Sunday, 22 January 2012


I had decided to buy a Pashley bike. The upright style should mean that it is easier to ride, less harsh on my back. Pashleys are very solid, well made bikes.

I looked on Ebay, I looked in various classifieds for a pre-loved one. Plenty around, none particularly nearby and none particularly cheap.  I needed some help in deciding what frame size was suitable and contacted Pashley for advice. They gave me some local dealers who should have a Pashley in stock, and one of them was only a couple of miles away.

This local independent bike shop had one in stock, and I decided to go and take a look.  It turned out to be the model I wanted, the frame was the right size, they were having a sale.   The chap was very helpful, let me ride the bike around the car park,  adjusted it for me so I could get a good feel.    He explained that if I bought the bike, they would (of course) spend time with me getting it adjusted perfectly for me.   I decided to sleep on it. Not the bike, obviously, sleep on the decision.   It's a lot of money to spend on a bike.

In the end, I decided to go ahead.  He'd been helpful, I like to support independent and local businesses,  with the sale and not having to travel to collect a second hand bike,  the price differential was OK.  I'd worked out how to fund the purchase.

I phoned up, spoke to the same chap,  reserved the bike and paid a deposit.  I said I would be in on Sunday at about 12.00  to collect it, this would give them a couple of days to do their bike checks, and the weather forecast was reasonable so I would ride it home.

Sunday finally dawned,  and we went along to the shop to collect it. 

I came home without it, very irritated,  and wishing that I hadn't paid a deposit so I could just go somewhere else.

What happened?    What happened was the shop is a "proper cyclists" shop.  When I got there, it was full of "proper cyclists" having a natter. All were kitted out in "proper cyclists" gear,  I presume some club had just arrived after a ride or something.

It was difficult to get to the counter because all the proper cyclists were grouped around there having a chat, along with the chap on the till.  I groaned inwardly at the thought of having to get fitted for a Pashley with all these Proper Cyclists looking on.  It took a couple of moments for me to realise that these people weren't waiting to be served, they were just socialising.   I moved around a little to try and attract attention to get some service. We were the only people in the shop not wearing proper cyclist gear, so we stood out a bit.

The chap on the counter eventually looked in our direction, so I moved forward and said I was here to pick up the Pashley, and I indicated the bike which was still on the shop floor. He looked at me blankly, and then asked me if that was the bike (the one I was pointing to).  I said yes.  He moved to the till. Fearing that he was just going to treat it as a quick payment and off you go transaction,  I explained that it needed fitting - the saddle adjusting etc.  He looked a bit confused.  He pulled out a folder full of invoices and started leafing through it slowly, most of his attention apparently  still on the Proper Cyclists conversation.

I stood waiting, getting mildly irritated.  I said to DH that I felt a bit uncomfortable, and that I was starting to get cross.  He said that he didn't like buying things from these places because they were often like this.  I said, hmm, well, it wasn't like this on Monday was it? If it had been, I wouldn't have bought the bike here.

A moment later, someone popped out from the back of the counter, also dressed in Proper Cyclists uniform, carrying mugs of tea for the Proper Cyclists.   At that point, my patience snapped.    Before I knew what I was doing (it was like I was having an out of body experience, watching myself do this),  I'd told the chap at the counter not to bother, I'd come back another time,  and then I had turned on my heels and was walking out of the shop.

It's very, very rare of me to get to a situation where my I find myself doing something when my brain is a bit behind what is actually going on.  I can only recall  2 other situations when this has happened,  and I had been extremely provoked in both cases.   This time I knew I was irritated, but I had no idea that I was quite as annoyed as I obviously was.  

DH was very kind. I explained to him that I was really annoyed at the crap service,  I was also annoyed with myself for having put a deposit on the bike and that I couldn't just go somewhere else, and I was annoyed that I was letting myself get annoyed. At least I didn't say something rude.

When I do go back, I wonder if they will ask me why I didn't collect the bike on Sunday.   I hope they do, actually.  In fact, I'll be disappointed if they don't.    I doubt it's even registered with them that they have an unhappy customer, and I doubt very much that they have the vaguest inkling that (if I hadn't paid a deposit) I would be a lost sale.  

I doubt they'd care. 

That's not fair. They probably would care.   Now that I'm calm, I've replayed the whole thing a couple of times, and I know that what it was that actually made me snap.

It wasn't that the shop was busy, with Proper Cyclists. I appreciate that these regulars are the one who provide the bread and butter for the shop.

I know that the Pashley, although expensive for me, is not an expensive purchase in "proper-bike" term.

If these people had beeen buying stuff, then I wouldn't have minded having to wait for service.

I think it was the realisation that socialising with this group was apparently more important than my custom. 

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