I cycle to work. In a week with acceptable weather, I’ll put in 40 miles. Nothing major. Other weeks I’ll catch the train instead. Cycling is the preferred option as I get a little exercise (on the hill back into Woodley on the way home) and save £3 train fare.
I don’t enjoy maintaining my bike, especially the parts that require specialist tools, so I usually get professionals to perform that chore. Last November, the bottom bracket was creaking and obviously needed some work so I took the bike to CycleZone on the Wokingham Road (convenient for where I live). They managed to service the bike without even noticing the problem with it that I had highlighted. Friendly staff? Yes. Useless? Also a yes.
Now I’m out of pocket for the service and still have a creaky bike so I go to AW Cycles on the Henley Road (convenient for where I work). They manage to replace the bottom bracket unit and get me quietly back on the road.
A few months of winter pass by. Some weeks the bike stays in my garage because of the weather; other weeks it’s there because I don’t get round to fixing punctures or replacing worn tyres. So come May, the creaking is creeping back and the number of miles on the clock since November is pretty trivial in the wear-and-tear stakes.
Eventually, I take the bike back to AW Cycles asking what sort of warranty they offer on their work. Matt, the workshop manager, has an interesting approach on the discussion – or maybe he misunderstood what I was saying. He talked about the poor quality of parts these days for 9-gear bikes and how sending the bike off to be checked for problems covered by the manufacturer’s warranty would likely fail because of the presence of rust. Nothing about the surprisingly short time between repair and reoccurrence of the problem. Matt took the bike away to give it a check and I went home.
Not surprisingly, the next day I was told that the bracket had worked a little loose and had been fixed. As I’d expected, they hadn’t done a good job in the first place. The lady that presented me with the bike seemed surprised that I wasn’t being charged for the corrective work and said so. I replied that I should instead be charging THEM for my travel expenses, having had to buy train tickets for two days because of their botch job. The conversation ended there – no apology for the inconvenience, etc.
So, good bye AW Cycles. I’ll be taking my money for future repair work and replacement tyres, brake blocks, etc. elsewhere. As Matt was happy to mention, they’re rushed off their feet with work so won’t notice I’m gone anyway.