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I'm OK Never Setting Foot Inside an LBS Again

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I'm OK Never Setting Foot Inside an LBS Again

Old 08-29-17, 10:18 PM
  #1  
speshelite
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I'm OK Never Setting Foot Inside an LBS Again

There was someone asking about buying from BD and it just reminded me of the many goofballs I've dealt with over the years at lbs's. There seem to be a handful of specific personality types at the lbs:

1) immature kids such as stoner teens that the shop hired because they're the only person in town willing to turn a wrench all week long for $8 an hour,

2) bored, confused millenials who don't have a career path and are trying to avoid adulting

3) pompous middle aged bike zealot whose ego is completely tied up in owning the latest carbon fiber Dura Ace Di2 wunderbike.

4) late on their rent desperate shop mechanic pushing their used bikes on you instead of the bike you wanted to test ride

5) rip off artist owners trying to upsell you to a $9K carbon road bike with discs when you came in for a $400 hybrid bike.

6) depressed floor sales guy who breaks down emotionally and cries when you come back from a 15 minute test ride and tell him you're going to "think about it" and get back to him.

Walking into a bike shop is just begging to be inundated with endless examples of arrested development. Thank god for internet sales.
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Old 08-29-17, 10:25 PM
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I encountered one of those types recently and walked out. But I've also encountered very helpful store reps as well at times.
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Old 08-29-17, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by speshelite View Post
There was someone asking about buying from BD and it just reminded me of the many goofballs I've dealt with over the years at lbs's. There seem to be a handful of specific personality types at the lbs:

1) immature kids such as stoner teens that the shop hired because they're the only person in town willing to turn a wrench all week long for $8 an hour,

2) bored, confused millenials who don't have a career path and are trying to avoid adulting

3) pompous middle aged bike zealot whose ego is completely tied up in owning the latest carbon fiber Dura Ace Di2 wunderbike.

4) late on their rent desperate shop mechanic pushing their used bikes on you instead of the bike you wanted to test ride

5) rip off artist owners trying to upsell you to a $9K carbon road bike with discs when you came in for a $400 hybrid bike.

6) depressed floor sales guy who breaks down emotionally and cries when you come back from a 15 minute test ride and tell him you're going to "think about it" and get back to him.

Walking into a bike shop is just begging to be inundated with endless examples of arrested development. Thank god for internet sales.
I just got done car-shopping. Talk about sociopaths? Makes LBS seem like a day in the park.
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Old 08-29-17, 11:04 PM
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My worst experience was from the Vittorio Brumottis who didn't give a **** about you if you didn't want to gonzo your bike down Half Dome. Sorry that I'm fifty and can't do that anymore. Sorry if I want a hybrid.

On the other hand, my Trek store sellers were fantastic. They asked, listened, and found the right bike for me. That's why I bought a Trek. Note to retailers: good customer service = money in the pocket.

Last edited by cb400bill; 08-30-17 at 04:27 AM. Reason: Bypassing forum censor
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Old 08-29-17, 11:24 PM
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I'm sorry that you've had such crappy experiences with your LBS-s. I've been to ones like you described and try to avoid them. Fortunately, I've lived in places with choices, and there are some good shops out there.

My current LBS is literally a mom and pop shop - owned by two local cyclists who are active road and mountain bikers and super cool people. The head mechanic knows his stuff and loves C&V, and the other main mechanic is also serious business (and an adult). There are quite a few part-time employees who are there, as a second job, just because they love bicycles and helping others love bicycles!

Another good LBS from a place I previously lived became my favorite when I was first into cycling/wrenching simply because they didn't treat me like I was stupid or a lesser being because I had an older bike. Once again, the owner was on site, and had some smart kids (as well as a few of the stoner types) working the shop. They started offering various maintenance classes, and I had an awesome experience taking their wheel building course.
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Old 08-29-17, 11:55 PM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
I had an awesome experience taking their wheel building course.
I'd take a wheel-building course .... but I'd by the parts and tools online.

At some point one can choose to say, "There is very little I cannot fix that another person could fix, very little that I could not research but another person could research, and very little I could buy that I could not get more cheaply Not at a bike shop."

