Monday, October 6, 2008

The customer is always...Stupid?

That can't be right. 99% of customers are fine people. Some of them(7.3%) are even friends. However...
{{If you are the kind of person that believes the customer is always right and you also have no sense of humor(You look around when others laugh at Monty Python sketches) then you might want to change the channel, flip the page, hit the back button(To the Family Circus archive, no doubt) This is for everyone else

I had something all planned for this column, but then she walked in.
It was(key on WAS) a pretty Monday. Two employees short, busy as hell, but we were handling the situation.
She walked in, and grabbed the guy that just spent seven months being treated for leukemia, to help her get the bikes out of the SUV. I diverted her to another employee that has not spent the last half year bedridden.
He went out and got one of her two bikes, telling her to wait and he would get the other one. She failed to wait and cut her leg with the kickstand(Still extended for some reason? Must be handy when the bike is laying on its side in the back seat)while getting the second bike out. This was our fault, you see the obvious logic. We brought out bandaids and paper towels to no effect.

And the bikes were two.
The first bike, a Mongoose BMX bike. Rear wheel off, brake pads missing, bits askew.
The second bike, a Trek 4500, two flats, cables frayed, neglected.
She wanted tuneups. and I was letting another guy handle it. UNTIL, I heard her ask what she could sell them for. I had to jump in.
The mechanics worship of the almighty dollar, so often reported as the reason for our various scams and schemes, on the poor, easily swindled customer. Well that driving need was overcome. Overcome by what you ask? Overcome by the need to help a customer not screw themselves.

A TIP: Do not spend any money on the shitty old bike you found in the garage before you try to sell it on CraigsList. You will not earn this money back. You are wasting your money. Your plan will fail. You will blame the guy you paid to fix the bike. AND, it will NOT be his fault. Finger pointing, four fingers pointing back and all that.

So here we are at the jumping in point. I thought I was helping her out. Seems I was wrong.
She wanted to know what the bike was worth. She had bought it from us(Actually no. We have not sold Trek in 21 years) and we had told her earlier via phone that we did used bike values(This was a surprise to me and I have been here fifteen years)
We explained to her how to figure value by looking a past Ebay sales and looking on CL for similar bikes. This was inadequate.
So, trying to be helpful, I looked the Trek 4500 over and gave her my honest opinion(Based on selling used bikes via CL for several years) that the bike was worth about $150, maybe. I told her this was a good start point and gave her room to negotiate down(It later turned out she believed this bike to have been purchased for $699. Retail $$ are irrelevant in the used bike world, but not in the "crazy lady" world. Also, $280 new.). I also told her this was assuming the tires held air and that everything worked as it was supposed to. Then I asked, "Do the tires hold air" She replied, "No" I told her what we would charge to remedy this situation and that it would be better to try and sell the bike with flat tires because she WOULD NOT GET HER REPAIR INVESTMENT BACK.
That's right, I was turning down a repair, cash money, in what is usually the third slowest month of the year because it was in the customers best interest to do so. I could have, easy, lied about what the bike was worth and charged this woman(apologies to all other women) over $100(it needed more than tubes) for repairs she would never see a return on.
I tried to point out all the items that needed attention on the BMX bike. This was the bike that had to carried IN PIECES to the store.
My reward? A bitching out by proxy. Yes, she took it out on the guy that helped her bring the bikes back out to her car and load them. Read it again, after telling this woman, straight up, that she would be making a bad investment and helping her put everything back in her car. The best she could do was bitch out the person helping her. He is a counselor in the real world and tried to get her to talk about it. She refused, her foolish rage was not to be sated by cool logic. And off she went, no doubt to talk trash about the shop that refused to "help her"

I have spent the last twenty minutes massaging cut white onion in to my eyes trying to bring up a tear for this woman. NADA.

I decided to bring up a picture of the bike(she said she already had it listed on CL, and yes this is the actual bike. What you bet there is less than an inch of seatpost in that frame?)
Here she be:

You can't see it but there is a pump just out of shot, otherwise those puppies would be pancake flat. I considered posting a direct link to the ad. But I am not that big a dick, as I know the evils of the interweb.

There was a little satisfaction from this. When I looked this ad up, right after she left, the bike was priced at $250. When I just searched it again, to put up the picture, the bike was listed at $125. Looks like she must have talked to another bike shop out just to ruin her day and make no money.

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