Welcome guest, is this your first visit? Click the "Create Account" button now to join.

To disable ads, please log-in.

Shop at TeamEstrogen.com for women's cycling apparel.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 28
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Bothell area, WA
    Posts
    564

    Thumbs down Bad Bike Shop Experience - Long

    To disable ads, please log-in.

    Yesterday I flew in to Seattle from Boston for the STP. My bike arrived at the house via FedEx five minutes before I did, and it looked mostly undamaged. Further investigation revealed a shattered carbon fiber water bottle holder but no other damage aside from a valve failure on the rear wheel when I put air in. I put the bike together fairly quickly and took it to Bothell Bike & Ski to have them look it over so it didn't fall apart under me somewhere along the ride.

    When I got there, I told them, "Could you check the brakes and get them to not rub?" because I have disc brakes and can never take a wheel off and then put it on again without it rubbing horrendously. I also said I'd wait around, because I wanted to ride a bit today to stretch out the 7-hour plane flight kinks. They said OK, it would take about 20 minutes.

    It took an hour and a half. The kid (who can't have been out of high school) who started working on my bike took one look at the brake pads and freaked out. He told me to replace them immediately; they were "all corroded and worn down." I'm thinking "Huh; my LBS back in MA seemed OK with my brakes when I left, and I was happy with the braking power. They seemed fine." But it had been at least 3,000 miles and probably way more than that since I replaced the pads, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to replace them.

    He did that, but also did all sorts of stuff to the brake mechanism that I'd never seen my normal mechanic doing. Then when he put the brake back on the bike, he spent probably 30 minutes fiddling around, muttering and swearing and spinning the wheel and hearing it squeak and rub. Eventually a more experienced mechanic came over and started fiddling with the brake.

    Meanwhile, I'm standing there waiting, listening to the other mechanics -- there were about 5 guys, none above about 25 years old, there working on bikes -- talking about times they'd been pulled over by cops. Clearly they'd been pulled over any number of times, many of them by the same cop. One kid in particular was talking about how the cop had given him two warnings about the loudness of the exhaust system, but that he (the kid) didn't intend to make it quieter: "I spent a lot of money getting it to be that loud!"

    So I'm standing around, listening to this conversation, and cringing as these two mechanics start reefing on the rotor of my rear break because it's not straight. I'm thinking, "It was bent when I left, but before I still could break fine and it didn't rub, so what's the problem? Why does it need yanking on now?" And of course I'm remembering that you're not supposed to touch the rotor and get hand grease on it, which is exactly what they're doing. Then the younger one asks, "Where's the cable cutter?" and immediately I wonder why they need to cut my cables when, again, it was perfectly fine back in MA a week ago just the way it was.

    Instead of continuing to listen to and watch this, I wandered into the back room where they keep all the bikes they're working on. The door was open, and I could see the parking lot out there, and I figured I'd go look for the car with the exhaust system. That was kind of boring, though -- there's only so long I can look at pimped out guy cars -- so I went back in through the storage room.

    That's when I saw the bike porn poster. It was a mostly naked lady with a wet, white clinging shirt on; she had no pants on but was holding a suspension fork upside down so it covered her nipples and crotch; some liquid was portrayed flowing over her and of course she had some kind of rapturous/come-hither look on her face. I spent a long time looking at it in shock: What kind of retail business would put that kind of trash up where customers might see it? This was a back room, but it wasn't closed off and I could easily see customers retrieving their bikes from there, for example. They don't, as far as I could tell, have any women employees, so I don't think it's a legal issue. But I found it revolting that they put a poster like that up at all, and even if their wrenching had been fabulous (which it patently was NOT), I wouldn't go back there again.

    Back in the store, I spent some time trying to decide what to say about their poster, if I should say anything, and who I would say it to. At that point they finally seemed done with my bike, took it off the rack, and handed it to me. I pulled the brake levers experimentally and the front brake lever pulled all the way to the handlebar. I said, "Could you tighten this up? This is crazy," and the mechanic said, "Well, we can't tighten it up much more..." but put it back on the stand. He fiddled around with the dials on the brakes some, and then he started reefing on that rotor, too, because he claimed it wasn't straight. Then, to my horror, he took out a file and started FILING THE ROTOR. I don't claim to know anything about bike mechanic work, and I let my LBS do everything for me, including replacing my chain, so I deferred to the guys at Bothell Bike & Ski the way I do to my LBS mechanic. I think that was a big mistake.