The only reason I could see going to a shop now is to try on Shimanio shoes ... not sure if I want a 46 extrawide or a 47 extrawide .... but no one withing way too many miles carries that much variety, and then there is "Can you order them so I can try them on ... " which leads to some serious discomfort if neither pair feels right.

Why should I pay some ridiculous markup to feel bad? More than likely I will wait to see a pair on deep discount, returned merch, or lightly used, and take my chances on the size and either eat the loss if it is used and try to resell, or send it back if it is discounted.

Frankly I 'd expect a bike shop would thank me for staying away, in this situation.
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Old 08-30-17, 12:08 AM
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Bike mechanics should need to be state-licensed, with proven capabilities in the various flanges of bicycle design. As it is right now, they are about as regulated as carnival workers. Finding a good shop can be like discovering an oasis.
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Old 08-30-17, 12:24 AM
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I don't hang out at bike shops a lot, but do like to check out the co-op a bit.

However a couple of months ago, I was 75 miles into the 150 mile first day of a several day trip when I got a sidewall bead blowout. Chainstay clearence required 700c23mm, or possibly 25mm tire. Was a new tire before the blowout.

Anyway I was happy to find an open LBS only 20 miles down the road that had a tire that fit.
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Old 08-30-17, 03:13 AM
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I have had good experiences with the local shops around here, except one...I won't go back to that one. Basically for reasons one and two.
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Old 08-30-17, 04:39 AM
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I've had a much different experience with shops here.


Here is the real problem, consumers come in without knowing what they want. The same is true when trying to purchase a car. One cannot expect a shop to mind read, but they can ask questions then leave you alone to decide what you want to do.


There is also the issue with "tire kickers" who never buy because they really cannot afford the item in the first place. What are they doing shopping. I'd say if more people started to respect these business they would get the respect they need to make a purchase. These shop do not owe you something. They are running a business that requires they make a profit.
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Old 08-30-17, 05:00 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
I'd take a wheel-building course .... but I'd by the parts and tools online.

At some point one can choose to say, "There is very little I cannot fix that another person could fix, very little that I could not research but another person could research, and very little I could buy that I could not get more cheaply Not at a bike shop."

The only reason I could see going to a shop now is to try on Shimanio shoes ... not sure if I want a 46 extrawide or a 47 extrawide .... but no one withing way too many miles carries that much variety, and then there is "Can you order them so I can try them on ... " which leads to some serious discomfort if neither pair feels right.

Why should I pay some ridiculous markup to feel bad? More than likely I will wait to see a pair on deep discount, returned merch, or lightly used, and take my chances on the size and either eat the loss if it is used and try to resell, or send it back if it is discounted.

Frankly I 'd expect a bike shop would thank me for staying away, in this situation.

I have reached the same point. I don't think I get treated very well at a bike shop, but I've also come to realize that I don't treat the bike shop very well. I was recently bike-shopping for my son. I'd go to the shop to see what was there, but I quickly (in seconds) at each shop would realize that I wasn't going to pay anywhere near LBS prices for a new bike. He rode a couple of bikes and then, out of the sky, fell a perfect bike for him on Craigslist. I DID go back to the LBS and buy accessories for him, but mostly the bike shops were a free demo room for us. I doubt that I'm alone in using an LBS this way, so I don't really blame them for not investing heavily in their workforce.

The one shop where we bought accessories seems to truly understand that MOST people should buy used bikes. That's a shop I don't mind going to, but I sure wouldn't go into an LBS shopping for a bike.
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Old 08-30-17, 05:29 AM
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I agree with many of the above sentiments.
I'm a recent resident of my area, and have started looking at new road bikes, to complement my old hybrid.


I've been to a couple 'very local' LBS so far, and are not very impressed with them.
I'm going to widen the web a bit, to see if I can find a more customer service oriented LBS.


