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rant on bicycle shop packing services

Old 09-25-11, 08:00 AM
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rant on bicycle shop packing services

I have bought over 30 bikes on eBay in the last year or so (sold on about 18). Of all the bikes I have purchased the WORST packed have been packed by bicycle shops! I have decided that if an auction doesn't specify or I don't get clear assurances from the owner that they will pack it themselves I am just going to pass on it. If it says "professionally" packed or that they are going to have a bike shop pack it forget it.

I don't know why shops can't do a better job (and I am sure some probably do) but maybe they just don't care since they are not going to be responsible for the shipping costs or the damage done. And there are really two issues. One is just abysmal packing. No tube protection, freewheels packed up against frame tubes, sharp parts put up against the box sides with no protection, loose parts just thrown in the box, etc., etc. I can't even list all the stupidities I have seen. Then there is the total ignorance on what size a bike has to be packed down to in order to get any kind of reasonable shipping costs. MOST bicycle boxes do NOT meet the USPS parcel post max limits or the UPS/Fedex reasonable cost size limits. They must be modified. I have had a bunch of shippers, in response to my complaints about bad packing, complain about how much more they had to pay for shipping than they had charged me. That is because your stupid bike shop didn't pack it right and you incurred "large package" surcharges!

Sorry but I got another bike today that was badly packed by a bike shop and I just had to vent.
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Old 09-25-11, 08:21 AM
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That's OK BD63. We're here to listen, and provide a receptacle for excess steam. Somehow, this doesn't surprise me at all. I don't buy bikes so have no personal experience but I guess most bike shops just don't give a damn. Sad. Plus, most are not experienced in shipping bikes. They mostly only un=pack new bikes. I've been tempted on a couple of frames lately but figure if the person looks like he isn't going to take care and pack it like Khatfull does, or you or I would do it, I lose interest.
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Old 09-25-11, 08:23 AM
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I'd be surprised if majority of shops would even be set up for such a thing. Most bicycles are shipped with very little protection to begin with, just sorta paper wrap to protect the frames from scratching, but I never see any actual sort of padding unless its a 5000$+ bicycle. So I guess anyone working in a shop figures they can ship a bicycle out the same way it comes to them. When they are delivered on a crate with 7 other bicycles or what have you they don't need to be packed very well as no employees can actually pick them up and throw them around everywhere.
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Old 09-25-11, 08:32 AM
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My Bianchi came with an amazing packing job, mainly because it was probably in good condition, and I specified to the seller that is should be heavily foam packed and so on, I was very persistent on how it was packed. I've shipped bikes to sinapore and done a great job. My brother's gotten a frame from California that was packed well too. Usually people who do good packing jobs are people that are really into bikes, but then again I don't know why you guys have these bike shop nightmares they should be the best at it cause they deal with bikes all the time. I haven't had one of those yet so knock on wood.

Unfortunately I don't really go to different bike shops. I've had my fill with bike shops, to tell you the truth for me they're kinda like a necessary evil, they're great for parts but they suck for service, I've had shops just hack my stuff when I needed it fixed. The only places I'll go to for stuff is urbane cyclist in toronto and the bike co-ops, other than that I won't bother. Hmm to really think about it, I really hate bike shops cause of their lack of good fixing abilities, they don't treat the bikes like they're own, this is why I learned things myself. I'm sure there's good shops out there but the majority suck b$lls

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Old 09-25-11, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by divineAndbright View Post
I'd be surprised if majority of shops would even be set up for such a thing. Most bicycles are shipped with very little protection to begin with, just sorta paper wrap to protect the frames from scratching, but I never see any actual sort of padding unless its a 5000$+ bicycle. So I guess anyone working in a shop figures they can ship a bicycle out the same way it comes to them. When they are delivered on a crate with 7 other bicycles or what have you they don't need to be packed very well as no employees can actually pick them up and throw them around everywhere.
That's always been my suspicion. Most bike shops never have to pack a bike, just unpack them. But they almost all seem happy to take a customer's $45-65 and then do a terrible job. You are right that most bikes shipped new don't usually have tubing padding but they do come in brand new boxes and have a variety of "packing aids" in the form of plastic fixtures that keep the bike centered in the box, protect critical components and make sure the bike does not move around in the box.
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Old 09-25-11, 09:29 AM
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+

+

=


It is in otherwise excellent condition... left such a bad taste in my mouth I haven't built it back up yet.