    Eventually they finished and it ended up costing almost $80 (including a new cheap water bottle holder) on top of the $150 I spent to ship the darn bike out here. I rode away with huge relief and only a mile later realized that they had taken the water bottle off my bike when they put it in the stand, but they'd never put it back in. So I didn't have my water bottle, and since I was meeting somebody, I didn't want to spend the time to go back and retrieve it right then. I called the shop when I got home after my ride and sure enough, my water bottle was still there.

    I'm seething inside from this experience, for several reasons.

    1. They were inept. The kid who worked on my bike first took the rear break apart, but then left out a piece when he put it back together. They only realized it because they couldn't get the brake to stop rubbing, and the more experienced mechanic took the break apart AGAIN. A simple 20-minute stop ended up taking almost 5x that long. Messing with things that weren't broken and not giving me my water bottle did not inspire confidence or customer satisfaction.

    2. They were profane and immature. Tons of swearing from the mechanics and their stories about being pulled over and talk about their overly tricked out cars for an hour and a half left me feeling fairly negative. I know they're mostly guys in their 20s, but they're at WORK. Even if work's cleaning and repairing bikes, shouldn't they have some level of professionalism?

    3. They had soft porn on the back wall. That is just the last straw for me. I loathe porn -- what woman wouldn't? -- and seeing it at a bike shop like that, with the model holding a bike part, just made me sick and angry inside.

    More constructively, can any of you PNW ladies recommend a GOOD bike shop for next time I'm in town? There's no way I'm going back to Bothell Bike & Ski after I get my water bottle back, but I will probably need bike servicing at some point out here.

    In summary: GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

    Edit to add: I had actually called ahead and had an appointment. My mom recommended the shop and specifically told me to see Donnie, who she feels is a trustworthy mechanic. Donnie wasn't there, so perhaps that's part of the reason I didn't have as good of an experience as she has had in the past.
    Last edited by kfergos; 07-10-2009 at 11:17 AM.
    Almost a Bike Blog:
    http://kf.rainydaycommunications.net/

    Never give up. Never surrender.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    315
    Kfergos-- I am really sorry you had such a bad experience with the bike shop. They changed ownership several years ago and just recently move to their new location a couple of weeks ago (don't know if this has any bearing on service). I was in there yesterday afternoon to pick up some nutritional stuff and spoke briefly with one of the owners. Most bike shops in this area are super busy the week before the stp and a lot of them are so backed up they won't even take walk-in's. They may have hired some less experienced mechanics to cover this busy time. If I were you, I would definitely bring your concerns to the owners attention either by calling or writing to them, especially if you felt the first kid working on your bike was not qualified. I do sometimes go to Woodinville Cycle which isn't too far from Bothell. They are a much smaller shop and seem to have pretty knowledgeable people there.

    Have a great STP and hope to see you on the road!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Troutdale, OR
    Posts
    2,600
    regarding bike porn. semi or naked b**** on bikes.

    I've sort of come to expect seeing things like that all mechanics shops cars or bicycle shops. Never been to a motorcycle shop but I'm sure its the same.

    I reached a point of trying to embarrass the boys as much as I can. Why not.

    There are things I say to them which I can't print here...

    Just dish it right back with a big grin on your face.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Beautiful NW or Left Coast
    Posts
    5,619
    You should have asked us PacNW gals for a reference. There are lots of GREAT bike shops in the Seattle area!
    I'm sorry you had such a bad experience!
    Sammamish Bike is up there, they are one of the best shops there is.

    ps i can't imagine going to a place called Bike and Ski
    Last edited by Biciclista; 07-10-2009 at 07:57 AM.
    I like Bikes - Mimi
    Watercolor Blog

    Davidson Custom Bike - Cavaletta
    Dahon 2009 Sport - Luna
    Old Raleigh Mixte - Mitzi

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    2,032
    the skill level obviously sucks but +1 to smilingcat on the porn. Let them. You can be strong enough a woman not to be affected by this and with wrenches, I guess it's kind of the culture.
    It's a little secret you didn't know about us women. We're all closet Visigoths.

