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Are Bicycle Mechanics Angry and Arrogant?

Old 09-28-15, 12:08 AM
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calimtb
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Are Bicycle Mechanics Angry and Arrogant?

I had an odd exchange with a bike mechanic this weekend.

I was going to do a handlebar adjustment, and did a quick check of the stem. I noticed it was a touch off center.

Watched a few youtube videos, and it seemed straightforward enough of a job to take care of my own. Now, my rate of success with bike repair and adjustment is pretty good. I'm not bad at truing wheels and derailleurs and other basic stuff.

The stem adjustment seemed very basic. However, I have found a local mechanic who I think does some really high quality work. I figured I'd pay him $5 or $10 for a quick adjustment. Win-win.

I called the shop and asked him how much to get the stem centered. He said it was easy, wouldn't take long at all, and wouldn't cost anything. He said just bring it in, he'll take care of it. I thought that was awesome of him.

He's a square guy, I thought. I had come in before for a front and rear derailleur adjustment and he did excellent work. He actually discouraged me from getting the rear derailleur adjusted. He said it worked well enough. I paid him to adjust both though, since I knew he could improve on the work I had done on the rear derailleur.

My intuition was correct and his work was excellent. So, I roll in, tell him I had called earlier in the day about a stem adjustment. He seemed intent on dishing a wheel when I arrived.

He looks up and just glares at me. Without saying a word, he reached for my bike and gets to work. He loosens a couple of bolts, eyeballs the stem, nudges it to the side a bit, and re-tightens the bolts.

"Ten dollars." He stares me in the eye with a fair bit of menace. I didn't protest. I just paid the $10, thanked him and left. I checked the work very quickly (once I was outside) and noticed the stem still wasn't centered! Before, it was off right, and now, it was off left.

I just kind of had a chuckle, and rode off. I'll do the work on my own later, but I'm still curious as to why this mechanic was so angry.

I've paid for repairs before (paying for more work than recommended) here, and was willing to pay again if he had let me know ahead of time.

He's an excellent mechanic, but for whatever reason, seems very thin skinned and slightly volatile.

I was hoping to use him as my regular mechanic in the event (probably on more than one occasion) where my own work was less than stellar. Obviously, I can't do that now, but it's too bad that he seems so impatient.

What's going on with this mechanic?

Also, one thing that was a bit off: the shop is supposed to have a 10% discount for members of a local cycling club. I called about the discount over the phone with regard to the derailleur adjustments. He said, yes, they offer the discount when we talked on the phone.

However, once I was in the shop, he refused to honor the discount. He charged me the regular shop rate. Now, his work is outstanding, so it's well worth the regular rate, but it bothered me that he has baited and switched me twice now on shop rates.

I know shops don't make a ton of money, but I think a shop should honor it's word.

Last edited by calimtb; 09-28-15 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 09-28-15, 12:23 AM
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Did you ask for the discount at the time of payment?
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Old 09-28-15, 12:36 AM
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No, I inquired over the phone before I brought the bike in. He confirmed the discount on the phone. He started to hem and haw when I tried to confirm the discount prior to the service once I had come in, however.

When the work was done, he said he was giving me a "deal" but charged me the standard shop rate.
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Old 09-28-15, 01:11 AM
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You need a new mechanic.
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Old 09-28-15, 02:18 AM
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Like you, I wouldn't have minded paying for the job. Labor is about all a mechanic has to sell. Since he volunteered a free service, I would have expected him to keep his word. I would get a different mechanic.

Now, I'm assuming the phone conversation happened immediately before taking the bike in. If the phone conversation were several days ago, I would likely have a different opinion.
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Old 09-28-15, 03:38 AM
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Just keep learning to do stuff yourself. Then you won't have to worry about grumpy LBS mechanics. Incidentally, practise what you learn. That way you will become way more confident in what you do... which you aren't at the moment.
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Old 09-28-15, 04:32 AM
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Might have been having a bad day? Maybe the customer before you was a ******? Not that is an acceptable excuse for his behavior. I do the bulk of my own work for several reasons. One it is 20 miles one way to my LBS. Second major reason is I can take the time to do it right and if it isn't I have no one to blame but myself. Most of my stuff is vintage. Funny thing is; I have had the shop call and ask me where to source parts on more than one vintage bike.