The seller was fantastic about the whole thing, and did manage to secure significant compensation from the shop.

Never did get any replies back from local shops on having the paint touched up. I'm going to have to get the nerves together to do it myself at some point, but I fear I'm going to make a bigger mess of it.
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Old 09-25-11, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by tugrul View Post

+

+

=


It is in otherwise excellent condition... left such a bad taste in my mouth I haven't built it back up yet.

The seller was fantastic about the whole thing, and did manage to secure significant compensation from the shop.

Never did get any replies back from local shops on having the paint touched up. I'm going to have to get the nerves together to do it myself at some point, but I fear I'm going to make a bigger mess of it.
i'd be super disappointed too..... but i guess it's better to assemble it and ride it rather than having expensive basement art..
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Old 09-25-11, 10:06 AM
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Hi Blue, those sorry sons of $$$$^$%%! :-). I have actually sold some bikes on ebay. I initially was taking the bikes to my local bike shops to have them boxed, once that was done, I would take them to Kinko's for shipping. I finally got brave and decided to try it myself. My packing is definitely professional as I put myself in the buyers position, and think as to how I would feel If I would to buy a bike that arrived damaged. My packing jobs may be over kill, but I'm fine with that, as long as I have a happy customer. I agree with you, the packaging done at bikes shops (at least in my area) leave you wondering if the bike is going to get there in one piece. The other thing that you mentioned is that they just take any old box (without considering the size of the bike and additional cost that will be incurred if it is the wrong size), and use that incorrect size box to complete the pathetic shipping job. I got hit with the infamous $50 automatic oversize fee if the box dimensons (lenght+two times the width, and two times the height= grater than 130"). Now every time I call my lbs and ask them to set a box aside for me, I specifically ask for a box that is 52" in lengh (or a few inches smaller) by 29" inches in height (few inches smaller) by 8-9" in height. Like that I protect myself as I know that the mis will definitely fall under the 130" limit. If you ever buy anything else online, definitely make sure that the dims are under that max limit to avoid paying those killer extra fees. Good luck!

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Old 09-25-11, 10:34 AM
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Had some experience recently with professional bike shop packing. While frame/components were protected OK (it would be difficult to distinguish shipping scratches, since bike was pretty trashed by the previous owner), box was humongous, and it ended up costing me $160 to pack/ship the bike. They definitely were not concerned about shipping overages.

I also have seen the story (here? or somewhere else?) where some seller was hesitant to take bike apart and just shipped it out as-is, in one very large box, and it cost buyer around $160 as well.
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Old 09-25-11, 10:48 AM
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Our shop does a great job of packing a bike for shipping. We charge $75 for the service. We've never had a complaint. I personally don't do the packing, but there are a couple of guys in the shop who do it, and they take a lot of care in it. I've never bought a bike, myself, where it was packed by another bike shop, so I don't know first-hand what kind of job other shops are doing.

One thing I have taken note of is that a potential customer will sometimes ask us what we charge for the service, and then say something like, "well the so-and-so bike shop on the other side of town said they would do it for $35. They didn't really seem like they wanted to do it, but they said they would give me a really good deal because I've bought a couple of bikes from them." I then wonder, to myself, why they were shopping around for a better price since the other shop was basically doing them a favor. But in seeing this thread, I wonder how much of this type of thing goes on; and maybe because some shops 'really don't want to do it,' and they're not getting their standard labor rate for it, maybe they're not putting much effort into it.

Another factor may be that the low man on the totem pole in the shop gets this duty, and simply doesn't know how to do a good job. In the case of our shop, there's no one that doesn't have a good bit of experience, so this is not an issue.

