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Credit Where It’s Due

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

The sadly drawn out saga of my bicycle isn’t quite over, but at least things are heading in the right direction.

The Decathlon bike continued its spectacular decline, with new niggling problems arising right up until the moment when the wheel failed again. At that point it was obvious that the bike simply was not fit for purpose; and given that “purpose” in this case was an undemanding ride along a fairly flat tarmac road to work and back that was as good as saying that it was fit for nothing. I wasn’t looking forward to the inevitable argument with the staff at the shop, but it was time to get my money back…

… except there was no argument. Decathlon may have sold me the worst bike I’ve ever ridden, a lump of metal I imagine even Steptoe and Son would have been hesitant to accept, but their returns policy was exceptionally straightforward and handled smoothly by the bored-looking staff at the returns desk. It should have told me something that rather than “Customer Service” the desk was simply signed “Returns”. I walked in, rolling the bike on its front wheel, chain off, split tyre looped over the seat post and the back wheel in my other hand, and said I’d like to return the bicycle. Entirely straight-faced, and with no apparent hint of irony or humour, the chap behind the desk asked if there was anything wrong with it.

Still, a swift refund credited to my bank account and far less fuss than I expected. If you have to return something to a shop it’s great to encounter such a smooth system, although there was no hint of apology over the months of hassle caused by owning the bike and having the temerity to actually ride it. Even so, I’m not sure that it is actually a good thing overall. Yes, they accepted the faulty goods without question and I got my money back, but the attitude towards the product was highlighted to me when I handed over the lights and fittings and they were summarily tossed away into a bin. A fair proportion of these cheap goods – tents, bikes, whatever they happen to be – will be disposed of or replaced by customers who don’t return them. Some will do the job the buyer asks, which is great (there’s a comment on my earlier post about this bike from a happy customer, something I’m delighted to see regardless of the fact that I consider this bike almost dangerously shoddy). Others are returned to the shop for refund or store credit. The half-hearted, inadequate attempts at repair by the Decathlon workshop inspire no confidence in me that they are serious about producing a quality product and keeping it good repair.

My friend JJ loaned me an old bike he’s had hanging around for some time to use until I can buy a better machine. It’s a Raleigh hybrid, nothing special by any means, and despite having sat neglected for a long while, to the point that the tyres were utterly flat, despite being in need of a tune-up to stop the gears from slipping, it’s still streets ahead of that Decathlon bike. The gear ratios, the riding position, everything is better.

Dave at RevolveMCR offered some thoughts on a possible new machine which might be very tempting indeed, so I’m looking into that and shaking the piggy bank to see what I can afford. I shan’t be bothering with anywhere like Decathlon for my transport needs in the future.

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