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For people who work in bike shops, what are some crazy/horror stories that you have?

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For people who work in bike shops, what are some crazy/horror stories that you have?

Old 01-01-22, 06:12 PM
  #1  
grant40
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For people who work in bike shops, what are some crazy/horror stories that you have?

I am asking this as a serious question about your craziest stories about bikes and customers that have come into your shop.
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Old 01-01-22, 06:49 PM
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Not the employee, but an old friend of mine owns a shop. One day a guy comes in trying to sell a Colnago C-40. Yadda Yadda Yadda…The bike belonged to the shop owner’s cousin and had been stolen some two years earlier. To avoid trouble, the shop owner paid the guy the relative pittance being asked.
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Old 01-01-22, 07:10 PM
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Slow day at the shop, see a guy park and bring a domesticated duck out of the car. He lifts it out and proceeds to shake the **** out of it. Wings flapping and feathers flying. He puts it back in the car and comes into the shop.

When asked why he did that, he matter of factly responded “for exercise of course”
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Old 01-01-22, 09:49 PM
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Check out @your_bike_probably_hates_you.
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Old 01-02-22, 07:46 AM
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Had the toilet explode one day. Turds were flying everywhere. Someone had to go in and plug the spray or the shop drowns in dooks. Boss goes in, does the job, comes out covered in filth. This was all told to me just as it finished as I was outside washing a bike, in the sunny summer day, chatting up a young pretty girl.
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Old 01-02-22, 09:57 AM
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Dog **** on tires.
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Old 01-02-22, 10:10 AM
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So many bad examples that I forget because the memory would be too painful. But here are some with a common theme:

Customer puts together a Hope cassette body wrong, toasts the pawl ring inside the hub. It's replaceable, but Hope won't sell the tool, so new wheel time. There was a similar story about a DT hub, but all those parts are $ replaceable.

Customer warranties a rim. Company would pay the shop to do the rebuild, but the customer wants to do it himself. Company gives them a couple of bottles of sealant instead of the wheel build. Customer messes up the build, rides it for long enough to trash everything, decides to pay shop to rebuild the wheel.
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Old 01-02-22, 10:16 AM
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We had a customer come in with a bike he just bought from Craigslist/FB Market or some such place. The bike was a suspension fork hybrid. Apparently the fork went bad at some point because it was replaced with a rigid. The problem was to "suspension correct" everything the seller cut a head tube from another bike & stuffed it in right between the fork crown & the customers new bike.
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Old 01-02-22, 10:24 AM
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I would say the craziest thing I can think of is in relation to one of the MTB customers we had at the shop I worked for a while.

The shop had just become an "elite" Specialized dealer right before I started with them. (that is a whole other horror story) The owner did it in response to a great deal of demand for high end Specialized bikes that would not be sold through a dealer without the "elite" status. We had this one guy, in his 50's and crazy as hell. He beat high end MTB like they were some WalMart bike and was particularly skilled at breaking them. I cannot recall the exact model of the bike, but the highest end bike sold around the 11-12 years, full suspension...I mean, this bike cost twice as much as many cars I had owned up to that point. He broke three of them right in a row. We had to have a Specialized rep come down and entered discussions with the guy. Turned into a real **** show.
To be fair, I think it ended up where he became something of a 'beta tester' for their bikes and they outfitted him with one that he happily rode for several more years within my knowledge.
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Old 01-02-22, 12:13 PM
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Numerous JRA stories, "just riding along and the derailleur ended up in the spokes! Wasn't even shifting. Defective, of course." Most common of them all.

A guy chased a guy and his kid into the shop yelling at them. Apparently the guy with the kid pulled an illegal left in front of the guy and he didn't appreciate it. Both were in automobiles, no bicycles involved. I told the yelling person to leave the store.

Had a guy come in preaching hail and brimstone at the top of his lungs. We are Christians, but not all our customers were. Had to kick him out of the shop.

Back in one of our old locations at 5am some nitwit backed his truck into the front of the building to steal bikes. He took what was closest to him, a 24" wheeled kids bike.. A week later he was caught fencing it. What a dope. He was deported.

How many odd stories should I post here???
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Old 01-02-22, 12:50 PM
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I have a few bike stories about wacky bikes that I have seen.

1. Vintage Specialized MTB that had been broken and welded back together in a couple of places and had a huge hole on one of the seatstays. This same bike had no top cone on the threaded headset, so it was just the top nut rubbing against an exposed bearing. The stem was also raised way above the minimum insertion limit.

2. 1980 Schwinn Voyageur that had a bunch of random parts thrown on it, half of them were decent early 1990s MTB parts and the other half were cheap early 1970s bike boom 10 speed parts. It had a singlespeed wheelset and there was a 5 speed freewheel on the freewheel side of the flip flop hub. The rear wheel was horribly out of dish and wheel nut on the right side had hardly any axle threads to grab onto.

3. A Walmart BMX bike with square tubing welded to the fork to extend it and make it into a chopper bike, a banana seat that was held on by bent re-bar, and there were a bunch of long nails welded all over the frame.
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Old 01-02-22, 01:29 PM
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Sort of a reverse horror story here.