I will say that the most thoroughly protected bicycle I've ever seen in a shipping box was my '71 Schwinn Paramount, and it was packed by the individual I purchased it from, not a bike shop. The bike was COMPLETELY disassembled, with each individual part wrapped in protective materials separately. There was a lot of time that went into packing that bike, and I did appreciate it. It was over and above what is considered standard practice, but I was certainly pleased.
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Old 09-25-11, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by well biked View Post
Our shop does a great job of packing a bike for shipping. We charge $75 for the service. We've never had a complaint. I personally don't do the packing, but there are a couple of guys in the shop who do it, and they take a lot of care in it. I've never bought a bike, myself, where it was packed by another bike shop, so I don't know first-hand what kind of job other shops are doing.

One thing I have taken note of is that a potential customer will sometimes ask us what we charge for the service, and then say something like, "well the so-and-so bike shop on the other side of town said they would do it for $35. They didn't really seem like they wanted to do it, but they said they would give me a really good deal because I've bought a couple of bikes from them." I then wonder, to myself, why they were shopping around for a better price since the other shop was basically doing them a favor. But in seeing this thread, I wonder how much of this type of thing goes on; and maybe because some shops 'really don't want to do it,' and they're not getting their standard labor rate for it, maybe they're not putting much effort into it.

Another factor may be that the low man on the totem pole in the shop gets this duty, and simply doesn't know how to do a good job. In the case of our shop, there's no one that doesn't have a good bit of experience, so this is not an issue.

I will say that the most thoroughly protected bicycle I've ever seen in a shipping box was my '71 Schwinn Paramount, and it was packed by the individual I purchased it from, not a bike shop. The bike was COMPLETELY disassembled, with each individual part wrapped in protective materials separately. There was a lot of time that went into packing that bike, and I did appreciate it. It was over and above what is considered standard practice, but I was certainly pleased.
I suspect all the above factors contribute to the poor results I have seen. Here are some pictures of a 72 Mercian I recently got that was packed by a bike shop (who I will not name to protect the innocent). Note the pedals simply thrown into the box to rattle around and leave scratches everywhere (which they did). Note the wheel locknuts packed right up against the downtube with just bubblewrap for protection (you can guess the result). Note no support for fork or rear dropouts. Note that box is more than a foot longer than it needs to be so the bike can move all around really nicely. Rear wheel didn't even have to be removed to fit into this box. And you can't see where the chainring basically sawed through the bottom of the box since there was no protection or even a double layer of cardboard under it.











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Old 09-25-11, 11:30 AM
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I work at a pretty high end shop here in NorCal, and I'm the youngest employee. The low man on the totem pole, if you will.

I pack every single bike we sell on eBay, and most are high end carbon, titanium, or aluminum. We do have some beautiful old steel frames, but my boss has a thing for them so they don't get listed.

If I pack a bike wrong, not only do I feel totally crappy, but that's a multi-thousand dollar expense that UPS might not cover.

So, I pack each bike just as it comes to us from say, Giant or Pinarello. Dense pipe insulation on each and every tube, ziptied in place. The rear wheel stays in the dropouts, but the rear derailleur comes off and is thoroughly insulated before being taped to the spokes by it. The rear wheel gets axle protectors, as they also help to eliminate damage to the derailleur hanger. The front wheel comes off, also getting a dose of axle protectors, and is ziptied to the front triangle, thus the hub can at no point damage the tubes. The front brake is often taken off, insulated, and taped to a tube. The handle bars come off, and the stem is turned and ziptied backward. Handlebars are insulated, and then cradle the fork.

Extra bits (computers, pedals, saddle, water bottle cages, etc) all go into a small cardboard box which is inserted into the unused space between the down tube and the fork. The entire box is then filled with my insulation scraps and the bike is immobile. Most of our 16pound race machines end up with a package weight of 35pounds, but this has no effect on our UPS calculations as they do it simply by volume weight. All standard bike boxes don't go over UPS's size limit, and usually have a calculated weight of 90pounds.

It typically costs me $40 to ship an entire bike in the USA.
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Old 09-25-11, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by DRietz View Post
I work at a pretty high end shop here in NorCal, and I'm the youngest employee. The low man on the totem pole, if you will.

