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I haven't been riding my bike too much this summer and that has bummed me out.  We didn't even take them down last year, because Little Boy Beagle was just a newborn, and things were crazy enough without having to worry about the bikes.

This year, we took them down, but mine was cursed with a problem with it changing gears by itself, which is extremely annoying to say the least.  I kept putting off and putting off taking it to a bike place, mostly because I dreaded paying the bill.

We're going on a trip for our anniversary next month where we've gone in the past and bikes are a must-have for us.  I knew I couldn't put it off any longer, so last week I toted the bike off to the repair shop.  I had e-mailed them and described my problem, and they had given me a ‘ballpark' quote of around $80.  So, knowing that things usually cost more, I was figuring on dropping at least a hundred smackers for this repair.

I wheeled it in and explained the problem.  The guy working the repair area placed it on a bike stand, took a look at things, said the chain, wheels, brakes, and frame all looked good.  When I told him what was going on with the gears, he looked at it from behind, said ‘Oh, yeah, this things right here (the derailleur) is a little bit out of alignment and that'll do that.'  He pulled out a tool, make a quick adjustment, and said ‘that should do the trick'.

I asked how much it would cost, figuring he'd at least charge me $20 or whatever.  He waved it off.  I joked with him that I was going to go ride around the parking lot and how confident was he that I wouldn't be coming back in?  He was pretty confident.

Well, I rode it around the parking lot and a couple of surrounding streets, putting it through the test of changing gears, and he was right, I didn't go back in.

I was happy as can be about the money I saved.  For the record, I did walk out spending $15 for a new kickstand, which also needed replacing.

While I had been waiting, the customer before me had an issue with a tire, and the same repair guy made quick work, and again, let the customer leave with ‘no charge'. I wondered how they could do that but it occurred to me that it's a great practice.  Why?

  • It didn't take long – Both repairs he did while I was in the shop took less than five minutes.  Even a handful of these per day is not taking a huge amount of time out of his work.
  • There wasn't a lot of other work – Because most repair work happens earlier in the season, there wasn't a long queue of bikes in the back that did need a lot of repairs that I was taking his time away from.  And, most importantly….
  • They created a future (paying)  customer– After getting a simple repair job done for free, customers will most likely go back even for repairs that they have to pay for.  Plus, when it's time to replace a bike, I'm sure they'll get some sales from the goodwill that they created.  All in all, the little bit of time pays for itself from money that they can potentially make down the road.

So, I was very happy from my experience.  I saved money and found a place that appears trustworthy that is now at the top of my list for future repairs and sales.

The only bummer in the story is that I didn't think to do this sooner, and missed out on a good portion of being able to ride my bike during the summer months