What your service manager doesn’t want you to know…

We’ll be covering a multi-part series that sheds some light into some shady LBS Service Manager practices that we’ve seen. In this expose we’ll be giving you a few tips and tricks to take with you the next time you bring your bike in for service.

*Editorial: Don’t get us wrong, there are tons of great bike shops out there with exceptional service. But what we’re piecing together is from our own experiences dealing with lack luster Service Managers who are motivated by dollars and not about getting people back on their bikes.*

For our first article, we’ll talk about the Service Manager that likes to take advantage of people by charging them for every little thing they did on a bike.


“That’s an extra fee.”

Let’s say you bring your bike in to have the wheel trued. Once he’s done truing the wheel he/she mounts it back onto the bike. But then your V-brakes(my favorite) are rubbing more on side than the other. A good honest Service Manager or Tech will simply take his Phillips screw driver and turn it a few times to adjust the tension on your brakes. But I’ve come across Managers that will charge an extra $5.00 to “adjust the brakes.”

Stuff like that drive me nuts! I mean, its a twist of a screw. But why not make the effort to turn it, and don’t even charge for it…something like that will help a customer feel like the shop took care of them and probably come back again.

Another thing that I can’t stand is charging labor to fix flats. Some shops will have a flat rate to fix a flat. Usually its anywhere from $4-$8 plus the cost of the tube. What’s dumb is Service Managers will sometimes charge as high as $10 labor PER TIRE! Oh that doesn’t even include the cost of the tube. Just to give you an idea, most shops will pay wholesale on tubes about $1.00-$2.00 per unit. But what’s crazy is that they jack up the prices to $6.00 per tube! To me it doesn’t make sense to pay over $4.00 for a tube. Even at that price, the shop already made 100% mark up.

So rather than spending an additional $20 on labor for two flat tires, spend some of that money and get some tire levers. Changing tires is super easy, in fact there’s a great video on it HERE. Going back to the crazy labor charges, so if you think about it, a set of tubes at $5.00 a piece, that’s $10 for the set, and $20 for labor on both wheels, that’s already $30! Aye that’s crazy!!!!!!

Watch that video I mentioned, save your money and don’t get ripped off again by paying someone else to change your tubes…

Our next article will talk about something that some shops may call “chem and lube.” We’ll go into detail what that’s all about and how you don’t really need it.

6 Replies to “What your service manager doesn’t want you to know…”

  1. Dude… the tire shop down my street charged me 8 bucks to fix my tire… MY CAR TIRE!!!

    We also want to reiterate that these article series is to educate the consumer, not to bash LBS or Service Managers.

  2. No I won’t. Here’s why, one of the guilty shops has a great sales team. The guys there know their stuff, in fact, they’re cool people.The sales guys will spend time with you to make sure you are purchasing the right item for your needs.

    The problem I have is with Service. The manager there is very greedy.

    The purpose of these articles is to better in form you of what a bad Service Manager will or will not do. We’re not here to slander any specific shop, but we’re here to give you tools so that if you do need to go to a shop, you won’t get charged extra fees or outrageous labor for something so simple.

  3. Luckily, my LBS’s service department is right behind their sales counter at both of their locations. All of the other bike shops in town “hide” their service departments. When I took a Kona Smoke 2-9 on a test ride, the grip shifts gave me fits (either the bar is too short or my hands are too big). The salles guy conferred with the service guy and quoted mse a price of $40 to upgrade to some trigger shifts. Seems reasonable enough. Will be following this series.

  4. Hey, great blog! I found it after searching for Southridge pics…

    I worked in a bike dealer for a while. We basically had the standard $5 (off bike/front) $7 (rear) change policy. After you’ve changed the tire for the guy with the nasty mucked up commuter that he leaves outside who has a terribly tight rim/tire combo and insists on heavy duty tubes (+axle bolts and never line up correctly becuase the frame is slightly bent) you’ll know that the $5 is trivial for the work involved. Especially when that guy seemingly rides only where there is construction sites or giant piles of thorns.

    We also charged per work item, but ONLY if we disclosed work to the customer first. Tacking on extra cash after giving him a lowball estimate is totally wrong and we always called up the customer if there was any (major) work needed otherwise it was gratis.

    Most shops don’t move a lot of inventory and only really make money on repairs.

  5. My first shop experience lead me to where I am today! I was 14 and I took my 1988 Nishiki Colorado into the local shop to have my cables replaced and have my rear hub re-spaced. I got the bike back after they ‘needed’ it for an extra day. It shifted worse than when I dropped it off and the rear hub wasn’t even touched. What did they do?? Not a D**n thing! I know they charged me more than $50. I swore I wouldn’t take my bike to a shop again. I think after that day my bike spent one other day in a shop.(that was to install a new fork)
    I bought myself a “Bicycling Magazine Repair Manual” and read about bicycle repair. I did all of my own work since then. The rest, as they say, is history…

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