Monday, 7 May 2012

Customer Service and buying online.

As I have hinted here I am building a new bike (a later post on that and what I learnt will be coming) overall I have greatly enjoyed the process and learnt a lot but on one occasion the "buying on-line" experience left me more than a little frustrated. So sit down, grab a brew and let me tell you a story (and a warning) - I am not sure why I am writing this post - anger, a bit of bad publicity for the offending party or just to get the last two miserable weeks of my chest.

I have been building a new road bike myself from scratch - Wednesday two weeks ago, I had everything in place (De Rosa frame, wheels cockpit etc.) I just needed to order in the groupset. I decided on the Sram Force groupset with a Sram Red BB30 chain-set. I dutifully checked out prices and found Shiny Bikes was offering a good deal and fast delivery (next day) - I wanted to build my bike that weekend and was a very excited and happy chappy that all my plans were now coming together. Sadly the delivery didn’t come that weekend – I was mellow about it but disappointed – I figured it was the usual Parcelforce laziness (so much for the next day delivery, I had expected Thursday for the delivery or Friday at a push)!

By Wednesday the following week I was more than a little annoyed that the delivery had not come – so I rang Shiny Bikes – apparently they had packed my original order wrong but had forgotten to repack it. My call helped remind them they don’t only have to take my money, they also have to deliver the goods (Problem 1). So I called them the next day to confirm they had dispatched my order as I no longer trusted them to keep their word. "Yes" they confirmed and it would be with me for Friday – yippee. I took Friday off work so I could take the delivery and build the bike overnight and get the Bottom Bracket fitted at my LBS (the bottom bracket is one area I am not going to pay for the tools for).

By 6pm Friday I was sweating – still no groupset! So I called Parcelforce – apparently they had a 4 hour power-cut in their Coventry office so were unable to deliver that day - go figure? (Problem 2 – it was a Parcelforce error, but hey Shiny Bikes use them – it wasn’t my choice). So there then followed a 2nd weekend with no new bike – and my chance to get it to the LBS to get the bottom bracket fitted.

As I was absolutely guaranteed delivery for Monday – I took Monday off work, again, so I could build the bike and get it to the LBS for the bottom bracket – things were desperate now as I had a bike fitting arranged for Tuesday. Sadly the delivery didn’t arrive till 6:15 pm so the LBS was closed and I was going to miss my fitting (Problem 3). I had to cancel the bike fitting (luckily for me the place doing the fitting were understanding and didn’t charge me a fee (thanks guys).

Anyway I thought – at least the groupset has now arrived so I can build the bike and maybe persuade my wife to take it to the LBS the following day. I stopped eating my dinner when the delivery arrived and flung open the box – showing everyone in my family my new toys – sadly one of the toys was missing! Shiny Bikes warehouse had once again come to the fore and forgotten to deliver the bottom bracket (Problem 4). Well I reasoned at least I can build up the bike to a reasonable degree and then get the bottom bracket fitted a couple of days later when they actually deliver it. But Shiny Bikes hadn’t finished yet with their ruining of my day – whilst checking through the order I also discovered they had sent me the wrong cassette an 11-25 instead of an 11-28. (Problem 5).

So I called them back this morning – “so sorry” they say, we will fix it all. A little later I get another call – "sorry we have run out of Bottom Brackets and it will take a week to 2 weeks to restock" (Problem 6). I have seen how fast their next day delivery is – if they think something is going to take two weeks I will probably be drawing my pension before it arrives! Then just to cap it off they have also run out of the cassettes (Problem 7) – this they say they can get in the next day and will post ASAP – I wait with baited breath - NOT! It is incredible that they can allow themselves to run out of stock in the first place but then to sell what they don’t have in stock to a poor punter like me (who pays immediately) is disgraceful.

Just so you know I went to “HighonBikes” and got a replacement bottom bracket and cassette – I have ordered about 15 things from them and they really do deliver the next day (and it is free). I have a feeling Shiny Bikes needs a new warehouse manager – maybe someone who can read and count?

I have bought hundreds of items on the internet, never before have I know such a catalogue of errors, if it wasn’t so important to me I would have laughed. Anyway so many errors, I figured they would at least make it up to me with a discount – they did offer me a discount – yeay! 1.3% - Booo! Basically I got the cost of shipping back (which I am sure they are getting back themselves anyway) I have had bigger total discounts in a sweet shop.

I am not one of those angry people but in all honestly I feel like I have been treated like dirt, it has really made the whole new bike thing change from an exciting experience to total misery and a lot of additional cost. A cost that is worth it for something like a new bike, but not just to sit at the door waiting for the postman. I have always received excellent service from a myriad of bike sellers. I feel fellow cyclists look out for one and other – Shiny Bikes may be a symptom of the growing popularity of cycling – we now have our first person who acts like a second hand car salesman – all in all very depressing. Maybe you have had a good experience with them – I for one will not bother shopping there again, no company that makes that many errors on one order can be considered a sensible seller! I am going to need to get on my new bike just to dissolve the unhappy memories of what they put me through.

As an example of customer services, I ordered some shoes from Evans Cycle store - when they arrived they were the wrong colour - to cut a long story short it turned out they had the wrong colour information on their website. In order that I was recompensed for their error, they replaced my shoes with the next model up (extra £50 for no extra cost). We all make errors, but only real seller admit their fault and take corrective action. As buyers we should demand that level of service or take out custom elsewhere.

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