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Old 09-28-15, 06:20 AM
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How did you leap from one experience to the general notion of all mechanics being angry and arrogant?
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Old 09-28-15, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by calimtb View Post
I had an odd exchange with a bike mechanic this weekend.

I was going to do a handlebar adjustment, and did a quick check of the stem. I noticed it was a touch off center.

Watched a few youtube videos, and it seemed straightforward enough of a job to take care of my own. Now, my rate of success with bike repair and adjustment is pretty good. I'm not bad at truing wheels and derailleurs and other basic stuff.

The stem adjustment seemed very basic. However, I have found a local mechanic who I think does some really high quality work. I figured I'd pay him $5 or $10 for a quick adjustment. Win-win.

I called the shop and asked him how much to get the stem centered. He said it was easy, wouldn't take long at all, and wouldn't cost anything. He said just bring it in, he'll take care of it. I thought that was awesome of him.

He's a square guy, I thought. I had come in before for a front and rear derailleur adjustment and he did excellent work. He actually discouraged me from getting the rear derailleur adjusted. He said it worked well enough. I paid him to adjust both though, since I knew he could improve on the work I had done on the rear derailleur.

My intuition was correct and his work was excellent. So, I roll in, tell him I had called earlier in the day about a stem adjustment. He seemed intent on dishing a wheel when I arrived.

He looks up and just glares at me. Without saying a word, he reached for my bike and gets to work. He loosens a couple of bolts, eyeballs the stem, nudges it to the side a bit, and re-tightens the bolts.

"Ten dollars." He stares me in the eye with a fair bit of menace. I didn't protest. I just paid the $10, thanked him and left. I checked the work very quickly (once I was outside) and noticed the stem still wasn't centered! Before, it was off right, and now, it was off left.

I just kind of had a chuckle, and rode off. I'll do the work on my own later, but I'm still curious as to why this mechanic was so angry.

I've paid for repairs before (paying for more work than recommended) here, and was willing to pay again if he had let me know ahead of time.

He's an excellent mechanic, but for whatever reason, seems very thin skinned and slightly volatile.

I was hoping to use him as my regular mechanic in the event (probably on more than one occasion) where my own work was less than stellar. Obviously, I can't do that now, but it's too bad that he seems so impatient.

What's going on with this mechanic?

Also, one thing that was a bit off: the shop is supposed to have a 10% discount for members of a local cycling club. I called about the discount over the phone with regard to the derailleur adjustments. He said, yes, they offer the discount when we talked on the phone.

However, once I was in the shop, he refused to honor the discount. He charged me the regular shop rate. Now, his work is outstanding, so it's well worth the regular rate, but it bothered me that he has baited and switched me twice now on shop rates.

I know shops don't make a ton of money, but I think a shop should honor it's word.
One thing needs clearing up,,,, you speak of your work on truing wheels and dirauillers but you took your bike to a shop for the simplelist adjustment, whats up with that ????and you wanted a dollar off,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
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Old 09-28-15, 06:32 AM
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My first impulse was to think that the owner of the shop heard him promise you a free service over the phone and gave Mr. Mech a world of crappola.
So now you walk in and Mr. M. blames you for getting him in trouble. But after reading about the failure to honor the discount policy for the club repair,
I can't help but wonder if there isn't more to the story. Promising a discount for club members is a great way to get business. Refusing to honor the discount
is a great way to lose business. Perhaps the discount only applied to repairs over a certain dollar threshold?
I dunno. Maybe he forgot to take his meds
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Old 09-28-15, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by calimtb View Post
I had an odd exchange with a bike mechanic this weekend.

I was going to do a handlebar adjustment, and did a quick check of the stem. I noticed it was a touch off center.

Watched a few youtube videos, and it seemed straightforward enough of a job to take care of my own. Now, my rate of success with bike repair and adjustment is pretty good. I'm not bad at truing wheels and derailleurs and other basic stuff.

The stem adjustment seemed very basic. However, I have found a local mechanic who I think does some really high quality work. I figured I'd pay him $5 or $10 for a quick adjustment. Win-win.

