LBS vs. Mail Order

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Matt Cahill, Dec 9, 2003.

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  1. Matt Cahill

    Matt Cahill Guest

    I just re-built a set of wheels with new rims and spokes for the first time. I had to replace the
    back because a spoke pulled through. So I did the front so it would match. Wheel building was a
    blast...I love it !

    However, there is another point to this story. Three years ago I took the wheels in for truing.
    My local LBS told me that the front rim was so damaged that they could not true it
    properly...they recommended that I pay them to rebuild the wheel with a new rim. Since that time
    I found that I could true it just fine. And when I took it apart to rebuild it, the rim was in
    fine shape...no damage.

    I'm gradually building up more tools so that I can do most of my own mechanical work. When I need
    something I normally mail order. I really haven't found an LBS that I am happy with. And I doubt
    that any shop is going to put as much love and attention into the service it provides as I do for my
    own bike. They couldn't afford it.

    If I need advice I come to rec.bicycles.tech. And, by the way, I do try to throw my mail order
    business towards participants on this board from time to time. They've done more for me than my LBS.
     
    Tags:


  2. Psycholist

    Psycholist Guest

    "Matt Cahill" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I just re-built a set of wheels with new rims and spokes for the first time. I had to replace the
    > back because a spoke pulled through. So I did the front so it would match. Wheel building was a
    > blast...I love it !
    >
    > However, there is another point to this story. Three years ago I took the wheels in for truing.
    > My local LBS told me that the front rim was so damaged that they could not true it
    > properly...they recommended that I pay them to rebuild the wheel with a new rim. Since that time
    > I found that I could true it just fine. And when I took it apart to rebuild it, the rim was in
    > fine shape...no damage.
    >
    > I'm gradually building up more tools so that I can do most of my own mechanical work. When I need
    > something I normally mail order. I really haven't found an LBS that I am happy with. And I doubt
    > that any shop is going to put as much love and attention into the service it provides as I do for
    > my own bike. They couldn't afford it.
    >
    > If I need advice I come to rec.bicycles.tech. And, by the way, I do try to throw my mail
    > order business towards participants on this board from time to time. They've done more for me
    > than my LBS.

    Funny that you say a shop couldn't afford to give your bike the kind of TLC that you give it
    yourself. Seems to me they better start figuring out that if they won't they'll continue to lose
    more and more business to mail order. After years of a great relationship with my LBS, I've had to
    basically give up. They fired all the "seasoned professionals" who actually knew something about
    bikes. Now they have a bunch of kids running the shop. I've tried to give them a chance, but they're
    just awful. My bike comes out in worse shape than when I took it in. Plus, they have to act like
    they know it all. I took my bike in for a minor brake problem. I'd have fixed it myself, but I had
    the bike in the truck and I was right there. I said, "just fix the brake ... don't touch anything
    else." I don't know what part of that was unclear, but the next thing I knew, the cable for the rear
    derailleur was out and he was messing with the shifter going, "huh?" Well, there was nothing wrong
    with the shifting when I went in. It took me days to get it straightened out again after I left
    there. They'd not re-seated a section of cable housing properly and it kept slipping and causing
    mis-shifts. What a bunch of dufi.

    Bob C.
     
  3. Chris

    Chris Guest

    "Matt Cahill" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    >
    > I'm gradually building up more tools so that I can do most of my own mechanical work. When I need
    > something I normally mail order. I really haven't found an LBS that I am happy with. And I doubt
    > that any shop is going to put as much love and attention into the service it provides as I do for
    > my own bike. They couldn't afford it.
    >

    At least you've looked for a good LBS, most people jump right into wherever.com when they see
    clearance pries. Since you can do your own work, I say keep on...when you need parts, get them mail
    order if you're genuinely unhappy with your LBS service.

    > If I need advice I come to rec.bicycles.tech. And, by the way, I do try to throw my mail
    > order business towards participants on this board from time to time. They've done more for me
    > than my LBS.

    Sounds good to me, as if you were looking for my approval. FWIW, I ordered from Pricepoint and
    Jenson sometimes when I was still a mechanic, because either things weren't available to us, or in a
    rare case, Pricepoint had stuff cheaper than out prices (they were grey market, but brake levers are
    brake levers).

    To me, the concept of LBS over mail-order is dependent on helping out friends and neighbors. If
    you get help from guys here, it's nice that you repay the favor. I can't see anyone quarreling
    with that.

    I'm a big go-to-your-LBS guy...but I'm also a college student and no longer have employee-discount
    privileges, so my Cross Check is looking to get lots of help from Cambria, Jenson, etc...the LBS is
    just too expensive sometimes. I'm not talking 2-3 dollars, I mean like a $20 difference on a
    handlebar, $30 on a hubset, etc.

