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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 09-14-06, 03:53 PM   #1
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Customer Service

I teach customer service to the self-employed. You think that might make be a bit hard to please, but in fact, although I recognize well run businesses and those which need help, I'm actually less demanding than the average customer.

I normally deal with my local dealer. He supplies my commuter bikes and he services them. Normal turn around in busy periods is a week. I'm a bike commuter and a regular so I get one day. I appreciate that and I throw him as much business as I can. He services my old tandem and likes it out the door quickly as well. He tells me he has no interest in selling tandems because they take up too much space and are hard to sell. No problem.

I'm in the market for a new tandem, so I ask around (including on this forum) and I'm given the name of the only specialty dealer in my area. I go with my stoker and we have to wait for over an hour and I'm also less than impressed because this guy operates out of the garage attached to his house. The selection is minimal and the service is poor. Add to that they give me a sales pitch on a tandem that plainly does not fit the stoker. I ask if we can rent the bike because the stoker has fallen in love and I'm sure if she rides it for a while she will fall out of love very quickly. They agree but before we can arrange it, I get an email from them telling me they've sold the bike.

I try the internet and find a dealer many miles away and in another country that is also highly recommended. My experience with this dealer is completely different and he even goes to the trouble of phoning me to help me try to make a sensible decision about S&S couplers. He was helpful, courteous and gave great customer service and if I lived anywhere near him I'd be there in a shot, but when I found out about duties for importing tandems, this option became impractical.

One day when visting my bike shop and moaning about how hard it is to buy a tandem, he suggested ordering one, and had several he could offer. One had an aluminum frame, suspension forks and seats and was designed to fit 'vertically challenged' stokers. I say that I want to see one before I buy so he phones around and finds one in the basement of a shop about 20 minutes away. I look at it and go back to order one. He gives me a fantastic deal because it is an non-stock item and tells me it will be one week and a half. To the day, he calls me to tell me it has arrived.

Customer service. Does your tandem dealer offer good quality service like that?
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Old 09-14-06, 05:39 PM   #2
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Old 09-15-06, 06:49 AM   #3
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Very rarely. Value him lots. Bring the mechanic beers. He will value you in return.

Agree that many shops could do much better on the customer service side, calling customers to let them know something is delayed is a much neglected skill. Basic problem is that most cyclists want things for the cheapest price, meaning bike shops traditionally raise margins by neglecting service. I don't think it's fair to blame 100% the shops as most of the suppliers are pretty ropey too, with missing or delayed deliveries plus vapourware being the norm.
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Old 09-15-06, 02:34 PM   #4
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I have a very good LBS and it employs some pretty good Mechanics too. They do not stock Tandems- but service several others in the area. I do my own servicing- but rely on him for advise about parts suitable for the Tandem and so far- he has never let me down. I had a phone call from him a few months ago as one of his customers was thinking about a Tandem. Could I take him out for a spin Offroad as that was what he wanted to do. Took the customer out as stoker for a 10 mile ride and then let him take over as Pilot. Dropped him off at his home and all seemed fine. When I went back to the LBS- there was a bottle of brandy on the counter with my name on it. From the person I had taken for a ride-and also very good discount on the parts I bought that day from the shop. The person I had taken for a ride- had bought a Tandem but not an offroad one. My LBS may not stock tandems- but they understand them and look after all of us very well.
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