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Pencil (Skirt) This Down: Listen To Your Customers

, , , , , , | Working | July 12, 2022

My bike needs a tuneup, and I’m too busy to do it myself. My usual bike shop is swamped, so I go to another one that’s close to my work. I get a slightly patronizing vibe from the guy who helps me, but they’ve got decent reviews online, so I leave my bike with them anyway.

A day or so later, I get an email from the shop, letting me know my rear wheel has a crack in the rim, and they can replace it entirely for [total]. I decline, since I have a spare wheel at home, and if the hub is fine, I can rebuild the wheel myself when I have time.

They call me a few days later to say the tuneup is finished. I go there directly after work to pick it up. The mechanic comes out to talk to me.

Mechanic: “I really think you should let us replace the wheel.”

Me: “It’s okay; I’m replacing it myself.”

Mechanic: “But you can’t ride it until it’s replaced.”

Me: “I know.”

Mechanic: “Look, I don’t think you understand. It’s not safe to ride on a cracked rim.”

Me: “I’m aware of that. As I said, I will replace the wheel at the first opportunity.”

Mechanic: *Starting to raise his voice slightly* “You can’t ride it out of here!” 

I glance down at myself, still in my work clothes, and back up at him. 

Me: “Dude, I brought a car to take the bike home in. Did you really think I was planning to cycle in a pencil skirt and heels?”

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.

Gender Roles For Children: Where Everything’s Made Up And The Colors Don’t Matter

, , , , | Working | September 4, 2021

I have twins who just turned three, a boy and a girl. We are openly relaxed about gender differences and it helps us make ends meet when, for example, he wears pink pyjamas until he outgrows them and they fit her. When he demands to wear a skirt, f*** it; he is three. It’s just that his sister has one that sparkles, so he wants one, too. This gets us the odd look once in a while and even some comments, but this is the rudest we’ve ever encountered.

In celebration of the twins’ third birthday, we are shopping for bike helmets. We usually buy used stuff, but safety gear is nothing we want to buy used.

The shop we visit is having a big clearance sale, and [Daughter] picks a violet helmet with a princess on, and [Son] picks a green dinosaur one. Then, we spot a teeny tiny purple bike. It is HEAVILY marked down as it seems to be a floor model that has seen better days, but still, it’s a fully working bike that never saw the outside world before. Our son tries it and loves it. We decide to buy it and approach the worker at the till.

At first, he sees our daughter and smiles as we ask about the purple floor model bike. He then sees my boy on the bike.

Worker: “Oh, it’s for him? Okay.”

My hubby stays with the happy little biker doing rounds on the sales floor. I go with the worker to pay.

Worker: “So that is [price nearly three times what I expected]. We can load the box for you if you pull up your car to the back, or your husband can carry it out. Instructions to assemble are inside.”

Me: “Wait, what? We thought we would get the floor model as it is for [price]?”

Worker: “I’m sorry, but we have no boy bikes of that model on the floor.”

Me: “I thought they were unisex at that stage? And even so, he is getting on and off it fine as it is, so we are totally okay with it anyway.”

Worker: “Let me get my manager.”

I’m confused. The guy goes off and returns with another worker who says he is the manager.

Manager: “My employee told me you asked for a new bike for the floor model sales price? I’m here to clarify, it is that cheap because it is used and we can not sell new ones for that price.”

Me: “But I never asked for a boxed one. We could not pluck him off that one anyway by now, and I thought we could just ride it out of the door.”

Manager: “But he told me you needed a blue one and the floor model is purple.”

Me: “I never said anything about another colour. Why would I? I understand it’s the floor model you are selling. Can I please just pay and get this done?”

Manager: “Of course! I’m sorry. Please come over to the till.”

The worker is standing near the till, and as he notices me paying the low price, he pipes up:

Worker: “But it’s the wrong colour and you can’t return it anytime later for that reason. The sale is final. And if it breaks, then it breaks; it’s your own risk.”

The manager sighs and turns to the worker.

Manager: “[Worker], you know full well that we give a two-year warranty on anything that leaves our doors. And you need to stop making these ridiculous assumptions about what is a boy’s and a girl’s colour.”

Worker: “But it’s not healthy to have him on a purple bike! Everybody will think it’s a gay thing, and he will be embarrassed!”

Me: “Excuse me. He is three. He still has a lot of years in peace before he has to find out what goes on in his heart and pants. He is wearing Hello Kitty underwear right now because it was glittery and he liked it. Just relax, man.”