A few years ago I bought a new Specialized Enduro mtb from a well established LBS. All great until I took it back there at the end of the season for a routine "Gold level" service. When I got it back, first thing I noticed was that the new dropper post cable was too short and the seat wouldn't latch in the upper position and wasn't long enough to adjust correctly. So after they fitted another new cable I took it out for a ride. After a couple of miles the drive side crank came loose and all the cable clamps on the downtube started falling off. While I was re-fitting the clamps I then noticed that the rear shock had been re-fitted upside down and the air valve was digging into my frame close to full travel. All said it was the biggest **** show I've ever seen from a bike service. Funnily enough I haven't bought anything from that LBS again.
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Old 01-02-22, 03:16 PM
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I was Trek's warranty inspector back in the mid-80s. Got a call from a customer who bought a bike for her son. He crashed it into the back of a parked car and wrecked the frame; she wanted it to be replaced for free. Umm, no. The warranty explicitly excludes crash damage. I offered her a discount on a replacement frame, the LBS would transfer the parts at whatever cost they deemed appropriate. She hung up. Next. Got a call from a guy threatening to sue Trek. He had been riding at night without a light and got hurt. He felt it was Trek's fault because lights were not included with the bike. Good luck finding a lawyer to handle that one. Never heard from him again.
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Old 01-03-22, 01:02 PM
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I had a guy who got a flat repair earlier in the day he had gotten a pinch flat no big deal. Then he comes back with another flat less happy this time but got his ride done (in a very bad area for flats lots of debris broken glass and the like), got that fixed (it was a piece of glass this time) and we started talking about the Lé Tour and had a great little conversation all are happy at this point we are laughing and the conversation was awesome. We get to the register and I am ringing him out and he presents me with a 5 dollar off coupon he had gotten earlier as our store had customer rewards, I tell him he cannot use that today and showed him the dates clearly marked on the receipt and he flips out and starts cursing and just going off like a demon possessed him and proceeded to act like a crazy man for the next 10 minutes over $5 which would have been useable the next day.

A more recent one was calling a customer who owed us money because the immature young people who were at that shop before I was back decided not to ring him out or leave any notes that they had issues or anything like we generally do. I started talking to him in a very nice reasonable tone saying "Hey I am from the bike shop we did some work on your bike several months ago and it looks like they forgot to capture payment on it" and of course the guy is like "I paid already, I am a long time customer..." So I said "Awesome can you please send me proof of payment just a picture of your bank statement or something as I have no records of payment here" then he starts getting real angry "I don't need to show you a bank statement it is not my fault that you didn't get my payment..." I said "Look I just need a picture of the charge from the shop, I don't need or want personal info, I apologize this wasn't resolved earlier I am just taking over down here and just trying to get any older tickets rang through" and he starts cursing and getting really nasty and refusing to show a statement and attacking me personally and just went off the rails and eventually hung up on me. At no point did I raise my voice at him or get nasty I was polite and nice at least close to the end towards the end I got a little angry but tried to keep my cool because the previous person I called was like "yeah happy to send the bank statement, I am out of town at the moment but I should be able to send it tomorrow morning"

We also had an incident last year when our doors were closed but we were still helping customers we had a line outside which was the norm and two random strangers who were at different places in the line and had not cut in line or anything just walked up stood in their place just started screaming at each other and were about ready for fisticuffs. I told them both "STOP FIGHTING" "but but but" "Do you even know each other?" "no" "ok then stop fighting" they proceeded to keep fighting so I kicked them both out "but but but" "No both of you must leave this is not the place or time, if you need a therapist hire one if you need to relieve stress you can do it elsewhere but I can't help you here you came up and started fighting with people you didn't even know and had no reason to fight with them"

Those are some of the more memorable ones that had more excitement to them, certainly have had the share of cracked bikes and random fecal matter and Tri bikes with plenty of pee (and one that had a bottom bracket that literally crumbled into dust because it was so corroded and neglected from piss and sweat) I have also seen plenty of death bikes and more stolen bikes than I care to see (granted most of these folks aren't the thieves some are but some just bought it off someone else who stole it)

But to counter all that I have had plenty of excellent experiences and some customers I have for life who followed me from shop to shop and customers that have tipped $100 bills and one guy that gave me one of his cheap bottles of wine ($250). Those really bad times can suck but they make memories and they make those good times even better.

I think the biggest take away for anyone going into a shop is these are human beings who work there and generally aren't making a ton of money but want to help you however they sometimes go through the same issues as you. Treat everyone with respect and be polite and willing to work with them so they can work with you.

Last edited by veganbikes; 01-04-22 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 01-03-22, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
I was Trek's warranty inspector back in the mid-80s. Got a call from a customer who bought a bike for her son. He crashed it into the back of a parked car and wrecked the frame; she wanted it to be replaced for free. Umm, no. The warranty explicitly excludes crash damage. I offered her a discount on a replacement frame, the LBS would transfer the parts at whatever cost they deemed appropriate. She hung up. Next. Got a call from a guy threatening to sue Trek. He had been riding at night without a light and got hurt. He felt it was Trek's fault because lights were not included with the bike. Good luck finding a lawyer to handle that one. Never heard from him again.

