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Online purchasing: The raw end of the stick

Mar 10, 2009
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I have a valued relationship with a LBS here in Aus, but I also order some things online. Most of the time it goes well, but I recently ordered a HRM/Cycle computer online which turned out to be a poorly designed peice of crap AND a waste of money. To save me from banging on with details, here's a transcript of my final correspondence to an online store that I would never waste my money with again:

Hi Total Cycling.

I have made several attempts to contact you via email for an update on the status of my return for warranty of a cycle computer - the second return in six months - that I purchased from you, and you are apparently choosing to NOT reply. I have just spoken to someone from Total Cycling via telephone (which, from Australia is not a cheap way to gain contact) and have now been told that I have to send the product back AGAIN for
inspection. This TOTALLY ****es me off, for 4 reasons:

1) I phoned over 6 weeks ago informing you of the problem, and was told that considering I had already returned it once - and had to wait for over a month to get a new one - that it would be acceptable for me to take detailed photographs of the faulty unit, and accompany a letter describing the problem. This I did - to great detail - on June 9.

2) After receiving no contact after a month, I attempted to contact you via email on July 7, and got no reply.

3) I attempted further contact via email on July 12, and got no reply.

4) I finally resort to telephoning you on July 19, and on contact am informed that although nobody seems to know anything about my return, it would be necessary to RETURN THE PRODUCT FOR REVIEW! If I had been told this in the first place, I "POSSIBLY" would have had it back by now - albeit following another unfortunate postage payment, and consequent 4-6 week downtime with no cycle computer.

Please be advised, that I am extremely frustrated and disappointed in your apparent deliberate disregard to positive customer service, and I intend to forward a public warning of the risks associated with online purchasing from your store. I intend to post details of my experience on both the cyclingnews.com and bikeradar.com forums, as well as making mention to the many members of my cycling club and bunch rides here in Australia. It is my belief that if you intend on selling products which are prone to failure, you have to stand by your obligation to appropriate customer service, or else be prepared to accept a constriction of sales as a result of your apathetic regard to the bad experiences of your clients. Considering these two approaches, from my experience it is clear that you subscribe to the latter.

Sincerely
Jo Breen
AUSTRALIA

It is out of character for me to publicly oust someone, but this has been such a kick in the teeth that I feel obligated to make an attempt to save someone else the same grief. You will notice that this is my first post here, but I have been registered for quite a while and am not a troll. I just usually don't have too much to say.

JB
 
Mar 10, 2009
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what type and brand of cyclocomputer was it? What was wrong. Also what was their reply (I'm sue they will be quick to reply to that one).
 
Jun 16, 2009
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www.oxygencycles.com
You do realise that half the savings online retailers pass on is from them not being obliged to offer after sale support?

If your local bike shop sell you something that doesn't work, they'll (if they want to stay in business) bend over backwards to remedy the situation. Else wise they'll lose custom from not only the affected customer, but also from the affected customer's friends and associates. If an online retailer loses some customers they can always invent some more with a new google ad, a real shop with bricks and mortar mean will only have a finite set of customers in their local area, so they'll try not to tick them off..

You get what you pay for, paying less while by-passing your local industry will sometimes mean you'll have to make some overseas calls, tough bickies, once you've made a few calls you just might come up with a new system for working out what represents value for money.
 
Jul 16, 2009
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i have dealt with total cycling on numerous occasions and found them thouroughly helpful including dealing with returns...

what model computer did u buy and how much did it set you back...?
i guess it was not a Polar...!
 
Jul 22, 2009
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Maybe if you purchased the product locally, in a local bike store that is, you wouldnt have this problem in the first place? Maybe this is why some cycle shops in Aus now demand a try on fee for Sidi shoes (for example) now too...., rightly so because some consumers window shop, tyre kick and then purchase online only to crack it when things go wrong - Buying locally you are protected by consumer laws and usually can develop a relationship with the retailer - in time they sometimes even look after regular customers making internet pricing comparible. Just my thoughts but I do hope you get to the bottom of it.
 
