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Some LBSes need to die out

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Some LBSes need to die out

Old 04-19-20, 12:25 PM
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guadzilla
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Some LBSes need to die out

To start with - I prefer buying local. I have good relationships with my LBS as well as my watch AD, and am happy to pay a modest premium for the support/service i get (and in most cases, the local shop is able to match or come close enough to online or grey market prices for me to not bother looking elsewhere).

That said, the attitude of some LBSes sets my teeth on the edge.

A good friend of mine is just coming out of a fairly dark place he's been in for a year and change, financially, personally and health-wise. He was working on a project in Denver and is pretty much stuck in a hotel there for the time being, self-isolating and working from home. As he finally has some liquidity again and also looking to get some exercise, he thought about getting into bikes. I initially thought of suggesting he buy used off Craigslist, and even found a few good options for him, but in the end, we decided that it made more sense for him to pay a couple of hundred bucks more and buy a bike at an LBS. He just needs a functional bike that he can ride around and try to work himself into shape - Sora is perfectly good for that.

So he went to check out a couple of options. Found a Trek Checkpoint that he really liked, the shop was closing out an older model and threw in a free helmet, and he purchased it. And that is all they did (well, they showed him how the gear works). They made absolutely NO effort to do even the most basic of fits for him, not even setting the saddle height correctly. He went for a first ride a few days later, and is complaining of pain in the knees and pain in the palms.

I am going to be helping him set his bike up via Zoom - guy was so frustrated he was close to giving up the sport entirely after one ride. Just because these jackasses couldnt be arsed helping him get started.

Ok, I dont expect an hour-long pro bike fit, but FFS, when a beginner comes to your bike shop, make the effort to help him set up so he can enjoy the ride. It takes 10-15 minutes to do it and that way, you are ensuring you have a customer who is more likely to stay in the sport and come back to you for future business.

And dont give me "time = money" nonsense. For starters, unless that bike shop is working at 100% capacity, that time is mostly not worth money. It is just an non-utilized sunk cost. And one of the business units i run is very similar to LBSes in terms of market dynamics, threat from online sellers, etc. There is absolutely NO way we'd let a customer leave without making sure he's fully able to utilize whatever he has purchased from us: after all, THAT is why he is buying from us, and not online.

Anyway, just needed to vent to people who would get it.

Last edited by guadzilla; 04-19-20 at 11:44 PM.
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Old 04-19-20, 12:43 PM
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Every good LBS should offer a free basic fit with bike purchase. It can be challenging with the current situation and social distancing restrictions, but adjusting a seat & a stem is no rocket science. They should have, at least, done a temporary fit using his measurements.

I agree that some shops should go out of business because of poor customer service. I believe in karma and I believe they will get a taste of their own medecine at some point. In my area, one of the LBS struggles right now (was struggling before COVID-19) and surprisingly, it's the one that has the worst customer service quality. I stopped going there a few years ago for that reason and I must admit that I smile everytime I hear from others that this LBS is having a rough time (I've had bad experiences in the past so I am biased).

I will assume that your friend didn't knew a bike had to be fitted, otherwise he would have asked for one, right? It's a shame they didn't offer it and I totally agree with you on that. Perhaps he should give the LBS a call & share his experience with the manager or something.

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Old 04-19-20, 01:01 PM
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Agree,

I've got an lbs 4 houses down from me
But, they charge higher than MSRP, $60-65 for an ultegra chain

I figured with the current situation I'd pay the price to support them. I walked over to buy the chain, they had a customer and staff inside BUT they're open by appointment only, which you have to set up via email. I emailed and told them I wanted to buy a chain, told them what chain I wanted.... And a day and a half later they said they could sell me one in a week because their appointments were booked.......

So I just ordered it online like a normal person instead
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Old 04-19-20, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by eduskator View Post
I will assume that your friend didn't knew a bike had to be fitted, otherwise he would have asked for one, right? It's a shame they didn't offer it and I totally agree with you on that. Perhaps he should give his LBS a call & share his experience with the manager or something?
Nope, he didnt. I had told him to go check out the different bikes and sit on them, and see which felt the best. He got a little excited about having a bike andetting outdoors, and purchased it on the spot. That's a good idea - will ask him to give the shop a call and explain. I get that with COVID, the LBS probably doesnt want to be getting too close to anyone. But atleast explain to him what he needs to do. Maybe talk him through the steps from some distance....

