The Manitou Story Thus Far…

Now that I’ve had a day to cool off, here are the continuing chronicles of my Broken Manitou Travis…

The story so far….

I bought it on July 8th, and it broke on July 17th after a shuttled session up at SFU (I know…Shuttle…Lame…Couldn’t resist). Anyway, I really enjoyed my first three runs, until my last run felt horrible. The fork seemed to just lose its responsive ride. This is bad. Especially bad since it was my second day on the fork. Upon quick inspection, there was oil coming out of the top caps, and it appeared that the rebound control was gone, and it would make a loud “CLUNK” on extension. Definitely not good, especially since I was already weary about buying a Manitou fork again, after problems with my other Manitou and some problems friends have experienced.

The next day, I took my fork back to BSP Bikes, and expressed my frustration with such a “Young” fork dying so quickly. They were sympathetic, and offered to book the fork in to check immediately with some guidance from the Manitou service depot guru’s at OGC (Outdoor Gear Canada) since they had not seen many Travis’ come through the door. It is a relatively new product, so I wasn’t too surprised. At that point, they were pretty sure that it would need to go back to them for inspection since they were uncertain that they would be able to repair in store. However, they did offer me a loaner fork to get me riding again in case it did need to go back.

As a consumer, you expect that what you buy, especially something that expensive, would not need to be repaired so early in its life. It really gives you a deep sense of dread that you’ve totally made the wrong purchase. More details on the initial encounter here.

On July 23rd, it breaks again. Same problem. Major top out noise, loss of rebound damping, and sketchy compression. So back it goes to BSP for the second time in less than 2 weeks. This time I know that the solution would be to send it back to OGC, and that the loaner would be ready to go. But that wasn’t what I was most disappointed about.

By this time, I’m pretty, understandably, upset. I think my expectations when purchasing something in a retail environment is that if you buy something brand new, it should never have to be repaired when it is new. My expectations are that if something breaks in a reasonable time period (15 – 30 days) that it should never need to be “Taken Care Of” by a third party. The customer should be, in the interest of the best service, be offered an exchange of that item, and or, if the rapport is good, an upgrade may be an option. It should never be made the customers problem, especially in such a short period of time, and it should always be dealt with inside the store.

With over 16 years of retail experience both management, and in sales, I’ve seen it all, and I would agree that my expectations are higher than average. However, this is what I expected of my staff, and of myself when taking care of a customers complaints for the last few years that I was in retail.

I have to clarify that at no point did I think that the shop wasn’t trying to help me. I think they were, but I just don’t think they were given the empowerment to do more. They did offer a loaner. The did offer to send my other fork back and get it fixed right, but with all the steps, time, and effort, it would have been in their best interest to just do an exchange. Looking back, I would have even walked out of the store with a higher end fork if I felt right about it. It would have been better to take the problem away from me, and offer me a way out.

Perhaps the Retail Bicycle Industry has some idiosyncracies that don’t match with other retail markets. For example, I know that if I bought a defective blender for instance, from any store that sells them, I would be offered an exchange, or an upgrade to suit my needs. I know a Mountain Bike Suspension fork isn’t a blender, but lets apply that to any number of things you could buy in any other retail store. It’s pretty clear that nowhere else would you be asked to have it sent out for repair in your first 15 – 30 days of ownership. Maybe it’s just me, but I think there is a huge gap between here and maintstream retail.

This afternoon, I got a call from BSP, letting me know what is happening with my fork, which I appreciated. They expressed some concern about some comments I made about this situation here and on NSMB. Well, nothing will stop me from feeling like I got the bad piece of an apple fritter, but at least I do feel that they cared enough to find out what the deal was and were worried about their reputation, and if they weren’t giving me the best possible service. We talked about the situation, and I think we’re both on the same page, and I think they know I was upset with the fork being broken, rather than at them trying to do what they were able to do.

That’s it so far. I hate being irritated. I hope things turn out great because I’ll be the first one to give mad props for a happy end to this tale of woe.