Jul 18, 2009
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I hope the lesson you've learned, is that even though you might pay a little more at your LBS for some products the customer service that you can receive when a product stops working more than makes up for the extra price.

And Alpe d'Huez where do you come off saying that it sounds like an American company simply because of the lack of customer service? I've dealt with a few European and British companies that have some of the crappist customer service that I have ever seen.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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I buy certain things online and others from a shop.

Back in the 90s, some friends who worked in a shop got ****ed at me for buying a groupo from colorado cyclist. My position was that I wouldn't be able to afford as nice a groupo if I had ordered through them (they also couldn't get me the frame I wanted so the point was moot, really).

Anyway, these friends of mine went to interbike in Vegas and returned with a gift for me. It was a motorola poster signed by Lance Armstrong that said, "Mail order is way cool, Lance Armstrong"
 
Mar 19, 2009
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mjohnson81 said:
I hope the lesson you've learned, is that even though you might pay a little more at your LBS for some products the customer service that you can receive when a product stops working more than makes up for the extra price.

.

That age-old statement is regurgitated so often people still believe it.

First, not everyone has a BS local to them.

Second, in my experience, many LBS's don't offer any customer service to write home about.

Third, whoever you buy from, know their policies before you purchase.

Finally, if buying from another Continent, you gotta know beforehand that if something is wrong with the products you order, shipping back is a huge issue. Electronic items are the biggest risk of all.

Is that risk worth the $$ saved on purchasing overseas? Roll the dice.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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mjohnson81 said:
I hope the lesson you've learned, is that even though you might pay a little more at your LBS for some products the customer service that you can receive when a product stops working more than makes up for the extra price. QUOTE]

A little more?? As someone who has bought online for years from the UK, I can tell you that "a little more" doesn't even come close for much of it. For some items, yes, the LBS is only a little more - and in those instances I'll support them. But in most of cases I can buy stuff on-line, pay for shipping (or not if I spend over a certain amount at some shops), pay any import duties and still land the items for less than my LBS would pay wholesale!

Most recent example was picking up a set of Veloce Egrolevers for my cross bike for C$120 the pair ... vs the C$300 retail price over here ... so, where do you think I'm going to buy from?

I do have to say that on one level it really pains me to do this. I know that the problem isn't the LBS - it's the importers/wholesalers who are to my mind completely uneccessary middlemen in the equation. If we could remove these people from the system, then I believe we'd see much less use of on-line stores and more a swing to good (to pick up on another poster's comments about service at LBS) local stores. My evidence for this? Cannondale has regional sales offices rather than wholesalers and Cannondale pricing varies little around the world. In another product line, Apple takes the same approach and pricing again is similar. (In each case, talking only about MRP - not close out specials.) Also, for US and Canadian sourced products where I am now, it's cheaper to buy locally than on-line ...

Service can often be better on-line too. The experience that started me on mail order (some 20 years back) was breaking a Campag rear axle and being told by my LBS that the NZ importer expected to get a new shipment of axles in 3 weeks. I couldn't wait, so rang Parkers ... and had two new axles in 6 days. Six months later, I got the message from my LBS that the importer had finally received the new supply of axles ... Just as well I didn't wait, ay?

I think that under these circumstances, buying on-line is a completely rational response to supply and cost issues. If money was limitless, maybe I'd behave differently ... but until I win the lottery, things aren't changing in a hurry ...

So perhaps the people who need to wake up are the suppliers and wholesalers?
 
Jun 16, 2009
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my experience living in the UK was that unless you really do have a good LBS then going online is frankly the only option to make purchases larger than a spare tube.

Especially true if that BS is part of a chain (Evans cycles comes to mind as one waste of space) where the sales people haven't got a clue about anything beyond the names of different models of Oakley sunglasses.