I called the shop and asked him how much to get the stem centered. He said it was easy, wouldn't take long at all, and wouldn't cost anything. He said just bring it in, he'll take care of it. I thought that was awesome of him.

He's a square guy, I thought. I had come in before for a front and rear derailleur adjustment and he did excellent work. He actually discouraged me from getting the rear derailleur adjusted. He said it worked well enough. I paid him to adjust both though, since I knew he could improve on the work I had done on the rear derailleur.

My intuition was correct and his work was excellent. So, I roll in, tell him I had called earlier in the day about a stem adjustment. He seemed intent on dishing a wheel when I arrived.

He looks up and just glares at me. Without saying a word, he reached for my bike and gets to work. He loosens a couple of bolts, eyeballs the stem, nudges it to the side a bit, and re-tightens the bolts.

"Ten dollars." He stares me in the eye with a fair bit of menace. I didn't protest. I just paid the $10, thanked him and left. I checked the work very quickly (once I was outside) and noticed the stem still wasn't centered! Before, it was off right, and now, it was off left.

I just kind of had a chuckle, and rode off. I'll do the work on my own later, but I'm still curious as to why this mechanic was so angry.

I've paid for repairs before (paying for more work than recommended) here, and was willing to pay again if he had let me know ahead of time.

He's an excellent mechanic, but for whatever reason, seems very thin skinned and slightly volatile.

I was hoping to use him as my regular mechanic in the event (probably on more than one occasion) where my own work was less than stellar. Obviously, I can't do that now, but it's too bad that he seems so impatient.

What's going on with this mechanic?

Also, one thing that was a bit off: the shop is supposed to have a 10% discount for members of a local cycling club. I called about the discount over the phone with regard to the derailleur adjustments. He said, yes, they offer the discount when we talked on the phone.

However, once I was in the shop, he refused to honor the discount. He charged me the regular shop rate. Now, his work is outstanding, so it's well worth the regular rate, but it bothered me that he has baited and switched me twice now on shop rates.

I know shops don't make a ton of money, but I think a shop should honor it's word.
Seriously?
You ask us "What's going on with this mechanic?"
You want total strangers that have no first hand knowledge of the event or dialogue to diagnose why another random stranger was angry at a certain moment in time far, far away from where we were?
Maybe he really had to drop a duece? Or his wife had just called and told him she is leaving him for another guy and that guy happened to be someone he had just done a handlebar adjustment for?
He glared and stared you in the eye with menace though? Menace is a pretty strong word btw and is partially defined by Merriam Webster as "a show of intention to inflict harm"

Sounds like you had some pretty scary and dramatic moments in that bike shop so I would suggest staying away in the future
Since you asked...

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Old 09-28-15, 06:52 AM
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Who knows why he had a burr on his saddle. OTOH for a bike mechanic to be arrogant is a little much. As simple as bikes are, there isnt much there to be arrogant about. Bikes are simple machines, and their adjustments are straight forward and simple.
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Old 09-28-15, 07:01 AM
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Just guessing here, but you did put him in kind of a spot. He's working with a paying customer and you're interrupting that for something you want done for free. Maybe (I'm guessing since you don't say) the boss was there, or the other customer. Either way your free service would be seen as more important to him than the work he was doing and that reflects poorly on him.
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Old 09-28-15, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by calimtb View Post
I was going to do a handlebar adjustment, and did a quick check of the stem. I noticed it was a touch off center.

Watched a few youtube videos, and it seemed straightforward enough of a job to take care of my own. Now, my rate of success with bike repair and adjustment is pretty good. I'm not bad at truing wheels and derailleurs and other basic stuff.
Maybe it is just me, but for someone who is "not bad at truing wheels," it does seem a bit unbelievable that the same person would lug his bike to a shop to adjust the handlebars and center the stem. And then pay $10, only to chuckle and decide to re-do the work later.

I'm trying to do the math, but I can't get it to add up.

John
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Old 09-28-15, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
Maybe it is just me, but for someone who is "not bad at truing wheels," it does seem a bit unbelievable that the same person would lug his bike to a shop to adjust the handlebars and center the stem. And then pay $10, only to chuckle and decide to re-do the work later.

