The Wheel Always Comes Back Around

| Right | December 8, 2016

(I’ve been a bicycle mechanic for over 10 years and have heard my share of JRAs (I was Just Riding Along when my frame broke in two… etc), but this customer stands out for some reason. He enters the service door with a bike he has purchased from us, clearly agitated.)

Me: “Yes, sir, how can we help you?”

Customer: *mumble* “Warranty work…” *mumbles* “…shoddy workmanship…”

(He kind of mumbles this under his breath as he keeps striding up to the service area, and then actually pushes the bike into me, physically. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s pretty aggressive.)

Me: “I’m sorry; you’re having an issue with the bike? What’s going on?”

Customer: *grunts and points toward the rear wheel*

(I kneel down and notice that both the brake arm and the housing for the three-speed hub are disconnected, meaning the bike cannot shift or brake. These are the two things you would need to unfasten to remove the rear wheel, by the way.)

Customer: *scowling and standing over me as I kneel* “You ever hear of Loctite?”

Me: “Yes, sir, I have heard of Loctite.”

Customer: “Well, maybe you should USE some.”

Me: *incredulous* “Sir, I’ve been doing this for 10 years. This is my job. The brake arm already uses a nylock nut. Anyway, it looks like the shift pin’s fallen out, too. Let me see if I have a spare.”

(This gives me a chance to go in the back and look for the part, and for him to get out of my face and cool down. Since I was 99% sure this was a case of him (or someone else) removing the rear wheel and then being unable to reinstall it, I thought I’d offer him some tips.)

Me: *wheeling the bike out of the service area* “Well, I got it all hooked back up. Thank goodness I did have one of those pins.”

Customer: *silent, pensive, already looking a bit sheepish*

Me: “It’s the darndest thing, really, for both that housing bolt and the brake arm to have loosened up at the same time, but they’re both up to proper torque now. I can’t imagine that happening again. If for some crazy reason that housing does loosen up, or if you’re removing the wheel, take care not to lose or bend that shift pin though. Anyway, I’m sorry you had to deal with this, but of course that’s why we offer a warranty on all new bikes for the first year. If there’s anything else you need or if something goes out of adjustment, don’t hesitate to bring it back.”

Customer: *mumbled thanks*

Me: *cheerily* “…and have fun out there!

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Not A Very Bikeable Person

| Right | October 6, 2016

(My boss, the owner of the shop, has been working with a customer who has visited a few times now. Each time, just before he makes his purchase, he calls a friend who contradicts — incorrectly — everything my boss has said. On this visit, the same is about to happen, and my boss has had it, so he asks to speak to the friend.)

Boss: “Hey there, I’m the owner of the shop and I’ve been helping your friend here for a while. Before he talks to you, I was hoping to ask you a couple questions. What is it that you do for a living?”

Friend: “Well, I’m a financial advisor. I help people with their investments, stocks and the like.”

Boss: “Cool! I actually do a little of that for myself, too! How about next time you’re advising a client, I swing by and let them know what I think?”

Friend: “Absolutely not! Don’t be ridiculous. This is my livelihood, my career. I’m the one with the experience and knowledge about this stuff. You own a bike shop!”

Boss: “Well, when you put it like that, it makes sense. Can I go back to selling your friend a bike now, without your interference?”

Friend: “…”

Boss: “Great, thanks!” *hangs up*

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A Little Extra Goes A Long Way

| Right | February 12, 2015

(Customers are often upset by the turnaround time we quote — up to two weeks during the busiest season. They almost always point out how easy or quick their repair should be. As we are standing within the repair area, it is easy enough to point at all the bikes all over and explain that all these people were here first. On occasion, a customer would drop this one on me:)

Customer: “Well, how about I pay you extra, and you skip me ahead of all those people to the front of the line and you do my repair right now?”

Me: “That sounds great, but first let me call all the people ahead of them and ask if they’d like to pay extra to keep their place in line…”

Customer: “ALL RIGHT, fine.”

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Perhaps They Can Offer A Rain Check

| Working | March 17, 2014

Me: “Hi, I’d like to return this raincoat.”

Clerk: “We don’t do returns unless the item is defective.”

Me: “It’s definitely defective. The first time I wore it, when I tried to take it off the entire zipper ripped off.”

(The clerk examines the raincoat.)

Clerk: “Yeah, but it’s all dirty. We can only give refunds if you were using the item as it was intended.”

Me: “I was using it exactly as intended, and the zipper still ripped off.”

Clerk: “I don’t think so. It looks like you’re pretty hard on your gear. I could call my manager out here, but I can tell you right now that he’ll just agree with me. I mean, if it still looked new, then maybe, but how did you get this raincoat so dirty?”

Me: “Well… I wore it in a rainstorm.”

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The Argument Has Gone Flat

| Working | February 6, 2014

(A bike tire has two parts, an inflated tube inside a rubber tire. The tube inside my bike tire goes flat, as do the next two tubes I inflate in there. My tire is new, so I assume there must be something sharp sticking out of it. I bring it to the bike shop where I bought it.)

Me: “Excuse me. I bought this tire here, but all of the tubes I’ve used have gone flat. I’d like to exchange it for a different one.”

Employee: “Let me look at it.”

(The employee pulls the tube out and re-inflates it to examine the hole closely.)

Employee: “See? Here’s your problem. This is a pinch-flat. You pinched the tube when you put it inside the tire.”

(I know about pinch-flats, and I’m always very careful to avoid them. I haven’t had one in years, and it seems unlikely that I pinched three tubes in a row.)

Me: “I don’t think it’s a pinch-flat.”

Employee: *very condescending* “Yes, of course it is. See? See the way the holes are? That means that when you were putting the tube back in the tire, you got some of it PINCHED. That’s why it’s called a PINCH-FLAT. The tire itself is fine.”

Me: “Oh. Well, I don’t think that’s very likely, but I guess it’s possible.”

Employee: “Yeah. The tire is fine. Here, I’ll change your tire for you, and I’ll make sure—see what I’m doing?—that I don’t pinch it by mistake.”

Me: “Yes. Fine. I get it.”

(The employee puts the new tube in the tire and inflates it. He holds it up for me at the counter.)

Employee: “See? Nothing pinched, and it holds fine. You just need to learn to—”

(The tube inside the tire suddenly explodes in his hand, scaring half the shop. There is a moment of silence.)

Employee: “…all right. You can have a new tire.”

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