From the Bike Shop: How to Deal with Bike Shop Employees

Hello, Mark V here. After great internal struggle with my conscience, I decided to reveal the secrets of the retail bike shop so that potential customers would be armed to get the most out of their retail experience.

First off, always ask for a better deal. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $8,000 Colnago or a $5 inner tube. Just like a Turkish rug dealer, bike shop employees love to be haggled with over every little dollar. Ignore the price tags, and then ask to talk to a manager or owner if the sales floor fodder/college student at the register can’t accommodate your frugality. And contrary to other businesses, the more expensive items have larger margins. That $8,000 Colnago doesn’t cost the shop more than maybe 120 bucks at most; we’d love to sell it to for half off if only you’d ask. And as for service, our mechanics work for free and everyone knows that tools grow on trees and last forever. You are literally keeping homeless people off the streets every time you have a bike shop fix a flat tire. Why should you have to pay extra when you are providing such a charity to society?

Second, get better service by telling shop employees how to do their job. This works especially well with the more experienced staff, since over-exposure to butyl rubber fumes leads to dementia. If you built one wheel ten years ago, your ten years of experience gives you instant credibility. All you need to do is step up and say,”Get me my spokes, shop monkey!” Brush off the shop staff’s questions about the details of your project, it’s simply an expression of jealousy that you know more than them and not an attempt to provide you with exactly the right product (after all, we wouldn’t know what that was anyways, you’re the expert!).

clueless in seattle

If you’re busy send a non-cycling friend/loved one in to buy the items for your nebulous project. It’s like a game of “telephone”! We love games since it breaks up the monotony of getting shit done. If you’re an absolute expert, your mum surely knows more than us too!

Ignore building a relationship, call every shop in town. Since most shop employees and owners have difficulty recognizing faces as well as the names on credit cards that have made the till ring in the past, you’ll get the best results by cold calling on the phone and asking for instant service. Then, just to show them that you’re serious, lowball them on the price of parts and service. Nothing is more tedious for shop employees than dealing with the customers who pay for service while trusting our recommendations and who know us on a first name basis. We especially hate people who buy us coffee occasionally. We would love to push those people to the side to install those parts that you got from online the day before your big event ride.

Use rhetoric properly. Don’t ask silly questions like ,”Can I get similar performance/value from a SRAM chain as I would from the Shimano chain that came stock with my bike?”….you should grab the bull by the horns and ask in a accusatory tone,”How come these bike parts cost so much?” At the bike shop academy, everyone is indoctrinated in the philosophy of retail merchandising and the details of macroeconomics. We would much rather debate those issues than sell and install those parts on your goddamn bike.

This has been a public service message.

Oh, I apologize if I bruised your ego because you’re a “former bike mechanic”. Since the mere act of touching a wrench is a mystical experience that grants a person superhuman abilities that can only be expressed once you no longer work in a bike shop, I overstepped my bounds by asking for clarification of your request. You’re a woman, so obviously my error was based on sexism. After all, since I’ve seen more than 4 out of 5 male “mechanics” with seemingly impressive printed resumes be fired because of inepititude, I only try to be sure of special orders with people who cold call because I’m a jackass, and not because I’ve had to eat the cost of returned custom-cut spokes on multiple occasions. Just curious, if your former shop is so awesome, is there a reason why you don’t go there? I would presume that they’d know you were a badass ninja mechanic, whereas I couldn’t recognize you from a ham sandwich because 1) you’ve never worked at my shop 2) I’ve never seen you before 3) you didn’t give me the super-secret mechanic’s handshake. And everyone knows that women were given knowledge of the handshake after the the 2003 National Caucus… I voted in favour at the time.

Poor Inventory Control

O sir! I applaud your initiative at assembling your newly purchased (Windsor, Mercian, Motobecane, etc) online bike, but the shop actually expects to receive compensation for my efforts to prevent you from killing yourself. I kinda was under the assumption that you recognized the gap between what you could do at home with a Leatherman ™ tool and the services a bike shop provides.

That’s right, Mr Red-White-n-Blue, all of the bikes I sell for less than $1000 were made in Asia. How very clever of you to point out the scam

I’m sorry, Mr Deep South, that your 20yr old shifter failed and that I cannot find a replacement for the $15 that you value it at. Let me just call the distributor and dictate how much they will sell sell the 3-level higher replacement (the only option that exists) to me. They love that…and I love telling them that.

Oh, Mister So&so, you’ve ridden a bicycle in Europe and you know how things should work. Thanks for explaining how you’re better than me! I admire you since I’m a country bumpkin (thanks for checking if your foreign travels rank more than mine). Let me get right on that. Next time you come in I’ll serve you a croissant and espresso, and use French grease on the your $500 Chinese-sourced bike. It’s the same thing you rode in Deutscheland, except it didn’t cost 400 Euros at Kaufhaus. Jah, vielen Danke, Douchebag.