Funny enough, a very similar situation must have happened, or perhaps even this one. We were absolutely NOT allowed to remove reflectors from a new bike. We absolutely HAD to install them on any and every new bike that we built. It wasn't optional.
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Old 01-03-22, 05:15 PM
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I had been to the shop on my day off and was walking away on the sidewalk, facing oncoming traffic, and I see an approaching car with flames coming out from underneath and smoke trailing behind. As the car passed me I yelled, "YOUR CAR IS ON FIRE!!!" and the driver managed to go up on the curb and run into the corner of the bike shop building I had just left. Scared the hell out of the boss, who'd been working in his upstairs office.
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Old 01-04-22, 10:50 AM
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I was managing a small shop for a guy who had a few local bike stores
one day he comes in and places these big rightwing political and religious posters in the front window blocking the view of the bikes inside
"pro this anti that yadda yadda blah blah blah"
I point out this may alienate many of my customers
and he replied "just tell them it is not the policy of the shop, just the policy of the owner" and walks out

customers stopped comming in, sales dropped off, I quit and he closed up shortly after
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Old 01-04-22, 12:02 PM
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When I worked at one bicycle shop in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, some customers had lines that we dreaded hearing.

"my wheel isn't straight and I tried straightening it myself".

or

"I only have vice-grips and an adjustable wrench to work on my bike with." Many times our wrenches wouldn't fit the bolts or nuts because those bolts or nuts were too rounded. Often the customer wouldn't want to pay for new bolts or nuts.

Another shop I worked at had two young fellows working there when I wasn't there. They'd bring bikes in and stick them in the to be repaired section in the basement. I'd come in and find a row or t wo of bikes with these words on the repair tag, " Fix bike" but nothing about what needed to be fixed or a number I could call to ask the customer. Needless to say there were a lot of unhappy customers who came in to get their bike only to find out that no work had been done on it.

For some reason that shop eventually went bankrupt.

Cheers
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Old 01-04-22, 12:14 PM
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Not a horror story - just one of those funny deals:

A dad comes in with his 12 yr old kid, buys him a nice bike and everyone is happy. The next day they come back all upset because the bike has no brakes, they kid can't stop it at all. I checked it out and sure enough, absolutely no stopping power, even though they worked fine mechanically. After a little conversation, I discover that the kid was so proud of his new bike that he wanted to shine it up, so he got his dad's spray bottle of Armorall and went over the bike with it - including the tires and rims. He did a good job.
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Old 01-04-22, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by MNebiker View Post
Not a horror story - just one of those funny deals:

A dad comes in with his 12 yr old kid, buys him a nice bike and everyone is happy. The next day they come back all upset because the bike has no brakes, they kid can't stop it at all. I checked it out and sure enough, absolutely no stopping power, even though they worked fine mechanically. After a little conversation, I discover that the kid was so proud of his new bike that he wanted to shine it up, so he got his dad's spray bottle of Armorall and went over the bike with it - including the tires and rims. He did a good job.
And on a related note, a bike that will not stop well with the caliper brakes it has can have the braking improved significantly by the application of Tubasti to the rim flats. Yes, this happened in a shop and the kid was thrilled.
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Old 01-04-22, 11:31 PM
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Guy comes in and asks for a 28 cm spoke…
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Old 01-04-22, 11:42 PM
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Originally Posted by reconnaissance View Post
Guy comes in and asks for a 28 cm spoke…
hardee-har-har.
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Old 01-05-22, 04:44 AM
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When I worked at a Canadian Tire store we sold a lot of mountain bikes that had cantilever brakes. Those were early model cantilevers that stuck straight out from the frame. They also were quite tricky to adjust for toe-in so as to not squeal. One of the fellows working on assembling the bikes was quite excited and told us that he'd figured out a way to easily stop that squealing. Yep, he sprayed WD-40 on the rims. What a job it was having to take each and every MTB and clean the rims so that the brakes would work. That guy eventually got himself fired.

Cheers
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Old 01-05-22, 12:55 PM
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"I watched how to do it on YouTube".

That's when I switch from quoting by the job to quoting my hourly rate .
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Old 01-05-22, 01:02 PM
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Friend of the shop comes in and leaves his bike outside the shop unlocked despite us telling him to bring it in.
He goes back out 5 minutes later to find the bike has been stolen. Owner of the shop and I grab bikes off the sales floor and go looking around the neighbourhood. I ride down a path next to a river and see some youths doing something in the tall grass near the trail. As I approached they all got up and bolted. I went over to where they had been and found our chum's bike already 80% disassembled with all the small parts loaded into a backpack. All this was reported to the police, and while I could not identify the thieves in the photos the police showed me, the backpack also contained one of the theives' report card.
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