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Old 08-01-07, 05:23 PM   #1
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At the LBS Today

So I go down to the LBS to get my rear brake pad changed.

There are two other customers in the shop, a guy just getting some odds and ends, and a woman about 50 yrs old trying on a road bike. Listening to her conversation, she hasn't been riding since she was 15 and wants a decent starter bike. Her goal is to do maybe 15 mile rides with one or two friends. The guy from the store is showing her an appropriate starter bike from Specialized that comes in a color she wants (she readily admits that color is an important factor in her buying decision).

The bike happens to be displayed with pedals for a clipless system (not sure which one offhand) and she's perturbed by them (she's never seen a clipless pedal and doesn't know what it is). The sales guy explains that the bike happened to be set up with these pedals for display, but that part of the purchase price is to mount whatever type of pedals she wants -- and if she wants a basic flat pedal then that's what they'll mount. She asks about clipless pedals -- not in the sense of maybe thinking about them, but from her questions more in the sense of "why in hell would anybody want something that stupid" (not her words, just her tone and the combination of words used). The bike store guy explains a little bit about them but very quickly changes the subject back to flat pedals (in other words, he's doing a very commendable sales job and is being responsive to the customer).

But then the guy customer jumps in and starts explaining just how IMPORTANT it is to have clipless pedals and how all her friends will LAUGH at her if she doesn't have them and how you get the most AMAAAAZING improvements in speed with them and how her friends WON'T RIDE WITH HER if she doesn't have them and how ALL THE REALLY GOOD RIDERS like Lance ride with them and how if you're DOING 40 MPH down a rough road and you're standing on the pedals your foot won't slip off [as if she would be riding at that kind of speed on a downhill!!] and that there are SO MANY REASONS for having them and... He's not loud or anything, but he's going on and on and on and he's very insistent and he's completely cut off the sales guy who is young and a great rider but is very laid back in his approach with people.

She's clearly starting to rethink her purchase -- not about getting clipless, but about buying a bike entirely.

So I go over and sort of place myself between the customer and the woman and say to him "hey, it sounds as if you know about this stuff. I've been riding on these clipless pedals here and I don't even know what kind they are [yes I do, they're SPDs] with a mountain bike shoe on a road bike and I'm not happy with the combination. I'm thinking I should get a road bike shoe and what shoe would you recommend, or do you think I ought to go with a different system." I sort of point him towards the shoe display and start asking him about specific shoes.

Meanwhile, the sales guy gets the owner of the store and they get the woman grounded. After a few minutes, I thank the guy customer for his time and walk away from him. The owner immediately comes over to the guy and gives him the old "is there anything else we can do for you today" in a tone that clearly means "hey, don't let the door slam you in the ass on your way out".

Meanwhile, I go over to the woman and explain how the bike I'm riding had a clipless pedal installed for display, but that the store put flat pedals on it when I bought it [I eventually switched to the clipless, but not until after I had put about 1000 miles on the bike]. I also tell her that about 40% of my bike club has flat pedals (admittedly, I didn't mention that most of those flat pedals have toe clips). Meanwhile, the owner has pulled out two pair of flat pedals for her to look at.

She wound up buying the bike. The owner of the store gave me the brake pads (and installation) for free, along with a quick tuneup, chain cleaning, and lube job.
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Old 08-01-07, 05:28 PM   #2
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Good for you. I really can't stand know-it-alls who feel they have to pontificate their opinion when it hasn't been asked for.
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Old 08-01-07, 05:34 PM   #3
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I make it a point to keep my mouth shut when the guys at my ATF LBS are selling a bike. No matter how much I want to support what they are saying, I know I'll just muck it up, so I just wait patiently for my turn.
You did great!
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Old 08-01-07, 06:29 PM   #4
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What the heck was BluesDawg doing in Connecticutt?

Just kidding just kidding, honest.
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Old 08-01-07, 06:52 PM   #5
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Why would anyone sane want clipless? Just kidding, but a lot of us just ain't interested. Real good move, though. Your LBS guy likes you, which can only work to your benefit. My LBS has been treating me really well since I brought in two friends who bought bikes from them. bk
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Old 08-01-07, 07:41 PM   #6
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Who's Lance?

PS. Nice job.
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Old 08-01-07, 08:06 PM   #7
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You sure know how to get free stuff. Good for you.
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Old 08-02-07, 10:20 AM   #8
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You understand what many don't!
The most important thing for a cyclist to do is to get others out riding. It doesn't matter what or how, just get out there and enjoy yourself.
You did good for all of us, Thank You.
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Old 08-02-07, 01:49 PM   #9
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THe know it all customer reminds me of about 3/4 of the staffers at my local bike shops.
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Old 08-02-07, 04:36 PM   #10
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Yeah you did good. The other guy's intentions might've been good, but went too far with it and almost run her off. There are some things that people just need to find out on their own. Yeah, clipless would be good for her,.....but not yet!!

I'd say those new brake pads and tune-up were well deserved. Good job!
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Old 08-03-07, 10:49 AM   #11
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You know, this was one of those situations where you wish the floor would open up and swallow Mr. Oh-So-Helpful whole. It would be no less than he deserved. You showed a great deal of sensitivity for the situation, which it seemed canceled out the negative Kharma. And I agree with what you said: the idea is to increase the number of riders, not scare them off...

Good on 'ya, mate!
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