I have received great customer service from Probikekit, Wiggle, and in Australia BikeDepot. At least they had a clue what they were actually selling.
In Australia we seem to have more good shops although with the geography, travelling to them can be difficult.

If you have the skills to install a full groupset, why would you pay an extra $1000 to a bike shop instead of just ordering online? If it was 10% then yes I would definitely buy locally but if I get impersonal service from the shop and they have a markup of about 30% on an item like that, why lose money just to help them?
 
I have to agree that unless you live by a REALLY knowledgeable local bike shop then mail order is your best bet. If the local bike shop wants to try to sell everything at full msrp(retail) then it is their own fault for not being competitive.

However I have found that the better local bike shops usually try to be competitive with the mail order places. If they aren't competitive on pricing then I either try another shop or go mail order.

Actually, since I have worked many years at many different bike shops in the past, I mail order everything.

I don't need or want anybody trying to give me advice what to buy.
 
Jul 18, 2009
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I have 3 local bike shops in my area and out of those 3 there's only 1 that I would give my money too and it's to bad that not everyone has a good relationship with a LBS. I agree with what everyone is saying about saving money, however the owner of my LBS is a personal friend and my coach and I'm willing to pay a little more for his services (plus he is willing to work with you on the price).
Some things that you buy at a LBS are just worth it, like a bike, frame, or something where I would need his help in getting a warranty issue taken care of.
Because of that and the relationship I have with my LBS I will continue to give him my business.
 
Jul 22, 2009
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Lewd Reed said:
I have a valued relationship with a LBS here in Aus, but I also order some things online. Most of the time it goes well, but I recently ordered a HRM/Cycle computer online which turned out to be a poorly designed peice of crap AND a waste of money. To save me from banging on with details, here's a transcript of my final correspondence to an online store that I would never waste my money with again:



It is out of character for me to publicly oust someone, but this has been such a kick in the teeth that I feel obligated to make an attempt to save someone else the same grief. You will notice that this is my first post here, but I have been registered for quite a while and am not a troll. I just usually don't have too much to say.

JB

I also ordered once from totalcycling. Items were showing in stock and a month later I was still waiting for them to ship. Serveral email inquiries went unanswered, so I cancelled the order, with them and my cc...then they ship everything out post-haste. when it came to my door I refused and it went back. They sent me a few email afterwards saying they noticed the shipment sitting in the back and asking if I want it, naturally, I never responded. I've ordered tons of gear online, even today I got a good deal on DA shifters- never had a problem with anyone else- the point is, don't let one bad egg ruin your fun.
 
Laszlo said:
I also ordered once from totalcycling. Items were showing in stock and a month later I was still waiting for them to ship. Serveral email inquiries went unanswered, so I cancelled the order, with them and my cc...then they ship everything out post-haste. when it came to my door I refused and it went back. They sent me a few email afterwards saying they noticed the shipment sitting in the back and asking if I want it, naturally, I never responded. I've ordered tons of gear online, even today I got a good deal on DA shifters- never had a problem with anyone else- the point is, don't let one bad egg ruin your fun.

In contrast I have orded quite a lot of stuff from Total Cycling and never had a problem. The funny thing is that even though they are ship from Ireland to the U.S., I have often received the items quicker than mail order places located in the U.S.
 
Jul 22, 2009
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I am glad to hear your experience with totalcycling was better than mine, I was just surprised to read the ops post refering to a name I was familiar with. Regardless, I've been quite satisfied with my online bike shopping; I can experience far more variety, at competitive prices at my pc than I could spending days going to all the local shops
 
Jun 23, 2009
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My local BS often had prices about twice that of online. It has gotten much better in recent years but, once a consumer develops a pattern of behaviour it is hard to break.

The only thing I would not buy is expensive wheels due to the hassle of shipping. All my online shopping has been a good experience. Sorry to hear about this one. Have you tried the manufacturer directly?
 

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