I pack every single bike we sell on eBay, and most are high end carbon, titanium, or aluminum. We do have some beautiful old steel frames, but my boss has a thing for them so they don't get listed.

If I pack a bike wrong, not only do I feel totally crappy, but that's a multi-thousand dollar expense that UPS might not cover.

So, I pack each bike just as it comes to us from say, Giant or Pinarello. Dense pipe insulation on each and every tube, ziptied in place. The rear wheel stays in the dropouts, but the rear derailleur comes off and is thoroughly insulated before being taped to the spokes by it. The rear wheel gets axle protectors, as they also help to eliminate damage to the derailleur hanger. The front wheel comes off, also getting a dose of axle protectors, and is ziptied to the front triangle, thus the hub can at no point damage the tubes. The front brake is often taken off, insulated, and taped to a tube. The handle bars come off, and the stem is turned and ziptied backward. Handlebars are insulated, and then cradle the fork.

Extra bits (computers, pedals, saddle, water bottle cages, etc) all go into a small cardboard box which is inserted into the unused space between the down tube and the fork. The entire box is then filled with my insulation scraps and the bike is immobile. Most of our 16pound race machines end up with a package weight of 35pounds, but this has no effect on our UPS calculations as they do it simply by volume weight. All standard bike boxes don't go over UPS's size limit, and usually have a calculated weight of 90pounds.

It typically costs me $40 to ship an entire bike in the USA.
You basically describe how I pack a bike. Everything is protected, nothing moves, etc. Usually weighs in at 33-36lbs but as you said it doesn't matter what it weighs really. And except for very large bikes I can always get them into 52"x30"x8" and can ship clear across the country, even with high declared value and signature required and residential delivery for well under $75

Clearly some bike shops do a good job. But every one I have received that was packed by a bike shop has been a joke. I have tried to warn the people I have bought from but they usually think I am an idiot because the "professionals" surely know how to pack a bike right? In the end I have gone back to every one of these seller's and gotten partial refunds to cover the damage caused by the poor packing. But they seem reluctant to go back to the bike shops and ask for a refund, even when I send them pictures of the crappy packing.
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Old 09-25-11, 12:30 PM
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Here is a picture of a Bike that I sold. It was a beautiful Fuji Finest from 1972 that I only got to ride one time. On that pic, the bike was not completely done. I take some of that same foamy material and stuff the box with it



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Old 09-25-11, 01:06 PM
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If you've ever seen how bikes are boxed from the factory you'd understand why bike stores package the way they do. Almost every issue noted by the OP I saw back in my shop days.
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Old 09-25-11, 01:43 PM
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The one bike I've purchased on ebay was similarly packaged supposedly by a professional. I unfortunately didn't get **** from the seller in compensation for the neglect.

Btw how much should one expect to pay on ebay in shipping charges when buying a bike? To do it right doesn't seem like it would be cheap to ship unless you do it often and buy packing materials in bulk.
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Old 09-25-11, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymoose View Post
Btw how much should one expect to pay on ebay in shipping charges when buying a bike? To do it right doesn't seem like it would be cheap to ship unless you do it often and buy packing materials in bulk.
I calculate shipping from Miami to Seattle for a 35lb box and list that rate plus $10 for packaging materials. It usualy works to be $75-80.
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Old 09-25-11, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by miamijim View Post
I calculate shipping from Miami to Seattle for a 35lb box and list that rate plus $10 for packaging materials. It usualy works to be $75-80.
I get $100 flat fee for shipping up front. Then I take actual UPS shipping with full declared value and delivery confirmation plus $15 for packing materials out of that $100 and refund whatever is left. I usually end up refunding $25-30. So if someone is asking more than about $75 they are not packing efficiently or are padding the shipping.
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Old 09-25-11, 02:55 PM
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Wow, some really bad examples here! I can't for the life of me understand the stem/pedal pic - really, that's just inviting trouble. And it's resting up against a pristine 3ttt Record stem? Unbelievable.