    2008 Roy Hinnen O2 - Selle SMP Glider
    2009 Cube Axial WLS - Selle SMP Glider
    2007 Gary Fisher HiFi Plus - Specialized Alias

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    pacific NW
    Posts
    1,038
    It's good to know about the change in quality of service. I had a really good experience with them 3 years ago after an emergency on the trail. I had been referring others to them (since I am not in the area), but maybe I won't any more.

    I don't consider myself a prude by any means, but I tend to feel explicity unwelcome when displays of gratuitous female nudity are made in a business. I don't need to drop any dollars in a place where I am not welcome...

    Of course, now that we have the pasty clad stripper-in-a-box esspresso stands on every corner, I can feel unwelcome in my own neighborhood

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    355
    welcome to the dark underbelly of the bike industry. so sorry it was in such plain view.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,498
    Quote Originally Posted by smilingcat View Post
    regarding bike porn. semi or naked b**** on bikes.

    I've sort of come to expect seeing things like that all mechanics shops cars or bicycle shops. Never been to a motorcycle shop but I'm sure its the same.
    Actually, when DH worked in a motorbike shop, those soft-porn calendars were not permitted anywhere that customers might see them, including the service bays. Some companies still print them (they come from suppliers, you know - parts and tire companies), but many don't. He last worked as a mechanic almost 20 years ago, so that gives you an idea. In 2009, I don't think it's fair to say that that type of thing is to be expected.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    1,131
    Kfergos, sorry you had such a miserable experience. I was never really impressed with their service and selection, and that was for the little things.

    Mimi, the ski and bike thing is not that unusual. I think there's at least a couple more in the Seattle area. Business slows down in the colder rainier months for bike shops, so it's a way for them to have a steadier income stream. They tend to focus more on sales than servicing equipment though.
    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

    2007 Rodriguez Adventure/B72
    2009 Masi Soulville Mixte/B18
    1997 Trek 820 Step-thru Xtracycle/B17

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Everett, WA
    Posts
    191
    Sorry to hear you had such a horrible (and offensive!) experience. I'm more familiar with shops on the Eastside which may be a little out of the way for you, but +1 on Sammamish Cycle in Redmond; they've always been really good to work with. Gerks Alpine Hut, also in Redmond, has also had really helpful & friendly mechanics every time I've been in; they're a smaller shop but they've given me quick brake or derailleur adjustments no charge, so I try to buy stuff from them whenever they carry whatever it is I'm looking for.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    1,058
    I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. I wouldn't have been shocked by the calendar--although uncomfortable. As usual, cycling is probably a male dominated industry. My DH is an aircraft mechanic and they used to get these calendars from Snap On Tools--but they discontinued the calendars as more women entered the industry.

    I'm not good at speaking up, but I would have considered taking my bike halfway through and not paying. I hope you don't discover they caused damage when you get home to your local lbs. Maybe you should take some pics in case problems creep up.

    Try to arrange to pick up your water bottle during the day when the manager would be there.
    "Well-behaved women seldom make history." --Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    '09 Trek WSD 2.1 with a Brooks B-68 saddle
    '11 Trek WSD Madone 5.2 with Brooks B-17

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    2,309

    wow!

