How to: Be a bad bike shop customer - Part 2

How to: Be a bad bike shop customer – Part 2

Well, the last installment went over quite well, so perhaps it’s time to serve the second course. The first part clearly included all the big ones – the ones that spring to mind first, which are of course going to be the most annoying and soul-crushing to deal with. This time we will stick to the same format, with each example to be strictly avoided if you aspire to be a good customer, strictly adhered to if you wish to make the shops list of those customers, and deserving of commiseration if you are having to deal with it.

At any rate, without further ado, I give you:

How to: Be a bad bike shop customer – Part 2

1. Firstly, I have to tell you that not only is this absolutely true, but it happens all the time. Seriously.

So this one starts off sounding like one from the last list, but it’s got a second part to it. Walk into the shop, and after being greeted and asked if you would like any assistance, immediately dismiss the person addressing you with some variation of, “Nah mate, I’m just looking”, or even just a blunt, “nah”, but then without even taking a breath, follow that up with a statement that turns into a question.

I find this particularly baffling.

Is there such an incredibly strong need be dismissive that you have to preface your question with a defensive maneuver? Is this because you believe that by doing this that you are positioning yourself as being the one in control? Is this the conversational version of the tough-guy my-hand-is-on-top domination handshake? How is “No” the unthinking, automatic response of so many people when the answer is obviously “Yes”?

You clearly have a question to ask, and I know this because you immediately asked me a question. Try this instead: ask the question. We’re even helping you navigate this minefield of confusion by asking you if you have anything you would like to be helped with. Telling us that you don’t tends to indicate that you desire nothing from us, up to and including the answer to your questions. This is stupid enough that it should come under, “how to: generally be a frustrating and silly person”, but as it stands, I have yet to encounter this outside of the shop.

2. Ask, “how heavy is this?”, while lifting the front of a bike off the ground a couple of times by the handlebars from an awkward, arms-length position, leaving the rest of the bike firmly in contact with the ground. If you believe that you will get an accurate indication of the weight of something by lifting part of it up (the lightest part) and leaving the rest of it (the heaviest part) on the ground, then clearly your lack of understanding of both bicycles and basic physics indicate that you have absolutely no need, nor an accurate reference point, nor the mental capacity for any understanding of the answer. Furthermore, I understand that the media has brainwashed you into thinking that weight is far and away the most important thing to be considered (indeed, the only thing it would seem), but I’m sorry to tell you that it… ehhh, you’re not listening anyway…

3. Ask the person who is working in the shop, “Is this/are these X, that you are selling in the shop, any good?” with a tone and look on your face that gives the sales staff the impression that really, you know quite a bit about bike-stuff, so don’t just give me that sales-talk. The towering heights of stupidity here need no further explanation. As much as I want to…

4. Ask a question, then argue any answer that doesn’t conform to your pre-conceived and ill-informed “knowledge”. Hot tip: if you already know the answer, then don’t ask the question. Hotter tip: if you ever want to be smarter, start by realizing that you might just in fact be wrong – about everything.

The most frustrating thing about these people is that on top of not listening to you, they usually leave with the impression that because you haven’t affirmed their opinion, that you, and the shop you work at, are a bit useless.

5. If the person working in the shop tells you that they don’t have something in stock, go ahead and ask them two, or maybe three more times if it is. It is a little known fact that by repeating the question often enough, products can sometimes materialize out of nowhere, in the exact size and colour that you require.

6. Knowing when the shop opens, or if not known previously but seeing it clearly posted in the front door or window, queue up beforehand (which is fine), and when staff are trying to put out bikes or stands or whatever it is that they need to put out before opening, go ahead and squeeze by them into the shop before it is actually open. Don’t be shy – I literally mean squeeze by them through the doorway. It’s the absolute best way to start the day!

7. Knowing when the shop closes (30 seconds from now), causally stroll in and give it the old, “nah mate, just having a look around”, and then casually ask any of the above questions. Maybe even start lifting the front wheels off the ground. This process works just as well for the pre-opening barge-in.

8. Finding that the shop is actually now shut, go ahead and come around back where you have spotted that the back door to the workshop is open. When you pop through the back door into the workshop, be sure to ask, “are you guys closed?”, because the locked front door with the easy to read “closed” sign at eye-level (that you actually had to look around in order to see into the shop) and the lack of any lights on in the shop are understandably a bit ambiguous. When told, “yes we are”, ignore that and continue to ask detailed questions about time-trial bars while continuing to wander into the shop, and then get all aggressive and smarmy when pants are not firmly around ankles, and ask, “do you want to make the sale???”. Hot tip: the answer is no, not to you, friend-o, if this is what we have to look forward to for any future interaction.

9. Not only should you start asking about the lightest bikes or components when you are 10-25kg’s overweight (which is totally fine, it’s your money), but you should actually frame your query as, “I need the lightest bike or components because I am at the peak of my fitness and can make no further gains, and therefore I need lighter wheels to make me faster”. Pardon me, I mistakenly thought it was the whole being overweight and unfit part, but I guess you might be right.

10. Ask the shop if they can do a repair job on the spot, and when they tell you that they can’t, or maybe even before that, inform them that it will only take them two minutes and that it is really quite easy. They love this. Act like you are doing them the favour. Ignore the glaring irony in your admission that it is both a quick and an easy task, and that you should therefore have done it yourself. If you do manage to pester them into doing it, hang around like a bad smell. Hover, if possible. The only thing a mechanic loves more than being told what you have asked them to do is easy (even if it is), is being watched and pressured to do it under the critical gaze of the expert customer. Be sure to make a comment or at least pull a face when they charge you a fair rate for accommodating you.

There you go. I’m not sure if I’ve got another 10 of these in me. If I do, I think they’ll end up getting more obscure and even more petty. Hmmm… perhaps we’ll just leave it here, then…


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