Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Adventures in Bike Buying

I got a bike. Finally.

The bike I brought back to NY with me from Out-of-Town was left out in the back yard once too often and some of the cables had rusted. When I brought it in for its annual tuneup, the Local Bike Guy wanted $200 to restore it to working condition. Considering the entire bike had cost me about $300, I declined. It's a 10 year old bike anyway, and I really wanted to get a mountain bike for the summer.

So I shopped around, talked to some bikerholic friends, who recommended I get a name brand bike from a ginormous chain store. So believe it or not, I ordered a Ross mountain bike from WalMart. I ordered it online in order to get all my usual online discounts (Ebates, credit card points, etc.) but to save on delivery, I ordered it "Site-to-store," which meant that they would deliver it to the nearest WalMart store, and I would pick it up, saving delivery charges. They also included free assembly. Though I am extraordinarily technical, I cannot for the life of me assemble things. What would take a normal person a half hour takes me days to do. I once spent a week putting together a Home Decorators china cabinet. It's gorgeous, but the doors still don't close properly. Sorry, feminists, but putting stuff together is man's work. Pass the nail polish.

So WalMart promises me a ten-day delivery, but it takes more like 3 weeks. I actually love biking and do a ton of it in the summertime, so I was getting antsy. Finally, I get the email: my bike has arrived.

I drive the five miles down to WalMart and wait on line forever in the Site-to-Store line. Finally, it's my turn and I hand over my email receipt. It literally takes them a half hour to find my bike. And it's in the carton. Unassembled. Oh no. No no no.

I ask to speak to a manager. Twenty minutes later, semi-literate Manager Rob shows up and says that it's their busy season and they don't assemble bike purchased over the internet. Oh yes you do, says I. Your website says you do, busy season or not. So finally, they agree to put it together and would I please come back in two days to pick it up. I asked to meet the bike assembler who would be putting it together, and made a note of his name, Jamal, so that I could quietly tip him when I picked up the bike.

I come back two days later. Wait a half-hour in the Site-to-Store line. Ask to speak to Jamal. Jamal? Jamal is not in today. Uh oh.

I speak to another manager, Ramulah, who assures me that if I would give him just a minute, he would locate my bike for me.

Ramulah brings out a shiny pink 12-speed bike with a frou-frou basket on the handlebars. Uh, no, that is not my bike. On many, many levels.

Forty-five, yes forty-five long minutes later, they determine that what probably happened was that Jamal assembled my bike, and then forgot to tag it as sold, and they probably moved it to the aisles and sold it. They sold my bike. They sold my freakin bike. I started to get angry. Well, said I, get me another bike that's just like it. They didn't have another bike just like it. This was before July 4th weekend, mind you, and I had planned to spend the entire day Sunday biking with some friends.


Another manager emerged, John. He apologized profusely, took my number and promised to call me no later than Sunday morning of July 4th weekend, with a bike for me.

He never called, of course. No matter, it was rainy Sunday anyway. But I wanted my !@#$%^ bike.

Yesterday, I called WalMart. Got connected to Manager Michael. Poor Manager Michael. I spewed a lot of angry venom at Manager Michael. He called me back a few minutes later, told me that they had located the same bike I ordered in another WalMart, fifty miles away. I told him that was nice, was Walmart paying for my gas and time to drive out there? He said that they were sending it over to their store, would assemble it and I could pick it up in the morning.

Which I did this morning. It's beautiful. It rides as smooth as single malt whiskey.

And when I picked it up (after a 30-second wait at customer service, instead of Site-to-Store), they was an apology attached to the handlebars, on the cardboard insert of a $50 WalMart gift card.

Now, see, that's customer service.


Jacob Da Jew said...

"Sorry, feminists, but putting stuff together is man's work. Pass the nail polish."

Da Wife assembles everything in the house. Seriously, I just can't put together stuff.

Also, not to rain on your parade but it would have been much easier to buy from a local bike store.

My local shop, Roy's, hooks me up with a year of free maintainece and other goodies.

He also delivered the bike to my house free of charge and fitted it on the spot.

Now thats service.

WebGirl said...

JDJ, I'm assuming you're an FFB? FFB guys can't put stuff together either. :)

Obviously I'm being very tongue-in-cheek...some women are good at assembling stuff. I'm pathetic at it and choose to play the wilting female card to cover up my ineptitude.

I went to four local bike shops and found highly, highly inflated prices, poor selection in mountain bikes and frankly, they make the bulk of their income off of servicing their bikes and nickel-and-diming me on accessories, so you are very lucky to have such a great bike shop nearby.