With that, here's a good example of a superb packing job; one designed to protect and limit shipping cost as well:



I was quite surprised to see it arrive in this manner, but it was fine. Completely wrapped in pipe insulation, BB cups with plastic protectors and specially-made dropout protectors. Only cost $70 to ship from France, fully insured. Made the trip perfectly with no damage.

I will no longer buy a full bike and have it shipped, though - just too many things can go wrong, as illustrated here.

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Old 09-25-11, 03:01 PM
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I'm fortunate in that I've not had a BAD pack on an incoming bike. Packs from BFers have always been good. The few eBay bikes have been OK. When I got my departed Touring Series III on eBay the seller hadn't packed a bike but was more than happy to take direction from me. I sent him links to threads here and he sent pics part way through, we rearranged things, etc. I paid him for a little more time and packing materials. He was happy, I was happy.

When I pack one from sale or facilitation, yeah, I go overboard probably. Those here who have gotten a bike from me know. I treat every one as if it were my own and I pack it as if I had flown to some out of state CL buy and packed it myself for return shipping. I'm also fortunate (as are those who I facilitate for) that one of my clients lets me ship FedEx through their account so I get the wholesale rate with no markups.

I can't think of a worse feeling than knowing that someone's prize got damaged because of my shortcomings in packing for them. Now, I obviously can't keep someone from running a fork lift through the box but as long as the package as a whole gets decent treatment from the carrier I'm fully confident that I can get a bike to someone undamaged and in the same condition as I picked it up.

Packing a bike isn't rocket science. There's really just a few guidelines to follow...and as long as you do you'll have a successful outcome.

I do believe that an LBS would be my last resort. If I have to pay for the pack I'd rather offer that money up to a CL seller, pay for materials, and offer direction than have an LBS do it and get a quick "gotta get it out in today's FedEx deal". Obviously there are exceptions as in DRietz' case.
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Old 09-25-11, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by khatfull View Post
When I pack one from sale or facilitation, yeah, I go overboard probably. Those here who have gotten a bike from me know. I treat every one as if it were my own...
+1

Don't you just wish everyone did this, and not just regarding packing bicycles? The world would be a happier place.

DD
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Old 10-04-11, 08:39 PM
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I moved and left my '72 Chrome Paramount frame at a bikeshop I'd known for at least 10 years. When I got the box in the new locale nothing was in it other than the frame, not even tape to keep it from bouncing, but I was lucky, at least.
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Old 10-04-11, 08:51 PM
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Old 10-05-11, 09:03 AM
  #24  
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While I have never shipped/received a bike personally I receive quite a few in the spring when people are returning back to our area for the summer season at our shop and I can't believe they get charged by their LBS to ship them, I have never received a bike packed good yet, no protection, parts loose and banging around, some missing, wheels bent, paint scratched and so on. We don't ship a ton of bikes but when we do we ship it like it is one of our own my boss is the one that does all the packing and takes great pride in making sure your bike gets to you unscathed. For the people who's bikes get damaged because of poor packing from a so called professional I feel for you/them there is just no excuse for it.
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Old 10-05-11, 10:06 AM
  #25  
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I often wonder what it would cost just to take a bike, fully assembled and ready to ride, with an address label to UPS and just ship it that way?

When I was in college I worked for Roadway Package System (competitor to UPS, now called FedEx ground, I believe), and we would load trucks from the nose to the tail with boxes, like Tetris, THEN we would put oversized and odd-shaped goods in the tail of the truck, just before the door was closed. They could be anything, tires, rakes, etc., but certainly a built-up bike wouldn't be unusual. With a little bit of padding in key places it seems like it would actually be handled MORE carefully that way, since those items avoided the automated machines and conveyors and were taken from truck to truck via large hand carts. Might slow down the transit time by a day or so, and could very well be too pricy, but it might be worth investigating? When it goes out for delivery I doubt anyone is going to try to stack anything on top of an assembled bike? Alternatively, you could have them hold it at the terminal for pickup, so in effect it is being wheeled to a trailer or two and set on the end, then wheeled off and set aside for pickup by you?

Beats cramming everything into a box and having it tossed about by machines. You'd be amazed at what a package goes through after it leaves human hands in one of those places...
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