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Started A Chain Reaction

, , , , | Right | November 5, 2021

I start my own business as a bike mechanic at home. I’m still learning how to deal with clients and set their expectations. I list clear prices on my website, plus a message that “bikes must be paid for before they are released.”

I live in an affluent town where most people think alike, so I have few problems with locals. A client is collecting his bike. He is about seventy years old and a member of a cycling club.

Me: “Hi, Mr. [Client]. Per my message earlier, your total is $220.”

Client: “Yeah, the money will be in tomorrow.”

That comment confuses me somewhat, and I don’t respond.

Me: “Let me talk you through what I have done.”

I run through his invoice.

Client: “What about my chain?”

Me: “I degreased and lubricated it; it is listed here. So, like I said, $220, please.”

Client: “The money will be in tomorrow.”

Normally, bank transfers are instant. Is he referring to when he receives his salary, or before he can pay?

Me: “I don’t follow?”

Client: “Yeah, maybe you weren’t listening.”

Later, I put the pieces together. He was telling me he had already paid by bank transfer. I didn’t understand, because I actually couldn’t believe that he expected to take his bike away before payment cleared. I should have told him to come back after it had cleared. I’m anxious for the rest of the day, but his payment later arrives. He texts me two days later.

Client: “You said I needed a new chain!”

I check back in my texts. He is right; I said he needed a new chain but I didn’t install it.

Me: “Hi, Mr. [Client]. I’m sorry, that seems to have slipped my mind. If you come round later, I can install one for [cost].”

Client: “I asked about needing a new chain when I collected!”

I’ve had enough of his attitude.

Me: “No. No, Mr. [Client], you asked about the chain, but not about a new one, and I explained that I lubricated it. Had you asked about a new chain, I would have installed one. I am sorry about having missed that, but we are both at fault on that one. You have still got your money’s worth because a new chain was not included in your itemised quote. If you would like one installed, you are welcome to make an appointment. Please bring cash. Payment must clear before the bike is released. I am sure you are aware of that after many years of cycling.”

He didn’t reply. I have since obtained a card machine. My transaction costs, 1.7%, is well worth it for the convenience and avoiding these awkward conversations with clients.

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