By way of contrast: my wife bought the cheapest Shiv that Spesh sells - that's the variant with the older frame, whose geometry works best for her, and since she wants to upgrade everything except the frame once she gets used to riding it, she was very happy to that it was the lowest spec. Even then, the AD spent over an hour fitting her out on the bike, adjusting the aerobars, saddle fore-aft, etc. Now she wants to upgrade her R2 to a flashy new road bike and it's gonna be an S-Works Tarmac and nothing else, mainly because she is so comfortable dealing with the guys at that shop. She also bought the Di2 groupset for the Shiv from them.
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Old 04-19-20, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Tacoenthusiast View Post
I've got an lbs 4 houses down from me
But, they charge higher than MSRP, $60-65 for an ultegra chain

I figured with the current situation I'd pay the price to support them. I walked over to buy the chain, they had a customer and staff inside BUT they're open by appointment only, which you have to set up via email. I emailed and told them I wanted to buy a chain, told them what chain I wanted.... And a day and a half later they said they could sell me one in a week because their appointments were booked.......

So I just ordered it online like a normal person instead
Ugh! Man, i swear to god some of these places lack any kind of lateral/agile thinking opportunities. Is that place owner-run, by any chance?
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Old 04-19-20, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by guadzilla View Post
Ugh! Man, i swear to god some of these places lack any kind of lateral/agile thinking opportunities. Is that place owner-run, by any chance?
Its a mini local chain with 4 locations in the area, just big enough to have a poor management structure. If it was 1 location and owner operated there's no way they'd be so bad
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Old 04-19-20, 02:00 PM
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I had a similar experience when I bought my first road bike, a closeout Giant. The sales dude eyeballed the seatpost height, took my money, and that was that. At the time I had never bought a bike from an LBS before, and like your friend was just excited to take it home. Luckily I knew not to set the saddle too low, but after significantly increasing my riding distance I ended up with chronic knee pain and went for a real bike fit at a Specialized dealer with Retul, where the fitter/owner showed me that I needed to raise my saddle much higher than my newb self felt was normal. Of course he was right and (after some shimming as well to compensate for leg length disparity) the knee pain disappeared.

It wasn't that I expected that level of fitting from a sale bike, but I definitely left feeling like the first LBS sales dude wanted as little to do with me as a customer as possible. After the glow of having a new bike wore off, I decided I'd never return to that store.

Still, I remember soon after getting that bike that I needed some tools/supplies on a weekend, and looking around for a closer LBS (the first one was a half hour drive away), realized that there had been one just few blocks away from my house that had closed down only months before I bought that Giant. They seemed to have good reviews, but a lot of LBSes struggled with online competition and high rents. It's a testament to the need that people have to actually interact with others in real life and physically try on bike equipment than any are still around, really. Imagine if all LBSes had been wiped out before Covid-19... Clearly people are finding that biking is an outlet for being otherwise told to shelter in place, but imagine the absence of support for people getting their first bikes, or needing to dust off their old ones to get rideable again.
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Old 04-19-20, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Tacoenthusiast View Post
Its a mini local chain with 4 locations in the area, just big enough to have a poor management structure. If it was 1 location and owner operated there's no way they'd be so bad
Yeah, that's what i figured...
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Old 04-19-20, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Tacoenthusiast View Post
Its a mini local chain with 4 locations in the area, just big enough to have a poor management structure. If it was 1 location and owner operated there's no way they'd be so bad
Probably too much red tape as you say. I would understand that a LBS ask you to schedule an appt. if you want to buy a bike, but buying a chain? It's easy to do the transaction by phone & stop there to grab the product a few hours later. That's what they do here.
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Old 04-19-20, 03:13 PM
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I agree with the OP as I have had everything from great experiences to about the same as Taco. My local retail Performance store was the best and I became "friends" with the bike mechanic. He was in his 60's and had worked as the wheel guy on 2 Tour winner teams, one Olympic team and various other teams over the years. He had great stories and could set a bike up in his sleep. This shop was about 20 miles away from home.

In contrast the other national bike store actually much closer will hardly talk to you unless you have bought or are buying a bike from them. We do have a local Owner run bike shop now that I have had really good dealings with and you can tell they are all passionate about cycling.
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Old 04-19-20, 07:57 PM
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My wife and I bought 2 new CAAD9-5 years ago, upgrading to road bikes, having no idea other than how great they rode from LBS. They did a rough set up, took our money, sent us out the door. Went back week later with questions of set up, blew us off. Went back again, store closed. They knew they were going out of business, didn’t care,
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Old 04-20-20, 02:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Tacoenthusiast View Post
Its a mini local chain with 4 locations in the area, just big enough to have a poor management structure. If it was 1 location and owner operated there's no way they'd be so bad
Isn't that evidence enough that "some LBSes need to die out".