If I have to go 45-60 minutes away for a good shop and positive experience, it's worth it in my opinion.
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Old 08-30-17, 05:43 AM
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For all the talk of department store bikes being put together horribly wrong, I had to laugh at and roll my eyes a little at a Sunday afternoon recent experience. We found a 2016 Verve 3 on steep discount at my LBS that is also a Trek Concept store. My husband was planning on waiting until next year and looking at an FX or a DS but couldn't pass up the deal. We bought it, the shop guy checked it over (their regular mechanic wasn't in) and went for a ride around the park, he took a sharper turn and ended up on the ground, luckily unhurt. The stem came lose so his wheel didn't turn. I'll still go back there, not going to pass up free lifetime maintenance on both bikes, but I'll be more careful in the future.
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Old 08-30-17, 05:44 AM
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Happy to say I have not had those experiences.
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Old 08-30-17, 05:46 AM
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I live in a county of 100k people. We have two LBSs here (Next closest shops are ~30 miles or more away). I bought my Domane from one, so they feel invested in me. But, I try to support both (and I get that it is nickel dime stuff) when I can because both are invested in and help maintain the local MTB trails (one on our church acreage and another in planning), sponsor local events, and provide local employment (lately it has seemed important to me to keep some small businesses open...closed storefronts do little good for anyone). I do a lot of my own work (and they know it) and do use internet if I am making big orders and can't lay hands on it locally that day (I have to remember to mentally add shipping cost to internet price when I am quoted the LBS price). It is not a perfect balance, but if I am waited on by that kid who is just learning, or the guy just hanging on, I try to remember that both of them were me when I was working my way through college at the auto parts store 40 years ago.
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Old 08-30-17, 05:51 AM
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The area that I am in is fairly cycling popular so there are quite a few bike shops to choose from. One of the more important aspects than showing up in a shop immediately looking to buy, is to shop the people inside. Have a conversation with them. See how busy they are and how they respond to you. Just like people anywhere you aren't going to automatically get along just because of where they are employed. Without coming to a basic understanding or appeal as a person it can be hard to do business.

One of my local shops is SUPER convenient to me. It sits right along a path I ride regularly. There are a few "mechanics" that work there. One of the guys is awesome to deal with, super friendly, knowledgeable without being pushy. The other two are snotty, egotistical, and superior. If I didn't know the other guy was there I would never go in. Now I just know when to go in.
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Old 08-30-17, 06:13 AM
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The OP's post history indicates anger issues.

Guys who work at bike shops probably have the same conversations about customers.
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Old 08-30-17, 06:19 AM
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Well Said

Arizona, you said a mouthful with your post. Customer Service has suffered a tremendous failure in recent years and most retailers have forgotten about building a relationship that will last over multiple purchases and not simply shoot for the "high dollar-one time sale." Thanx for your comment....


Originally Posted by Arizona Nights View Post
My worst experience was from the Vittorio Brumottis who didn't give a **** about you if you didn't want to gonzo your bike down Half Dome. Sorry that I'm fifty and can't do that anymore. Sorry if I want a hybrid.

On the other hand, my Trek store sellers were fantastic. They asked, listened, and found the right bike for me. That's why I bought a Trek. Note to retailers: good customer service = money in the pocket.
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Old 08-30-17, 06:23 AM
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It's a great time to be a consumer...

because we have so many options at our fingertips. Need to get to a bike shop? There are many transportation options, including cars to pick you up and take you there for a modest fee. You can order this service by phone, if you can imagine. You can buy your frame in China, your component group from the UK, and your wheels from a U.S. builder. Easy peasy...


Want to buy any conceivable type of bike? You can see dozens of them within seconds, determine if there is inventory for your to examine locally, or have one shipped to your local shop. Or, you can have it shipped to your home in a matter of days. Incredible.


Want to buy a bike used? There are many local sellers who offer every type of bike that you can imagine right in your locale. They provide photos of the bikes. You can set the budget and negotiate the price. It's easy and fast - and communication with the seller is simple.


One used to look through the Sears catalog, place an order by phone or letter, and wait for delivery to either a catalog center for pickup, or to a local post office, who would hold the package. The process took sometimes weeks.


The same held true whether you were buying a pressure cooker, hunting rifle, or bicycle. Catalog and wait. Now, things are so easy. Plus, you can talk about your frustrations with hundreds of strangers on the computer. What could be more therapeutic?

Last edited by Phil_gretz; 08-30-17 at 06:25 AM. Reason: punctuation
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Old 08-30-17, 06:38 AM
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Ive had issues with my LBS. Which sucks because I don't even want to go in them anymore. And i live in a huge bike town Portland OR! I just go in buy what i want and don't talk to anyone else. if happen to make the mistake of asking someone for something we end up talking about things i don't want and are triple of what i came into the store to spend. I sometimes wonder if they get a cut from sales not comission only but geez the way they push sales it's like if they don't sell they will die. Well maybe oneway i will find a nice relaxing LBS where i don't have to worry about pushy sales staff.
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Old 08-30-17, 06:41 AM
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Considering that describes the workers at nearly every store and restaurant and bar and entertainment venue I go to, I really hate to think how you get about in society at all.

