Things are getting a little weird around here.
There’s been a seismic shift in the bicycle industry. Due to pandemic-related factory closures in Asia, the supply of bikes is lower than it should be to meet normal levels of demand. And also due to the pandemic, the demand for bikes is higher than anyone in the industry expected. Much higher. Some customers want to ride a bike instead of taking germ-ridden public transit. Some are looking for socially distant exercise while their gyms, sports, or other activities are closed or cancelled. Some are looking for a way to find joy during quarantine, replace a cancelled vacation, or do something special with their stressed out kids. Regardless of why there are so many new cyclists, customer demand for new bikes and cycling gear has exploded at precisely the same moment that supply for the same has cratered.
As if that weren’t enough, we are still short staffed, with mechanics who are staying home because they are afraid of contracting the coronavirus at work. And the measures we have put in to place to switch to a contactless, germ-free system of operations make every customer interaction more difficult and time consuming — not just for our customers, but for us as well.
Bicycles are having a toilet paper moment.
We are beyond swamped; our shop is in triage mode. We are no longer trying to serve every customer or make every customer happy. If we did that, we wouldn’t be able to help anyone. Instead, we are focusing on the customers with problems we can actually fix: Repairs we can actually complete on the same day, on bikes that are not too far gone. Bikes we can sell because we actually have them in stock. Customers who have done their homework. Problems we can solve without getting too bogged down before it’s time to move on to the next problem.
If you are a customer, old or new, and you tried to get help from us this week, and we could not help you; If you called and called and called and could not get through to a salesperson; If you emailed us diligently and politely, and got only a three-word email in respose, or no response at all; If you bought a bike in a hurry because you were desparate to get something, anything at all, and then you changed your mind but we wouldn’t let you make a return; If you needed the teeniest, easiest repair, but we wouldn’t help you because you didn’t have an appointment… If you were involved in any sort of scenario where we didn’t provide even a reasonable level of customer service: We’re sorry.
In this crisis, good customer service has become impossible. We are doing our absolute best, and under these circumstances, our best will not be good enough for everyone. Some of our customers will end up unhappy. It sucks. We hate it, too. But our overriding goal is to keep our staff safe, and our business healthy, so that our shop will still be here when this is all over.
Thank you for your understanding.
The Bicycle Roots crew
PS: To learn all about how to get a bike repair, a new bike, or any cycling gear from us during the pandemic, read our earlier blog post here.