I’ve written quite a bit recently about gas prices, and fuel economy, and I’ve wondered what I’m going to do in light of it all. One of the ways I’m planning on dealing with rising fuel costs is to commute via bicycle on a fairly regular basis when I begin my new job this week. I’m no stranger to such practices, in fact my first semester of seminary I biked to campus almost every day. But now my bike was in need of some repair work before I could seriously consider such bike commuting again.
My bike is a full-suspension mountain bike, which I used to actually bike in the mountains back when I lived in Virginia. It’s about 4 or 5 years old now, and the bottom bracket (the assembly that the crank runs through) was beginning to exhibit quite a bit of wear, causing my pedals to wobble.
Some of you may expect that I would simply fix my bike on my own, considering that is my usual practice with cars. However, I have little (ok, no) experience doing bike repair, and none of the special tools it may require. So I found myself in need of a repair shop.
When I can I like to try and help out new local businesses, and it just so happens that there is fairly new bike shop in town here in Richmond, the Cycling and Fitness Warehouse. I decided I’d give them a shot and I took in my bike. At the time it was right at the beginning of the summer season, so they were swamped with repair work. After about two weeks I recieved a call letting me know that the bike was done and I went to pick it up.
I had expected to have racked up a somewhat sizable repair bill, however I was pleased that instead of replacing the entire bottom bracket assembly they had simply redone the bearings and put everything back together. I paid my $8.50 and headed home a happy customer.
Fast forward a couple weeks … I’ve ridden my bike some around town and the wobble has returned, indicating that something was still amiss with the recently-repaired bottom bracket. I called up the shop and they told me to bring it in and they’d have it looked at in a day or two.
When I came to pick it up, I was shown that the pedals were once again tight, and told that this time they re-packed the bearings again and replaced a bushing. I was impressed that they were still trying to fix the problem without replacing parts unnecessarily. I was also pleased that when I asked what I owed they said “nothing” since it was my second trip to see them about the same problem.
This time I rode the bike home, and by the time I got back I noticed the wobble was already starting to return, though not as bad. I called the shop back (by now I was on a first name basis with the guy) and he said to bring it in again and they’d have it fixed in a day or two.
So this past Tuesday I rode back down to the shop, talked to the guys there for a bit, and dropped the bike off. The plan now was to go ahead and replace the entire bottom bracket assembly. There’s a part of me that thought “finally … this is what I expected them to do in the first place.” However, I also think they were right not to replace it if it wasn’t really defective. Finally we were all in agreement that yes, it was.
Saturday morning I was back at the shop to pick my bike up, hopefully for the last time (at least for this problem.) I was greeted by a friendly “hi Matt” as I walked in the door. After getting my bike back I once again asked what I owed, expecting to at least pay for the price of the new bottom bracket assembly. But once again I was told that I was not going to be charged. Needless to say, I was pleased.
As I rode my bike home the difference was like night and day. It felt so good I rode far past my house, just to ride. Now I could be cranky about the fact that it took three trips to the shop to get this problem right, or that the whole ordeal took over a month, but I’m not. And why is that? Great customer service.
I think that in the modern age of internet shopping and mega-marts, we often forget what really good customer service is like. In our phone conversations I quickly went from being “Mat, the owner of the full-suspension Mountainsmith bike” to “Matt with the bottom bracket problems” to just “Matt.” The people I talked to at the shop were sincerely apologetic that the problem had not yet been fixed. And I know that the shop ended up spending both time and money to make sure I was a happy customer. All this for someone who had never set foot in their shop before all this began.
And so I am a happy customer. They will recieve more of my business and I’ll gladly spread the word of my experiences there. Having worked in customer service before, I know it isn’t always easy (or even possible) to keep patrons happy, so I applaud this shop’s efforts to do so. Now if only all my online customer service issues were handled in a similarly pleasant way.
If you’re in or around Richmond, IN and need a cycle shop, be sure to check out the Cycling and Fitness Warehouse. (Be forewarned that their website, while flashy, is rather obnoxious.) Tell them Matt with the bottom bracket problems sent you. I’m sure they’ll be glad to know their good customer service paid off.