Although, I always get a chuckle out of the old farts who can't make an argument without blaming millennials in some manner.
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Old 08-30-17, 06:43 AM
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Chuck, I'll have to respectfully disagree with you about the customer "knowing what they want." I've worked in retail as well as preventive maintenance industries of customer service and I always approach every customer as if they are at the beginning of their search for information about my products. You mentioned about customers asking questions and I believe that it is part of the salesman's job to also ask questions to help inform the customer about the product in which they're interested.


I never thought of my customers as a "sale" waiting to happen. The core of my business approach was based on education and I felt that it was my job to assist in educating my customer to enable them to make and informed decision about a purchase. Notice that I didn't say an informed purchase because sometimes an informed customer realizes that they shouldn't purchase anything. The internet can be a very valuable tool in extending this educational search and assist the customer in finding out more about the product or service in which their interested.


There have been a few times in my life when I've been on the receiving end of such a customer service approach and it is so comforting to know that the person with whom I'm speaking is more interested in assisting me in making the best decision for me that everything else is easy.


Customer service skills have died in America, for the most part, and many of the employees that you meet in a retail environment are clueless about what their real job should be in cultivating a long time customer. Unfortunately, the internet has stripped much of the profit from LBS and reduced the sale agents to minimum wage robots without a brain regurgitating canned facts and not really helping the customer. The internet has also made it real easy for anyone to buy almost anything for a cut rate price. However, when you're shopping on price alone, you loose a lot of the services and personal assistance that may be required in the education of the customer who "doesn't know what he/she doesn't know."


A friend recently bought to hybrid bikes online and have taken up biking with us. Unfortunately, these same friends didn't know anything about fitment or purpose so they have two new bikes that don't serve them very well and are already looking to purchase two more bikes to replace their new online bought bikes. I would think that this could be a common problem that many riders might encounter that could turn them away from riding because of ill fitting equipment that creates a poor experience.


I am a big proponent of supporting local businesses of all kinds because these types of businesses are usually staffed by friends, neighbors and residents of our communities. I support "shop local, buy local, live local." The responsibility of becoming an informed customer is totally upon me but great customer service can go a long way to create a credible relationship that benefits everyone including the local economy.


Just my $.02 worth of preaching and not worth the paper it's written on...I'll get down off my soapbox now. Thank you for reading my rantings...


Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
I've had a much different experience with shops here.


Here is the real problem, consumers come in without knowing what they want. The same is true when trying to purchase a car. One cannot expect a shop to mind read, but they can ask questions then leave you alone to decide what you want to do.


There is also the issue with "tire kickers" who never buy because they really cannot afford the item in the first place. What are they doing shopping. I'd say if more people started to respect these business they would get the respect they need to make a purchase. These shop do not owe you something. They are running a business that requires they make a profit.

Last edited by Elessar; 08-30-17 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 08-30-17, 06:46 AM
  #23  
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At the shop I work at, if you come in asking about a $400 hybrid, that is what I will put you on. If you ask about a $5k race bike, that is what I will put you on. We listen to the customer and get them set up appropriately. I will show you other bikes close to that price range, like a $500 hybrid that has disc brakes, but if you want to take that $400 hybrid on a ride, I pull it down and we prep it, and you go ride. When you come back, if you decide to think about it, we say thanks for stopping in, put the bike back on the rack and continue on to the next customer. No tears shed. No one gets upset. Not even if I spend 2 hours with you while you piddle paddle and ponder on making a decision.

Sounds like you haven't found the right shop yet.
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Old 08-30-17, 07:10 AM
  #24  
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That seemed harsh OP.

I don't see how any LBS, or by extension any hobby shop, stays in business in the Amazon era...
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Old 08-30-17, 07:49 AM
  #25  
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I happen to have a pretty good LBS here in North Dallas, and thought the customer service and sales people are excellent. The small gear is what I buy online. I like to have them around for the bikes themselves.
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