Post by Horse
I worked in a bike shop for about 6 years in the mid 90’s to early 2000’s. During this time, the internet shopping boom started its thunderous procession and the local bike shop, along with a ton of other locally owned, non-big box store shops trembled in fear.
Our best defense was claims to better customer service, better knowledge, personal interaction and a willingness to go the extra mile to get you where you want to be.
And primarily this is still true, and valid.
When I bought my last bike, a Raleigh RX1.0, I did so through a local bike shop even though I could have saved a few coins and found it online. But the bike shop gave me excellent advice on sizing, happily switched the entire group from Shimano to SRAM, and sent me out the door with some extra goodies free of charge. In my eyes, that was fantastic customer service, and worth the extra few dollars I may have saved had purchased the bike on the web.
But, a recent experience gave me new perspective on the ONLINE vs Local argument.
Fixcraft.net is my personal favorite source of mallet making goodies, whether it is their LT or XT poles or the St. Cago heads they sell. There’s not much to ‘advise’ as far as polo parts go, you like what you like and how you like it, so order it and make it happen. But after ordering a few XT poles, and bending the hell out of them in the first game they were used in, I was frustrated.
These poles are advertised as practically indestructible, and the new standard for long lasting mallet making materials. So, without much hope of resolution, I emailed the Fixcraft contact email and explained what had happened, that I built up the mallet using all of their products, and it had failed quickly during what I consider normal play.
To my HUGE surprise, I got a great email back requesting I send the damaged poles back (shipping was paid by Fixcraft) and exchange them for some new ones. Since then, they’ve been in contact with me regularly about what they found in the damaged poles, and asking how the new ones were working out.
The new ones have held up just fine, so I’m attributing the damaged ones to a fluke or bad batch.
Now, there are a few points I’d like to make here. First, you can’t just go to a local shop and buy mallet materials. Capped gas pipe and new ski poles aren’t exactly off the shelf options, so maybe the online purchase was my only option.
Secondly, I dare you to find me a frame or component company that will honor a non-existent warranty on a BENT part. Bends = abuse, always will always have.
But, with those two points being said, the only thing I can say is that sites and companies like Fixcraft are doing a damn good job of bridging the gap between the local store and online dealer. I talked to real people, got personalized results, and can’t think of way I’d be happier.