    Chris
     
  4. Ken Huizenga

    Ken Huizenga Guest

    I am frequently reminded of the gap between LBS pricing and mail order. On each of my last 3 bike
    puchases I negotiated a discount on accessories for 3-6 months after delivery of the bike. In one
    case 50%, in another case 25%. With a 50% discount, I was almost always better off than mail
    order...but not always. With a 25% discount it is frequently cheaper to buy mail order, although if
    the item is a small $ value I go ahead and buy it as the LBS instead.

    On the other hand, I do give my LBS credit for fantastic repair service. They even offer a class in
    how to do certain bikes repairs yourself. This class also teaches you how to do some simple things
    to avoid more costly repairs later.

    BTW...the 50% discount was kind of an anomaly. I had asked for 15% and when my receipt came back it
    said "50% off on all accessories until 12/15/03" (The salesman must have heard "50 when I said 15")
    Who was I to argue:) It just goes to show how much LBS margin there is on accesories (or how much
    they made on the bike, inspite of a decent discount on it).

    Ken

    > I'm a big go-to-your-LBS guy...but I'm also a college student and no
    longer
    > have employee-discount privileges, so my Cross Check is looking to get
    lots
    > of help from Cambria, Jenson, etc...the LBS is just too expensive
    sometimes.
    > I'm not talking 2-3 dollars, I mean like a $20 difference on a handlebar, $30 on a hubset, etc.
    >
    > Chris
     
  5. AndyMorris

    AndyMorris Guest

    Ken Huizenga wrote:
    >
    > BTW...the 50% discount was kind of an anomaly. I had asked for 15% and when my receipt came back
    > it said "50% off on all accessories until 12/15/03" (The salesman must have heard "50 when I said
    > 15") Who was I to argue:) It just goes to show how much LBS margin there is on accesories (or how
    > much they made on the bike, inspite of a decent discount on it).
    >

    Unless he's buying better than I ever did, he's losing every time you walk in the shop.

    --
    Andy Morris

    AndyAtJinkasDotFreeserve.Co.UK

    Love this: Put an end to Outlook Express's messy quotes
    http://home.in.tum.de/~jain/software/oe-quotefix/
     
  6. BaCardi

    BaCardi New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2003
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    0
    Go with whatever is cheaper. Usually that's mail order. So, mail order all the way!
     
  7. > I'm gradually building up more tools so that I can do most of my own mechanical work. When I need
    > something I normally mail order. I really haven't found an LBS that I am happy with. And I doubt
    > that any shop is going to put as much love and attention into the service it provides as I do for
    > my own bike. They couldn't afford it.
    >
    > If I need advice I come to rec.bicycles.tech. And, by the way, I do try to throw my mail
    > order business towards participants on this board from time to time. They've done more for me
    > than my LBS.

    Matt: Sorry to hear about your experiences; many shops actually err too far in the opposite
    direction, believing they can make something functional that's actually far beyond its useful life.
    One of those things where they take it as a challenge (hey, don't replace that, I can fix it! And
    then they grab for tools like you'd see in some dental-horror movie...).

    A really good LBS will maintain a sense of ownership of the bikes they sell, and tend to take it
    personally when things aren't quite right (or the bike is mistreated). It's not just a bike, after
    all.... it's something that can magically transport you into another dimension (if the stars are
    lined up properly). It's more than just a collection of spoke nipples and bottom bracket bearings
    and brake levers.

    The worst part of this is that, if a LBS isn't taking care of the local clientele, there are going
    to be a lot of people who will never discover what bicycling is all about. A really good LBS is not
    only making sure people get an appropriate bike in the right size, but also letting them know about
    local opportunities to ride, and making sure there's no reason for that bike to be spending its life
    in the garage (whether it's because it's uncomfortable, not working quite right, whatever). Those
    are things that mail-order just can't do.

    --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles www.ChainReaction.com

    "Matt Cahill" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I just re-built a set of wheels with new rims and spokes for the first time. I had to replace the
    > back because a spoke pulled through. So I did the front so it would match. Wheel building was a
    > blast...I love it !
    >
    > However, there is another point to this story. Three years ago I took the wheels in for truing.
    > My local LBS told me that the front rim was so damaged that they could not true it
    > properly...they recommended that I pay them to rebuild the wheel with a new rim. Since that time
    > I found that I could true it just fine. And when I took it apart to rebuild it, the rim was in
    > fine shape...no damage.
    >
    > I'm gradually building up more tools so that I can do most of my own mechanical work. When I need
    > something I normally mail order. I really haven't found an LBS that I am happy with. And I doubt
    > that any shop is going to put as much love and attention into the service it provides as I do for
    > my own bike. They couldn't afford it.
    >
    > If I need advice I come to rec.bicycles.tech. And, by the way, I do try to throw my mail
    > order business towards participants on this board from time to time. They've done more for me
    > than my LBS.
     
