Saturday, April 30, 2011

bikefriday customer service

excellent reviews on the web about bikefriday's customer service was one of the reasons why i decided to have a bike built directly from the factory in oregon. can it live up to its hype? here is my experience so far:

website: confusing, lacking essential information
first the positive: there is a direct link to customer service covering most options needed:

negative: it is very hard to find out what model is the best for you. there is little information on the website. why do they try to hold back most information? there is a link to touring. when you click on that you get two models only, the new world tourist and the pocket companion. other touring bikes like the pocket llama are missing in this link.

sales: in addition to that there is a form that you can fill out in order to be contacted by a 'consultant' who would advise you on the best model for your purpose. i filled out the form and a person named walter contacted me by email asking questions about my inteded travels. i had the tikit, the crusoe and the pocket llama in mind. what i wanted to know was: what are the options and what is the price for each option. i would expect at least three or four options for each bike posted on the website showing a cheap entry option, a mid range option, an advanced option and a professional/expert option.
i asked walter to provide such options and price each component in order to enable me to make a decision.
walter denied this information saying that bikefriday sells 20.000 different components and there would be millions of different combinations. so i asked him to send me a standard configuration for the bike he would recommend. as a result walter sent me a standard configuration for the new world tourist for 989 dollars.
what first came into my mind: why is this configuration NOT posted on the bikefriday website? why are they holding back information about the standard configuration?
so i asked walter to send me different upgrades showing the price for each component that bikefriday charges(most components are standard). walter just responded instead:
Here's the NWT spec. Another ~$100 makes it a 24 speed. I could recommend upgrades all day long. If I keep it mid-level (Tiagra), with drop bars, bar end shifters, 27 speed, sealed cartridge bearings, double wall rims, and Schwalbe Marathon tires, you're looking at $1924. I'd say in terms of durability this would be well worth it.

does this email answer my questions? decide for yourself. at least for me this was completely confusing and not systematic. this email did not tell me what components were included in this configuration and how each component was priced. it is normal when you buy any bike, finished or custom made. here are some samples:

originally i intended to buy the surly lht trucker. you get a price and EXACT specifications:

surly the surly lht is the best deal in the world for touring. downside: bike-hating  airlines in the usa starting to charge ridiculous fees. there comes the lht deluxe frame which is breaking away using S&S couplers. unfortunately this excellent solution is in high demand and sold out.

here are other S&s coupled bikes, tailormade by the factory. much more expensive but you know exactly what you get for what price:

most bike manufacturers are able to give you three or four different choices and a price for each choice plus upgrade choices with individual prices. why is bikefriday not able to do that?

i ended up loosing my interest for bikefriday. i did not want to deal with an organisation which is not up to my standards. i started to  research other folders like dahon and moulton. i tried to get hold of a surly lht deluxe frame intending to have the bike built by a local bikeshop. and i talked to rodriguez. then i found this:

those are beautiful bikes ! i think that bikefriday is not capable of doing good marketing, sales is not responsive but they are skilled bike manufacturers building some the most beautiful and distinctive bikes on the planet. i was sold and called walter to build a bike for me even though i only knew a price and did not know any components. walter insisted on immediate payment. i paid the full price with a bad feeling..

service: as a result of my experience with sales i contacted customer service in order to get my questions answered and in order to communicates some minor changes in the measurement. tim from customer service answered my questions on the phone and by email. customer service at bikefriday is responsive.
now i still have an issue with the packing material of the bike. i asked tim to keep the original packing material so i can box the bike and hand it to the airline as one piece of luggage. it must be less than 61 linear inches.
bikefriday wants to sell an overpriced set of cheap packing materials for more than 100 dollars. why spend more than 100 dollars for shipping materials that must be included in the original shipping box: i will throw the box and the materials away at the destination anyway.

the bikefriday nwt is beautiful
customer service is good

update september 2011: please read my review about visiting bikefriday in eugene. this is one of the best small companies on the planet. my impression compared to the experience on the web was like day and night.
bikefriday is an excellent company building excellent, beautiful bikes providing outstanding customer service.
after my visit i have noted that they have changed their website. i hope that they will also change the way they sell their bikes because these guys deserve success. i love bikefriday

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