    Ok, here comes the two cents from the bike shop owner...
    First, I am SO SORRY that you experienced that. As an owner I cringed as I read your post. But I would want to know about the incident. Unfortunately some shops tend to hire young kids that "seem mechanical" and hope for the best. They may have one seasoned mechanic, but he gets stretched thin picking up after the others. We have a shop down the road that does this, and we are constantly fixing what they messed up. Sometimes it's scary.
    I've also noticed that this can happen if the owner of the business is not actively involved in the day to day operations. At trade events I have met many owners that seem more like investors than owners. They have no interest in bikes?? That baffles me!! The industry is definetely not one to get rich in.
    I would defintely write a letter to the owner. Not the manager- the owner. Often the manager is just as bad as the mechanics. Think about it- in many shops the manager HIRES the staff.
    As for their idle chat. It happens. I often have to tone things down with the boys in the back, and one of them is my husband!! Though they are professional enough to know NOT to do it when there are customers in the store. Let's just say that if they had their choice the atmosphere would be MUCH different than it is. And unfortunately it would be like most bike shops that are out there. That is why I wanted to open a shop. I was tired of dealing with it. But old habits die hard.
    As for the poster. I actually think I have seen it. I think it's a marzocchi if I remember correctly. It is tasteless, and it would NEVER be in my shop. But it doesn't surprise me. Actually Knog had a POP (point of puchase display rack) for the computers they came out with that was downright pornographic. It was cartoonish, but very bad!! I was actually shocked that they thought the US market would use it, but I'm sure some have.
    Anyway, Defintely have your local shop look at her when you get home. Hopefully no damage was done. And if it was, have them document it and send a copy along with your letter to the owner. I would expect that they would issue you a refund. Oh- and 80.00???!!!! What did they do?? Holy smokes that seems steep!
    Good luck!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    1,058
    Quote Originally Posted by Running Mommy View Post
    I would defintely write a letter to the owner. Not the manager- the owner. Often the manager is just as bad as the mechanics. Think about it- in many shops the manager HIRES the staff.
    Yes, Running Mommy is correct. I should have said the owner. My DH discovered this on accident. He called our bike shop (where we had just purchased two bikes) and asked if they had a specific brand of heavy duty tire. The kid said yes. When DH arrived and the kid rang up the purchase--DH realized they weren't what he asked for. The kid say, "oh, yeah. I guess we're out. These are the same thing." DH refused and the kid ordered the tires he requested. When DH returned a few days later, he met the owner. He had a completely different experience. The owner is a racer and in the shop during the day (kids on the afternoons and weekends). He was friendly, knowledgeable and willing to help. We now make all visits when we know the owner will be in.

    I had the same experience when I bought my road bike at a different shop. I was halfway out the door, when the owner caught me. After the kid said they didn't have anything for me, the owner put me on a "beginning racer." When I cringed, he regrouped and got me out on the bike. It was love at first ride I made sure to return when HE could do my fit. After a few visits, the kids warmed up to me and I receive better service.
    "Well-behaved women seldom make history." --Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    '09 Trek WSD 2.1 with a Brooks B-68 saddle
    '11 Trek WSD Madone 5.2 with Brooks B-17

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,365
    sorry about the bad labor on the bike, that does sound like a drag but...

    I don't consider myself a prude by any means, but I tend to feel explicity unwelcome when displays of gratuitous female nudity are made in a business. I don't need to drop any dollars in a place where I am not welcome...
    the whatever you want to call it was not in a public area, it was

    into the back room where they keep all the bikes they're working on.
    Quote Originally Posted by smilingcat View Post
    regarding bike porn. semi or naked b**** on bikes.

    I've sort of come to expect seeing things like that all mechanics shops cars or bicycle shops. Never been to a motorcycle shop but I'm sure its the same.
    I'm with smilingcat. Just blow it off, when you let it piss you off you are giving it a lot more power over you than if you ignore it. Think of how much energy gets wasted getting mad over this. Especially if you weren't in a public area. The back room, that's the shop's domain.
    The male mind is geared to appreciated women visually.

    I"m trying to imagine smilingcat saying something, with a straight face: "wow I guess you like gals in tight t-shirts with really big...."

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Limbo
    Posts
    8,769
    Quote Originally Posted by Irulan View Post
    The back room, that's the shop's domain.
    I've been asked to step into the backroom at two bike shops to look at something.
    No, not that.
    2008 Trek FX 7.2/Terry Cite X
    2009 Jamis Aurora/Brooks B-68
    2010 Trek FX 7.6 WSD/stock bontrager

 

 

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •