Tuesday, February 15, 2011

[expletive deleted] online bike shops

A customer comes in and inquires about a big-ticket item. Our retail on said item is $495. We charge $75.00 labor to assemble and set up said item. Customer informs us that [insert name of online bike warehouse] is selling the same item for $439, and he plans to build it up himself anyway. He wants us to price-match. I gently tell the customer that the warehouse shop can order 50 to 70 units at a time, which is why they can sell the item for so much less. We are unable to price-match, but I point out that the customer will probably pay the difference in shipping and handling anyway, meaning he would not save any money.

Customer tells me the online dealer is offering free shipping with a minimum dollar purchase for the next couple of weeks. I smile and shrug my shoulders; what else can I say to him? It feels like he's baiting me, and I don't really feel like dealing with his line of reasoning just now. I am polite and kind but I cannot give him what he wants. He leaves. He will probably keep looking until he finds a shop who can give him the best price AND is willing to throw in some free or cheaper labor.

It's a cutthroat business these days.


Jason T. Nunemaker said...

I hate to say it (and you shouldn't say it about a customer), but shouldn't that be "[expletive deleted] rude customers" instead? The online shops are just doing what the online shops do -- sell just the stuff at the lowest price they possibly can, provide zero support, and let the customer fend for him/herself. The jerk who thinks he can get prime rib at McDonalds prices is the REAL problem here.

Wow, dander up tonight! :-)

Jason "Can You Tell I Dealt With These Types In My Shop Days?" Nunemaker, in Des Moines, IA

bikelovejones said...

The customer was perfectly cheerful and polite. It's educating the ten million or so customers OUT of the sense of entitlement that a global economy has spoiled them into that is so hard. There are multiple guilty parties in this equation.

Tim said...

I'll chime in here...

I was recently asked by a potential customer if I could match what an online source (which is also a brick and mortar shop in another city) was charging for a bike we carry... with the catch that he wanted a final price AFTER sales tax equal to what he would pay online, without sales tax. So basically I was asked to knock 5% right off the top, plus chip a bit more off, since the other source does higher volume and can thus charge a little less per bike. I too, tried the "you won't have to pay shipping" card, only to be told the other shop was offering, you guessed it, free shipping for a limited time.

Basically the best you can do is try to point out the benefits of shopping locally, try to meet them partway on price if you can, and just grin and bear it if they go elsewhere. I kinda figure if they're most concerned about saving a few bucks (and in this case it was about $40 on a $1400 sale), I probably wouldn't enjoy dealing with them in the long run anyway. But that's small comfort.

On the other hand, the other shop is located in a city with an astonishingly high sales tax, so I suspect they lose local sales to other online sources as well.

bikelovejones said...

I can't wait till this customer gets hie item, builds it up, runs into a snag (pretty likely for this particular items, BTW) and comes back to our shop to ask for a little help. We'll charge him for our labor, of course.

Lee said...

Amazon pioneered the way with books and now there isn't anything that can't be purchased online. What used to be vibrant Main Streets are filling up with Dollar Stores and Thrift Shops.

I'm a former bookstore owner (on Main Street)who makes a point to support both locally owned bike shops. The loss of revenue to Amazon types instead of local and state economies has been devastating.

I'm sure you also get asked to donate to local charity raffles on an almost daily basis too.

This is about both the undermining of local economies through tax collecting loopholes and cheap ass consumers.

cyclofiend said...

Retail in the new millenium.
H'ain't limited to bike shops, either.
It's even worse these days, as CA state/local taxes add another 9.5% in our town. So, not only do we get the basic price match question, but now we're dealing with in-state online retailers who are "picking up the sales tax" on online orders. And not charging shipping. On items where we get significant lip service from the manufacturer about how we have to "maintain pricing" on their products. We had a staff meeting and decided that we'd split the difference without question.
Figured that since it was in stock, now, the customer would at least have to pay overnight shipping to get it there that quickly. Works some of the time, but it lets us have a plan.
As for labor...unless you have wrenches standing around (and probably not even then), never ever ever ever give away labor.
hang in there and good luck, beth!

Judi said...

you are so freakin' POLITE!

bikelovejones said...

UPDATE: Customer called back today to see if we were willing to re-negotiate on the price. We politely said no. Phone conversation ended, phone was hung up and we all just stared at each other in disbelief. Customer has now clearly outed himself as a total low-baller.

I feel like I need to take a shower or something.

EvoDavo said...

Saving money can really cost you. Sooner or later enlightened people generally realize that decisions on where they spend their money determines who and what they ultimately support. While everyone loves a deal, the benefits of supporting a local independent shop lasts much longer.

Having said that, there are a lot of idiots in ever village.