  8. Mike S.

    Mike S. Guest

    "BaCardi" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Go with whatever is cheaper. Usually that's mail order. So, mail order all the way!

    I'm in both camps. I know when I need something, I can get it less expensively online (new or used)
    and install/maintain it myself. I have friends that aren't as mechanically inclined so they end up
    buying at the LBS and either getting me to install it or having the LBS install it. (I work on bikes
    for beer and pizza, so I'm usually less expensive than a LBS... I usually can't figure out which I
    enjoy more: working on the bikes or riding/racing them.)

    I worked in a shop for quite a while. There are things about shops that online just can't match.
    When you have a really funky something or another that needs TLC. For example: setting up
    rollercams, chasing and facing things, etc. Another is the comradery of having the same disease:
    bicycles. Chatting about this and that bicycling related is what makes some shops shops, and others
    stores. I think it boils down to passion like someone else said above. My computer monitor doesn't
    get all excited about my latest widget that we bought, but the LBS may.

    There is a place for the LBS. Generally its for "entry level serious" riders. Guys and girls that
    want to get into cycling, but don't know their arse from a hole in the ground. The LBS serves as an
    intro into aspects of riding that sometimes your riding buddies just never can. Once you graduate
    into a full disease-carrying member of the cycling fraternity, your reliance on the LBS tends to
    wane as you discover more than what they offer: Campy, Colnago, Castelli, Assos, etc.

    I'm rambling. Sorry. You can go back to your regularly scheduled life now.

    Mike
     
  9. Rod Raisanen

    Rod Raisanen Guest

    ...
    > Ken Huizenga wrote:
    > >
    > > BTW...the 50% discount was kind of an anomaly. I had asked for 15% and when my receipt came back
    > > it said "50% off on all accessories until 12/15/03" (The salesman must have heard "50 when I
    > > said 15") Who was I to argue:) It just goes to show how much LBS margin there is on accesories
    > > (or how much they made on the bike, inspite of a decent discount on it).
    > >
    > Andy Morris wrote Unless he's buying better than I ever did, he's losing every time you walk in
    > the shop.
    >

    I try to buy from the LBS whenever prices are reasonably close. On some items they are as good as
    online on others they can come close.. I look at their catalogs from "action" or whoever and on a
    lot of items I can find it for less on line than what the shop pays for the item. Some people think
    that 100% mark up is a lot. For the overhead the local shop has to deal with I figure most of it
    goes to cover bills. Plus their labor is cheap. I wish I could find someone to work on my car for a
    little as they charge to work on my bike. He may not be up to date on the latest greatest stupid
    light part...but if you bring one in he'll know how to put it on and get it working correctly.

    Rod Raisanen Chillicothe, Oh

    The reply remove garbage
     
  10. mcahill-<< I really haven't found an LBS that I am happy with. And I doubt that any shop is going to
    put as much love and attention into the service it provides as I do for my own bike. They couldn't
    afford it. >><BR><BR>

    Well, survival in a tough marketplace is a strong motivator. I put a lot more attention and 'love'
    into a customer's bike than my own.

    Peter Chisholm Vecchio's Bicicletteria 1833 Pearl St. Boulder, CO, 80302
    (303)440-3535 http://www.vecchios.com "Ruote convenzionali costruite eccezionalmente bene"
     
  11. psycholist-<< After years of a great relationship with my LBS, I've had to basically give up. They
    fired all the "seasoned professionals" who actually knew something about bikes. >><BR><BR>

    Too bad and all to common. Even here in Boulder, some really awful LBS seem to survive.

    Peter Chisholm Vecchio's Bicicletteria 1833 Pearl St. Boulder, CO, 80302
    (303)440-3535 http://www.vecchios.com "Ruote convenzionali costruite eccezionalmente bene"
     
  12. bacardi-<< Go with whatever is cheaper. Usually that's mail order. So, mail order all the way!
    >><BR><BR>

    Be sure to hold the fork crown race seat or BB shell real close to the phone or computer when ya
    need it prepped correctly...

