bought at retail for around $5. So that's 5 cents a bearing marked up to 38 cents, a mark up of 600%. A brake tensioner, I have no idea how much it costs, but I know that it's less than $4.
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Old 04-11-11, 08:35 AM
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When I used to work at a bike shop, we had a term for some customers, snot ball rollers. They came in during the peak rush on a weekend and took up an inordinate time of a salespersons for some tiny obscure part, an off-size spoke,etc., which we always had. Of course, after getting exactly what he wanted, he went throught the roof over the cost.

If you don't want to pay for the convenience of getting piddling parts immediately, go online and wait a couple of weeks.
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Old 04-11-11, 08:47 AM
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When I go to the LBS, I pay the prices and don't complain. Often when I'm buying the parts, I'm asking a few questions to make sure I do the job right, and I figure that advice is part of the cost I'm paying. The LBS owner and his chief mechanic are both available via Facebook and are available in an emergency (although I've only done tat once).

We've lost two LBSs this past year, I don't want to lose another one. So I patronize them and don't worry if the cost is a bit high.

One other thing... It used to be that there was a pretty high level of standardization among bike parts that, in recent years, has gotten less so. When you have proprietary parts, it becomes harder to keep them in stock and the piece price of each one can realistically be higher. I worked for a company that built convertible tops. There were certain shoulder bolts that were unique to our designs, and when we went to the fastener supplier, they would have to set up to do a run of the bolts for us. In production, we would order thousands of them. When we were buying older versions of the bolts for sparing and repairs, they would still have to do the setup, but the run would be for a few dozen and the real cost of the bolts could exceed $50. I could see where someone would think we're ripping them off by charging that much, but that was the cost to us, without any profit or anything.

So yeah, maybe the parts cost you $30, but they probably cost the LBS $15 or more from the supplier, plus they are there to answer questions, get the bolts immediately, etc. If you don't like that, go to the net. But I can understand why the costs would be that much, and frankly sometimes I'm surprised they don't charge more.
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Old 04-11-11, 09:39 AM
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How long did the whole transaction take?

$30.00 sounds like a lot for the individual pieces that you bought but the bike shop employee was on the clock that whole time. His time has to be worth something.
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Old 04-11-11, 10:31 AM
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Re; "snot ball rollers" and time for the transaction.

DanTheMan, be honest here. Did you hit up the shop at a peak time and tend to do that a lot? If so I can see where you could be on some sort of "Make them pay for it" list. If you self analyze yourself and can admit that you sort of fit that profile then you need to be more fair to the shop in the future. But to be fair from the sounds of your post you don't seem like this is a regular sort of nickel and dime sort of event for you.

As for time needed for this transaction if the shop can't put such parts into a bag in less time than that there's something wrong with the shop's parts inventory organizing. The bearing balls is a two minute issue to count them out from bulk stock so $10 is a bit much by most standards. The brake cable tensioner (whatever that is by it's correct name?) should be a regular part unless it's for a really old style of brake. So that leaves the screw and nut. If the nut had to be some oddball to fit into the recess of the derailleur I can see it taking a bit of time. But again, if the shop guy was busy he could have just had Dan root through the big boxO'junk to find what he needed instead of doing it himself. So I'm sticking with the stand that this was over the top pricing provided Dan isn't one of those "snot ball rollers". The shop that I hang out at a lot and even fix the odd flat or small problem while I sip on a beer knows that for some things you need to take a bit of a loss to get them back to buy the bike and get the bigger rent paying servicing jobs from them. It sounds like Dan's shop doesn't realize that. A lot of folks will see such pricing as being a gouge and when it's time to pay for that power train replacement or to buy a bike or to get their spring tuneup done they'll go to where they got a deal or two on some small bits because they will see that shop as being "more fair". And it's those bigger servicing jobs where the shops make their money. Even selling the bikes themselves in an all level shop where the vast majority of bikes sold are low to middle end doesn't bring in enough money to keep the lights on. It's servicing those bikes over the next few years that does. So it pays to not gouge for a screw and nut like this shop did to get Dan to come back in when he needs a big list of major part or some big servicing job done.
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Old 04-11-11, 12:03 PM
  #22  
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Being charitable, I think the OP hit the '0' one time too many ..
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Old 04-11-11, 12:12 PM
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Op is just mad that the shop was willing to charge him near the same price he'd have been able to get it online with the extra convenenience factor.

This thread is so dumb it hurts my head.
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Old 04-11-11, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan The Man View Post
A small nut bolt and washer purchased at a hardware store is typically about 25 cents. So at $10, that is a mark up of well over 3000%. 38 bearings cost $10. That's 38 cents a bearing. From what I have read in this thread, a bag of 100 bearings can be bought at retail for around $5. So that's 5 cents a bearing marked up to 38 cents, a mark up of 600%. A brake tensioner, I have no idea how much it costs, but I know that it's less than $4.
They why don't you go to the ****ing hardware store next time. Instead of *****ing about being 'ripped' off. IIRC you don't sign a contract to buy those items at that price the minute you walk into any bike shop.

It's pretty obvious your time is worth nothing given your valuation of the items you wanted to purchase. We call people like you, 'time-wasters'.

Do us all shop employees a favor next time, and go somewhere where you think the price is fair. Vote with your wallet.
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Old 04-11-11, 01:27 PM
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I just paid $0.10/ball at Vechios in Boulder. Seemed like a fair price. I got some good advice as well.

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