Depending on demand, an area could very well be serviced by a single LBS, one that would grow if necessary. And it would not even have a monopoly, because for many things it would still face competition from online business.
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Old 04-20-20, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Tacoenthusiast View Post
Agree,

I've got an lbs 4 houses down from me
But, they charge higher than MSRP, $60-65 for an ultegra chain

I figured with the current situation I'd pay the price to support them. I walked over to buy the chain, they had a customer and staff inside BUT they're open by appointment only, which you have to set up via email. I emailed and told them I wanted to buy a chain, told them what chain I wanted.... And a day and a half later they said they could sell me one in a week because their appointments were booked.......

So I just ordered it online like a normal person instead
I’m not sure of your point. Are you mad at the LBS for making you wait as they practice social distancing or yourself for not immediately buying online?
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Old 04-20-20, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by MSchott View Post
I’m not sure of your point. Are you mad at the LBS for making you wait as they practice social distancing or yourself for not immediately buying online?
I don't know all the particular circumstances around this event, but a waiting period of 1 week for a chain?

As I said above, he could have paid by phone and picked it up outside of the LBS a few hours later. This is what they do here.
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Old 04-20-20, 06:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Fourbtgait View Post
My wife and I bought 2 new CAAD9-5 years ago, upgrading to road bikes, having no idea other than how great they rode from LBS. They did a rough set up, took our money, sent us out the door. Went back week later with questions of set up, blew us off. Went back again, store closed. They knew they were going out of business, didn’t care,
See. Karma is a b...
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Old 04-20-20, 07:34 AM
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I guess I don't see how a bike shop could do a proper fit for a customer during the time social distancing measures are in place.

I recently ordered a gravel bike from a local shop, haven't received it yet, but when I do I fully expect them to roll it out the door and wave to me from over six feet away. I paid for the bike over the phone using a credit card. I do not expect them to fit me to the bike because they would be breaking social distancing measures that have been ordered. We are just living in weird times and a level of not-normal will have to be dealt with by the shop and the customer. I still got a bunch of service from the bikeshop prior to the sale because I had a fairly long conversation with an employee about the bikes and he steered me to one I didn't even think about. All in all I'm still very happy with the bikeshop.

In normal non-pandemic times, buying a bike would come with somewhat of a fitting.
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Old 04-20-20, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by RJM View Post
I guess I don't see how a bike shop could do a proper fit for a customer during the time social distancing measures are in place.

I recently ordered a gravel bike from a local shop, haven't received it yet, but when I do I fully expect them to roll it out the door and wave to me from over six feet away. I paid for the bike over the phone using a credit card. I do not expect them to fit me to the bike because they would be breaking social distancing measures that have been ordered. We are just living in weird times and a level of not-normal will have to be dealt with by the shop and the customer. I still got a bunch of service from the bikeshop prior to the sale because I had a fairly long conversation with an employee about the bikes and he steered me to one I didn't even think about. All in all I'm still very happy with the bikeshop.

In normal non-pandemic times, buying a bike would come with somewhat of a fitting.
+1. I wouldn't be so fast to throw the LBS under the bus with the current virus restrictions in place.
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Old 04-20-20, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
+1. I wouldn't be so fast to throw the LBS under the bus with the current virus restrictions in place.
What about doing a temporary fit with the person's measurements? Still better than nothing.
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Old 04-20-20, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by eduskator View Post
What about doing a temporary fit with the person's measurements? Still better than nothing.
I'd agree, but the customer has to already have his own measurements with him. If not, he can't even help him get his measurements. The best he can do us stand 6 feet away and eyeball it. Maybe the customer can mount in front of a wall and the LBS can eyeball it and tell the customer to raise or lower the saddle. There's not a lot that they can together. Not really a good time to be purchasing something, anything, that's going to require some hands on assistance. The OP needs to update the thread on what he is doing to fit the guy and how that process goes.

Last edited by seypat; 04-20-20 at 08:56 AM.
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Old 04-20-20, 08:18 AM
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Indeed. Doesn't take more than 5 minutes to take your own measurements using a tape.
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Old 04-20-20, 09:40 AM
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A lot of LBS's need to die out. No business should have to rely on pity/charity to keep the doors open. Either be competitive with internet pricing, or offer something that the internet can't offer. That's how business works...do as well as - or better than - your competitor or go home.

I'd happily pay an additional $5-$7 to drive to my LBS and come home with what I need, rather than wait 2 days for the internet to ship things to me. That's the hook of a bike shop. Instant gratification.

BUT, there is a breaking point. Nearly every LBS I've been to/worked for will charge full MSRP for in-stock items or charge shipping for things they have to order. The only time people don't pay shipping is if they are willing to wait 1.5-2 weeks for the shop to receive what they need (then they still have to go pick it up).

