Monday, February 16, 2009

Three Weeks

OK, it seems that last time I might have mentioned that I got a new bicycle in 2008. That was a true and factual statement. I really like the bike, but some of the joy of a new bike was ... well ... hmm. How to explain.

To say that the whole buying experience was a disappointment would be a gross understatement. With that preface, I now present the story of what I call my 'three week bike', a true tale of consumer woe.

I have long wanted a travel bike. That is to say, I wanted a bike that I could easily break down and pack into a reasonably-sized case and take on an airplane to some far-off destination that might promise some pleasant riding. Now, I didn't really want to increase the size of the stable here at Casa de Big Guy, so I had to choose which bike to replace. My cyclocross bike didn't see a whole lot of use outside of 'cross season (and not much then, truth be told), so I ultimately decided that I could replace it with a bike that could serve a touring purpose yet still be called upon in a rare 'cross emergency (yeah, I can't really think of one either, but that isn't the point). So the LeMond Poprad would go to make room for the new bike.

The big decision then was what to get as that new bike. I thought about an Independent Fabrication or a Seven (steel frame), but the price tag on either was a bit high (and this was before the major financial meltdown). I eventually settled on a bike that had a good reputation among several people I know, and that was a ... hmm. Maybe I'd prefer not to say exactly what bike I went with for various reasons. Maybe I'll leave a hint or two as I go along.

So, around about July 21st (remember that date, it's important later), Steve down at my friendly LBS place an order for my new bike that comes apart like a field in that old movie about a stone cutter's son who wanted to race against the Italians .. or something. Was that a hint? I can't tell.

After Steve called in the order he called me to let me know that since they were changing over frame colors, there would be a three week delay. OK, I guess I can wait that long. I'd like it sooner, but OK.

Three weeks passed.

I called Steve to ask if he'd heard anything (this was actually about a month after the order was placed). He called them and called me back. There was some unspecified problem with the paint on the frames. It was going to be another three weeks.

Three weeks passed.

I called Steve. He called the company that reminds me of that Cunningham kid on Happy Days. (Another hint? I dunno.) More problems with the factory in ... I forget .. somewhere in Asia. It would be another three weeks.

Three weeks passed.

I called Steve. I discussed with him some of the names I was thinking of calling those guys (the names got worse as time went on). He called them. Some issue or another. Another three weeks.
By this time I was thinking I'd made a real mistake not sucking it up and buying the Independent, but by then it was October and the financial turmoil was in full boil.

Three weeks passed.

November came and my cycling really took a back seat once it started getting cold and dark before I got home from work. Still, hope (no matter how foolish) springs eternal. I called Steve. Steve called them. Steve called me back. Yet another inexplicable excuse. Yet another _____ weeks (I thought it might be fun to let you, the reader, fill in the blank).

Around Thanksgiving they said things were really happening with the bike/paint/asian factory/whatever. But not for another two (TWO!!!) weeks.

So of course it took three more weeks before my new bike finally arrived at my LBS during the week of December 8th. I had most of the components switched over from the Lemond and went on vacation ... without my bike. I didn't think Jamaica was the best spot for a maiden voyage, and besides, the bike build-up wasn't quite ready before we left anyway. So my first real ride (other than around the parking lot or up and down my street) came on Christmas Day when I joined John B. and several others for the traditional downtown parking garage races. My second ride was on New Year's Day in the same parking garages.

Now, you might think (I certainly did) that a company who promises a bike in three weeks and actually delivers it in about five months - for WHATEVER reason - might want to do something for the customer who stuck with their order. I'm not talking about a free fork or anything (though this company makes them). I'm not even expecting a free logo jersey or anything. But maybe a card with a "Sorry it took so long" or a "Thanks for waiting, we appreciate your business" or SOMETHING. Nope. Just a bill for the bike.

So now, everytime I look at my new bike, instead of getting excited about going for a ride, I think about just how long three weeks can sometimes turn out to be and how exceedingly poor the vendor's customer service is, at least in my experience. The 'new bike' thrill was gone before I even got it. Think I'll ever buy anything of theirs again? Nope. Think I'll ever recommend anything of theirs? Nope. Think I'll tell this tale in greater detail than this if anyone ever asks me about their products? Oh, yeah. And I will be entirely honest - brutally honest in fact.

Oh, and if you're wondering when I'll post again, three weeks.

No comments: