I work in a bike shop that opened about a year ago. I'm not a bike tech, I'm sort of a bike apprentice so I can fit you to your bike, I know enough about the bikes to sell them, I know about the gear that we carry, but I don't do repairs apart from pedal installs and flat tires. Since April or May, we've been operating at about 700% of our expected capacity (the neighborhood was apparently starved for a bike shop?!), and by and large, things have been going really well, community's getting to know us and we them, etc. I'm not making excuses for what happened to this guy, but if anyone guesses where I work, I want to make clear that this is a total aberration on our part, as far as the level of service we usually provide goes. I guess it was inevitable that something would fall through the cracks, I just wish it hadn't been quite such a big ball of fail.
A few weeks ago, a guy comes in. I'll call him Joe. Joe has recently purchased a (used) bike to replace his long-lived, beloved, and recently retired bike, but Bike Two is just not living up to the standard set by Bike One. It's a different size and different style, and he's not sure if it's the bike for him. I honestly don't know the back story here of how he ended up with a bike that turned out to be not the best fit, but that's water under the bridge at this point, we just want to see what we can do with the frame he has to make it work as best we can for him. He comes in and talks to D, who suggests that he bring both bikes in sometime and we can compare the two, and see what we can do to make Bike Two more like Bike One. This is his first trip into the store.
He comes back with both of his bikes. D spends maybe 45 minutes measuring and protractoring both his bikes to compare the two. She puts him on the new bike to see what it might be that's specifically causing him issues. They talk about options. I was in the shop during this time but had my own customers so I wasn't paying total attention, but I remember him being there. He leaves Bike Two behind with us to get the handlebars raised and the chainring replaced (the chainring has nothing to do with the fit of the bike; I don't know what led the conversation towards getting this replaced). This is his second trip to the store. This is also about the end of our being on the ball with him.
When a bike gets left with us, paperwork gets filled out for it. Every repair sheet has a tearaway ticket with a seven-digit number that corresponds to the number on the repair sheet. The ticket gets put on the bike, the repair sheet gets put in the hanging file thingamajiggy, and the bike gets put in the back. Bikes are worked on in the order in which they arrive, but if we have to order parts (like we did for this guy), the repair form is supposed to stay in the hanging file thingamajiggy until the parts come in. Usually we stick it in towards the bottom so it doesn't muck things up too much.
We lost the guy's paperwork. It didn't make it to the thingamajiggy. We did manage to order his chainring (his paperwork got buried next to the ordering computer...we found it today). But when it arrived, we didn't have paperwork to match it to--which means we didn't know which bike it went with. So now we've got a bike floating around (with no paperwork, and as a result no owner as far as we're concerned) and a loose chainring (which is clearly a special order for somebody, but there's no paperwork, so we don't know who it belongs to). It became one of those retail things where everyone thought another person knew what was going on with this stuff, and so we didn't trouble ourselves with the random loose ends because we all had our own thing going. Nobody felt the urgent need to reconcile loose bike with loose chainring (and besides, we had no paperwork saying the two went together).
Oh, and D went out of town. The one who could've provided the explanation.
I don't know all the ins and outs of this poor guy's experience over the next week to ten days. I know I talked to him twice, once on the phone and once in person. I was solo on the floor both times with no tech to refer him to, but I left notes for the techs. My guess is that they couldn't call him back because they didn't have his paperwork--but I, of course, didn't yet know that we'd lost his paperwork, so I didn't do anything like ask him to leave a phone number so we could get back to him. I know I'm not the only person who talked to him during this time. Generally speaking, once a bike gets put in the queue to get worked on, that's sort of the end of my involvement with it, so I had no information for him about the status of his bike or whether his chainring had arrived or any of that. Eventually he did talk to somebody and was told (or heard) that his bike would be ready Monday by 4pm.
So, Joe comes in last night at 4:30. The tech is on lunch (this poor guy. Everyone who can possibly help him is either out of town or out on lunch whenever he contacts the shop). He wants his bike. I go in the back to get it, notice it still doesn't have a chainring, and his old chainring is in a bag hanging from his handlebars. Well, okay, I know he's been having something of A Time, maybe he's decided to just take his bike and go elsewhere.
But no. We have failed. Again. He's angry that we've had his bike for this long. He's angry it isn't done yet. He's angry that I have nothing to tell him by way of explanation (where is the paperwork why isn't it stapled to the bicycle if it's done and ready to leave the shop rarrrrrgh). I can't do anything except ask him to wait until T, the tech on duty, returns. He is unwilling to do this and storms out.
Apparently he called back later and talked to T, who promised to get his bike done tonight and comp him on the labor as well as a 20% discount on the parts, since we've been such fuck ups so far. This calms him down (being able to talk to somebody who knew what the fuck was going on helped, I imagine). We finally manage to reconcile Rogue Chainring with Lost Bicycle and get it ready to go.
So. Joe's been in the shop four times now. I don't even know how many times he called. He still doesn't have his bike, but it's at least fixed, so all is well, right?
No no. We are not done. Because if we're going to fuck up and drop the ball, we might as well do it all at once and all to the same customer, right? When we drop the ball, by golly, we drop all the fucking balls at once. Epic ball dropping.
Joe comes in to get his bike today. I greet him happily, and not with fear, because I know his bike is done and we will be able to leave this boondoggle on, well, not a high note, but at least not a devilish tritone. I pull out his bike. It has a chain ring! And is ready to go! Huzzah!
.....The price on the work order, even after the discounts are applied, is more than double what he was actually quoted. Which we couldn't call to check with him about, because we lost his motherfucking paperwork with the motherfucking quote on it so when we ordered the parts we didn't realize that the discrepancy was so huge. D ordered the wrong part, apparently, and got him a way higher quality chainring (read: more expensive) than he expected or needed. He was getting a triple chainring, and you have to order each individually, and the wholesale cost of one chainring (the largest) was more than his quote. We have borked. Completely and epically. He's ready for us to take the new chainring off and put the old one back on and pay us nothing (not that I'm complaining about the prospect of being paid nothing, but if we go that route, nobody wins, and he has to wait even longer for his bicycle while we swap parts out again).
At this point I am making rage guy face and wanting to beat my own head against the counter and/or hide under it. I call D, who has come back from her vacation just in time to fix everything. Because oh my god we cannot do anything right for this poor guy. I apologize profusely. D apologizes profusely. Manager apologizes profusely. We split the difference between our cost and his quote (so he got about $90 off what would have been a $160 repair/upgrade, had we handled it correctly), so we lose money but so does he and the final cost isn't completely out of proportion with what he thought he was going to owe us. He knows that we were not trying to rip him off, and I think he understands that we're not as incompetent as this whole episode has made us seem, but I don't think he'll be giving us another chance, and rightfully so. But oh my god. I don't even know what just happened.
I'm used to posting in customers_suck. I actually think the guy should've been more pissed at us than he was.
TL;DR: Over the course of five visits to our bike shop and I don't know how many phone calls, we manage to fail in at least four different ways while helping this guy with his bicycle.