Here's a real example of something that happened to me about 3 years ago:

I broke my rear derailleur in the middle of racing season. I needed a Dura-Ace rear derailleur as quickly as possible. I could order it off of Amazon Prime for $159.97 shipped and have it at my house in two days or less. If I went to my LBS for the same thing, I'd be paying (up front) $229 for the derailleur and another $38 to have it at the shop in 2 days ($76 for next day air looooololol), then I'd still have to take time out of my day to go get it (and hope they ordered the correct one...about a 60% success rate). If I didn't need it in two days, I'd still be paying $70 more, and they estimated it'd take around 10 days to get there because it was a Tuesday, and they only do ordering on Mondays (to get free shipping from their wholesaler, QBP). Obviously, I went with Amazon, saved over $100, and got exactly what I needed.

I've worked for shops that would charge shipping on customer special orders then put several other things that the shop needed on the same order, using the customer's money to cover the shipping for shop supplies. LBS shadiness is whole whole other topic though.
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Old 04-20-20, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by eduskator View Post
Probably too much red tape as you say. I would understand that a LBS ask you to schedule an appt. if you want to buy a bike, but buying a chain? It's easy to do the transaction by phone & stop there to grab the product a few hours later. That's what they do here.
At my local store right now, you show up to the store, call them to tell them that you're there and they ask you what you want. If it's something simple like a chain, they bring it out to you and take your card, run it, bring it back, and you're on your way. Repairs work similarly. I saw a bike get sold where they brought a couple different options out to a guy one at a time, he rode around the lot, then they took it back for a final fix up (and some cages), and that was it.
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Old 04-20-20, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
I'd agree, but the customer has to already have his own measurements with him. If not, he can't even help him get his measurements. The best he can do us stand 6 feet away and eyeball it. Maybe the customer can mount in front of a wall and the LBS can eyeball it and tell the customer to raise or lower the saddle. There's not a lot that they can together. Not really a good time to be purchasing something, anything, that's going to require some hands on assistance. The OP needs to update the thread on what he is doing to fit the guy and how that process goes.
I'd assume they let him test ride it in the parking lot while they watched. It seems like even a short ride would allow them to say, "hey, let's raise that saddle 2 inches while we take the tags off after you give us your card".
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Old 04-20-20, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
A lot of LBS's need to die out. No business should have to rely on pity/charity to keep the doors open. Either be competitive with internet pricing, or offer something that the internet can't offer. That's how business works...do as well as - or better than - your competitor or go home.

I'd happily pay an additional $5-$7 to drive to my LBS and come home with what I need, rather than wait 2 days for the internet to ship things to me. That's the hook of a bike shop. Instant gratification.

BUT, there is a breaking point. Nearly every LBS I've been to/worked for will charge full MSRP for in-stock items or charge shipping for things they have to order. The only time people don't pay shipping is if they are willing to wait 1.5-2 weeks for the shop to receive what they need (then they still have to go pick it up).

Here's a real example of something that happened to me about 3 years ago:

I broke my rear derailleur in the middle of racing season. I needed a Dura-Ace rear derailleur as quickly as possible. I could order it off of Amazon Prime for $159.97 shipped and have it at my house in two days or less. If I went to my LBS for the same thing, I'd be paying (up front) $229 for the derailleur and another $38 to have it at the shop in 2 days ($76 for next day air looooololol), then I'd still have to take time out of my day to go get it (and hope they ordered the correct one...about a 60% success rate). If I didn't need it in two days, I'd still be paying $70 more, and they estimated it'd take around 10 days to get there because it was a Tuesday, and they only do ordering on Mondays (to get free shipping from their wholesaler, QBP). Obviously, I went with Amazon, saved over $100, and got exactly what I needed.

I've worked for shops that would charge shipping on customer special orders then put several other things that the shop needed on the same order, using the customer's money to cover the shipping for shop supplies. LBS shadiness is whole whole other topic though.
I totally agree with you on this one. I was shopping this weekend for new pedals and LBSs around sold them for 250$ + TX. Amazon had them at 205$ shipping & taxes included so I gave a few LBS a call and asked them if they could price match it. They said no. This price was most likely below their cost or simply too close to it, right? I asked if they could do better than 250$ as I was ready to pay a little more to support my LBS (15-20$ wouldn't have bothered me) and they said no.

I ended up buying them for even less than 205$ on Merlin Cycle. I feel bad not supporting my local LBS, but the price difference was simply too high and they didn't try to make me buy from them. Bigger shops most likely have a higher purchasing power and are able to sell them at a wayyyyy lower price than small LBS.

Last edited by eduskator; 04-20-20 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 04-20-20, 10:06 AM
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seypat
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
I'd assume they let him test ride it in the parking lot while they watched. It seems like even a short ride would allow them to say, "hey, let's raise that saddle 2 inches while we take the tags off after you give us your card".
Maybe. Maybe it was raining and a test ride was declined. Who knows, all we're getting is one side of the story, second hand. Not a lot of info there either, besides the rant.
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