Worker: “I should call the police on you for abusing your child! You are trying to make him gay, just because you think it’s cool and real men scare you.”

We all fell silent in shock a bit, and the manager grabbed the employee’s shoulder. He started protesting but was wordlessly shoved through a door to the office. The manager closed the door and returned. He started to apologise but I stopped him. I knew it was not his fault and he thanked me a lot. He gave us an even bigger discount on the bike and threw in two novelty bike horns shaped like animals that the kids got to pick. [Daughter] picked a tiger and [Son] took an elephant. The manager told me the worker was his sister’s boyfriend and he only had him there because he wanted to help them out. I never saw him there again, but we still go get most of our bike gear there and are very satisfied.

It’s As Easy As Learning To Eat A Burger

, , , , , , , , | Right | April 22, 2021

I work at a bicycle store. A man about a decade my senior comes in asking for yellow handlebar tape. I show him our selection, which includes a bright yellow. He happily grabs some and explains that he is making a “hamburger bike.” 

His bike’s frame is dark brown — the beef patty. The pedals and helmet are lighter brown, for the bun. His tires are bright green, for lettuce; his seat is darker green, for the pickles; his red rear reflector and white front reflector are ketchup and mayonnaise, respectively. The yellow handlebar tape is to be mustard.

While I am confused why he’s decided that “burger” was the perfect aesthetic for a bicycle, his excitement is contagious. He goes on to tell me that he needs orange for cheese; yellow or white would be redundant, you see. I dig around in an order of new stock and find him an orange water bottle and holder that he can screw to his bike frame.

With his hamburger (or cheeseburger, now, I suppose) bike thus perfected, he rides off a happy man. If only every customer were so pleasant and easy to please!


This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for April 2021!

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Racking Up The Grievances

, , , , , , | Working | November 20, 2020

I have a luggage rack on my bike which has encountered a problem. I take it into the shop where I bought it, where they offer a lifetime guarantee.

Me: “I’ve got this issue with my pannier rack which you guys sold me.”

Cashier: “Do you have a receipt?”

Me: “Yes.”

I hand the receipt over.

Me: “So the problem is—”

Cashier: “No worries; we can fix that for you. It’ll be about twenty minutes or so.”

Me: “I mean, that’s great, but the problem is—”

Cashier: “Cool, cool.”

He doesn’t even look at the bike; he just starts wheeling it away.

Me: “Right, but—”

Cashier: “Look. The rack broke, yeah? We’ll take it off and replace it.”

He disappears into the back.

Me: “Oooookay.”

I go out and drink a leisurely coffee. Forty minutes later, I haven’t heard anything, so I go back to the shop and ring the bell on the counter. A different person, I assume the bike mech, emerges from the back, wiping her hands on a rag.

Me: “Uh, hi. I’m here to pick up my bike. It’s a blue Kona?”

Her eyebrows go up.

Mech: “Oh, that was you, huh?”

Me: “Um. Yes. Trouble?”

Mech: “Well, we’re having a little more difficulty than we’d first thought.”

She shoots a look towards the back, where I assume the cashier is hiding.

Mech: “Can I ask, how did you shear off the screws holding the rack to the frame?”

Me: “I swear, I don’t know. I was waiting for a ferry and I just heard a ‘ping!’ sound and the screw heads had come clean off. If it was something I could fix myself, I would have just exchanged the rack and reinstalled it, but I don’t have the tools to get the broken screws out of the holes. I tried to tell the guy, but he wouldn’t listen and said you folks could replace it in twenty minutes.”

The mech pinches the bridge of her nose and lets out a long sigh.

Me: “I don’t want to be a pain, but how much longer is this going to take? I can come back tomorrow…”

Mech: “That’d probably be best. Sorry about [Cashier]; he’s the owner’s son and thinks he knows everything. I hate to say this, but if you’ve got a boyfriend or a brother or something, if they bring it in, they’ll have better luck getting him to actually pay attention.”

Me: “My husband hasn’t ridden a bike since he was twelve years old. He wouldn’t have to first clue what to say without a script.”

The mech heaved another sigh, scribbled something down on a piece of paper, and slid it over to me. It was a note that said, “My girlfriend works here; they’re much better,” with the address of another shop. I’ve gone there ever since and never encountered any problems.


This story is part of our Best Of November 2020 roundup!

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