    Peter Chisholm Vecchio's Bicicletteria 1833 Pearl St. Boulder, CO, 80302
    (303)440-3535 http://www.vecchios.com "Ruote convenzionali costruite eccezionalmente bene"
     
  13. Jonesy

    Jonesy Guest

    [email protected] (Matt Cahill) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > I just re-built a set of wheels with new rims and spokes for the first time. I had to replace the
    > back because a spoke pulled through. So I did the front so it would match. Wheel building was a
    > blast...I love it !

    Welcome to the Club. Secret handshake to follow. ;)

    [snipped story]

    I too deal more in mail order nowadays. Frankly, the three or four LBSs we have round these parts
    are more interested in selling me a whole new bike than working on my beater commuter. I didn't have
    time the year my last child was born, so I figured to farm out the work. Heh. "We can get to that
    next Thursday - drop it off." While I'm wheeling it back, I see ZERO bikes in the repair stands. OK,
    I don't know anything about what they are doing, so no big deal. Guy comes in with a high-end CF
    Trek, and complains of poor shifting. Two guys hustle it back to the repair area and tell the guy
    they'll have it fixed "while he waits." Ahhh. OK, an idea begins to dawn...

    Then, when I come back on Friday to pick up the bike, they aren't done with it (of course.) The
    thing just need routine maintneance, fergawdsake! But the salesdroid didn't waste any time chatting
    me up about how old my bike was, and how parts weren't readily available, etc. I smiled, and vowed
    right there that this shop wouldn't get any more of my money.

    I got the bike back with the chain over-lubricated, grease where it wasn't supposed to be, and a
    maladjusted headset. But that was just the beginning. Going to the other shops nearby produced
    similar results, with different details. They all wanted me to buy a new bike, and weren't much
    interested in servicing my old one. Sure, it's a beater POS, but it works just fine as a bike to
    ride around, to take on vacation, to not worry much about if it gets stolen (which happens in a
    college town.)

    Those experiences soured me on LBSs in general, and now the only way I'm taking a bike to an LBS is
    if there is something I absolutely cannot do myself. And I'll be damned if I ever buy any new bike
    from an LBS - unless they show themselves to be worth patronizing. The pro-LBS crowd has a point,
    but bicycles aren't rocket science. They are quite simple machines, and anyone can teach themselves
    to work on them, if they have patience and are willing to buy the tools required for the job. If I
    had every dollar back that I spent on installation and maintenance charges, my tools would be nearly
    all-inclusive.

    I'm sure that there are fine LBSs out there. I just have never walked into one. Yet. I hold out
    hope, because I'd rather spend my money locally and support a local guy (or guys/gals) than ship my
    money to some big outfit. What's really funny is that it's only with bicycle-related stuff that I
    have ever had a problem with persistently crappy service or total sales jobs.
    --
    Jonesy
     
  14. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    "Qui si parla Campagnolo" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...

    > Well, survival in a tough marketplace is a strong motivator. I put a lot more attention and 'love'
    > into a customer's bike than my own.

    Yup, as the saying goes, the cobbler's children have no shoes...

    Ever noticed how mechanics always drive crappy cars? That contractors always have the ugliest house
    on the street? That psychologists' kids are always completely screwed up?

    Matt O.
     
  15. Don DeMair

    Don DeMair Guest

    "psycholist" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    ... snip...
    > nothing wrong with the shifting when I went in. It took me days to get it straightened out again
    > after I left there. They'd not re-seated a section of cable housing properly and it kept slipping
    > and causing mis-shifts.
    What
    > a bunch of dufi.
    >
    > Bob C.

    shouldn't that be "doofi" (I thought it was pretty funny, anyway)

    -Don
     
  16. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    "Jonesy" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...

    > They all wanted me to buy a new bike, and weren't much interested in servicing my old one.

    This doesn't make sense, but many businesses are run in a way that doesn't make sense. It seems to
    me that unless you're big enough, and in a good enough location to support a large retail business,
    the service department would be more profitable (per square foot) than retail sales. Shopkeepers
    here please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Matt O.
     
  17. Ajames54

    Ajames54 Guest

    On Wed, 10 Dec 2003 20:22:29 GMT, "Matt O'Toole"
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >
    >"Jonesy" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >news:[email protected]...
    >
    >> They all wanted me to buy a new bike, and weren't much interested in servicing my old one.
    >
    >This doesn't make sense, but many businesses are run in a way that doesn't make sense. It seems to
    >me that unless you're big enough, and in a good enough location to support a large retail business,
    >the service department would be more profitable (per square foot) than retail sales. Shopkeepers
    >here please correct me if I'm wrong.
    >
    >Matt O.
    >
    >
    >
    When I had my store retail margins on bikes were about 20%, accessories 35%, clothing 40 to 60%...
    we moved a solid 60% through the shop (except Nov. and Feb.)