I'm trying to do the math, but I can't get it to add up.

John
This
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Old 09-28-15, 10:23 AM
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You were treated fairly and got a great deal to boot. Normal charge for handle bar adjustment is $20... plus tip.
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Old 09-28-15, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
You were treated fairly and got a great deal to boot. Normal charge for handle bar adjustment is $20... plus tip.
This wasn't for a handlebar adjustment. It was to center the stem.
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Old 09-28-15, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
Maybe it is just me, but for someone who is "not bad at truing wheels," it does seem a bit unbelievable that the same person would lug his bike to a shop to adjust the handlebars and center the stem. And then pay $10, only to chuckle and decide to re-do the work later.

I'm trying to do the math, but I can't get it to add up.

John
I'm pretty good at most adjustments. However, I know this mechanic is better. He did a better job at adjusting the derailleurs than I did, and I did a pretty good job.

I thought the same would occur with the stem adjustment. Nope.

And as I said before, this was only for a stem adjustment (centering) not handlebar adjustment.

The mechanic said there would be no charge, otherwise I would have done it myself.
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Old 09-28-15, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Just guessing here, but you did put him in kind of a spot. He's working with a paying customer and you're interrupting that for something you want done for free. Maybe (I'm guessing since you don't say) the boss was there, or the other customer. Either way your free service would be seen as more important to him than the work he was doing and that reflects poorly on him.
Interesting. It's clear enough that he didn't want to do any work for free. However, he seemed pretty chipper on the phone and made it clear there would be no charge. Once he actually had to honor his word, however, he got a bit ticked off, it seems.

The only two employees in the shop were himself and a second mechanic.
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Old 09-28-15, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
Maybe it is just me, but for someone who is "not bad at truing wheels," it does seem a bit unbelievable that the same person would lug his bike to a shop to adjust the handlebars and center the stem. And then pay $10, only to chuckle and decide to re-do the work later.

I'm trying to do the math, but I can't get it to add up.

John
I'm pretty good at most adjustments on my bike, but the mechanic I'm referring to is far faster and better. The derailleur adjustments are a case in point.

Also, I like visiting bike shops and talking to fellow enthusiasts. If I can support the local economy, talk shop, and get a spot on adjustment in a minute or two, everyone wins.
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Old 09-28-15, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Fastfingaz View Post
One thing needs clearing up,,,, you speak of your work on truing wheels and dirauillers but you took your bike to a shop for the simplelist adjustment, whats up with that ????and you wanted a dollar off,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
I didn't request a dollar off. Where did you get that idea?

I asked how much it would cost to get the stem centered, and the mechanic said there would be no charge and told me to "come on in."
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Old 09-28-15, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
Just keep learning to do stuff yourself. Then you won't have to worry about grumpy LBS mechanics. Incidentally, practise what you learn. That way you will become way more confident in what you do... which you aren't at the moment.
Yes, excellent points, indeed.
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Old 09-28-15, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by avidone1 View Post
My first impulse was to think that the owner of the shop heard him promise you a free service over the phone and gave Mr. Mech a world of crappola.
So now you walk in and Mr. M. blames you for getting him in trouble. But after reading about the failure to honor the discount policy for the club repair,
I can't help but wonder if there isn't more to the story. Promising a discount for club members is a great way to get business. Refusing to honor the discount
is a great way to lose business. Perhaps the discount only applied to repairs over a certain dollar threshold?
I dunno. Maybe he forgot to take his meds
I asked about the discount over the phone (regarding the derailleurs) and he confirmed that they do offer an across the board 15% discount.

However, when I came in and spoke to him in person, he said it was 10%, not 15%. He then said he was "re-negotiating the discount" with the local cycling club, implying that there might not be such a discount in the future.

When he rang me up, he charged me the posted shop rate, no discount, but said he was "giving me a deal."
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Old 09-28-15, 11:43 AM
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FYI, one of our local shops only gives a club discount to product, not to services.
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Old 09-28-15, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Nachoman View Post
FYI, one of our local shops only gives a club discount to product, not to services.
The discount varies from shop to shop in our area, but this shop in question said point blank it's across the board, including mechanical work, accessories and bicycles. I thought I had made that point reasonably clear.
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