    However if the bike was out dated enough or screwed up enough that sorcing parts or working on the
    thing was difficult we would recommend the rider buy new.. it may save him or her money (long term),
    and definitely saved us hassle.

    Word of mouth advertising works in two ways ...what you don't ever want to hear is "they charged me
    $100 and it still rides like shit!" even if that $100 is the best deal on the best work around it
    doesn't mean squat.
     
  18. BaCardi

    BaCardi New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2003
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    0
    I stop buying from Excel, Performance, Colorado Cyclist, Nashbar, etc. when the bike shops decide to stop raping customers on price.
     
  19. FasTrack

    FasTrack Guest

    Man, I feel sorry for you guys...

    Where do you live to have such bad shops???

    Dave Lettieri FasTrack Bicycles 118 W. Canon Perdido Santa Barbara, CA 93101 805-884-0210
    775-248-7632 Fax

    www.fastrackbicycles.com

    On 10 Dec 2003 10:29:03 -0800, [email protected] (Jonesy) wrote:

    >[email protected] (Matt Cahill) wrote in message
    >news:<[email protected]>...
    >> I just re-built a set of wheels with new rims and spokes for the first time. I had to replace the
    >> back because a spoke pulled through. So I did the front so it would match. Wheel building was a
    >> blast...I love it !
    >
    >Welcome to the Club. Secret handshake to follow. ;)
    >
    >[snipped story]
    >
    >I too deal more in mail order nowadays. Frankly, the three or four LBSs we have round these parts
    >are more interested in selling me a whole new bike than working on my beater commuter. I didn't
    >have time the year my last child was born, so I figured to farm out the work. Heh. "We can get to
    >that next Thursday - drop it off." While I'm wheeling it back, I see ZERO bikes in the repair
    >stands. OK, I don't know anything about what they are doing, so no big deal. Guy comes in with a
    >high-end CF Trek, and complains of poor shifting. Two guys hustle it back to the repair area and
    >tell the guy they'll have it fixed "while he waits." Ahhh. OK, an idea begins to dawn...
    >
    >Then, when I come back on Friday to pick up the bike, they aren't done with it (of course.) The
    >thing just need routine maintneance, fergawdsake! But the salesdroid didn't waste any time chatting
    >me up about how old my bike was, and how parts weren't readily available, etc. I smiled, and vowed
    >right there that this shop wouldn't get any more of my money.
    >
    >I got the bike back with the chain over-lubricated, grease where it wasn't supposed to be, and a
    >maladjusted headset. But that was just the beginning. Going to the other shops nearby produced
    >similar results, with different details. They all wanted me to buy a new bike, and weren't much
    >interested in servicing my old one. Sure, it's a beater POS, but it works just fine as a bike to
    >ride around, to take on vacation, to not worry much about if it gets stolen (which happens in a
    >college town.)
    >
    >Those experiences soured me on LBSs in general, and now the only way I'm taking a bike to an LBS is
    >if there is something I absolutely cannot do myself. And I'll be damned if I ever buy any new bike
    >from an LBS - unless they show themselves to be worth patronizing. The pro-LBS crowd has a point,
    >but bicycles aren't rocket science. They are quite simple machines, and anyone can teach themselves
    >to work on them, if they have patience and are willing to buy the tools required for the job. If I
    >had every dollar back that I spent on installation and maintenance charges, my tools would be
    >nearly all-inclusive.
    >
    >I'm sure that there are fine LBSs out there. I just have never walked into one. Yet. I hold out
    >hope, because I'd rather spend my money locally and support a local guy (or guys/gals) than ship my
    >money to some big outfit. What's really funny is that it's only with bicycle-related stuff that I
    >have ever had a problem with persistently crappy service or total sales jobs.
     
  20. Chris

    Chris Guest

    "BaCardi" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I stop buying from Excel, Performance, Colorado Cyclist, Nashbar, etc. when the bike shops decide
    > to stop raping customers on price.
    >

    You have no idea what you're talking about.

    If LBSs could afford to charge what online clearinghouses did, they would. Do you honestly think
    their business model is based on customer alienation?

    There's a reason a lot of parts from a lot of online places come in plastic bags, not boxes, with no
    instructions or documentation - because they're not supposed to be selling them. And even in the
    case of a fully legal sale, huge web dealers can buy in volume no LBS can match, saving on item and
    shipping costs.

    Plus, a solid LBS (at least around here) offers free installation on parts purchased. Get that
    from Nashbar.

    Chris -had his hardtail stolen today, feeling a bit surly. Not the bike, I'm getting a Surly in a
    few weeks. For now, it's me that's surly.
     
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